Tini Glover served with the 28 (Maori) Battalion in Italy 1944-45.
Interviewed in Gisborne October 2004
Do you find yourself thinking about the war much?
More so lately.
Why do you think that is?
Well, I suppose you’re glad to get home & you don’t want to think about the war; don’t want to talk about it. I’ve said more about the war in the last 8 or 10 years than I ever talked about before.
Do you find yourself thinking about it in quiet moments?
Yeah & I cry a little – lately. Getting old eh?
Do you think you get more emotional as you get older?
Yeah. When a mate of yours dies 20 or 30 years ago, you put him in the ground & you think you’ll have a few beers on him & a good feed & now you think to yourself ? Out of just under a thousand soldiers who went away from the Gisbourne, east coast area, they could please themselves whether they went to B Company or C & a lot of them came to C; it all depended what their area was & their blood. Some of them belonged to both; some of them opted for one & went in another. My cousin was like that. His mother was from Rotarua but his father was from Tolaga Bay & his father was a First World War veteran & he went over in the second lot of Maories that went over. He went to Greece & Crete & his name was Dick Thompson. He had his 17th birthday on Crete, so he must have been 16 in Greece. When his uncle came over – his mother was a Chieftainess – elder of her tribe. This Ty Mitchell is a direct descendent of the navigator of the ?? canoe, (the original canoe they came over in) & my uncle was a chief in Tolaga Bay. When his uncle Eddie Mitchell came over as lieutenant he said to Dick â€œCome over with me so Dick left C company & went over to B company & became quarter master sergeant of B company. He came home half way through the Italian campaign which was a bit sad because he & I were good mates. He was about 3 months older than me, but he was the boss. Him & I grew up together.
Were you brought up round here?
Tolaga Bay. I am the oldest grandchild & I was reared by my grandfather. By Maori custom, the grandfather can take the oldest grandchild, & the parents have got no say in the matter so I lived with my grandparents.
So you never saw your parents when you were very young?
Yeah, I did, I lived just across the river from them but I stayed with my grandparents & I called them Mum & Dad too. But my grandfather was a half caste – his father was from Hull. I’ve got as coat of arms in there given to me by a chap who studied these things.
Growing up, were you immersed in Maori customs?
Not really, my grandfather talked perfect Maori & my grandmother’s parents came out from England but she could speak perfect Maori too. They had a hotel in ? & she worked in the hotel trade. My grandfather & grandmother were good to me; I didn’t realise it at the time. They were really kind to me. I said to my mother once when I was 4 or 5 â€œWhy did you give me away? I miss you sometimes. The other kids go out on a picnic & I have to stay at home with the old people. She said â€œYour grandfather’s going to teach you things you won’t learn at school. He’s going to teach you the best fishing grounds in Tolaga; how to catch the best fish. That river is teeming with food – people are too lazy he taught me how to put a net out – 100 flounders in the morning on one tide. I was popular in Tolaga growing up – everybody used to say â€œWhat about some flounders? & I’d say â€œYou buggers are too lazy! but I’d trade them. My grandfather used to say â€œDon’t give them to people if they’re not good to you.
What was your grandfather’s business?
He had a shipping company; 3 of them had it Robert Holder, William Lockwood & Henry Glover.
So you were brought up learning about ships & stuff?
Yeah. In those days there wasn’t a wharf at Tolaga & the home boats used to sit out in the bay & the 3 partners owned a dumping shed. They called themselves the Tolaga Bay Light Rig (?) Company..2 bales of wool & they pushed them together. All the wool went to England, to the sales. The boat was the Ben Line from Leith, Scotland. They had the contract to take all the wool away. My grandfather used to say â€œCome on boy, get up early, I’ll take you out to the home boat. I was very popular because all the kids wanted to go on the home boat. I used to take 2 at a time & we’d go up in the basket. Grandfather wouldn’t let us climb up the ladder. I said â€œI can climb the ladder, but he said â€œNo, you go up in the basket, & we’d stay there all day. He’d come in & out & on the next load he’d bring us back. There were Chinese crews on. They’d spoil us – give us lollies & stuff like that he didn’t see.
So you quite enjoyed yourself?
Yeah. My grandfather taught me to look for Pippies – cockles & the flat ones. In the river – it was lousy with Pippies but they’re too bloody lazy to get them now. They go to the fish shop for them. I’ve got a prime spot on the river by the bridge. My grandfather always told me in Maori ?? never sell land. So much land has been taken off us so what we’ve got left, we’ve got to hold. So I’m the chairman of a muti million dollar company. We export squash; we’ve got grape vines; we sell sheep & cattle & we’ve got a forest. So you can imagine how big it is.
What about your father? Did he work for your grandfather?
My father was a bit jealous of me. I come to think that in the end. He used to knock me around; get drunk & knock me around.
Did you have much to do with your brothers & sisters when you were growing up?
How many of you were there?
4 of us. One was an afterthought but there was me, my sister & younger brother. My father worshipped my sister & he wasn’t so hard on my younger brother but he used to knock hell out of me; you’ve got no idea.
Bloody booze. He used to knock my mother around as well. When I was 13 years old I told him to leave her alone & he said â€œWho the f’ing hell are you to tell me & he started advancing on me & I learned a blind hitter, you never look at his face; you watch their feet shuffling towards you & a policeman told me once if you’ve got one of those wood burning stoves, get a length of wood about that long, have it behind your back & when he gets near enough, you whack him with it & that’s what I did. He was advancing on me & picking on my mother & I knew he was going to hit her & I said â€œLeave her alone; every time you’re drunk you get like that. He said â€œI’ve hit you before & I’ll hit you again, you little bastard. â€œI said â€œYou try it. He said â€œYou can’t even look me in the face. He got near enough & I whacked him & he was bleeding & my mother was wailing â€œYou’ve killed him! But then he got up & came after me but I ran. I knew the policeman in Tolaga Bay; he was a lazy old bloke & he used to sit in a sop door way every day & I saw him & I exposed myself (???) to make sure he’d see me & then my dad came & said â€œGot you, you little bastard! & the policeman said â€œYou leave him alone!
When he sobered up, did you.
He wasn’t very good to me. He said I was spoilt. And it was proved because my grandfather didn’t leave him a bloody penny. He hated me for that.
Your grandfather left it all to you?
Yeah & when my father died & my mother said to me â€œWhat’s going to happen to your brothers & sister? I took them down to my lawyer who was a friend of mine & said I want to make a will – quarter shares for all of us and my younger brother got a bit smart with me then. He said â€œYou think you’re so smart. I said â€œIf it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have anything. He said â€œYou’ve got more than us anyway. My mother gave me a little bit extra when I came home from the war. She gave me a plot of land I could build on & some chairs & big blocks. She was wide awake the old girl. She was very kind to me. I loved my mum. About 18 months before my dad died, he started to get close to me. He loved going to races & they were in Tolaga & I was here in Gisbourne & I liked horse racing at that time; you go through stages. I don’t go near them now; don’t even have a bet. He used to enjoy it. We’d take a bottle of whisky..I never drank hot stuff; I’m a beer man. Don’t like wine really.
