179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, WW 2

PVT Paul Brown

179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, WorldWar Two, grave, registration, Salerno, Italy, Naples, San Angelo, Piedmonte
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Used by permission of The Italian Campaign website.
Steve Cole Collierville, TN Web Master of "The Italian Campaign"
[http://members.aol.com/ItalyWW2/Menu.htm]

The following information was obtained from the wartime journals of Private Paul Brown. The original journals were donated by the family to the 45th Infantry Division Museum in Oklahoma City, OK. Copies of the original journal were made available to Steve Cole by Pvt. Brown's son, Paul Brown.

click here for printable version

 

General Mark Clark, Memorial Day, Anzio, 1944
"With God's help, we shall carry on the task which they began."
General Mark Clark, Memorial Day, Anzio, 1944

Private Paul Brown was a member of the Grave Registration Service of the 45th Division. The 45th Division arrived early in Italy and was the reserve division for the landing at Salerno, on Septemeber 9, 1943. The 45th Division waited in landing craft off of the coast and landed later in the day after the 36th Division. In January, they were moved up to the Anzio beach head, where they were under intense combat for several months. Finally, in May, the 5th Army advanced from Cassino and on into Rome.
Private Paul Brown kept a journal of his account at the front lines. As a member of the Grave Registration Service, Private Brown had a task of locating the bodies of the soldiers on the field and removing them for burial. He performed this job in the cover of darkness and sometimes under gun fire and shell fire. They lived close to the front lines where their trenches were under constant shelling.
Paul had his younger brother, Nathan, in the same division. I don't have any details about his company and records. Nathan was in the hospital on one or maybe more occasions with a foot problem. The family doesn't remember if it was a combat wound or trench foot. Paul mentions his brother 18 times in his journals and went to visit him on several occasion. When Paul had accumulated enough time to go home, he requested they allow Nathan go in his place. His request was refused. Private Brown kept a journal about his life at the Anzio beach. He recorded his story in 4 journals, one of which was lost. He used his journal to jot down his thoughts about his girlfriend and on his mortality. He also recorded an itemized list of well over 200 names of GI's his unit buried. His journal also expressed his opinion of Army life along with memorials of some of his fellow soldiers he had to bury.
Interestingly, he recorded some of the everyday events such as the movies they were able to see there on Anzio beach and the USO entertainers he saw while on Rest & Relaxation breaks.

The Journal of Private Paul Brown

Lost date book along with all other equip. A & B bags.
[Book started May 1, 1942. Excerpts begin at September 9, 1943, the day after the Salerno invasion. Anzio landing is not until Jan 25 entry.]

September 8, 1943

The Allies landed on beaches of Salerno, the first foothold on the continent of Europe. The 45th Division was held off the coast in reserve status until the September 10th.

Sept. 9, 1943 Thursday

We are laying off coast of Italy, few miles below Naples. Our Air Force is doing all the good. Navy also. Our troops 36th Div. Beached at 4 AM meeting stiff resistance. Were forced off beach at one point but took it later. Our 45 Div. Is floating reserve. Enemy planes are coming, some fireworks starting. So long.

Sept. 10, 1943 Friday

Had three air attacks, no damages, sure was hot each time. We are waiting to unload our L.S.T.. Fighting on land is rough.

Sept. 11, 1943 Sat.

Had five air attacks since yesterday noon. We finished unloading last night. Capt. Davis and Capt. Kirby and myself came aboard this American L.S.T.. The English L.S.T. was like a rats nest. Troops on shore are receiving much opposition, many casualties. Here they come again [30 minute later Strafed our ships and troops. One Negro killed out right, Army Dr. injured, 7 killed on unloading, platoons in front of our ship, nasty mess. Capt. Putnum 3rd Bt. Hq. shot through cheek of buttocks, English BB slightly damaged, American DD slightly damaged.
[The following is a side note added by the original editor to aid understanding. Btn = Battalion. Each Infantry Regiment consisted of 3 battalions. First battalion consisted of Companies A, B, C & D and a headquarters. Second battalion consisted of Companies E, F G & H and Third, I, K, L & M.
BB= Battleship, DD = Destroyer naval ship, LST = Landing Ship Tank used for amphibious landings.]

Sept. 12 Sunday

Only two air attacks last night, damage unknown. Navy concentrated fire to land. Art. is busy all day on land. Hope Nathan is still OK. We are beginning to eat swell. First hot meals in two weeks. Still are sitting here off shore. Hope I have mail back at Sicily. The wounded German officer died 4 AM this morning was taken to beach. Would have gladly smothered him if given the chance. Damn those Germans here they come again.

Sept. 13

Left Italy at 1830 yesterday for return trip to Terminus, Sicily. Heard Malta, where Italian fleet turned in two days ago was boarded. Had first good nights sleep in two weeks. Should arrive noon today. Am becoming well acquainted with most of the sailors [swell fellows]. Shot bull about Boston for long time.

