L. SMALE (english version)
26th Oct. 1995
Helens 14 Hantos
Crewkerne Somerset – U.K.
To the Mayor Dr Stefano Bertollini
Ever so much for the Anzio Medallion I received recently. I think it was great of the people of Anzio to remember us.
Life under fire
Well for us the Anti/Tanks we lived mostly in a trench, day time you could not move being under observation all the time, we all walked about in a bent position. I called it the Anzio crouch, if someone moved in the day time, the call was get your B – Head down I think everyone on the beachhead could write a book about their experiences something happened every day. On the 3rd of Feb we were surrounded by the enemy on the Anzio Albano road near the railway embankment at Campoleone, we all thought it was Stalig for us boys, thanks to the 168th Infantry brigade that landed at Anzio and opened the road to get us out. On the 18th of Feb we got overrun by the enemy and captured sight of the Flyover on the Lateral Road to Padiglione. We were camped in a farm house I think it was the first one on the right about 200 meters from the Flyover. We had the gun about 50 meters from the cowshed at the back of the house. It was the day the enemy tried to drive us to back to the sea. Our cowshed got shelled and at 05.00 hours we were over run, we lay most of the day, in the Lateral Road, then our boys put in a counter attack, first smoke shells, the enemy then forced us up, to retreat with them towards the Factory area, when the smoke got thick we managed to run more towards the right and jumped in a ditch that ran along the centre of the field, we crawled along for about a 100 meters, then an officer from the infantry who was with us, raised his helmet above, then we all shouted “We are British”. Then from the road came this English voice “Get over here quick”. The boys had taken the road once more.
I think we were much better off this side of the Flyover we could dig in. On the other side it was wet aground and you had to build up with anything for protection. I think the worst place we were at for a time was the Death End road, with mines, trucks, ambulances, everything pulled up both sides of the road, and the smell of the dead. I am hoping in the very near future to visit the Beach Head, two places I want to go to the farm house (or site) on the Lateral road right of the Flyover, and the war graves at Anzio.
I myself think that everyone even the cooks in the rear of the beach head at Padiglione wood lands, suffered from stress. To sum up I think it was a war that never paid a major part.
PS I hope you don’t mind I would like to keep your letter as a memento.