So you got on with him in the end?
He told me he was sorry for what he’d done. He had an old rattle trap car & I found him another..he used to be a mechanic by trade. I found a 1936 Morris 8.
When you were growing up before the war, did you go to the Maori meeting houses & all that?
Yes, on my mother’s side.she was a good organiser. She used to teach the girls how to bottle fruit. They loved her.
Were you brought up on all the Maori stories?
Oh yeah, but my grandfather told me always to concentrate on the Pakeh language – European languages, because the Maori language was dying. It was dying at the time.
But there’s been a revival since the war.
So when were you born?
What made you join the army? You volunteered?
Yes, volunteered – all your mates were joining & my cousin was joining, & him & I joined together. The recruiting officer was a captain of the First World War & he was a good friend of my mum & dad.
But it wasn’t from a sense of patriotism? It was because all your mates were joining?
That’s it; there was a little bit of what we call now the price of citizenship. We were second class citizens. White boys had farms on our land; they got a peppercorn rental. We weren’t allowed to say a word. Those guys used to say â€œYou’re not farmers, arse holes. We’ve got your bloody land & we’ll own it in the end, & boy, now we’ve got one of the top farms in this area & I remind those bastards good & bloody strong. One guy said to me the other day â€œHey Glover! I said â€œIvan, don’t you hey Glover me at any time. My name’s Tini; if you want to talk to me you say good day Tini. I went to school with you – same class as you so don’t you fucking patronise me by calling me hey Glover as if I’m a bit of bloody shit because I’m not. We’ve got our land back now & you’ve got bugger all. So put that in your pipe & smoke it. The next time I saw him I said â€œHow’s it going Ivan? â€œOh hello Tini – I proved a point.
So what you were saying about second rate citizenship – you felt if you went over & did your bit.
We went to fight to show them we could do our stuff.
Were you proud of being a Maori?
Yeah, but what hurt me was we weren’t allowed to talk Maori at school. We had the bloody strap if we talked Maori in the school ground
But you really felt when you joined up & were going off to fight that it was partly because of your mates going, partly the adventure.
The honour & the glory.
The honour & glory were a big part of it?
Yeah, also we wanted to prove we could do our stuff. They weren’t going to have a Maori battalion but ?? was too strong – he insisted that the Maoris wouldn’t go unless they were fighting under..& then they mucked around with us, those white officers. When we were ready to have our colonels, they got rid of ? Gardiner wrote & said he wasn’t capable. A lot of bloody bullshit.
Is that not a good book?
No, it’s not so good. He said he’d rectify it, but he never did.
Do you actually remember joining up?
Oh yeah, I remember. We came down to the area office here. Me & my cousin we both came down & signed our papers.
How did you travel from Tolaga Bay to Gisbourne?
On the freight train; we wouldn’t spend 2 & 6 on a passenger car. My father’s cousin ran the freight & we used to hide under the canvas. There was a recruiting office in Gisbourne & in Rotorua. Rotorua was area 7A; Gisbourne was area 7B & Wyral was area 7C.
So you knew you were going to be joining C Company?
Can you remember the date?
I don’t remember no. But ? rang up my mother & she put a stop to it, told him I was too young. So I’d just started to work then & I was painting houses. We to ? for the weekend & I signed up again.
So you got refused here did you?
Well by the time mum knew, I’d passed my exams & was on my way to the camp, in the centre of the island.
So when your mum phoned, you had to come home again did you?
Oh yeah, but then she said â€œYou know what you’re doing I suppose.
So you came down to Gisbourne & signed up & were on your way to camp
No, you signed up & then you were called for a medical & before I could get through the medical, she’d stopped it.
Then you went to a different place?
Yeah, went to Wyral (?). I passed the medical in Wyral & by the time mum knew about it, I’d come home & seen her & said â€œI’m on my way – Monday I’m off
How old were you?
15. I had a couple of years in the army in New Zealand before I went over because the Japanese came & they sent us up to North Auckland because they thought they’d try & take North Auckland.
So you were training?
There was a battalion of us – a thousand of us. Out of 12 of us we only had one rifle & out of a company we only had one bren gun. We trained with stickspoles. I’ll tell you, it was a bloody farce.
So you were still 28 battalion but..
That was second battalion – battalion reinforcements.
But you still called yourselves 28 battalion?
No, not then. We formed a battalion up there to go to North Auckland & we called that the 2nd battalion. We were supposed to go to the islands but next moment there was a hullabaloo. The jokers had been over 3 years..the heavy ack ack & that’s when we went over.
So then you went to Italy?
No, went to the Middle East first. We did our training at Mina, near the Pyramids.
Can you remember the trip over?
Oh yeah. We sailed on the New Amsterdam; beautiful boat; good crew on it; Dutch crew.
Was that an eye opener, because you can’t have been abroad before?
No – we thought what a bloody big ship. We went on a final leave & then I found out my girlfriend was up the family way. She was a silly girl & I thought to myself what shall I do. My mother was a wee bit religious & she said â€œIt’s up to you but if you leave things untidy, he might not help you. I said â€œShall we get married? & she said â€œYes. By the time I got to the Middle East I heard the sad story that she’d had a miscarriage & she’d had to have her ovaries removed because she had a cyst. But her sister was in the WAF & she was in the family way & my girl said â€œCan we adopt her kid? I thought keep her happy so I said yes. She sent me the papers & a captain in the battalion was a certified lawyer & he signed the papers, so that’s how I got that boy. She was a good woman but one of the soldiers, she succumbed to him. I went home to patch things up & I caught her & him at it & it’s a funny thing, she’d asked me to bring her cigarettes & the buggers were smoking my cigarettes. I thought not only are you with my wife, you’re smoking my bloody cigarettes. I waited & he was a gutless bugger & he wouldn’t fight & I dragged him out & kicked him til I was sick of kicking him & then I whacked her too. I’m not proud of it but she deserved it.
Did you make up with her?
Did you stay married to her?
She asked me for another chance & I said â€œBetter for you to stay away. There’s no future for you & I. I’ve got a wife now; she’s had 2 husbands. She’s very possessive but her & I don’t live together; she’s too bloody possessive. She was a district nurse, but she’s 75 this year.
END of number one.
Jamie I’ve kind of paraphrased the last bit about the first wife – got the salient details, but if you want a blow by blow account, let me know!
Tini Glover Number 2
How long were you at Mardi before you were shipped over to Italy?
We were in Meddah (?) we did training there – only about a month – why we went there because the battalion had come back from Tripoli & they filled in the Mardi camp, so we couldn’t get in there anyway. But as soon as they went to Berg el Arab on their way to Italy, we moved into Mardi.
And that was in 43 was it?
