Wednesday, 29 February 2012

My Father's War

 The Shropshires in a quiet moment at Anzio. This was my father's battalion so it is strange for me to know that he was somewhere very near when this photo was taken.




Another of the British Infantry battalions at Anzio - note the constant trench warfare.



The Factory - one of the few features and roads. This area was soaked in Brtitish and German blood.


The Breakout - my father was badly wounded on the breakout making a pointless diversionary attack so that General Mark Clark, one of the biggest arseholes ever to join the donkeys, could be photographed in Rome.

19 comments:

  1. Also where Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd) father was killed which he wrote the song 'When The Tigers Broke Free' about...

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  2. Dear Steve
    Thank you, I didn't know that. The half life of a British infantry battalion at Anzio was two weeks, i.e. 50% causualties every two weeks. There was nowhere to go to escape the shelling, nowhere was safe. Men hid wounds to avoid being sent to the hospitals as it was safer at the front. When my father was blown up he spent the night on a stretcher in the open being shelled, unable to move, in abject terror. He survived physically but not mentally. He used to go to poppy day services and cry. He would never wear his MM because of surviver guilt - he was one of 8 people in his company to survive the German counterattack.

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  3. PS

    You can see When The Tiger Broke Free here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKfwwlEcowk&feature=related

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  4. Hi, I'm italian, I follow your blog. I respect your father for the effort of italian liberation. He fought for freedom.
    Bye and have a nice day.

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  5. I'm a Shropshire lad, was your father born there? If so where abouts?

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  6. I've seen one of those photos somewhere else - showing the typical British infantryman's view of a battle (i.e. stuck in a ditch unable to see anything).

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  7. Dear Sunzi

    Thank you for your kind words.

    I was nearly half Italian. My father was very fond of the daughter of the Italian family he was billeted with. He spoke fair Italian by the end of the war.

    But she was Catholic and he was a Church of England protestant and these things mattered then.

    John

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  8. Dear Smurf

    The Lambshead family are from Devon and he lived in Newquay in '39 and was a terratorial member of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, landing in North Africa in torch and fighting through to Cape Bon.

    By '44 the death rate had far exceeded replacements and infantry units were being broken up to act as replacements. He was transferred to the Shropshires just in time for Anzio.

    J

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  9. Dear Phil

    At Anzio they even laid the ariels along the ground partly because there was so much shit flying through the air that they woulodn't survive and partly because sticking up an ariel attracted unwelcome attention from the Hun.

    J

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  10. Lovely post John - My Father was on a troop-train through France when the war ended, which annoyed him no end (the exuberance of one who has yet to be shot at?), not least because he had lied about his age to get there (something which caused a real headache/pension-related problem when he left in 1980!), so his first action was Palestine in '47, but he is very much with us and writing his own memoires, so he'll tell it all himself soon...

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  11. Great stuff, John - my grandfather fought in the Italian Campaign too - Coldstream Guards.
    Regards,
    Monty

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  12. Respect for a brave man. Thanks for sharing this with us John!

    Greetings
    Peter
    http://peterscave.blogspot.com/

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  13. Well written and moving. Played the Youtube video which attracted my 11 year old daughter. Looked at the pictures with her and talked about your Dad's long night and the horrible situation at Anzio. It was a good and interesting conversation. Thank you.

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  14. Dear Mav
    Yah, veterans tend to be less keen on wars than other people.
    J

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  15. Dear Monty
    Some Guard battalions took a hammering at Anzio as well.
    J

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  16. Dear Pagumb
    I think you are very wise to have these conversationswith your children. It will armour them against jingoism next time an Alastair Campbell starts beating the war drums - from the safety of No. 10.

    J

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