Sept. 14 Tuesday

Arrived in Terminus 11:45 AM yesterday. Sure is nice and quiet. Went to Palermo last night . Had big spigg(spaghetti) meal. The officers had plenty to drink. Visited the Hosp. No deals. Returned late to camp. Bought small watch.

Sept 15 Wed.

Stayed in camp all day yesterday too lazy to move. News on radio report our troops in Italy being pushed back. Damn that's rough. Am wondering about Nathan and the other fellows in Ser. Co.. Received swell pocket book from Irene. I love that woman!!!

Sept 16 Thurs.

Went to Palermo yest. Afternoon visited the famous Montreal, was really something. Visited Mondello Beach then went to a show. Returned to camp where we were notified we were to start loading this morning. We are now waiting here at the beach at Terminus to start loading. We should be loaded by tomorrow night.

Sept 17 Fri.

Finished loading in Terminus 4:30 AM. Good work! Weighed anchor 1830 PM. On way to Italy.

Sept 18 Sat.

We are getting ready to beach 1130 AM. Same location as first time. Things seem much quieter than before. Meals were swell on board. May be last for some time. Weather is very warm.

Sept 19 Sun.

Beached 1630 yesterday, located 3-4 stayed overnight. Saw all the boys. Nathan in Hosp. with very bad foot. We are preparing to move on up to Regt. C.P..

Sept 20 Mon.

Regt. C.P. is located near destroyed town Battegallia. Was going to stay all night but Lt. Richmond came after me. I am now back burying the dead.

Sept 21 Tues.

Made recon on area 179th was caught. Several men and officers were killed in this area. Lt. Truit a very good friend and Capt. Cardiff college friend are still missing. We had two air attacks last evening. Good news on radio as to our advances as well as Russians. We are starting to move up to Efelia this noon. Our work is really beginning now.

Sept 22 Wed.

Camped next to a Cemetery. Very beautiful at one time. Several bodies of native killed are still not buried. A four year old girl is in casket in front of altar. Looked like a doll at first. They didn't have time to finish the ceremony. Germans used the Temple for Hq. thought we wouldn't bomb the place. We did wonderful job of bombing and shelling. We cannot catch the enemy. Their rear guard threw in two shots close to Regt. C.P. last evening. Received beautiful letter from Irene last night. Gosh she is wonderful. We are finally getting a short rest but hope to keep going our dead are mounting every time we go looking.

Sept 23 Thurs.

Still here by graveyard. Civilians are busy putting away their dead. It's no sight to see. If there is a God let him do something about this slaughter. We are moving to new area further inland. Naples is having awful time. Germans have taken everything.

Sept 24 Fri.

The war has finally hit close to me by Killing of Bill Wair. After we moved up to the forward C.P. We started to work and found many enemy and our fellows. Bill and his driver never knew what hit them. I drove there(their) ¼ ton back. Two or three of his other close friends sort of cried, but for myself I keep getting madder, hope I continue that way. Capt. Goddard died also. We are still trying to run them out of the valley up ahead. Should succeed tonight.
["¼ ton" - Utility truck with ¼ ton capacity.]

Sept 25 Sat.

Secretary of the Navy, James V. Forrestal, firing a 240mm howitzer on the 5th Army Front.

The Krauts are still firing on us with little success from ridge at other end of valley. We moved down here in under last night and dug in. Our big Toms were busy all last night. We are getting ready to move up again. Guess they never intended for us to take a rest. But we don't mind as long as we keep picking up dead Germans and we have been busy doing that. We got 72 in two days. Our boys have been in bad luck also 16 in two days, but several wounded.
["Big Toms" or "Long Toms" were the names of the large, Allied 240 mm cannons.]

Sept 26 Sun.

We moved 10 miles down into the valley. Germans can't be found. Puter and I have fox holes on top of one of these low ridges from which we can look out further into the valley floor. The sight is beautiful but how can a fellow think of anything peaceful and beautiful with so many fellows suffering. I think we have a few days rest ahead.

Sept 27 Mon.

We are in same area. New recruits arrived. A Lt. From Puters home town was among them. We got all wet last night. Finally got dried out. Damn it, will we ever know what a roof feels like over our head feels like again. Ser. Co. got first casualty M. Humphries wounded in leg. Nathan is back but foot still sore. He wouldn't go back to Africa. There is one real soldier. I am proud to be his brother.

Sept 28 Tues.

Still resting, but am sure we are moving tomorrow. News from all fronts are OK. Haven't received any mail for two weeks. Am going down to see Nathan in half hour. If Irene could read my mind all the time she would start planning on the marriage ceremony right now. I feel sure about her now.

Sept 29 Wed.