Yeah & we went along there & then we moved out to Berg el Arab. I’ll tell you a joke – Berg el Arab – they said â€œWe’ve got a job to do here, & we said â€œWhat? Complete desert but in different wadi’s there was a little cookhouse; they use to bring down tins. They said â€œThere’s an American brigade coming in & they want some tucker cooked; they’re coming off the boat in Alexandria. When we looked at the rations at the cookhouse, we pinched all the good rations & gave them soya links. They’re bloody awful; taste like sawdust done up like sausages. They look good. We fed the buggers on soya links for 2 days & they were moaning like anything. I said â€œThey’re made in America – good stuff! We liked their Spam; we ate all their Spam. I expect you’ll make something of all this.
When did you finally get over to Italy? Where you still a replacement battalion?
Yeah, we were part of the replacement; we got over there at Christmas, so it must have been November. We were a month making a base at a place called San Bassilia between Tranto (??) & Bari (??) It was a whole hillside of oak trees & they used to cut the branches down & make charcoal out of it & opposite was an abbey & I remember the monks, or the people who worked at the abbey, they had almond orchards there used to bring roasted almonds to us which was a great delicacy.
So this would have been the end of 43?
Yeah, because we moved up just on Christmas up to the battalion, to the ?? river but we didn’t cross it; it was already taken ???? we joined the B echelon of the battalion; the reinforcements & then they came out for Christmas but that was a couple of days after Christmas. They celebrated Christmas, but we weren’t allowed to until the battalion, you know. Well, the first night they came out, el vino was flowing. We used to drink it by the mug full & you know what? You leave that wine in that enamel mug overnight & it takes all the enamel off. What it must do to your stomach & the Italians used to see us drinking it like that & shake their heads because they used to water it down. So we made this camp – advanced base they called it, where all the troops come in & go through advance base then we were called to go to the Adriatic coast & they pulled out for Christmas & I remember that night, everyone was happy to see each other & that night we went to sleep about midnight & there was bloody snow. That night they’d put the little bivvies out & we were in an old cleaned out stable but I remember getting up next morning & having to dig all the jokers out because the snow had fallen softly but nobody died.
So at this point you were put into C company were you?
Yes, I was in C company.
As soon as you went up the line?
Yeah, C Company, reinforcements.
Which platoon were you in?
Same as Micky.(Maiki?)
Yeah, 15 platoon, 7 section.
Was Awatare (?) your colonel?
Yes, he was eventually; good man; a very good man.
A hard man though?
Ahh, but he was bloody fair. If you did what you were told, you were alright. If you bucked the system, he’d pick you up.
When you joined you were just a private?
Yes, when I was in New Zealand, I went up to Sergeant.
Oh you were sergeant by the time you got over were you?
Yes, but you had to drop all the New Zealand ranks when you got out there & you had to work your way up again.
Did you have any good mates in the section?
Oh yeah, I had a school mate there John Jakarra (?)A very good mate. He ended up burnt to death & I would have been one of those jokers.Yeah I had a lot of mates; lot of mates from Tolly. Section leader was a chap from Kowrua (?) who I knew very well in civilian life; he died of wounds in Maadi; that was a sad story. We went to see Ben & he said I’m not feeling very well. We said What’s wrong? He got a dear John letter; his missus was up the duff by this old fella – he had weights between his legs because his leg was smashed – next day we got the news that he got this letter & he tore all the bandages off & bled to death.
So he did himself in almost?
Can you remember your first action?
Oh can I remember it! I remember it very well.
Did you feel ready? Was life in the front line what you expected?
I’ll tell you – when I was going away – we all got drunk when we were going on the service car. We went & had a few beers in the Masonic Hotel. There were about 6 service cars lined up to take you away to camp. My cousin said â€œTini, don’t you go killing those Germans all by yourself; leave some to some of the others. And as a drunken boast I said â€œIf I kill 3 before they kill me, I don’t mind. They said â€œWhy 3? Well, I’d just heard that my favourite uncle had been killed at Takrouna & I said â€œIf I kill one for Widi (?), one for myself & one for luck, that’s evened the score. And we went in to relieve the line & we were in a forward position & we were cleaning our rifles & we could see across this little wadi to a house where Company HQ & it was being shelled. We were saying â€œGive it to the bastards! & one fell short – about 5, 10 yards away & the blast got me & I hadn’t seen a German & as soon as they saw me they said â€œYou’re going out they cut my sleeve off with a bush knife & put a field dressing on & bandaged it up.
Did it hurt?
Oh it was all numb. We went out under the red cross flag & it was rattle tattle then they let us across & it was rattle tattle again so I’ve a bit of admiration for the Germans then.
How long were you out of the line then?
Well, I was coming home; everybody told me I was coming home. When I went to the RAP, they dressed me as best they could & said â€œYou go to the advanced dressing station; that’s where you’ll have your first op. We got to there & we had the Red Devils with us. The operating team was there & they said â€œYou’ll be going home soldier with that wound. It was preying on my mind because I’d said about getting these 3. They said â€œwe’ve got to dress you – you’ll go to the casualty clearing station – the next one back.’ I went back by jeep ambulance – no wash, no nothing, on the bed with dirty old boots & it smelt..I remember them putting me on the bed & the smell..but they had a white rubber sheet down & a little sister came in & her name was Sister Bunny & she was from Wiaruppa (?) – a little wee woman & she said â€œNow, I am going to give you a wash because you smell like anything. I said â€œI’m sorry about that, & I was sad & tried to hide my face. â€œDon’t worry; it must be bad out there. How old are you? I said â€œ17, rising 21. She said â€œNaughty boy you should still be at school! Now I’m going to wash you. I said â€œJust leave the basin & I’ll wash myself. She said â€œYou just sit back there & behave yourself. She pulled all my clothes off & you could see the marks – you know? The ribbings of your socks – you could see the marks – bloody filthy. I said â€œSorry sister! She said â€œDon’t be naughty; I’m old enough to be your grandmother! And she washed me & when it came to my private parts I said â€œI’ll do it. She said â€œSit there & she slapped my hand & she washed my bloody balls & my backside & it felt good! But I was ashamed. She said â€œNaughty boy! I’ve done that 100’s of times! Anyway, the next day they put us on a hospital train; a Scottish hospital train all kitted out so that when you put the stretchers in, there were racks & they took us down to Bari (?) down the coast, well away from the war zone & they moved out of Bari. When they examined me – a big hulking joker – an All Black in 1905, Dr Dunne (?) was his name. He looked like a real farmer but his hands – long fingers – you knew you were in good hands; you knew he was a bloody operator. He looked at me & said â€œYou’re lucky – we’re going to put you on this new wonder drug – Penicillin. My arm was broken too & he put it in a cast & had it on for about a fortnight & it came out beautiful – pink skin, but it was like that – couldn’t move it. So they sent me to a convalescent camp a bloody great place & that night I met a couple of my mates who were there & they were going out the next day so they were having a booze up & I went down to this local wine bar & I felt rotten & passed out & I heard afterwards they carried me home – they were older than me – but every now & then they’d have a drink of wine & drop me in the street & when I woke in the morning all my hair was matted with mud & my battle dress was matted with mud but the amazing thing was, my arm was straight! At Casa Lasima (?) you had to have a chore to do & my mate said to me â€œWe’ll put you on our job. They had pans upstairs because they didn’t have lavatories but the secret of it was to get up at 5 in the morning & pinch the pans because they didn’t get up to pee until 6am then leave the pans in the place where you wash them, so that was my chore the day & I didn’t have to go route marching or anything. I met a family there – she was the Countess of Casa Lasima – she’d be about 40 odd & I was 17 & I’ll tell you the truth – she fucking raped me! Told my mates to stay away & she raped me! I was too bloody shy man! I used to be frightened. Next day she saddled up this beautiful dapple grey trotting horse & a rubber tired buggy & we past the boys route marching & they were shouting â€œHey, get you! Get you! & I said â€œOut the way Hughie! She took me up to her farm – to this big loft where the grain was
Was she a good looking woman?
