Entries by James Holland

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

January 17, 2005 Spoke to Hans Kumberg again today, this time by telephone to his home in Toronto.  Telephone interviews work fine now that I can record the conversation digitally, and so long as I’ve already met the person I’m speaking to.  I am convinced that you need to interview people face to face.  After […]

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

December 16, 2004 Spoke to Stephen Hastings today, who tells me he has cancer of the spine.  ‘Yes, it’s a bit of bore,’ he said. ‘but there you go.’  He talked about heading out to Italy again and told me he has only a couple of minor changes for my North Africa book, but clearly […]

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

November 1, 2004 I’ve finally handed in my North Africa book.  There’s still some way to go: revisions, maps to be sorted out, photographs etc etc, but it does mean that I can begin to get back to Italy once more.  Feels like it’s been put to one side for a long while now.

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Rome, May 22, 2004 Back to Rome again and made my way to Wolf’s apartment in the hills north of the Tiber.  Wolf has German parents, was brought up in Canada, and has married an Italian.  His uncle-in-law ended up as a general in the Carabinieri,  but in the war led a number of Italians […]

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Cassino, May 21, 2004 Managed to catch my flight OK, and after landing back in Rome, drove down to Cassino once more, where I finally met Monty Soutar from New Zealand.  He’s over here with a number of Kiwi veterans.

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Piacenza, May 20, 2004 The party from last night reconvened and we headed off in cars into the mountains for a tour of their old Partisan haunts.  It was an amazing day.  Lunch was in a mountain trattoria run by another former partisan and seemed to be never ending – one course after another of […]

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Cassino, May 19, 2004 I joined Wolf and his family for the German memorial service high in the mountains behind Snake’s Head Ridge.  Later we saw the spot where a large number of British tanks had been destroyed.  They had all trundled up the mountain one behind the other along an old mule track – […]

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Cassino, May 18, 2004 Got up early and headed straight to Cassino.  I’ve seen many photographs of the town and the monastery looming above it, but I stunned by seeing it all for real for the first time.  It looks a ridiculous place to try and fight a battle.  Monastery Hill is an unbelievably formidable […]

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Cassino, May 17, 2004 Bit of a cock-up today.  On my way to Stanstead, I went to see Clive and Linda Denney and Vintage Restorations.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realise how quite how far they are from Stanstead, nor how bad the traffic would be so by the time I had parked and caught a bus […]

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

February 26, 2004 Today I drove up to Northamptonshire to see Sir Stephen Hastings. Earl Jellicoe, when I interviewed him about North Africa, told me I should talk to his old friend, as Sir Stephen had not only served with the SAS in the Western Desert but had later won an MC working for SOE […]

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Polish Centre, Hammersmith, February 23, 2004 A few months ago, I wrote a review of Matthew Parker’s book, ‘Monte Cassino’ for the Daily Telegraph, but failed to mention the efforts of the Poles.  Not long after I received a letter from Teresa Rubnikowicz rightly admonishing me for the fact.  I wrote back telling her that […]

Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

London, February 5, 2004 Matthew Parker has finished his epic work on Monte Cassino and very generously gave me his folder on German veterans.   Amongst the notes and emails was a message from Wolf von Kumberg, a Canadian whose German father had served in the Fallschirmjager at Cassino and subsequently through much of the remainder […]