But I went back armed with some useful information regarding the position of those Austrian Trench Mortars.
A LULL BETWEEN TWO STORMS
From the beginning of October the Battery were hard at work on their winter quarters. We had two large dining and recreation huts for the men, one for the Right Section and one for the Left, fitted up with long wooden tables and benches. These huts were dug into the bank, one on either side of the road leading up from the Battery position to Pec village. The dug-outs were improved and made watertight and the Officers’ Mess and sleeping huts were moved up from the river bank into the Battery position itself. Everything was very comfortable and handy.
We maintained close relations with an Italian Battery next door commanded by a certain Captain Romano. His men helped us in putting up our huts, which were of Italian design, and we had frequent exchanges of hospitality. Romano was a Regular officer, about 28 years old, with twinkling brown eyes and a voice like a foghorn even when speaking from a short distance away, but a fine singer. He had a wonderful collection of photographs, was a good Gunner and popular with his men.
* * * * *
On the 9th I spent the night in Lecce O.P. on Hill 123, overlooking Hills 126 and 94. It was named after the Lecce Brigade who made it, one of the best Brigades in the Italian Army. When they were in front of us, we saw a good deal of them. Now the Parma Brigade were holding the line and the British officer in the O.P. used to take his meals at the Brigade Headquarters. Things were rather active that evening. At half-past five in the afternoon the enemy opened a heavy bombardment, increasing to a pitch of great fury, on our front and support trenches. Our own lines down below me were blotted out from sight by dense clouds of crashing, flashing smoke. Just before six the Italian Brigadier asked me for a heavy barrage from all the British Batteries. A big counter-bombardment was now working up from our side. I spoke on the telephone to Raven, who told me that all our Batteries were firing “double vivace.” At a quarter past six the Austrians attacked. There was a terrific rattle of Italian machine gun fire, almost drowning the sound of the heavier explosions, and a stream of rockets went up from our front line calling for more barrage. The attack was beaten off by machine guns and hand grenades. A few Austrians reached our parapet, but none got into our trenches.