Oh a fine looking woman! Beautiful body but I was frightened of her & the next minute she was pulling her pants down on top of this fucking grain & saying come here boy! She was a sex maniac. I was there for a fortnight & I was glad to get out of there. I said I wouldn’t go there but I went every night! The servant girl would say â€œGo up to her room; she’s not well. Take cigarettes, chocolate they knew better than going to her room; her room was private.
So you were there for 2 weeks?
Yeah, about 2 weeks. Me & Connor O’Brien – he was my cobber – we went to advanced base together – to battalion. This sergeant major, he’d been a reverted officer from New Zealand & he was a ? bastard & this Connor O’Brien he got mentioned in despatches just before that; he got killed – blown up. When we got there, he said â€œGo in that tent there; you’ll find straw & palliases. Put your gear in there tidy & I’ll come & inspect it later. We went in & the tent was ripped & the palliases & straw were all wet & Connor said â€œBugger this! You & I aren’t sleeping here! We’ll find an other one. We found a smaller tent – it was for officers – & we made ourselves comfortable & this bloke came along & said â€œWhat the fucking hell are you doing in here? Connor said â€œWe’re not sleeping on wet straw. Pigs wouldn’t sleep on that & this bloke started throwing his weight around & said â€œIt’s alright for you buggers & went to throw Connor’s kit bag out & as he was bending down & Connor hit him on the back of his head & he went down. He was a puncher was Connor but he was a good mate. So we went up to the Maori training depot – that was base reception you see. We walked up with all our gear & there was this one pipper. We said â€œWe’ve just donged a sergeant major He said â€œChrist, you’re lucky boys. You’re not going to hide here. And he got us on a truck going up to Battalion & it was going to Casino..
For the third battle?
Yeah.& no papers came though for us so they knew we weren’t supposed to be there & we were like crooks & the provos came & took us back.
So this must have been in about March time?
Yeah..we were put in a truck but Connor knew the driver & we went on a trip through the centre of Italy before we went back! Place called ? we were the only troops who’d ever been there!
Did you miss out on Casino then?
The first part of it but the second part – Mount Corran (?) that’s when we pulled out & they found out we were missing. So we were escorted to base & Peter Gemmell, good old bloke from Cepel Mara (?) said â€œThat’s the last time I escort you bastards – we’re a week overdue. We said â€œWe were caught in the cross fire! â€œLike hell we were he said â€œYou bastards were getting drunk every night! This composite training depot was engineers, gunners & the Maori battalion – we shared the same depot. They said â€œYou’re going to be charged this morning so Connor – I think he was still a private then -we went up before this bloke – I think he was an engineer. He said â€œYou hit a superior officer; why did you do that? Connor said â€œWell Sir it’s like this – we were sick of being ordered around by these base-walloping bastards! He said â€œWe can’t have you hitting people around the head. Sergeant major, send them back up the line.
So you were sent back to the front line?
Yeah & there were 2 brothel towns on the way. By the time I got back we were in a place called Arci. Casino had fallen to the Polack troops.
That’s when you went back in the front line? After the Poles had taken Casino?
Did you go straight back to your old section?
Were any of your section killed at Casino?
One or 2 but the worst ones hit were the B company boys – they lost all their officers – good fellows too. Johnny ? – he was another All Black; George Asher (?) Lenny Rogers
Why were you so keen to get back to the front line? To do your bit?
I was worried about my bloody boastto kill 3..I’ll tell you a story about Arci..one of my mates went on leave to Naples; he’d said â€œNo good you going – you can’t keep it in your trousers! he was an older bloke & when he came back I said â€œEnjoy your leave? He said Oh yeah, plenty of women. We saw him & some others taking their palliases up to the cook truck & we said â€œWhere you going? He said â€œMachine Gunners course. â€œOh very good – leave then a gunners course. We found out that they’d gone to the VD hospital. They came back after about 3 days – after needles in the arse & I said â€œHow did your course go? â€œVery good he said. â€œI hear you got shot up the arse! â€œGet out of it you young bugger! he said. There was maize & potatoes & the colonel said â€œNo-one’s to touch this tucker because it belongs to the Eyties. He put a guard on it. Well at night time we went in there – we left about 4 rows – did we have a cook up..
Were you not given enough food?
Sufficient, but you were always hungry. The day we left, the Eyties had a look at the maize – oh Mama Mia!! We went to a castle town called Terminelli, this was the start of the fight for Florence..
Was this your first time in action, apart from being wounded?
No, I’d been in Mount Corelli (?) but that was a scurmish; we were more or less observing. I never had the chance of a shot at a German. We were more or less observing & guarding this area. They were digging a tunnel that overlooked Route 6; once they’d got a gun in that tunnel, they could fire & nobody could get into Casino. We went to this place Terminelli on a Sunday afternoon & we got there about 3pm & the colonel decided to send a recce patrol out because we couldn’t find the bloody Germans & they went up to this bloody castle & they came back & said there were tanks up there. The colonel said â€œRight, we’re not mucking about; we’re attacking straight away. So it gets on for dark & we attacks Terminelli but the tanks got away but we captured the town of Terminelli & we captured a load of land mines. All the shops were shut there was a music shop & we used to hang a big land mine on the door where the lock was & get a hand grenade & tie it to the big mine & get fishing line & tie it to the grenade & take it right out, pull the hand grenade & that set the big one off & whoomph, up it went; blew the whole of the front of the shop out. Inside was a factory of Scandelli piano accordions. So everyone in our company had a piano accordion – a rifle & a piano accordion. But after a while it got too heavy so you threw it away.
Was there much of that kind of looting going on?
