Star arrived during the morning and took charge. There was no need, he said, to hurry on. We had better rest here for a day. He arranged for us all to draw rations from the Italian Comando di Tappa. Treviso was to be our next stopping place. We were disturbed a little during the morning by enemy planes dropping bombs on the town, but none fell very near us.
In the afternoon we moved on and parked our guns near the station along with those of the other British Batteries, which had arrived before us. Bombing raids continued and were more serious that afternoon than in the morning. One bomb fell on a house, which was full of men from one of the other Batteries, and caused a number of casualties. It was only by good luck that a number of my own men were not in that house at the time. Fortunately I had had words, as two tired men will, with one of the officers of the other Battery, about the joint use of the kitchen, and my men, when I asked them, had decided that they preferred, as always, to “run their own show” and not “pig in with other Batteries.” To that attitude of independence some of them probably owe their lives.
In the afternoon Raven turned up, and said that he had arranged for us to go on to Treviso by train. We loaded our guns on to trucks, and waited several hours in the station yard for the promised train. It was cold and wet and more bombers came over us. They had bombed the station for the last three nights, I heard. But nothing hit it while we were there. The train left at 9.30 p.m. Leary and another officer and I tried to share one wet blanket. We were too wet and cold to sleep. I walked up and down the carriage trying to get warm. They bombed the railway several times during our journey, and once, when a bomb fell near our train, there was a rumour that the engine driver had gone away and left us standing. But it was quite untrue. We crawled along, with many stops. It seemed a quite interminable journey. But at 8 o’clock next morning, the 1st of November, we came to Treviso.
THOUGHTS AFTER THE DISASTER
We hung about for a while in the station, nobody knowing what was to happen next. Then Leary and I went off to try to find some food. We had been living just lately on ration biscuits and a tin of Australian peach jam. There was not much left at the Buffet, where we found Bixio, but we got a little salami and some eels and wine and coffee. Meanwhile our train had gone on to Mestre, owing to a mistake between two railway officials, and had to return next day. Leary’s feet were so bad that he could hardly walk. I got them dressed for him by the Italian Red Cross, but he could walk no better afterwards. The Villa Passi, the British Headquarters, was several miles off. An enemy plane came over and bombed Treviso, when we were in the station square, trying in vain to find a conveyance. But none of the