Still resting. Sure did get wet last night. But dry out today. This is hell. Had big bull session with Nathan, Huff, Harrage and another fellow. All for today.

Sept 30 Thurs.

In same location, but are moving this afternoon. It's pay day, guess I shall send Irene 200 for safe keeping. Should have news to write about tomorrow

Oct 1 Fri.

We are in fine location. Our troops have entered Naples. Won some money in poker game.

Oct 2 Sat.

It rained last night, but our pup tent is excellent. Made bet 3 to 1 that war with Germany would not be over by Xmas time. We are going to have more rain. Got a bunch more replacements. Some think they know it all but it won't take them long to keep there(their) mouths shut. There are 1,000 cases of malaria fever. Our fellows are certainly beginning to show the strain on our enemy's. Four months is along time to keep on the alert of battle. But never fear of the 45th gang dropping out. No mail for one month.

Oct 3 Sun.

Received mail this morning from Ruth and Irene. That sure is swell. SO, my ex-wife had 8 mo. Baby, shows I was partly right. We have moved up 28 miles today, and lie in a very good area. Grapes and fruit, eggs, & chicken, also plenty of vino. I shall write some letters now.

Oct 4 Mon.

Nothing doing of importance. We are waiting to move up. The natives are rather glad to see us. The condition of their welfare is as bad as our slums at home. Several of them speak American.

Oct 5 Tues.

Getting a good nights sleep theses nights. Our pup tent sure fine, no rain has a chance, but my feet still cold.

Oct 6 Wed.

Moved to new location, yes some 18 miles. Major Patterson of 160 F.A. Art. a friend of mine was killed by personnel mine. While moving into this area a truck ran over and killed a seven year old child, was an awful mess. Hope I get mail today. Don't like the idea of us moving in here, although Germans ran them out of there a few days ago. You can guess what we done and thought as well as told them.
[160 F.A. Art. - 160th Field Artillery Battalion, a unit assigned to 45th Division.]

Oct 7 Thurs.

It rained all night. AM still clear in spots. Makes it sort of rough. Got mail from Irene, folk, and Harold a card damn that swell. Here I lay in tent, with rain coming down like Hell!. Not much news of our advances, but not as fast. As we wished.

Oct 8 Fri.

Still raining. This is like La. maneuvers in 1940, not near as bad yet. News is not so good as to our advances. Several of our men were killed the last few days. One was hit with a dud. Awful mess. World Series is wonderful to hear, but oh! The after thought. Irene and I would have been there seeing at least two of the games. There in N.Y. Yanks 2 games Cards 1. Same area.

Oct 9 Sat.

We are moving up. It is going rough. Were on move all night. Rained most of the time. Am not dry yet. Fred Overstreet of Ser. Co. is still missing. His wife is a real person. She will take it hard. Have not settled in new area yet. Art. of both sides is still going out.

Oct. 10 Sun.

Moved up to front 3 Kil. = 2.5/8 mile. Enemy passed over us within rifle shot. I took 2 shots. They were not more than 75 to 100 yds up. Couldn't have missed my first shot. There shells are dropping between 2 & 3 hundred yards . Our nerves are jumpy, you should see my fox hole! The Lord better be on our side tonight or you will never see me. We buried a few more of our boys today. Are sure of many more tomorrow. Tis all.

Oct 11 Mon.

Art. was busy all night. We are lucky to be alive. Our troop are doing fine so far. Enemy planes have not bothered yet today. Am staying close to fox hole. We should probably move up again tomorrow.

Oct 12 Tues.

Yes they can again, two this times in force. Dropped bombs a few hundred yards away. A few killed. We are now 100 miles S.E. of Rome not much progress as yet. Very heavy Art. on both sides. Our boys are wonderful shots. We have strong resistance. This is what the 1918 boys called Hell. Here they come again. That was a close call that time. Those dirty sons _ _ !

Oct 13 Wed.

Spent great deal of time in fox hole last night. 180th Inf. are certainly catching hell. Sure was cold last night. Received telegram from Irene last night. Sure was swell of her. We are moving up again. What then?

Oct 14 Thurs.

Had several close calls again by planes. Picked up a few more of our fellows. (God Damn this distruction of manhood!) Art fire is continuous day and night. Damp and cold is settling in every day. Had two beautiful letters from Irene. Can hardly wait to see her again. If ?

Oct 15 Fri.

This just can't go on forever. 6 more air attacks since yest. noon. A good friend Sgt. Kirby was killed. He was on T.O.M. with me. That's two of our group of 12. No good news anywhere.

Oct 16 Sat.

Can't say much today and the work we had to do has made me feel sort of sick inside. We got 27 of our boys Sgt. West another friend. God knows this is 36 day on front for our Div. That can not last, there minds will not allow . May heaven help us.

Oct 17 Sun.

