Rome July 1944. Our two or three days in Rome were altogether too short. It was amazing to think that this part of Italy was not shelled and bombed but had been declared an open city to save it. I think the way the people were dressed was like out of a fashion page compared to the farm folk that we had become accustomed to.
I could not get over the splendor of the Vatican, a display of wealth and architecture. To a farm boy this was indeed quite a place. Also there were centuries of history here and we trod in the footsteps of the Caesars.
The Italian peasants were very poor but like all farm folk world over what they had they were willing to share with you. Many a spaghetti dinner we had with these plain folk. We would scrounge from the cook some white flour and the Italian Mama would make home made spaghetti. The husband would kill a chicken. What a dinner! Chicken and spaghetti washed down with some of their choice wine that they had hidden. It was a dinner fit for a king. Then they would have their daughters sing for us. Remember the song Mama? We always requested that one. We hated to admit it but I guess we were a bit home sick. The Italian mums that cooked up the dinner took us in as if were their sons. Most often they had sons or brothers who were prisoners of war or were far off fighting with the Germans in Russia. This was a very hot July and many spent time swimming in the Volturno River.
Schemes and training still was kept up, trying to learn the mistakes of the Liri Valley battle. Exercises were conducted to train personnel in traffic control. Here the British 8th army brass were not too kind to us as they were endeavoring to cover their backsides over mistakes they had made. No Canadian or other allied officer was, in the British minds, as good as they. Our General Hoffmeister was head and shoulders above them all as was the Free French General Jui . Oh it was a lot of politics and we really did not comprehend most of the crap that floated by.
Lucky we did not or we would have likely come home. Fat chance of that! We were proud of all the Canadians had accomplished and felt we had done our share .