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 NAAFI and mor­ale was high.  A Bri­tish Royal Ar­til­lery Co­lo­nel stop­ped Lieut. H.E. New­man and in­struc­ted 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.


43.  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 per­haps mar­ri­age.  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.