Well hey, we were the conquering..they couldn’t stop us but we used to offer them a fee but they’d say .my officer Nepia – he died up in Hamilton – he saved my life; he was more than a brother to me..early in the morning we’d come down from Terminelli & we were in this copse & there was a wheat field on the side of a hill & Nepia said â€œSpread out; we’re going to advance in line to that next ridge there. There was trees all around this place & we started advancing & had got about a third of the way across, suddenly he said â€œGet back; get back to the copse. Six barrel mortars all onus; we’d have all been shot. And afterwards I said â€œHey Nep – I called him Nep – why did you tell us to get back in the trees? He said â€œI imagined myself early in the morning in the sun in Roroturia taking the cows across & the birds would be on the trees twittering, with their wings down because they’d want to shake the dew of their wings so they could fly, & there wasn’t a bird singing & I knew they were disturbed. To me that’s Maori bush craft.
When did you save his life?
That was up on Mount Corro (?) – German went to shoot him & I shot them.
Can you remember much about the advance on Florence?
Well I didn’t see a great deal of it; I saw the first part because..the next day Nepia had to go back to HQ of the company & we got Red Tivall (?) who was another devil may care one – always used to be saying â€œYou’ll get a medal out of this one! We thought fuck the medal; let’s get out of this alive! And I still hadn’t got a shot at a German apart from that one I just said about. We got the call to go up the hill because the platoon was getting knocked around up there. I was in the forward section; by that time I was sort of second in command & my cousin Charlie ? was the section leader & I had a bren gun & one thing about the Maoris, you were supposed to have one bren gun, one tommy gun & all the rest rifles – not us. We had one rifle & all the rest were automatic..
Not so much tommy guns; we liked brens.anyway we went up & these Germans are cunning – we found out that we were going to be up against the Panzer ? paratroopers; the top ones. Lots of dark in their uniforms with big clinker boots – they really looked the part – alpine boots – had the best gear. As we came up this road – you had to be really careful on the straight roads because they had fixed mines – the next bloody minute we saw jokers lying – from D company – lying dead. I thought it must be a machine gun getting them. So my officer, his batman & me & my number two Brenner – there were 4 of us – we got right up & we hid under a haystack – you’ve got to be very careful when you hide in a haystack – we could hear this tank rumbling & the rest of our section came forward & machine guns open up & my section leader Charlie he got smacked & he yelled & then another joker got smacked & he yelled but he died. He was from Tolaga Bay & Henry, Charlie’s brother, he said to me â€œCharlie’s hit & I said â€œHe’s ok, he’s wounded but they can’t fire on him any more where he is. Henry said â€œI’m going to him, & I didn’t tell him not to; if it had been my brother I’d have gone, but I gave him my field dressing, so he had 2 field dressings & he went to pick Charlie up & I saw this bloody red hat behind a stack of wheat & he opened up & he shot Henry dead & I said to Red Tivall – we called him Red because he had ginger hair – â€œI’ve got him in my sights & you know what he said? â€œWhat the fucking hell are you waiting for then? I shot right through the haystack; I could see his hat & I killed him & I thought that’s 2; I need one more. Then I saw one walking up the road, limping, he was wounded & I shot him in the legs; I shot him everywhere & Red said â€œGood shooting boy & I said â€œThat’s my cousin lying dead there. So we were going to try to get to this stable & were just crossing this little road – 3 of us now – & Red was just crossing this road to recce the stable & I was giving him covering fire & the next minute this bloody German, one of these paratroopers jumped up from behind with a Mauser to shoot Red & I let fly from the hip & got him – killed him & so that was 4. So we went into this stable – all shit & hay. I was looking up the road & I could see white oxen, you know, used for ploughing, there were 4 of them but underneath them was clinker boots & I said â€œThey’re coming Red! And he said â€œWhat the bloody hell are you waiting for then? Shoot the bastards And so I shot the cows & shot the legs & they managed to pull one joker away while I was changing mags
You were really gee-ed up? Heart pounding?
Yeah. Next minute from the house above they let us have it with those rifle grenades – one got me here. I’ve still got shrapnel in it. It bled like hell..
You still had the wounded guys as well didn’t you?
I’m coming to thatwe couldn’t get out the front because they had it covered so Red went to the back & there was a tiny window & Red broke it with his gun. I looked at my bren gun & said â€œSorry faithful friend; I can’t take you with me. There was a well alongside & I threw it down the well because you were taught – dismantle your gun. So we got outside & they said â€œMake a break Tin, we’re coming after you.
Did you find the whole thing frightening?
You don’t feel frightened – you’re on edge, but you’re not yourself. I thought shall I go down through the grape vines & most probably get caught or shall I go down the road; bugger it – I’ll go down the road, even though they had a fixed line down there & as I went down the road, I ran – a champion runner couldn’t have got me & I was pumping so hard that my crutch disintegrated & I could hear these bees in my ear but it was fucking machine gun bullets going past me – they never touched me! Instead of going round the ? I took a short cut & leapt over this 3 foot bank. I never hit the road – leapt right over it. Then came my old mate & Red came last. He’d been nicked by a bullet, through the lip; through the nostril & across the eyebrow. When I got down & landed in the dirt & I said â€œThank you God; thank you God & I looked down & my bloody prick, you could hardly see it & the funniest things happen in the worst situation & I gave myself a stern talking to – I said â€œDoes that belong to you? I’m sure it used to be bigger than that!
What happened to the wounded guy?
Oh he walked out. After I killed that joker, he walked out. He was down below me. We past him on the way out. A couple of people were looking after him; couple from Tolaga Bay.
Losing friends – did that affect you badly?
Ahh yeah, but it was meant to be.
Sad but you had to move on.
The worst thing was picking your mate up who’d lost a leg or something. You’d touch his face – you don’t kiss him, but you’d touch him & say â€œGoodbye boy – I’ll tell your people about you.
And did you?
The blood & guts didn’t bother you particularly?
No – a lot of people asked me if we did the Hukka before – you’d never do the Hukka, but what you do – & this is using your forefathers again – you’d scream – a weird scream. It’s not a normal scream – it’s a high pitched scream, when you go into battle. I’ve seen German machine gunners freeze behind their machines.
Because your eyes are wild &
But you don’t go Kama te kama te koura koura – you yell. It sort of helps you.
Gets your adrenaline pumping.
Yeah -you’re in another world & you give thanks to God every time, you say â€œThank you Lord & a lot of people say â€œDo you believe in God? I do bad things. I try to do good things but I look after myself on the way too. I am an elder in my church & I go fairly regularly. The Bishop was in my platoon; he came with us to Italy. I used to say â€œThere’s nothing going to happen on number 2 bus!
When you first got to Italy, did you think your training was up to it? Did you know what to expect?
The field craft was good but I think we had a little extra by being Maori – the old people up there looking after us.
Presumably the best training is experience. You learnt pretty quickly in combat.