Was busy all morning. Got Sgt. Archer another T.O.M. which makes 3 of 12. Wonder when my time is coming.? We are likely to get a little rest but am not sure. We had to carry the boys ½ mile down from Mt. side, very rough. God knows this is the most respected job, if it wasn't for my conscious I would quite it.

Oct 18 Mon.

Cannot reach a few of the boys. Are going to hunt a new way up there. The sun is bright today. Puter and I are having our clothes cleaned at last. The natives in this village are better than any we ran across before. Several spoke Amer. Was in the states years ago. N.Y, Boston, Phil. We found a piano in a fine home. So with a jug of vino, we shall endeavor to forget a few things for awhile. So long for now.

Oct 19 Tues.

Another very good friend of mine & Harold S. we found Sgt. Willard Ross (Red) one swell fellow also 18 more of our boys. It seems every time I go out we must find more of my friends. We are probably going into reserve. Hope so. Talked to two English soldiers that were prisoners for two years up north of Rome. They were sure pleased to be going home. Received wonderful letters from Irene. Which make s this day end perfectly.

Oct 20 Wed.

Did not do anything today which was a relief. We have a fine area to stay. Had a big jam session at the big house with the piano. Our Quartet is a knockout. Hope I get mail tonight.

Oct 21 Thurs.

Received package from my Darling, Sweetee & Candy. God but is good. Sure she has got that ring by now, as well as that night set. I must think of something else to get her. Maerieo?? wife is a knock out for looks but what's underneath that counts. Had plenty of good vino last night. We have 7 gals left. Our div. is certainly making a name for themselves. Many of my friends make it possible with their lives.

Oct 22 Fri.

We picked up 7 more fellows. They were in bad shape. 9 days old. God what a mess. Received more letters from Irene. Sure is sweet of her to write so often. We are starting movies in two towns tomorrow.

"Call Out the Marines" starring Victor McLaglen & Edmund Lowe, 1942.

Oct 23 Sat.

Had two shows this morning and are to have same this afternoon. V.Mc & E. L. in "Call out the Marines". Old but sounded wonderful. Not much news from the front.

Oct 24 Sun.

There isn't nothing to report for today. Have got time to write a letter. Then shall have a little vino and sing songs.

Oct 25 Mon.

Had two movies in San. Sav. today. Sure was good to hear a bunch of fellows laughing again. Our band is breaking out their stuff. Hope they have time to play for the fellows. No mail today.

Oct 26 Tues.

The Red Cross Doe Nut Girls visited our 1st & 2nd Bn. It was some treat to hear girls talk American. We are preparing to move up again. Our Col. is being relieved. God we hate that. He is one good man.

Oct 27 Wed.

Rained like hell last night. But Puter and I keep dry. Had a chance to read a few stories out of America & Your Life Mag. The band id practicing now so will go sit in on them. Sure wish I had kept up with my music lessons years ago.

Oct 28 Thurs.

Received 4 letters from Irene. Sure is swell to love some one & in return. It rained most of the night. We are moving this afternoon up to the front again. Hope we are luckier than the last time we went up. More later.

Oct 29 Fri.

Are getting ready to move up tonight. We had PX supplies to break down today. The fellows wee sure glad we received them. It has started to rain again.

Oct 30 Sat.

Nothing happened today. I've been ready to move for 12 hours. Some thing went wrong up front. The candy is sure good we got through the PX.

Oct 31 Sun.

We can see Mt. Vesuvius near Naples from high up here north of Naples 30 miles. The front line is 8 miles up. We should be leaving soon as we have been ready to leave for day +1/2. Received three letters fron Irene last dated Oct 14, and she has not received one from me for one month. Damn those British any way.
[Mt. Vesuvius is a predominant volcano near Naples and it erupted in 1944.]

Nov 1 Mon.

We are forward. German planes just finished dropping bombs on our field about two miles away. Those dirty sons of ?. Might have reached them with a 50. Calib. Received pay today shall send $25 to Irene. No American dead as yet, several Germans. They burn their dead most times to keep from knowing how many, otherwise put 4 to 15 in grave. British theirs on spot. We must be soft hearted eh!

Nov 2 Tues.

We are near S. Angeleo to west of Piedmonte. Are sleeping in house. Clean but old. The Germans planes sure did raise hell last night. Yesterday afternoon low enough to hit with rock. We are supposed to move up again tonight. No contact with enemy yet. Just learned that 34th Div sit on their ? for 12 days and waited till we counterattacked.

Nov 3 Wed.

Only 1 casualty, just injured, very lucky "G.Co". We are expecting cold weather. We are still ready to move up. Have been sleeping on straw last three nights. Have kinds of bites all over me. Yep Fleas !

Nov 4 Thurs.

Had a three Div. push last night. Haven't heard how it survived as yet will this afternoon. Planes came over this morning we didn't knock any out that I could see.

