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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, Tunisia
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 — Alife, Italy
Christmas 1943 — back from the front
Maori Battalion, Trocchio, Italy
Fear, and fear of fear — Cassino, Italy
A break from Cassino
All in a day’s work in the Cassino rubble
There for your mate at the finish — Terelle, Italy

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The scenery unfolded with sweeping vistas of olive groves and fields of wheat in a verdant landscape that was a joy to behold. Near Sousse we caught a wonderful final glimpse before we left the sea behind — the glorious blue of the Mediterranean caught in a half-circlet of pearl-white villas bathed by a golden sun. Further on, the groves were sparsely dotted with picturesque houses, most standing two stories high, the outline of their white walls broken by tall trees and small jutting windows erratically spaced across the facade. Sometimes a tiny mosque, its domed roof glinting in the sunshine, would sparkle like a beacon across a sea of wheat.


The padre wandered back with me to the jeep, cheerfully humming to himself, a stretcher over one shoulder and a bundle of white crosses over the other.


We stopped at the edge of the minefield and the Scorpions went to work with a great clatter of flails. Kenny and I went up to watch them. We froze as a flare went up from a Hun post at the foot of Takrouna. It was quickly followed by two more. They hung above the minefield, brilliantly lighting up the two scorpions, whose chain flails thrashed madly in a dusty arcs as they worked their way across the field. The circle of light also revealed our waiting line of carriers, and two German anti-tank guns opened up immediately with armour piercing tracer. The shells seemed to come towards us slowly, like fiery balls flung flat and straight, before accelerating madly as they passed with a scream and a whip-like crack.



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Copyright Roger Smith, 2000