Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The bridge above Salerno was still under fire ten days after the Allied landings. It was only harassing fire, which one dodged as one dodges traffic, yet it threatened to sever communications between the north and south forces. For days strong British patrols probed the hills behind Salerno, searching for the one 88-mm. gun which spasmodically threw its shells at the vital span linking the coastal highway. Back at headquarters a little Italian girl came in, escorted by an AMG official. " Her name's Alma," the official said. " She can tell you where that battery's located."
Alma began to speak excitedly in Italian, with gestures. A staff officer laid a large-scale map in front of her and asked her to point out the position. But Alma didn't understand the map. The staff officer explained to the AMG official that the girl's information was of no value as far as counter-firing went. Alma, when informed, offered to lead them to a hill overlooking the position. The staff officer protested that it would mean danger for her, but Alma wasn't afraid.
Not long afterward the staff officer, an artillery observer and a patrol led by a little Italian girl were climbing into the hills. A field telephone was passed to the artillery officer, who gave the command to fire. The first round was short and almost blew the men and Alma off the hill. The next two were almost on the target. They watched intently as the German crew struggled to get their 88 out of the cavern at whose mouth it had been concealed. The fourth round was a direct hit.