"88" refers to the German dual purpose 88mm Anti Aircraft/Anti Tank gun.

Nov 6 Sat.

We are located along fringe of trees along side of Voturno R. at Venefro. Several dead. Just missing getting an 88 in our hip pocket today. Life is in thin air around here. Went back to S-4 and lost $17.50 in card game was sure to forget all this for a few hours.

Nov 7 Sun.

Have picked up 9 boy this morning, shells are dropping close. May your prayers help Irene sure will need them. No mail in two days.

Nov 8 Mon.

Rained most of night. Climbed to top of Mt. Two times to find bodies found 6 (our boys). Two of my boys stepped on mines, Nicks and Caveratta, two legs were blown off, John Dombrouski had pieces of stone blown all over his face. The hardest blow yet for the fellows here in Band Co. Both will pull through I hope.

Nov 9 Tues.

Didn't go out tonight. Drying my stuff. We are still having hell. Makes four days in one place. Our bunch (Regt.) captured 70 or so germans, I was standing next to them (40) within 30 min. after capture. Life hangs in midair up there. - chipola.

Nov 10 Wed.

Did not go out with boys today. Visited old Ser. Co. 1st time since Sicily. We are still at Venfero going in too stiff.

Nov 11 Thurs.

We are still at Venfero. More of our fellows are dying. We picked up 27 in four days & we knew of 9 more. We cannot reach them due to shelling the area.

Nov 12 Fri.

Just came back from spotting with no luck. Shells were falling in location we were to look. Just missed being cut on arm by shrapnel (3 inches). We have advanced three miles and going still rough. Germans are holding out. They have orders to hold out 8 weeks or be killed. The question is who is going to hold out!

Nov 13 Sat.

Just returned from Mts. hunting bodies again. As usual it was same old story. Shells started dropping where we wanted to go. Hell could be no worse. Am so darn tired I could quit. I want to go home !!!

Nov 14 Sun.

We were successful in finding the L. Co. boys, we alone spotted 40 germans & 5 more of our 2nd Bn. boys. We are going up tonight and remove three, which we cannot get in day time. Germans have road under observation all the time. Received wonderful package from Irene. I love you very much for them.

<For Context See Battles and Campaigns Winterline>

Nov 15 Mon.

Went up front at 6:00PM last night to remove bodies on front line. Stayed there three hours waiting for guide. He did not show up. It rained all the time. Very touchy place. Small arms were popping very close. They were expecting a counter attack. We did not go out today and has rained all the day through. Are starting out early on very dangerous job. We shall be under observation most of the time.

Nov 16 Tues.

Still raining, did not get across Volturno R. to work. All bridges for miles still out. Was good to rest.

Nov 17 Wed.

Still raining. Things all wet, have managed to keep dry. Bridges still out, but moving up by going around several miles. We have plenty of work to do now. Art. is going all the time. Never a let up. Shells drop a few 100 yds. but sound a few ft. Hope they don't raise their sights.

Nov 18 Thurs.

We moved up to town of Pozzili early this morning. This town is being shelled every hour of the day. We are located in a house at the edge of town. Shells go over us are short. Heaven help us. Carried 3 dead 2 ½ miles, took 4 hours. Am very tired, are going up tonight to remove 9 dead on front line.

Nov 19 Fri.

Guides got lost again last night. Enemy heard us and started to shell. We returned without work done. Shells landed all around us all night & are doing so today. Hope our luck holds out. This house is rather thick. But very old. Received package from Irene. Pocketbooks.

Nov 20 Sat.

We now have our house cleaned out. Shells will have to come to a high angle to get us. We picked up Sonnie Wade, "M" Co. another of my good friends, we played Basketball for three years together. A most pleasant fellow. Three of the boys were buried alive in building. Shells have been dropping all around throughout 24 hours.

Nov 21 Sun.

We (6) all got good and drunk and then drunk some more, then very sick last night. Was still sick at noon but went out to pick up a fellow from E Co. Shell hit in our kitchen, but it was a dud. The good Lord was with us then. Coming back with body we stopped to cover it up, shell hit 35 yds in front of us. I shall be very religious if this keeps up. There is a chance of going home due to my length of service and % of Non-Coms chosen to go. I honestly do not care to leave until it's all over, but all of us would be telling a big lie if we say we are not scared.

Nov 22 Mon.

This sure is a hell hole. Our ¼ ton truck was blown to bits last night. Yes shells have missed us so far. We are having many good bull sessions each night here by the log fire. Hope they do not have it in for us. There rumors of all kinds.

Nov 23 Tues.

Still dodging shells and managing to keep dry. Sure getting tired of eating K Rations. Received 7 letters from Irene.

Nov. 24 Wed.

