COOPER'S SNOOPERS

di Peter Johnston (1921-2008)

If the Caravili detachment was dirty work for us in this sad neck of the woods, it was hellish for the Third Brigade, whose three regiments, the Royal 22e, West Nova Scotias and the Carleton and Yorks, had been in my care back in Seaford. Just north of us, they were required to push the well dug-in Germans back to, and if possible over the Sangro River in appalling weather conditions, where the mountain roads had been made almost impassable by blown bridges, wrecked culverts and dynamited cliff faces overhanging tight hairpin bends-and refugees. All reminiscent of the German invasion of the Low Countries in 1940 when they used refugees to block us. About 20 miles north of Caravili the Royal 22e found the villages of San Pietro, Ateleta, Capracotta and several others burnt to the ground. A scorched earth from which all livestock had been taken away and from which all the wretched inhabitants had been forced to take to the roads. Means had to be found of funneling them through to the Section in Campobasso for vetting. We had our hands full.

  • P. Johnston, Cooper's Snoopers and Other Follies. A Memoir About Spies, Diplomats and Other Rascals, Trafford, Victoria 2002.

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