Heavy shell fire during last night and today. Right now we are having a barrage of 400 guns, in preparation for an attack which will go in in a few minutes. 1st Div and 1st Army Tank Bde (brigade), 14th first – then we pass through them. A terrific din at present – haven’t heard so much noise for ages. Kitty Hawks dive bombing him also. Glad I’m British. The barrage has lifted – the Infantry have crossed and the Engineers are here with us waiting to start the detour. A Kenyon, the chap we carried at Locri is here. We evacuated three wounded at San Vito. Brig. McCuchen DADMS (deputy assistant director of medical services) paid me a visit. Very heavy fire from both sides during the night. (More photos of the Moro River attack can be seen here)
Dec. 7 – Some English tanks get across the Moro River and in to the Town of La Torre last night. We are standing to (6:30 a.m.) expecting to go up and cross the Moro R. at St. Leonardo. I have organized a fording party which I may have to use. The weather has cleared this morning. Moved at 11 a.m. – through San Vito, a very pretty drive. From the town we could see Ortona about ten kilos apart. Crossed the bridge of a tiny stream under shell fire. One shell landed in Calgary convoy behind us. We went into harbour on a ridge about two miles from the Moro River (A remarkable live broadcast with CBC Radio of the battle). Jerry opened up on us, wounding three and tearing a few holes in my jeep. This is rather a hot spot.
Finished second inoculation this a.m. We are on 1/2 hour notice – A and F 2nd Can Bde and 4th Armoured Bde attacking Ortonoa and bridge over Moro River. 14th being relieved by R.T.R. We go under command 1st Can. Div. – our roles is the spear head of the drive from the Ortona Road to the Pescara Rd. It seems to be settling down for a heavy rain, so this advance may become very difficult.
Dec. 4 – San Vito and Lanciano have both fallen – heavy artillery is pouring across the Sangro River in preparation for the attack on the line running from Ortona on the Adriatic to Guardiagrele. I expect after that is taken, we attack in the Chieti Pescara line – thus cutting the main lateral road to Rome.
Dec. 5 – The Sangro has flooded, washing all the bridges out – supplies are coming over in Ducks. The 14th are in action in front of Friso – helping to put the infantry over the Moro River. Inoculated “C” Squadron today. Move today at 1 p.m. – seven miles, which really took us ahead two and one half miles north. We are now about one mile north of Lanciano. Two air raids today. Fairly close, but no damage done. We have a good harbour in another olive grove and are very comfortable.
Nov. 30 – Bde move forward at 7:45 a.m. We brought up the rear of 11th Reg. Passed north west of Termoli, through San Salvo to two miles south of Vasto, then south to Cupello, then north to just south of Scerni. We are now harboured in a field, but expect to move forward today to almost the jct. of the Sangro River with the Adriatic Sea. The guns are very evident from here and we can watch our bombers pounding the German lines. We are about six miles from the German lines here.
Dec. 1 – Moved forward at 11 a.m. through Martino – a very beautiful drive and in the distance –a mountain showed up covered in snow – with teh sun shining on it, it reminds me of Banff. The crest overlooking the Sangro River was absolutely covered with medium artillery and in the valley in front were seven regiments of 4.5, 5.5 and regiments of twenty five pounders. En route we were visited by German dive bombers, but no damage was done. In St. Martino were large batches of German prisoners, rather bedraggled looking as a whole. We are now in harbour on the bank of the Sangro on a hilly slope. The Calgarys crossed the bridge and are on the slope facing us. This slope was the first stronghold of the German Winter Line and was taken by the 78th British Div. Apparently yesterday the Germans took an awful beating – for 36 hours a terrific artillery bombardment accompnied by constant air raids. our own guns are now firing over our heads and setting up quite a din. We are sitting here tonight but we don’t know what we do tomorrow. The Sangro River is not very big – but there is a wide marsh on each side of it. The regular bridges are all blown but thee is one of our bridges intact right opposite us now. We are in the corner formed by the mouth of the river and the Adriatic Sea.
Dec. 2 – Pulled out at 6:30 a.m. after a hectic struggle at pulling down tents and packing in the dark. Travelled due west along the Sangro River for about four miles, then the wheels went over on a temporary bridge while the Tanks forded. We then travelled north west to about five miles east of Fossacesia and passed through Santa Maria – where we saw what our artillery barrage had done. The Town is terrible. A couple of miles beyond the Town we got dive bombed – two of our men were wounded and several tanks were slightly damaged. We have been dive bombed five or six times since. We are right in front of Lanciano, which has not been captured yet. His heavy mortars and S.P. guns are dropping a few rounds around. Went through a section of his winter defence line – terribly knocked to pieces and dead Germans everywhere. All that I saw were mere boys. There is a terrific concentration of troops here and the advance is steadily progressing.
Dec. 3 – Nothing unusual – only two air raids today. Had a visit from Tim Cameron and we went exploring the German Winter Line. Deep, deep dug outs. Our artillery has caused tremendous damage – trees cut off etc. – like the Towns we used to see in the last war.
A most tedious meeting at the ambulance tonight. E.B. goes to Bde as DADMS (Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services). Krabinsky comes in as 2IC (second in command) with majority. I take all the minor jobs but am recommended for my majority. Received complete orders – then five minutes later are cancelled.
Nov. 25 – Five months ago today we sailed from Scotland. One month from today is Xmas. Fine today and mud is drying somewhat. Nothing new, still running Regiment and Section. Picture show in Mess tonight – “The Sea Hawk”.
Nov. 26 – Had lunch with McIndoo at “B” Squadron today. In he morning I am speaking to and inoculating “B and C” Squadrons against Typhus. The weather is ideal today and the ground is drying up fast. Rather cold tonight. Some letters from home but I don’t where the parcels have gone. Letters are the main things though. One German plane shot down here today.
Nov. 27 – One year ago today we moved from Seaford to Worthing. It is not the same Unit as it was then. Inoculated “B and C” Squadrons today against Typhus.
Nov. 28 – Still inoculating. Talked to Harry Williamson from Bde (Brigade headquarters) – he informs me that we will probably be starting for England in one week’s time, as the exchange personnel are in Africa and they at Bde have received information that they will be sent to Italy as soon as possible. Was also informed today that the recommendation for my majority had gone in – but I don’t get it. Bde medical meeting tomorrow afternoon at the ambulance. There may be some definite word then.