Was shelled all night. Missed by several yards. Many more of our old boys are dieing. This make three weeks in one spot. Expect to get relief from this hell hole soon.

Nov. 25 Thurs.

"Thanksgiving Day" with death so close we have to stay undercover. We did not have that turkey that was promised us. Fellows going to Naples left last night. 5 days will be a darn good rest.

Nov 26 Fri.

We sure have our house fixed up. But sure hope we do not stay here too much longer. This makes 30 days on the front line for our troops. Had a big barrage last night. Shells again came very close. This town of Pozzella is a hot spot. But we have work to do!

Nov 27 Sat.

We up just a few yds short of no mans land to get four boys last night. Was so dark had to feel our way. Could see flash of enemy small arms. One to big a noise would have met our doom. Were gone 6 hours. This hell hole is sure getting on our nerves.

Nov 28 Sun.

Nothing changed in our situation. Nearly got it last night. Another old friend, Anderson from Okla. The fellows are getting to go to Naples a few out of each Co. Guess I will not be going.

Nov 29 Mon.

Received package from Irene. Watch, sewing kit, socks. They were simply wonderful. God I love that woman. A shell just hit 25 yds. Heaven help us now.

Nov 30 Tues.

The Lord was with six of us again today. We were spotted on hill on front line, when after bodies. Were missed by 15 yds. Shrapnel and rocks all around us. Our troops are trying to move up. Shells are very close all night here in this house.

Purple Heart - medal awarded to soldiers wounded in combat.

Dec 1 Wed.

At 11:15 PM we were called to go up front and get three boys who were picked off by snipers. Lt. Thought better not to. He was returning to Hq. to explain, and got hit in arm by shell dropping very close. His Purple Heart is very good looking but I do not want any. Damn but I do like this watch Irene gave me. I must write her a letter today although any trend of thought is broken by shell sand I must be careful not to write things to frightening to the girl I love most.

Dec 2 Thurs.

Still dodging shell. Lt. Richmond is OK. We had all night job, got 5 bodies. Went back to Ser. Co. Nathan is fine, was going to Naples. I hope to go next week.

Dec 3 Fri.

Did not get but 5 bodies today. Are going up again tonight. The Lord was with us three time again today. But maybe tomorrow? The French are now relieving the 34th Div. Hope we do the same. We are still here at Venafro. Now a very famous line. One that will go down in the books.

Dec 4 Sat.

Still raining. We were sniped at again so could not work today. Are going up tonight.

Dec 5 Sun.

Got four more boys last night but left two. They were in dangerous places. Germans are very hard to put out. Am going to Naples for five days. We got 280 new men. Still raining.

Dec 6 Mon.

Stayed all night in warehouse in Venafro. We are now in Naples in old Army barracks for rest period. 119 men out of 179th got in at one time. Lt. Richmond is Capt. Now. Another good friend, Allen Durnbeck killed when enemy hit him with hand grenade while he was helping wounded men. The dirty rats.

Dec 7 Tues.

Walked my legs off today. Ate spuds, spaghetti & stake 2 times, saw part of show. Heard all star band at Red Cross. Got picture taken. Bought bedspread for Irene. Naples is a large place. Going to show at Palsm Theater.

"Thank Your Lucky Stars"- Everybody on the Warner Bros. lot shows up in this wartime morale-boosting musical extravaganza. Dinah Shore, Betty Davis, Errol Flynn, Bogart, Olivia de Havilland. 1943.

Dec 8 Wed.

"Thank Your Lucky Stars" at the Palsm Theater was very good. A young piano player also very good. Last ?????. Just looking over town again, buying a few things. Heard two top Army jazz bands.

Ella Logan was an actress & singer and also toured Germany.

Dec 9 Thurs.

We saw Ella Logan and U.S.O. group a Blockhouse today. She is some stuff. Done more shopping. Last night I saw a real Opera at Palsm Theater. SR. & troverta. Very good. Must see another some time. Saw more of Naples, sure am tired walking around.

Dec 10 Fri.

Saw more of the city today. Anything goes in this place. The Red Cross is really wonderful stayed in blockhouse last night. Saw movie "Two Girls from Chicago" & "More The Marrier" again.


["Two Girls from Chicago" was probably the movie "Two Senoritas from Chicago" who were Jinx Falkenburg and Ann Savage who pretend to be musical comedy stars. 1943. ]

"The More the Merrier" is set in WW2. Academy Award went to Charles Coburn, while nominations were bestowed upon Jean Arthur & Joel McCrea. 1943


Dec 11 Sat.

Saw another show last night and another swell swing band. We are leaving today at noon. Back for the front. I am greatful for these few days of peace.

Dec 12 Sun.

All the fellows were fine upon return. They picked up 36 fellows in five days. We are to have a new set up. Upon going in to rest. Went out again this morning for three fellows & shall go repair graves upon hill above Pozzillo. Received plenty letters from Irene.

