One afternoons free­dom in AFRA­GOLA soon devel­oped a stay-at-home com­plex.  The amount of rain soon be­lied the tra­vel pos­ters and most of the men had their own ver­sion of “Sunny Italy”.  At one time the water rea­ched the his­toric le­vel of 15½ inches in the Offi­cers Mess.  The issue of mepa­crine pills was step­ped up to one a day.  Mos­quito nets were is­sued and in­spec­tions were car­ried out to en­sure they were being pro­perly used.  Anti-ma­laria squads were formed in each sub-unit and their “ex­cused all other du­ties” be­came a fea­ture of the re­main­der of our stay in Italy. 
4.  On the 11th November the Di­vi­sional Ar­til­lery was in­spec­ted by the new G.O.C. Ma­jor Gen­er­al G.G. Si­monds, CBE, DSO.  The Pa­dre H/Capt. C.E. Mar­tin or­gan­ized sight-see­ing tours to POM­PEII, which proved very pop­ular.  The days were spent in visit­ing 5 R.H.A. 7th Ar­moured Di­vi­sion, the fa­mous “Desert Rats” of Af­rica.  Here Offi­cers and men con­tac­ted their op­po­site num­bers and at­temp­ted to der­ive as much ben­ifit as pos­si­ble from their bat­tle ex­per­ience.  It was on one such vi­sit that we suf­fered our first “bat­tle cas­ualty”.  The con­voy was at­tacked by en­emy air­craft and in the en­suing scram­ble for the ditch Lieut. G.M. For­bes lost an ar­gu­ment with some­one's heel.  The true sig­ni­fi­cance of leav­ing the equip­ment in Eng­land was real­ized and mor­ale hit a new all-time low as the Regi­ment be­gan to take over equip­ment from 7th Bri­tish Ar­moured Divi­sion.  What­ever their capa­bili­ties as a fight­ing divi­sion the state of their guns and vehi­cles was un­be­liev­able.  On the ba­sis of one run­ner and one on tow all the vehi­cles were moved to AF­RA­GOLA where af­ter a great deal of hard work those that it was pos­si­ble to do any­thing with were made more or less bat­tle-wor­thy.


5.  On the 23rd November the Regi­ment began the his­toric trek across the back­bone of Italy to Gra­vina.  The wea­ther was miser­able and the trip took any­where from 3 days to two weeks de­pen­ding on the vehi­cle.