So began one of the best organized moves the unit had participated in.
There was a stop-over of one day at FOLIGNO which was filled in with movies and sports.
The next staging area was at PONTASSIEVE with everyone in tents.
There was a good
and morale was high.
A British Royal Artillery Colonel stopped Lieut. H.E. Newman
him to tell the Commanding Officer that it was the best convoy he had ever seen.
The following day the Regiment passed through FLORENCE ending up at
HARROD's Staging Camp near LEGHORN.
The route was very mountainous and when the unit had to halt for a short while at a one-way
Bailey Bridge an American Major stopped to express his admiration to
Lieut. R.H. Ellison at the way the traffic sentries handled the traffic past
their halted vehicles.
It was now obvious that the Division was not heading for the 5th Army Front and
considerable lire changed hands.
Work was immediately started on cleaning vehicles and equipment
and on the preparation of staff tables for loading vehicles on
Liberty ships and LSTs.
There was a large EFI
issue in the camp but the biggest attraction was a blonde American Red Cross
girl who incidently sold doughnuts.
The Regiment started moving in bits and pieces with the first group leaving
on the 22nd and the last on the 26th February 1945.
Although the stay in Italy had been far from a pleasure visit the feelings of the
men on leaving were mixed.
The more thoughtful remembered the “good Joes” who would never leave.
Many thought only of the possibility of a United Kingdom leave and
Some merely looked forward to seeing a new country while others felt nothing
or didn't show it anyhow.
The boats were all run by Americans with Officer accomodation mainly with the
crew while the men slept with the vehicles or on the open deck.
The weather was perfect so no hardship was entailed and all ranks thoroughly
enjoyed the trip.