BY ROGER SMITH
Extracts from the book:
Flies and worse in the Western Desert
A peculiar addiction to Irish lyrics
Burying the dead Tebaga Gap
British Army at a minefield near Sfax,
The countryside near Sousse, Tunisia
The Padre's tools of trade
A minefield near Takrouna, Tunisia
Kelly in Cairo
Housekeeping in a two-man bivvy in the
rain Sangro, Italy
Falling asleep on duty Sangro
Kelly dies at
the Sangro River
Civilians caught in the frontline
Castel Frantano, Italy
Getting sadness off your chest
Giant drunken zooming fireflies
back from the front
Fear, and fear of fear Cassino,
A break from Cassino
All in a days work in the Cassino
There for your
mate at the finish Terelle, Italy
Place an order for UP THE BLUE
|KELLY DIES AT THE SANGRO RIVER
Pounce and I watched while the zambuk collected identity discs, pay books, etc. Kelly
was not among them. We carefully skirted the craters and went down to the bank. Then I saw
him. He must have been blown clean over our heads. There, face down on a little sandbank,
fifteen yards out in the river, lay Kelly.
Kelly, the drunkard.
Kelly, the wanton. Kelly, the sinner.
Kelly, the courageous. Kelly, the fighter.
Kelly was dead.
A myth was exploded the indestructable was destroyed. Death, who had passed a dozen
times, had paused this once, to leave a disembowelled, limp rag doll, swirled by the muddy
waters of the Sangro.
|CIVILIANS CAUGHT IN THE
FRONTLINE, CASTEL FRENTANO, ITALY
Ray and I suddenly heard a stifled gasp from behind us. We turned, startled, to find
the cause. There, in the archway of the cellar storeroom, stood a woman leaning against
her husband for support, three frightened puzzled children clustered against their legs.
One white clenched hand held the corner of her shawl across her mouth. Her anguished eyes
watched with horror as two more tanks followed their commander through her home. God
knows, it was simple enough: a cellar at one side that served as a storeroom and a stable,
a living room with a bedroom above. But who knows what striving had gone into its
acquisition? Then I recalled the things Id barely noticed on our first brief walk
through: chairs and tables, pots and pans and stone crocks, a wooden high-back settle and
an old, old carved cradle on curved rockers. Simple things that make all the difference
between poverty and comfort all gone now, beneath the tracks of iron monsters. The
bedroom floor sagged, half its supports torn away.
The woman turned with a muffled cry and buried her head in her husbands shoulder. He
stood with an arm about her, stroking her hair. Then the children, distressed by their
parents despair, set up a wail that took her to her knees to gather them to her and
find comfort in comforting them. They were luckier than many. They lived, but their
calamity was inevitable: they were in the way of War, which shows no discrimination. You
are in the way or out of the way a yard or an inch can spell the difference between
life and death, destruction or deliverance. It could have been bombs, it could have been
shellfire, but it happened to be a Sherman tank.