WITH THE EAST SURREYS

di Bryn Evans

"A snow line patrol", from the memoirs of Lieutenant John Woodhouse:

«At times the road up to Capracotta had more than fifteen feet of snow over it in several places, when all supplies had to be dragged on sledges for the last twelve miles. In similar mountains on the north side of the river were the Germans. They were reported by the Italians to have a scattered outpost line halfway up them, and a mile from the river. It was the Germans' habit to visit the part-wrecked villages on their own side of the river to get food and anything else they fancied. Owing to the Germans' destruction and looting of villages and farms, it became clear that we could rely on the local Italians as guides. The through destruction of the roads in the valley made an attack of any size unlikely, and the Germans were content to let sleeping dogs lie. Except that a few shells landed occasionally on the outskirts of the town, Capracotta lived peacefully with its 400 Italians and its British garrison of about 200 men. On 18 January I was ordered to take a patrol across the valley and capture a prisoner. We needed information on the Germans' strenght, and what regiment or other units we were up against. The following is an account of this patrol, typical of many patrols in Italy's mountains, which I recorded not long afterwards».

  • B. Evans, With the East Surrey's in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy: 1942-1945. Fighting for Every River and Mountain, Pen & Sword, Barnsley 2012.

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