GUNNERS FROM THE SKY
di Paul Chrystal
Then 24 November saw 1 and 3 Batteries reach Capracotta (situated on a ridge at 4,000ft) after a quiet period due to atrocious weather; here they joined up with 2 Battery which had been supporting 2 Canadian Infantry Brigade since 5 November. The local response, indeed retort, to yet another German bombardment with 150mm air bursts was, as described by Sergeant Neil Tierney, the choristers of the local church, San Eusonia, in a rousing rendition of Thomas of Celano's "Dies Irae" (The Day of Wrath), the Amen from which eclipsed the thundering guns «perhaps as high as the throne of God» and «drifted down like sunbeams on the weary soldiers listening outside». Communications were compromised when Italians started using battery land lines as clothes lines. Munford's furious threats should there be a recurrence restored relations and communications. After a visit to an impromptu art exhibition in Campobasso two Canadian war artists impressed Colonel Thompson: they were William Ogilvie and Charles Comfort, and they were invited to spend time with the regiment. They duly rolled up in Elena with their equipment in a 15cwt truck and were billeted above a bakery in the town. Thompson and Major Keith-Jones gave them a schedule which they completed despite the rain and captured the essence of the regiment and its work. Comfort’s work is published in his 1956 "Artist at War". Malaria and yellow jaundice continued to plague the regiment with numerous soldiers infected; Lieutenant Brian Devlin, the regiment's medical officer, died of yellow jaundice.
P. Chrystal e D. Chrystal, Gunners from the Sky. 1st Air Landing Light Regiment in Italy & at Arnhem (1942-44), Pen & Sword, Barnsley 2023, pp. 34-35.