Monday, December 17, 2007

Customised AirGraphs

I recently received an intriguing e-mail from Boabbie, concerning an image I had previously posted of an AirGraph that I had sent home from Italy.

Bob kindly sent me the attached AirGraph that he had found in his late father-in-law's effects and I found it of much interest.

As you can see, it was sent by a Pte.Caplan to his family back home on the 16th September 1943 and, like other Airgraphs of that period, it had been designed to cater for a particular occasion.
In this case it was the Jewish New Year and the large Hebrew letters read as "Rosh Hashana" and "Yom Kippur" (New Year & Day of Atonement).
I went back to my diaries to see what I was doing when Pte.Caplan sent this AirGraph home and see that on the 20th I was on the aptly named "Ferry Service" across the Messina Straits

The Airgraph reads:
Pte.M.Caplan B Coy, 15th Fd Amb. C.M.F 16.9.43


To my dear wife Nan and son Sydney
Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year and well over the fast from your loving husband and daddy
5704-1943 SEP 1943

Extract from Rgt.Diaries of 49th LAA Rgt. RA

On 3 Sep supported the movement over the Straits of the Op BAYTOWN units, the invasion of Italy.
On 6 Sep the regt reverted to under command 78 Div.
On 8 Sep the regt, less 90 Bty, moved to a cone area at Fumari. 90 Bty remained in defence of Milazzo port and airfield.
On 13 Sep 90 Bty joined the regt in the cone area. The regt was now under orders to move to Italy and
On the 20th 84 Bty (Ron's Battery)embarked on the Ferry service to Reggio. RHQ followed
On the 22nd and between 23 and 25 Sep moved via Crotone and Taranto to Bari and was established in a house on the outskirts of Trani.


Blogger Tomcann said...

Ron - at that time in september '43 I have no idea where I was but in all likelyhood I was still at Pentheverie near Bone(Annaba) and playing silly billies with 25th Tanks who were at Ain Mokra - 25 miles away - all I remember is that it was HOT - HOT - HOT !- probably trying to write air graphs home with the sweat dripping off the end of the nose and blurring the ink !

Monday, 17 December, 2007  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

It is a very interesting item, and one way of learning about history.

Of course some of us were not even born then ......

Friday, 21 December, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ron
Just seen your posting about the airgraph that was sent to you by a relative of a private Caplan concerning the Jewish new year and
Yom Kippur and how it spurred you on to look up your diary to rediscover what you were doing at that particular time well about six months ago one of my nephews asked me about my army service and
I typed about six or seven pages of pure comedy some bawdy and informed him of the many sites like this one to fill in all the gory details that I would not or could not do, he duly thanked me for a good laugh and sent me an airgraph that I had sent to his father and mother for Christmas
1943 from Italy it has the box at the top with their address franked by the army post office (three times I might add )and my details on the top of another larger oblong box with the words Christmas Greetings from The Eighth Army and underneath was the shield of the eighth on a black background a palm tree on the left and an oak tree on the right side underneath were these words ( together you and I we will see this thing through to the bitter end ) all the words were in old English script and it is dated 4/11/43 if only I were more knowledgeable about computers perhaps I could have posted it to the site still reminiscing myself I think at said time we were around the Foggia area after going through Termoli perhaps some historian can correct me if I am wrong after all it was a while ago and days were all the same then one never knew what day week or month it was they all seemed to be the same to me and I never seemed to care anyway still that’s another story if there is any body else reading this tripe I would like to say Merry Christmas And a Happy New Year or as the Italians say Bon Natale

Saturday, 22 December, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

as you know - one man's tripe - is another man's banquet -
and you are probably right about being in the Foggia area with 78th Div in Novemeber '43 as the battle for Termoli took place at the beginning of October when the 1st SAS and 3 and 40th commando with Paddy Mayne landed on the shores and your lot of 78th Div and 2nd SAS, with my old friend Roy Farran came up alongside the Canadians to join the fun....
' Then as I recall you went back close to Lucera which is where the 21st and 25th Tank Bdes joined the Canadians later to train for the Hitler/Gustav - Liri valley to do...after yours and the Canadians stint at Campobasso.
very merry Christmas to you and yours !

Saturday, 22 December, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom nice to hear from you again and thanks for the information as to
where I was at the time I sent the Christmas message to my brother from Italy as I said in my comment to Ron’s posting days weeks and even months seemed to have no relevance under the circumstances then so perhaps someone reminded me of the time of the year and prompted me to think straight anyway as always your information was spot on.
As for the crossing from Sicily to Italy a point of interest Tom we were lined up along the road that run parallel to the sea in Messina awaiting to cross to Reggio-Calabria and being Infantry time was of the essence as we went down to the beach the Royal Navy had a fleet of tank landing craft lined up all along the front but the thing that struck me they had blackboards and easels between some of them and were running a contest as to who was doing the most crossings because as you know the Messina straights are only a mile wide and with no interference from Jerry it seemed like a summers day outing unlike the poor lads at the Salerno
Landings Ron has solved my problem of posting an airgraph to the site he has posted an identical one saving me an headache trying to come to terms with this contraption
regards niccar

Sunday, 23 December, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Niccar - the main trouble with you bods in the PBI was that you could never pick the right jobs - like sitting in a Tank and letting the others do the walking - can be very tiring you know !

I must say we had it cushy as we landed at Naples.... and all our Tanks and heavy stuff landed at Taranto - but they caught up with us at Lucera after your lot had gone on a bit.... we did however catch up with you shortly afterwards.

I shouldn't worry about navigating the computer - ask Ron about my traumas - drove him, Peter
and Frank round the twist for a whole week - before I found out they were using a different system to me ! That was a hoot - but we managed - of course the three have been to school for computers so they are ahead of the game !

Wednesday, 26 December, 2007  
Blogger Peter G said...

I haven't a diary from those dark days, but I remember them vividly. I was thirteen at the time and I took part in the looting of the Italian army barracks at Porto Valtravaglia, the one and only time I have ever looted anything. After about two hours I came staggering out with a couple of pairs of boots, leggings, shirts, army pouches, and a couple of blankets. I remember that there was absolute chaos with carabinieri firing in the air at one side of the barracks whilst I and a gang of my friends were in looting another side. Getting out proved more difficult than getting in, a matter of timing it right.

After that, until I joined my father with the Imperial Light Horse and Kimberley Regiment of the 6th South African Div in April 1945, I was always dressed in army clothes pillaged from those frantic few days before the German army came in with a vengeance.

Tuesday, 01 January, 2008  

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