Yeah, not only that when you’re in a Maori battalion, there’s a hell of a difference. When you get there, you’re paraded in 2 groups, the new ones & the old who’ve been in action, & the old ones really rub it in. The new jokers are a bit lackadaisical. Some hard case things happened. We had an officer, he was a good man; Major Wieripper (?). At Casino he was commanding C company. He was a stickler for discipline, but he wouldn’t expect you to do anything he wouldn’t. Another All Black by the way. We had some booze one night & some of the blokes they shat in a pan or something & put it right outside his tent so he’d step in it first thing in the morning. Well, he saw it & stepped over it & he told the sergeant major to drill us with heavy packs & then the SM said â€œC company ready for inspection Sir & he said â€œNO inspection this morning. I want to talk about people having a lot of fun. I gave you til 12 o’clock last night to get off the booze; if you can’t hold your booze, you’ll have to do better than that. Some mongrels shat in front of my tent & for that Sergeant Major, give them an hour of solid drill, & don’t forget, as they go past the turd, do the turd salute. So he marched us up & down – â€œEyes left. Turd salute! Then he said â€œRight, the hour’s up. Form them into line. So we formed a line & the turd was not too far away. The SM said â€œI want you lot to own up. And one of the guys said â€œWe love our OC; we wouldn’t do that to him. We’ve got a lot of respect for him. I’ll bet it was Eyties infiltrating the line who did it. And he went over to the shit & prodded it with his cane & smelt it & he said â€œSoldier, that smells of bully beef; it doesn’t smell of macaroni! Those are the little things you remember.
Do you remember anything of Florence?
Oh yeah – once I got wounded & a sad thing happened there. There was a fellow, he was in the engineers & as we were going up the hill, he was filling in a demolition – they’d blown a bridge. I went to school with him & said â€œSee you later, & when we came back down again, there was blood all over the place – he’d got blown up. We got to Siena. Outside Siena there was a long bloody tent & that was a ward & there were 4 of us from the company were in there. Red was one, with his nose, & Witty (?) he had his boots blown off by a land mine & they told me afterwards they’d found hobnails in his skull. It was a percussion mine & all his legs were all crusty..this little sister came along & said â€œHow’s the chest Mr McRoberts? He said â€œNot too bad – they’re sending me home & I’ll see my kids again. She said to me â€œHow’s the head today Mr Glover? I said â€œI’m feeling quite good.
So how long were you there?
This was next day.
Yeah, but Red said â€œNo, he’s not good at all; he’s bomb happy. I want those boys sent back to base; they’ve been through enough. I said â€œBut Red, what are you going to do? He said â€œBuggaring off back to battalion.
But you weren’t bomb happy at all..
No, he wanted me to have a spell; that’s what they do. I went to a place called ?? & I cleared out from there; told the doctor I was aright. I was there for 2 nights.
So it’s like having a couple of days off?
Yeah..oh no – it was more than 2 days in fact; it was more like a week because I kept going in to Florence. It was bloody annoying – I missed the good part but back to the little sister – she got to ?? & asked how his legs were & he said â€œNever mind my legs; how are my balls? I need a family – I haven’t any kids. As long as my balls are alright sister. She said â€œThey’ll be alright son! He died a few years ago & I’ve got his medals. He was my mate.
When you were in Italy, How much of it was doing patrols at night?
Yeah, we used to do patrols at night to go probing to see where the enemy was. Then sometimes you used to go from probing patrol to fighting patrol because you were going that well..you’d go to a house.9 times out of ten, they would have fallen back. I always remember this bloody house, crossing over the Rubicon River (?) which was just a canal. We captured this house & the place where the machine gunner would have been, we’d all have been slaughtered but he’d moved out the night before. We crossed the river & we were all wet. We were in this big house & there was a Lancia sportscar, no wheels, up on blocks & it had the key in & one of the boys started it..early that morning we’d seen these people coming up the hill in dark green battle dress – they were Canadians. We hadn’t come across Canadians before. I said â€œHey, we’re here already! We’re Kiwi’s! He said â€œJesus! We were told there were no guys up here! I said â€œWe’ve been here since daylight. He said â€œWe were supposed to attack this hill; we could have shot you! I said â€œThat’s why I yelled out. Don’t worry, we were all covered, just in case you’d got some trigger happy guys there. He said â€œHow do we know you’re Kiwi’s? I said â€œWe’re bloody Kiwi’s & that’s that! So we had a yarn & then they went further on, til they engaged the enemy.
I noticed on one of the maps I’ve seen that the Maoris went pretty close to Bologna. Just south of Bologna.
There was some bloody mob that were disgraced – South Africans – they disgraced themselves in action, at Tobruk & they were only just coming back into action & so they were reserve to us & we were heading for Bologna; we wanted to capture a big town. All the big towns, they pulled us out – Florence – they sent the Canadians in first..
End of September 44 in the mountains south of Bologna there was a big Italian partisan movement there & a lot of women & children were massacred by the SS.Did you ever hear about that?
Did you witness any Italians being killed by Germans?
No, not really – they stopped us going into Bologna & diverted us to Faienza; we did a left hook.
Faienza was a big deal for you; can you tell me about that?
Yeah, I was still in the infantry then & I had my birthday & I had a fight that night with one of the boys who didn’t like me..
So when’s your birthday?
11th December & Faienza was 13th December & I had a black eye going into Faienza from this fight.
Because you’d just had a scrap with this guy?
Yeah, because I got drunk & he gave me a hiding that night. In the morning he went to the ? wounded, & as a result he missed Faienza.
Tell me about Faienza. You knew you were going in did you?
Oh yeah, I was section leader that night.
So you must have felt like quite an experienced soldier?
Oh yeah, and we had a lot of new fellows.
But you knew what you were doing?
Oh yeah; I was lucky – 13 & 14 forward & one section was in reserve (?). I was 14 reserve & I had this bloody joker with a machine gun who’d never been in action before.
What’s the countryside like round there?
Flat countryside and wet, but there was this hill. We were going to capture it; that was the idea. Our tanks let us down that night.
In what way?
We crossed this Route 9 and they sent me back to get the tanks; our tanks & they wouldn’t move; they were frightened; they might get bazookered in the dark. I said â€œDon’t worry, We’ll cover you, but they wouldn’t move. The result was a lot of our jokers got killed that night. They counter attacked & killed 6 or 8 of our blokes including an officer. He was only 21 when he died. He was charming. I remember capturing Rimini & I was looking for loot; something to sell. So I went down into this cellar thinking I’d find some olive oil or something & he was in front of a dresser with a mirror & he was holding 2 pistols & going â€œDraw! Draw! I thought what the fucking hell’s going on here! He was looking at himself! He said â€œI’m imagining myself at the Gaiety Theatre in Rorotua – Tom Richboy. Don’t tell anybody! I did tell ?? & he said â€œYou bastard! I’ll never tell you anything again! But he got killed – outside Faienza. And Monty’s uncle..he had a good cry then. He was in the SAS.
Was it a tough fight?
