Saturday, 20 September 2003

HMS Battler - September 1943 - Letter home after Salerno

Letter / Narrative

I suspect you have by now given up hope of ever hearing from me again after such a long silence? Actually we have been rather busily engaged on the recent Italian operations so you will no doubt appreciate that my chances of writing have been practically negligible.

Your next question will probably be “what part did they play in the invasion,” so in the next paragraph I will endeavour to enlighten you on the matter.

On August 29th the Captain informed the ships company that “Battler” with numerous other ships of the Royal Navy had been formed in to a force to carry out an operation at present unknown.

So it had come, the show was on, everyone was wondering with excitement what lay ahead of us in the next few days. Shortly after hearing this news we left prot X and escorted an all American troop convoy, it was our job to give these chaps air cover and needless to say, everyone of them reached his destination safely, we shared in the killing of one German aircraft which carried out a torpedo attack on the convoy.

Five days later we arrived in Malta, part of our task was finished but the big part lay ahead. Anyway I forgot all about further operations and the war and after contacting my brother-in-law who has been living on this island for over 5 years I toured the many places of interest which of course included the local bars and in general had one hell of a good time.

Gee has Malta suffered, it’s churches, homes, hospitals and places of historic interest have been blasted to pieces, the place is nothing more than a shambles, but still life seems to go on as usual. My visit to the port ended far too soon because after only 2 days in port our ship put to sea again only this time for the grand finale.

The captain informed the ships company of what they were about to undertake. At 0315 the next morning Allied troops were going to invade the Italian coast, it was our job to provide air cover for these troops until such times as the American and Royal Air Forces were able to operate from an aerodrome in Italy.

That night we passed through the Straits of Messina, the place that had seen so much fighting, and 6 hours later our fighters were ranged on deck.

No comments: