E.R. GRIFFITHS (english version)

RANK:  M.B.E.
BORN: 10-09-19
SERVICE/REGIMENT: 19TH FIELD REGIMENT ROYAL ARTILLERY

 

I can well remember our Regiment taking part in the original landing as ANZIO on 22 January 1944, with the famous American 3rd Division at its side. The beach head was quickly established, and despite enemy efforts we made our way about 2 miles North of Anzio and Nettuno to what was known as the Padiglione Woods, where we dug in our 25 pdr guns, roughly a mile from the famous flyover bridge. The spirit of the Infantry whom we were supporting was magnificent, and we Gunners shared their many dangers and discomforts, by giving them all the support they needed, returning enemy artillery tenfold. For many weeks not much Infantry movement was possible, and the battle developed into a contest between guns. After a week in our position the Guards Brigade, whom we were supporting with Artillery, moved towards what we called ANZIO WAY, to clear CARROCETO of the enemy, our next objective being the Naples-Rome railway. On the 3rd February at 11pm the German attacked to cut off CAMPOLEONE area, and in the early hours of 4th February the Infantry withdrawn under cover of our guns, and the noise that night and early morning was really deafening, but we managed to halt the advancing Germans. The weight of the last great German attack took place at the end of February against the Americans, and as we were on there right, I remember we were called upon to try and stem the attack as they were within the range of our guns, and we eventually succeeded in stemming the advance.

The weather during February and March was really bad, and the slit tranches we had dug quickly filled with water. Getting rations and ammunition was a mammoth task, likewise getting the wounded back to Field Hospitals. Digging gun pits was becoming a very hard task, but eventually we succeeded, and we also managed to dig a shelter to protect us from shells and splinters whilst trying to snatch a few hours sleep. I remember the German propaganda leaflets being fired quite often, and wish I had kept some for a moment. Needless to say we also started firing our propaganda leaflets at the Germans suggesting they would not win the war, and should surrender to us. Days and weeks went by, always hoping for a fresh change of clothing, but rations and ammunition took priority. It was on the 23rd May, four months after landing, a major attack was made on CISTERNA and on the 28th May the “Factory” was recaptured. The area was a terribly strange sight, and one could now see the evidence of the destructive power of the Artillery. The whole area pitted with shell holes, ammunition dumps blown up, not a tree with any foliage, not a house left standing, a terrible sight, especially when coming across dead men and horses which still lay where they had fallen. Compared with the beach head conditions we thought very bad, this sight was completely desolation. So for my Regiment the 6th June saw the end of the Anzio Beach Head, after being in continuous contact with the enemy for 136 days, and according to the records the Artillery had fired some 136,000 tons of shells.

Both the Beach Head and Anzio Cemetery which I have visited to pay my respects to those who did not return, are both a fitting tribute to the fallen.

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