Yeah – a bastard. I carried a boy I knew from Munatoogi. Two boys. One got killed & the other one I carried. He was wounded badly in the chest & I picked him up but the conditions, the mud & slush & by the time I got him back to the RAP (??) they said â€œTini, you’ve been carrying a bloody stiff mate, & I cried. Fucking horrible. Aching my guts out. Jees there were a lot of prisoners then. Every time..Battalion said â€œTake no prisoners
So what did you do? Shoot them?
?? couldn’t kill a man in cold blood. I’ll tell you what I did to my prisoners..marched them out & I said â€œThe war is over for you jokers, & I said â€œTreat â€˜em ok because they’ve been pretty good
I’m interested in what happened.you couldn’t carry them..
You can’t carry them because they’re hindering your war; if you let them go, they’d get a rifle & kill you..
So he shot them did he?
I don’t know whether he shot them or not but he said â€œTake no prisoners. One day??? I believe he slaughtered..??? Cheeky bastard..with a bayonet, I give â€˜em a jab up the arse, & someone said â€œWhy? & ? said â€œThe war is over for you Kiwi’s. We are the master race. We will conquer the world. We’ll come again & conquer the world. I said â€œThat’s what you bloody think! He said â€œYou’ve got to go up to the front line & meet death. We’re not. I said â€œI’ll give you this to help you meet death And I whacked him up the bloody arse with my bayonet.
Was that at Faienza? After Faienza?
Yeah. But some of them were good.
Was that at night time?
You know when you’re going to be going in.is there a lot of anxiety beforehand?
You see jokers smoking & drinking beer (?)
Were you worried about it?
Yeah, I thought of home.
Am I going to wake up tomorrow morning?
Yeah, & a couple of our jokers got killed by our own shells coming through the trees.
Did you see any other instances of friendly fire?
Our planes were very good. The first time we had the Liberators was just after Faienza
Jamie – sorry there’s a bit here I can’t make out at all well.
..we had a sense of humour! Most of the Italian women.they were very young & they married men of about 50 or 60.
Did you get yourself an Italian girlfriend?
In Florence? Going back to Florence?
Oh yeah. One I had in Trieste.very beautiful – platinum blonde she was. I became ration sergeant & she came over & said â€œWould it be possible to have something for my son? Not for me. I said â€œWait a while; wait in those trees over there & I’ll fetch you some bread. She said â€œIf you can give me a little coffee, I’d appreciate it too. So she waited & after the truck went away, I went over & talked to her & asked her if she’d like to come to a dance on the tennis courts & she said she’d like to come very much but that if I had any intentions of having sex with her, to take it easy because it was such a disgrace for a widow to have an illegitimate child. Anyway, I got to know her.we ended up one month in Trieste; she ended up sleeping with me up in my quarters & the little boy used to come up on Sundays. He liked me too. I was able to get her the best of everything.. tins of coffee, you know.
Did you have leave in places like Florence & Rome?
I knew Florence really well.
What would you typically do on leave in Florence?
I was lucky the first time I went to Florence – a mate had already been & he gave me a couple of addresses – not brothels, but officers ?? did it on the side. I waited outside – he’d told me wait outside til they call you in. I met a couple like that – bloody nice girls too.
So, on leave you’d meet girls & have a few drinks..
Yeah, & see the sights too. I saw the statues & Uffizi Gallery & the cathedral. I’ve got some photos.
So did the trip bring back memories?
What was the story about the bloke whose life you saved?
Tibble? I just happened to be there at the time. It was in action – I’m trying to think where. Many a time we helped one another. It was you watch my back & I’ll watch yours. No big deal. If we were out in the open, I’d let rip on the bren gun; I was pretty neat on the old bren gun. We used to play with the bren gun all the time.
Was there a problem with mines?
Yeah, but we had our jokers; bloody good jokers too.
The sappers who went round.
Yeah & a lot of our jokers knew about mines too. I did a mine course but never had occasion to use it.
And I guess there were plenty of times you had to spend nights in slit trenches in the middle of nowhere?
Yeah, when we were on Mount Curran (?) near Cassino we had dead bodies outside our house & we weren’t allowed to touch them because there was a cave just across from us, across the gully & they were going to put a big gun in there & if we moved the bodies, they’d know we were in this big house & there were 30 of us in there.
How often would you be in houses & how often out in the open?
Well, generally what we did was stay in the houses because they were good shelter, at the bottom, in the stables mostly.
All through Italy?
Yeah. We dug trenches outside as a sort of defence.
What was worse? Shell fire, tank fire, or mortars? There must have been times when it was almost constant?
When you’re attacking, you attack & consolidate; you seldom do 2 attacks in a day; you might if you think things are going right.
There must have been times when things were fairly static.
Oh yeah, Cassino was like that.
How about the Gothic Line?
Where was that?
Just south of Bologna.
And the weather must have been terrible?
Yeah terrible and another thing, when you’re hungry, plenty of tomatoes – gave you the runs.
Did you ever get trench foot or anything like that?
Not really, no. You looked after yourself. Too much tinned food & you broke out in sores on your feet & legs.
You managed to keep quite healthy though, wounds aside?
Yeah & I never had ? Some of the guys did.
How often would you get hot food?
If our wagons got up in the front line, you got it. But you didn’t worry too much about tucker in the front line because we had a packet of hard biscuits and a tin of bully & that’s why I say it must be a different sort of Bully beef tin because we used to eat of it & put it back in again & we never got food poisoning, but there was some American food we got food poisoning from.
Did you come across the Americans much?
About the only time was round Cassino way. They couldn’t take it & we came from the Adriatic coast but we couldn’t take it either. The New Zealand division went in & took Cassino town & then we got hammered. We had to pull out of there & the Indian division took over from us & they took Castle Hill. Then they got thrashed & then the Polish Brigade came in & took the Monastery.
What can you remember about Rimini?
We were told we were going over to Catolica to fight for the Rimini airfield. The airfield was on a hill & Rimini below. We went to Catolica & there was a firework display – the whole place was lit up. Didn’t do much fighting; there was a bit of a scurmish & we got to near the airfield & they said the Canadians were going to try to take the airfield. They’d tried to take it once and failed. So they wanted to try again – a bit of rivalry there you see. We were told if they don’t take it tonight, we’d go through them. We were in an area & when their shells came down on the airfielda mate of mine, they’d dug a hold & put the bren gun over it to keep safe & this bloody bomb slithered down the airfield straight into the hole & exploded; killed the lot. That night there was bloody fireworks; a hell of a barrage & we were told to take over from the Canadians early in the morning & there was shell smoke & bloody cordite smell & bodies; Canadian bodies everywhere piled up. Must have been 1000 bodies. We walked right through them & crossed the Rimini San Merino railway line. There were scurmishes. We didn’t fight for Rimini really because they got out of Rimini. We stayed there one night & that was the first night they had artificial lighting. They had big search lights behind us & when they pointed it that way, you went that way.
Did it work?