Dec 13 Mon.

Did not go out tonight for first time in days. The Band is to be part of Div. Band and are shall receive new men for our work soon. We still are shelled everyday. Sure are lucky. So far.

Dec 14 Tues.

Things are sure moving up French, Italians, Canadians, Indians (India). We are still in Pozzillo did not have but one boy to pick up today. Received several letters from Irene.

Dec 15 Wed.

Picked up two boy today. Sgt. Kelly, old National Guard from Okla. Another friend, and a new fellow. Puter is going to Naples. Went out again this morning for three fellows & shall go repair graves upon hill above Pozzillo. Received plenty letters from Irene.

Dec 16 Thurs.

Went out last night, but could not get in to area, shells were covering the area. We now have five more to remove today. Our 1st Bn. reached their objective. If 3rd does same we might go into rest soon.

Dec 17 Fri.

Removed three from up front last night. 180th is going through us tonight. We are all the good I guess. Got swell letters from Irene.

Dec 18 Sat.

Got five more boys. Sgt. Albany a very good friend, a very good athlete, was one. We also went out last night and removed 3 more. Several more are reported. This country is up and down. Our troops are becoming very weary, but still all the fight left in them.

Dec 19 Sun.

Have been shelled as hell all last night 7 today. We got eight more fellows yest. afternoon & this morning we got 6 more of our boys. We buried 17 germans and there are many more. 180th have gone through us. A good deal. We were shelled again. What a Sunday. R. Bickershtaff is with us.

Dec 20 Mon.

Shells are still coming in. We buried 11 more germans. None of our own.

Dec 21 Tues.

21 shells came close, enough to jar the ground. There were 17 duds out of those 21. Our luck is not going to hold out forever. Buried 5 more germans. They sure did have wonderful pill boxes. Over looking each move we made.

Dec 22 Wed.

Did not work last night are today. We must bury more enemy tomorrow. It's raining again. No shells dropped in last night, the first time in over a month. We must be doing all the good.

"Cassino" refers to the town of Cassino and Monte Cassino Abbey, which sat on the German Gustav Line defense. The Liri Valley opened out in front of them with large mountains on each side.

Dec 23 Thurs.

There are many tanks ready to move up by the left fork above Pozzelli, toward Cassino and the road to Rome. We are still in this house, which we have fixed up very well. No shell last night. Received four wonderful letters from Irene.

Dec 24 Fri.

Are having quiet time now. Celebrate Xmas Eve. Making fudge !!! No news today. Still here in Pozzelli.

Dec 25 Sat.

Was up till 2:30 this morning just sitting around talking. We just missed celebrating Xmas Eve with some of dying. A shell dropped three yds from corner of our house, which made it 6 yds all told from us. God was sure with us this time. Shall long remember this date.

Dec 26 Sun.

A few more shells dropped in last night, about 200 yds away. Went back to Ser. Co. yest. afternoon. Sgt. Gernard and Capt. Wilson were busted. Nathan is OK.

Dec 27 Mon.

Not much going on last night. Weather is mostly cold. Snow all on top of mountain, rather beautiful sight. Played cards till midnight.

Dec 28 Tues.

Helped find graves of five of our fellows. We have natives doing the dogging, I can hardly stand the stench. Shall never forget the stench. Much movement of troops up this way. Hope we are relieved soon.

Dec 29 Wed.

Uncovered and brought home 3 more fellows yest. afternoon. 34th Div. is relieving the 36th. Wonder when our turn is. We have far more front line credit than those two. We will be in England in two more months for the spring drive into France.

Dec 30 Thurs.

Did not do anything but keep dry. Sleep till noon today. Cut wood and wrote letter to Irene. 180th caught hell in 1st Btl(Btn). We still think we are to be relieved within a few days. No shells here in town for three nights.

Dec 31. Fri 1943

This is the last day in our all year. God help us to change things for the world before another year rolls around. We worked this morning, found one of our boys, and buried 4 germans. 180th sure caught hell.

___________________ 1944


Jan. 1 1944 Sat.
Pozzelli, Italy.

We were shell at 15 minutes before the new year. No damage. We are preparing to leave this town. Our Regt. Is being relieved by French, they are all over this place.

Jan 2 Sun.

We had snow all over our bed this morning. The weather is never invigorating. Our band boys left awhile ago. I have to do up on hill 769 again to get body. Nathan was here to visit.

Jan 3. Mon.

We w to bed early so we could leave early. But had to up in hills after another body. We are leaving afternoon. The Band is to go to Naples soon, they are in A life.

Jan 4 Tues.

We are now in biv. area in Piedemonte. In 5th Army reserve. We are going to start setting showers to the fellows. Saw Humphries, his wife. Very good show. In person.

Jan 5 Wed.

