Fighting at Piumarola – 16/17 May 1944


Lt Colonel Bala Bredin at Cassino

“The London Irish launched a marvellous attack through us the next morning on the 16th.

The Irish Fusiliers led the 3rd attack on the morning of the 17th and then it came around to our turn again in the afternoon – the Inniskillings – and by that time we were within a mile of Highway 6, which was the main road from Naples to Rome, which went through the town of Cassino.

We were getting fairly tired by that time but, at the same time, we had that feeling that we were winning. The enemy, who were opposing us then, were parachutists, part of the Parachute Division – they were good soldiers.

We had to get into a sort of sunken lane, quite a good place in fact for a start-line but, even so, we suffered quite a number of casualties. They knew exactly where we were – where we were beginning to mass in readiness for an attack and it was while we were just about to move off from the start line that a mortar bomb landed and hit the back of my legs. You don’t notice too quickly, you don’t initially feel the pain.

It was maddeningly as I didn’t seem to be able to walk. They then put me into a jeep which was alongside. I was probably being rather foolish. I wanted to make sure that everyone knew what was happening.

While the attack was going on, it seemed to be going quite well and then I was told that I fainted. Then they started to remove me to the rear areas and the next thing I remember was a nurse looking down at me and I thought that was the most glorious thing that I’ve ever seen. They probably had given me some morphia or something and I was carted off to Caserta and spent the next 2/3 weeks there and then I was sent to Sorrento for rest.

Meanwhile, back at Cassino, John Kerr had taken over command of the Skins from me and finished the battle. That evening a patrol of the Irish Brigade walked across Highway 6 and the Germans were cut off.

That was that.”