Yeah, the Germans didn’t know what we were up to. We lost a few of our jokers that day. We lost our major who was very good to me in New Zealand. He said to me â€œAre you in the bren gun platoon Tin? I said â€œNo, knfantry. He said â€œWhat a waste of all those courses you did in NZ. I said â€œYeah, I know, but you’ve got to go where you’re put. He a a bloke Mitchell went into a house to orient themselves on a map & there were Germans in there & they shot the both of them.
Did you have many problems with booby traps?
No, not really. We were very careful.
Sappers went in first & so on. How did you pass the time when you weren’t in action?
They made you bloody route march when you’re out of action or you’ve got to go into training again.
But in the evening?
After tea you were allowed to drink but lights out 10pm.
And you’d just chat..
You got caught drinking after 10pm & you were in trouble.
Was there kind of one moment that was the most frightening of all?
I think Faienza was scary, with all the bodies around & everything. You didn’t know where you were. Didn’t know whether you were going up against friend or foe.
Would the section stick close together?
Not really; you’d spread out. Don’t go in a bunch. You’re in contact with the next man – 10 or 12 feet away.
Talking & stuff?
Tini Glover Number 3
.talking about Faienza (?) probably the scariest moment.
Very scary, very scary but it was a shambles.
Was it? Because of the tanks?
Yeah, those poor buggers were up there waiting for the bloody tanks & the tanks wouldn’t shift.
An infantryman hasn’t got much hope against a tank.
No, but we were going to protect them from ground troops.
What did you do if you came up against a tank in battle?
One of my mates got a medal for it. He was a bloody clown. He was always going AWOL in New Zealand; always overstaying his leave. Next moment he comes back & he’s got a bloody pip on. A tank top was open & he hopped on & threw a grenade inside. He ended up a lieutenant.
You must see so many dead bodies & blood & guts & stuff. Do you get used to it?
I’m used to it. When my mother-in-law died I was there. Laid her out.
Can you remember the end of the war?
I was up in Trieste.
Can you remember when you heard the news?
Yeah, but there was just about to be another war, with Tito.
Did you have an opinion of the generals? Did you ever see Freiburg?
Oh yeah – good man.
What about Alexander?
They were all good men. Monty was a good man.
Did you see Alexander?
Yeah, at a big parade.
Was there much celebrating when the war ended?
Not really; it was a bit of a let down to tell you the truth. We were having this little war with Tito & we were having a lot of fun to tell you the truth. We got to a place called Mistri (?) just outside Venice. They decided that they were going to let a motorised brigadethey hadn’t had any battle honours & the decided we were going to meet on the causeway going to Venice & a British motorised division would take over from there. We were told to go north. After the war, I was working with an old Italian; it turns out that there was a town Palmanova (?) & it was his town that we’d liberated.
Can you remember capturing that?
Yeah, well we just drove into it.
Is that what tended to happen? You’d just walk in?
You can tell if they’re friendly or not because everybody’s out to cheer you & the band’s out & the girls..
Were there times when they weren’t coming out & cheering?
Yes, when the Jerries were still in there.
Can you remember examples of that?
Well, round Monte Casino way. We were in the elite part of Trieste.
Did you have much to do with German prisoners?
One of two. I gave an account (??) of a couple of German jokers that I knew. A German officer was one; a very soft fellow.
Where was that?
Trying to think where I got that camera off him. I can even see the bloody ? lying dead..we’d captured this outpost & there was an officer. I said â€œI don’t loot – I don’t believe in demanding loot off German prisoners. But I’m asking you – I would like to look at that camera. If you go back any further, they’ll take it off you so better for me the one that captured you & treated you well. He spoke good English & said â€œYou talk good sense. There’s photos of my wife & I at our wedding & photos of my children. Can I have the pictures of my children? I said â€œTake the photos out & give me the camera; I’m not taking it off you because with my religion, that’s stealing. I can pinch a chicken out of a backyard but if you give it to me and he did & said â€œYou’d better take the watch too. I said â€œIf you’ll give it to me. Thank you very much. I made him very comfortable & gave him tea or coffee. Johnny he called me. Another time I saw a German officer dead & he had his Luger on. What gets me about the Germans was they had a black leather belt with a silver buckle & there’s a German eagle on it & 2 words – Mein Gott. I said to a German prisoner one time, â€œHow can he be your God? He’s dead. He must be my God! They laughed. On that belt, he had a beautiful Luger pistol. There was this guy Billy, he was a hermit back home, but he was good in action -he loved it out there; used to wander around the front line looking for ? at night time. I said â€œBilly, look there’s money here; a Luger. I know you’ll sell that for a couple hundred pounds or so. The bloody Yanks used to come round after an action.
The Yanks loved Lugers didn’t they?
Not only that, they used to tell their people at home that they got them in the front line. They were allowed to send them home; we weren’t. They’d give a couple of hundred dollars for them. Billy came along & gave me 50. I said â€œHow much did you get? â€œNever you bloody mind he said.
He gave you a cut?
Yeah. He told me he only got a hundred, but he used to look after me. He was a bugger to gamble; I was senior to him but he was a bugger to gamble. They’d gamble all night. He’d say â€œTini, rustle me up some eggs because they’d gamble all night; you could pay 5 shillings for one bloody egg & I’d cook them up in the dug out & then I could have some myself.
Did you have much to do with the Italians?
Yeah, they were pretty good. They reckon that Mussolini did a lot of good but he backed the wrong horse. The Italians are lovely people. Have you been?
Yes, many times.when you did night time patrols, was that to try to capture a few guys to get information?
Yeah & more so, are they still there, because they were getting the hell out of it. One night & I’ve told anyone this before.we were out on a reconnaissance patrol, 3 of us, & we were all wet. I said â€œAre you guys frightened? They said â€œScared stiff – we can hear those bloody tanks rumbling out front. What are the 3 of us going to do? I said â€œWe’re going to fix that up. We went back & told the officers there were tanks rumbling as if they were going the other way about 800 yards away. As soon as I went back to this position on the forward defences, a crowd of civilians came across the river, & I said â€œWhere’s the Germans? They said â€œThey’ve gone to the next canal. So I could report to the ? but that day we didn’t do our recce..
You just sat still?
What good could 3 of us do?
Can you remember other times when it got a bit fiery?
Oh yeah, one time when we lost our sergeant & one of our boys got a military medal that day. We were going to do a curve around. We were going at right angles to the canal & we were going round to hit a house & we were doing a sweep & they opened up with a machine gun; we didn’t know they had a fixed line there. We all rushed.I didn’t rush; I hid in the middle of the paddock (?). I thought better to be there than getting up & being a target & I got in a little drain in the middle of the paddock. All the jokers ran to the main drain. They had a fixed line & they shot about 3 of our jokers before they jumped out & as they shot our sergeant, the stretcher bearer, who was his brother in law, got him on his back to take him out & he had the red cross on, & one of these bloody machine gunners opened up & shot him. Stretcher bearing – that was a dangerous job.
There then follows a bit about Australia & brothels & someone getting the clap?? It was a little difficult to make out!! Do you need it?
END of final part