Part Three – Italy: A while ago I went to Monte Camino In Italy, with my parents to visit the site of a World War Two battle in which my maternal grandfather, Eric Causey was injured. On my return I made a series of panels telling the story of his war experience. They will be shown in the Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery over the Remembrance Day weekend 2016. Previous posts told the story of the first two pieces, Home, London and North Africa.
From North Africa the Scots Guards made their way into Italy. They were not in the main Salerno landing but went across a little after and were involved in the severe and close fighting for the Battipaglia Tobacco Factory positions alongside the American Fifth Army. It seems that this would have been when my Grandfather’s war service really began to be demanding and scary and conditions would have worsened. Accordingly the aesemic writing on the panel becomes jagged and anxious and the bootprints assume a marching position
As he made his way up through Italy heading towards the Monte Camino region my Granny, loving him from afar, would have had no idea at all where he was or what he was experiencing. She was by then at an aerodrome at Middleton-St -George (which is now Teeside Airport) working with the Canadian army who were flying Halifax bombers. It was her responsibility to brief the flight crews about weather and cloud cover before their departures for Europe. Her account of her own war experiences shows that she was both managing to have fun and also experiencing for herself the trauma of war. She wrote:
“There are only two incidents [from this time] which might interest you. One shows how naive we were to the effects of nature and one shows the dangers which did abound around us in war-time. The first was that we had some unusually hot summer days. On one of them, having been on night duty, I (and others) decided to sleep outside of our Nissan Huts – we ended up very sunburned. We had to bear the pain and grin. To have reported to the medical centre would have been to face a disciplinary charge – sunburn was considered to be a self-inflicted incapacity.
“The second incident was one evening when we were in our huts only one field away from the end of the main runway. We had just got into our beds and could hear the planes taking off. Suddenly there was a tremendous explosion as one plane exploded on take off. We were thrown out of our beds by the blast. There was much sorrow in our midst for the next few days. However, it was Wartime and flying just continued.”
After a while she received a posting back to London to work along side civilian staff to deal with the posting of service staff to various aerodromes. She wrote;
“I did not see the necessity of my move at that time and still cannot see the sense of it. However my one thought on the hopeful side was that I would again be able to meet up with my handsome guardsman. What a fruitless hope that was.
“On arrival at London …I made my way to Chelsea Barracks to contact Cpl. Causey. The guardsman on duty at the gate questioned me as to his unit and battalion and I was quickly informed that there was no way I could see him – WHY? This section of the Guards Regiment was now in ITALY. I walked back to Fountain Court heavy hearted. It was war-time, orders had to be obeyed so one had to carry on.”
Meanwhile, in Italy, Grandad was approaching the fateful battle at Monte Camino… about which, more tomorrow.