Stories about the German retreat in Italy

Discussion in 'Italy' started by HAARA, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    An extract from a letter by a B.S.M. in 76th HAA Regt, June 1944, about the retreating Germans:

    " One night we had to go out, and for some reason got talking to an Italian wheelwright, one by the name of Pasquale. He invited us into his house for a glass of wine. At first we were rather dubious, but the place was scrupulously clean, and the wine, though raw, was good. Pasquale told us some most unbelievable tales of the Tedeschi. One of them I had not believed in the past, but since he told it to us most voluntarily, I’m sure it was true. Under Musso (whom they all positively hate they tell us) all articles of gold had to be given up to the cause. Apparently parties of “collectors” would suddenly appear at the door demanding that you surrender all you had. It was no good saying you had none because they would search the house. They took their gold wedding rings, and when I asked why they had not removed them and hidden them, they said they could not, because their fingers had so swollen with all the hard work it was not possible. The “collectors” cut them off. Then when Jerry was there he went round taking all the articles of metal, including pots and pans so they had nothing left to cook with at all. He told us during the German retreat, when they were passing through the village, they were looking for able-bodied men, and especially those who had deserted. So his wife hid him in the roof under some straw, and told the Tedeschi that he was away somewhere, she knew not where, fighting. They searched the house but found no trace of him. Some of these women have a lot of courage, for they know that the penalty would be death for the whole lot of them. Apparently when the advanced Allied forces arrived in the village, he and his wife helped by showing where the mines were laid. This is not a remote case, I have heard of many such people. There was nothing boastful or heroic about the way they told us all these things. "
     
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  2. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    and another story, from October 1944, by the same author:

    " Did I ever tell you how we came by the “Johanna”? One place we went to not 24hrs after Jerry had gone, near the gun site, was a typical long two storeyed farmhouse with a surrounding of tall poplar trees. The people were most moved at our coming and gave us all they had, which consisted of “vino rosso”, the Hun having taken the white. We were asked in to spend an evening with them. “In” consisted of a rather glorified farm barn with an immense fireplace, a glowing red brick floor, and a long low table white after generations of scrubbing. An interesting thing about that table. At the top right hand corner where Mamma sat there was a deep groove where from years ago the lady of the house had cut the bread. Hanging from the smoke encrusted beams were neat bunches of onions and a red plant rather like a chilli in taste, but as large as a tomato. On one wall stood a beautifully plain dresser on which were arranged gleaming white plates, and copper and gleaming white saucepans. Everywhere was so orderly and clean. Doesn’t have a lot to do with the piano, but right in the corner of the room was a magnificent Bechstein. So out of keeping with the puritanical surroundings, and more fitting to a drawing room in Berkely Square. I was rather taken aback, and then not speaking a word of the lingo asked them through an interpreter how they came by it. They said the Germans who’d been there – for a long while apparently – had brought it in one day. They had a Tiger beside one of the outbuildings. We saw its tracks, still fresh in the mud when we got there. It further appeared that the Allied aerial might made it unsafe for the German Wehrmacht to use the roads in daylight for motor transport. At any rate petrol was difficult to come by. They left in carts taken from farms and pulled by oxen and horses they’d taken. Some even left on stolen bicycles and on foot. So der piano stayed, and they said they wanted us to have it because some of the lads played it. Had a good sing song, and they were aghast to hear us sing Lilli Marlene and one or two other German airs. Since then the Bechstein has become part of our equipment."
     
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