Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, March 1, 2006
Got up early and drove straight to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, about an hour and a half away. Nearing Carlisle I saw an Amish cart trotting along the road and shortly after that suddenly noticed flashing lights and a huge police patrol car behind me ushering me to pull over. Annoyingly, I was only a couple of hundred yards from my junction to turn into Carlisle. Actually the State Trooper was very polite, but I still got a whopping fine. Was just leaving the interstate when I saw a sign declaring that speeding fines were double along the stretch of road I’d just been driving – so cursed madly.
The Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks has changed since the last time I was here and is now in a brand new building called the Army Heritage Centre – and not within the barracks compound as it used to be, but on a site all of its own. It’s a great place to research – as was the old site – and puts NARA to shame. There were only a handful of other researchers and the staff are all universally polite and helpful – even the security guard who, amazingly, recognised me from my previous visit two years before.
Found lots of good German archives that had been either commissioned or translated just after the war, including very detailed accounts by both Kesselring and Von Senger. Both had also written in some detail about the damaging effects of the Italian Partisans. Interestingly, few Anglophone accounts of the campaign that I have looked at ever make any mention at all of the part played by the Partisans in the Axis defeat in Italy. There are also a load of memoirs, testimonies, questionnaires written by veterans of the campaign from lowly privates to high-ranking generals, as well as interviews in the â€˜Senior Officers Debriefing Program’. Thank God they allow digital photography here, or else I will never have the time to get through half this stuff.
Left when the archive closed at five, then headed into Carlisle and the hotel. I’d only just checked in when Antony Beevor arrived as well. We’d planned to be in Carlisle at the same time some weeks before, as it’s a fairly small place in the middle of nowhere and both of us thought it would be more fun to have a friend in town. Anyway, it was very good to see him and later we went into the centre of the town and had a good supper.
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