Have a very good set up. No stove in our tent. It is snowing, wind very strong, We do not know what is to become of us. Rumor has us, England, home, upper Italy, Greece, India, etc. Played cards again last night. Not doing so good as usual. Damn but it's cold. Wrote two letters.

Jan. 6. Thurs.

As cold as hell here. We are going to get to take showers. I may go to hospital and get my back checked up on. Our training consists of physical exercise and close order drill. We may not be here long.

Jan 7 Fri.

Another day with nothing important. The wind is not blowing now, but weather is very cold. Am moving into building at Cemetery tomorrow, now isn't that something !

Jan 8, Sat.

Have finished moving into Cemetery. A good deal. Took first hot bath with all new cloths. Got shoes fixed with high tops. Rest camp at Naples is out. Will probably move it to another town.

Jan. 9. Sun.

This is OK here at Cemetery. The caretaker is always bringing us something. Went to 5th Army stage show last night. Very good. We are to have it for this outfit soon. All one Div. & attached units are here now. What next?

Jan. 10. Mon.

Very busy getting things set up for shows, etc. in Reg. Area. Saw movie again last night in Piedimonte.

Jan 11 Tues.

The weather was wonderful last night. Have things arranged for more. We still do not know how long we will be around here. This rest is wonderful.

"Keeper of the Flame" Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn, 1942

Jan. 12. Wed.

Had movie here last night in front of Cemetery ("Keeper of the flame"). Fine weather. The div. Band is wonderful/ Was sure glad to see our 179th band relieved from G.R.S. work. They will play this afternoon for our third Blt. Sure made a swell stove from an oil can. Received 8 letters from my future wife.

Jan. 13 Thurs

Had show last night. Very good turnout. Sure have our graveyard home fixed up. We are all there (Richmond & Puter) plenty busy. A rest does not mean rest for Spec. Ser. Department.

Jan. 14 Fri

Another movie last night. Joe E. Brown is to be here Sunday. Will have Army show afternoon. 36th Div. Is moving back up. Which means we will follow soon. Hope so. So we can get this job done. So I can go home to Irene.

Jan 15 Sat.

Had show last night. (Movie) (Red Skelton). Got more recruits in this morning. Are having mountain ski training for a few men. Counter Intelligence Received more letters from darling Irene.

Jan 16 Sun

(We have 156 days on front line some record)

[Continued in another note book.]

Joe E, Brown Italy 1944

St. Potito, Italy
Jan 16 Sun. 1944

Another movie last night. This will not keep up for long. Joe E. Brown was really swell. I got his autograph and am proud to have it. 6000 attended. The weather is getting colder. Received official word that Capt. Cardiff and Overstreet are captured not dead, that's good news.

Jan 17 Mon. 1944

The wind was too strong for a movie last night, it was too cold anyway. We are getting ready to leave. Lord knows where this time. 179th is the first to pull out. Are ready to get going again.

Jan 18 Tues.

Shook hands with Joe E. Brown, a fine fellow. His show was next to the fellows. We are getting ready to move. Within three days I think. We had another movie last night.

"The Sky's the Limit" - Fred Astaire plays a war hero who wants to spend a quiet furlough in New York. Joan Leslie as his partner Released 1943.

Jan 19 Wed.

The damned operator went haywire so didn't have movie last night. But Humphrey Bogart his wife and Don Commings were here. They are certainly swell people. I talked awhile with Humphrey, he liked my Lugar. Got his home address, told him I would like to see his gun collection. We are ready to move. We will have one more movie tonight [Sky The Limit].

Jan 20

Coordinated with the Anzio landings, the 5th Army launches attacks at the Cassino front. The 36th Texas Division has heavy loses at the Rapido River crossing.

Jan 20 Thurs.

Show was fine last night. We are parked to move at 5:00 PM. To staging area just north of Naples.

Jan 21 Fri.

Arrived at staging area at 9:30. It is down in crater thousands of years old. High walls as well as cliffs, only one way out. Am on T.Q.M. again. We will load up in two days. Sure is cold and damp down here.

Jan 22 Sat.

Worked till 3:30 A.M. loading LST. Ready to go now. We now have 36 new men in G.R.S. all a bunch of no goods, mbar. This is sure a hell hole down here. Fog so thick you could cut with a knife.
[LST = Landing Ship Tank used to land heavy equipment onto shore.]

Jan 23 Sun.

Went to Caserta, to 5th Army Hq. to get supply of G.R.S. equipment. Saw several big shots but got nothing. We are going to load this afternoon or tonight. Guess they need Inf. Up near Rome. Received 4 letters from Irene. I sure love that woman.

 

Used by permission of The Italian Campaign website.
Steve Cole Collierville, TN Web Master of "The Italian Campaign"
[http://members.aol.com/ItalyWW2/Menu.htm]

 

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