And There Shall Be Wars

by Wilmer A. "Bud" Wagner

The style of the book is in the form of diary entries with explanatory text. The following is an example from the section during the Salerno invasion. It is one of the major beachheads of the war. After taking the beach and getting a toehold in Italy, German panzers nearly drove them back into the sea. General Eisenhower sent air support and the battle was turned. This is day three of the invasion:

Saturday, September 11, 1943
An awful lot of air activity last night. Put to shame all fire-works there have ever been. Jerry planes were going all night. 36th Division came in today or perhaps the balance of them did and so did the 45th. We are now close to Naples -- 20 miles or so. I like Italy better than Africa. People don't seem much better than Arabs, though.
Running around a lot, most of the day, in fact. Got two German mine boxes for my belongings. There was a whole pile of ammo, etc.
Our guns are in position and registered, but that's about all. This afternoon I washed a few clothes, ate more ripe figs. Italian soldiers everywhere. Now that they are through fighting, wish I could get some information as to where, what and how we are doing.
Three planes were shot down here today -- two of our own -- most fellows can't distinguish them. Shot at some Jerry planes myself.
Moved out tonight. Got to new position about 15 miles north-east, a run to A and B Batteries with Andy. It was late or after midnight when I got back. The line batteries should have had agents with our Message Center, but things were in such an unstable condition that I was the only one actually doing the work of 3 agents.

It was fairly quiet today, interrupted by daylight bombing of our beaches and some heavier attacks at night and early morning. Much flak and a few unexploded 90 mm ack-ack shells fell into the position area. Until the flak fell, it was hard to keep the men under cover. The spectacle of all the colored tracer ammo and anti-aircraft shells was a great temptation to throw caution to the winds.
Registration of the guns had started, but before the O.P. could even register one battery, the infantry were advancing without hardly any opposition and got into the impact area and firing had to be stopped.

Motorized patrols passed through Agropoli to the south, and Ogliastro south-east, and advanced thirty miles south of those towns without making contact.

As the 105's were fired, the brass shell casings were thrown in a pile. Rear troops picked them up after we moved up, and they were reused. These casings held up to seven powder bags; seven bags were used for maximum range. Five bags was more common, and sometimes less, depending on the desired range. Powder bags were filled with Cordite pellets. Getting them wet didn't bother them, fortunately. Don Sternke was quite well-versed on the 105 Howitzers, as his Battery had 4 of them, and some of this information came from him.

For Don and the others of the kitchen crew, the Italian invasion was an experience in "cooking." The kitchen trucks didn't even arrive in Italy until several weeks later, so Don and the rest of the crew were helpers wherever needed. C anned K rations were handed out, and you ate whenever you could.


World War II Diaries and Memoirs

536 pages. Illustrated with 178 original photos and documents.

Now on sale here:

"And There Shall Be Wars."

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