Our guns along with the all available artillery fired a large barrage to assist the First Canadian Division breach the Hitler line. Also during the day of firing almost continually orders came down to fire a William Target, a first in the history of the Royal Artillery. Some 19 field regiments, 9 medium regiments, 2 super heavy regiments and, I believe, 2 Heavy anti air craft regiments, to fire scale ten. The target area was around the right flank of the first division and was to snuff out a enemy counterattack forming up in and around Acquino railway station. Our war diary states it was 74 tons of shells hitting this area in less than a minute. The air observation officer stated that there was not much movement after this bombardment.
I had mentioned Acquino before and it was a thorn in the side of our attacking forces as the enemy were in this area to the right rear flank of First Division. The British 78th Division were so damn slow coming down Hwy #6 and were asked by General Burns to mask Acquino. But neither Gen Burns or Gen Leese 8th Army commander were strong enough in their language to the 78th and they were not about to get any more casualties than necessary so they left the Canadians out to dry.
The breaching of the Hitler Line was carried out by First Canadian Division who certainly lost a tremendous amount of men. Our role was coming to a close this day and our Colonel wanted to get advance parties out to select new gun positions ahead to take advantage of any move of the enemy to the rear. Traffic was horrendous as everyone tried to get forward. It was so bad in fact that ambulances coming to the rear hospitals and dressing stations could not get through causing more loss of life of those already wounded. In fact it was a traffic snarl to end all snarls!
The Germans though, having the Hitler line breached, emptied their guns before moving as the odd shell came screeching through. One such shell, the RSM and Sea Biscuit Clark a DR, and I saw it hit a stone wall about fifty feet away before we could think where in hell did that one come from. There was this sreetching whistle went between us. That was the shell that hit the wall a split second before. It was an 88MM with a muzzle velocity of some 3300 feet per seconds. Three times faster than sound so there was no use of us ducking after we heard the screech as it had already gone by.
It took our guns from 2000 hours, or 8PM, to travel four miles and arrive through Pontecorvo at 1200 hour noon of the 25 th May.
I will get on with the short trip through the Hitler Line and to our position beyond Pontecorvo and when we did arrive we were out of range so had to move again.
This time not far from the Melfa River.