ITALY

di Neville Crompton Phillips (1916-2001)

Everywhere roads had to be kept under continuous repair by men wielding shovels, whose patience was sorely tried as thrashing wheel chains and hissing tyres bespattered them with mud. The blockage of roads by the snow dammed up the stream of traffic and drew shellfire, and the work of clearing them engaged parties of men from nearly all units. The northern Guardiagrele road was not fully restored until the 7th, and it was the night of 7-8 January before a bulldozer cleared the last few yards of slush from Duncan's road.

Though on New Year's Day no supply vehicles could leave the Division to bring up supplies because of the snowfall, thereafter Army Service Corps convoys maintained their regular services, where necessary deviating from the usual routes. On all three of the front-line sub-sectors mules served the forward troops. Jeeps would bring supplies from unit rear echelons to agreed points as near the front as possible, where the mule packs would be made up. The superiority of primitive means of transport in rough weather was not, however, without exception; and a certain piquancy attends the experience of Lieutenant Brownlie and his party of fourteen trucks which was despatched from 4th Reserve Mechanical Transport Company on Boxing Day in search of mules. Before they could reach Agnone, where the mules were to be loaded, he and his men became snowbound at Capracotta and had to be fed from the skies by parachute.

  • N. C. Phillips, Italy, vol. I, Owen, Wellington 1957, p. 164.

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