But we, being unable to get our car across, turned northward along the river bank and drove furiously and, after a mile or two, outran the foremost Infantry patrols (I think, of the Royal Warwicks), who were pushing cautiously forward, searching the woods and farmhouses for lurking rearguards. And so it was that, first of all the Allied troops, we four entered the little village of Nogaredo. And, as we came in, we sang, very loudly and perhaps somewhat out of tune, the chorus of La Campana di San Giusto, the forbidden song which to the Italian Irredentists stands for somewhat the same officially repressed but inextinguishable emotions, as that once forbidden song The Wearing of the Green stood for to the Nationalist Irishmen of a now vanished generation.
“Le ragazze di Trieste
Cantan tutte con ardore,
’O Italia, O Italia del mio core,
Tu ci vieni a liberar!’"
[Footnote 1: All the maidens of Trieste sing with passion, “O Italy, O Italy of my heart, thou comest to set us free!”]
So to that village we were the visible liberators. All the villagers came running towards us, crowding around our car, weeping and cheering, pouring out their stories, touching and holding and kissing us. It is seldom that things happen with such dramatic perfection.
The last Austrians, they said, had been gone only half an hour. We pressed on along a narrow road, but it was late afternoon, and the light was failing. The road grew worse, and the mud thicker. Much retreating traffic had only lately traversed it. At last we stuck deep in two muddy ruts. The wheels skidded round helplessly. We could go neither forward nor backward. Three of us got out and shoved with all our strength. There was a crackle of rifle shots not far away. We were prepared for an encounter. But nothing came of it. We got the car out at last, but the road was too bad for further progress and it was almost dark. We turned and drank up the remains of our “florium” and came back. But that day had been unforgettable.
THE COMPLETENESS OF VICTORY
The end was almost come. On November 3rd we received the official announcement that an armistice had been signed, and that at 3 p.m. on November 4th hostilities on the Italian-Austrian Front would cease. That same day Trento, Trieste and Udine fell. One began to be aware of the completeness of victory. On this day and the days that followed the communiques of Diaz were decisive and historical.