The town had been a Fascist centre and was still not too friendly.
On the 8th December the guns were taken to FASANO on the Adriatic coast and
calibrated with our own Survey Section doing the observing.
Meanwhile the Troop Commanders and Battery Commanders
had several schemes with the Infantry.
This culminated in a full dress rehearsal on the 18th December near
POTENZA, with the Infantry advancing under the Regiment's fire.
The Infantry were very much impressed with the units work and closer
cooperation was achieved.
The scheme ended early to get the unit back to their billets for the Christmas
CHRISTMAS DAY 1943.
Christmas day was a beautiful summer day, more like June than December.
The Sergeants were invited in the morning to the Officers' Mess
for a little “cheer”.
At 1200 hrs a “crack” lieutenant guard, under Capt. S.J. Matthews relieved the
Men's Guard after being inspected by the Commanding Officer
Lt-Col. R.W. Armstrong.
Contrary to what was expected and perhaps hoped, the Officers' Guard-mounting
drill was above reproach.
The men's dinner was served by Officers, WOs
and Sergeants and was really something.
The menu consisted of 2 bottles of Italian Beer, Espanola Soup, Roast
Turkey with onion
dressing, Pork Chops and Applesauce, Creamed potatoes and cauliflower,
giblet gravy, plum pudding with rum sauce.
Despite the surroundings it was a very successful Christmas.
After much difficulty the unit finally secured some paint and tactical signs
were put on the “vehicles”.
Even such small change completely transformed the appearance of the Regiment
and the rise in morale was noticeable.
The Canadian Legion came through with a classy canteen for the men and shows nearly
every night which helped to make up for the lack of social life.
The 17th Follies was put on with talent from the Regiment and was a decided
The Unit even
published its own weekly newspaper “Arty Talk” which continued during
the stay in GRAVINA.