Lt. Avis Dagit Schorer
The following account is a chapter from an excellent book A Half Acre of Hell - A Combat Nurse in WW II, by Avis D. Shorer, Published 2002 by Galde Press, Inc., Lakeview MN.
It is a memoir of Lt. Avis Dagit who served with the 56th Evacuation Hospital on the Anzio beachhead.
Sea of Wounded
Everyone pitched in and set up cots and prepared the operating room, laboratory, pharmacy, x-ray, and other needed services. We re-sterilized all surgical supplies because seawater had contaminated them. Fighting was fierce and there was a critical need for hospitals.
Setting up the hospital was more difficult than expected because many of our supplies were still on the docks awaiting transportation to the hospital site. The army needed every truck to haul ammunition, equipment, and supplies to the front. The uneasy quiet of D-Day had vanished long ago. Our men fought desperately to keep the Germans from pushing us into the sea.
Men pitched two-person tents for our permanent quarters. Every minute was precious, so they did not take time to set up cots. Bedrolls, barracks bags, musette bags, and personal supplies were thrown hastily inside the tent. We did not have electricity and the entire beachhead was under strict blackout conditions. Darkness settled quickly after sunset and I needed to find two cots under the pile of gear before I went to sleep: one for myself I and one for Mary when she could be spared for a few minutes rest from the grueling duty in the operating room.
The Germans employed another weapon against us-the glider bomb. A motorless ship, with a bomb attached, came in noiselessly and dropped its missile. One fell short during a raid on the harbor the evening of January- ary 29 and missed the hospital by less than 150 yards. It sent a geyser of mud and flames skyward and left a twenty-five-by-sixty-foot crater.
Later the same evening, it was dark when I reached the tent Mary and I shared. I lifted the flap to enter when a deafening explosion shook the ground. Pain shot through both ears. A glider bomb had struck an ammunition ship, exploding in a brilliant fire that silhouetted other ships in the harbor. More blasts rocked the ship, sending black balls of smoke into the sky. Raging fire on the burning ship reflected on the canopy of silver barrage balloons that floated over the harbor and lit the entire skyline. Troops arrived on the beachhead as quickly as the army and navy could send them, but I felt alone. What was going to happen to us? We were cut off from the rest of the world and depended upon the shipping lanes for our supplies. I thought about the men on the damaged ships, a senseless loss of life.
Death, doom, and disaster surrounded us. I wanted to run, but there was no place to go. My throat was tight and my heart pounded until I thought it would burst my chest. Fear paralyzed me for a few minutes. I went inside the tent. The air was damp and chilly as soon as the sun set, so I did ton take off my woolen shirt and trousers. I found a cot and fell upon it, burying my head under my arms. The scream of the Anzio Express overhead added to the noise of battle around me. Despite the shock of the explosion, I finally fell asleep. Everyone reported for duty the next morning.
We received the first casualties at noon on January 30. Others quickly followed, and by evening the wounded filled all surgical wards. A steady flow of ambulances brought wounded to the hospital all day and all night. An overwhelming number of casualties taxed our resources to the limit. We started working in the morning and everyone stayed on duty for the night.
Wounded sprawled everywhere in all the ward tents. Seeing so many men with bloody, mangled bodies horrified me. I was reminded of the similar scene in Gone with the Wind. I had barely enough room to walk between the rows of litters in the dimly lit tent. Despite the numbers, it was eerily quiet. No one complained or cried out. The men were in shock from the brutal fighting. We heard the guns raging a short distance away. I examined each man's wounds and wanted to cry when they thanked me for the kindness. Most quietly lit a cigarette or helped those unable to help themselves. I asked each man if he needed anything. A few with severe wounds asked only to be put to sleep.
We submitted a list of patients needing immediate surgical care. We sent those with sucking chest wounds, abdominal cases, traumatic amputations, or uncontrolled bleeding to surgery first. Despite surgery working as painstakingly and quickly as they could, we evacuated the less seriously wounded by boat to Naples for further care.
Our hospital was the first one on the beachhead. A shortage of supplies added to the burden of caring for the huge number of wounded. We fan out of intravenous fluids and called upon the men in the Sixth Corps headquarters and Seabees to replenish our blood bank.
Captain Meadors came to the ward about 0400 hours and said, "Lieutenant Dagit, it looks like everything is under control here. Would you go to Pre-Op Number 1 for a while? They desperately need help."
"Most of the men are sleeping;' I said. "I've reported the most seriously wounded to Captain Martin." "They need someone to mix plasma. When you're fifty units ahead, you can come back here."
Pre-Op # 1 held the most critical cases who would be going to surgery first. I walked through the inky blackness, avoiding tripping over tent-poles, toward #1. I hadn't eaten in twenty-four hours, but I wasn't thinking of food.My legs were heavy and the sight of the endless number of wounded seared my mind. I was neither emotionally nor physically prepared for I he shock and horror that greeted me.
I opened the tent flap and a scream stuck in my throat. The smell or blood and flesh hit me. I saw litter after litter filled with men wounded beyond description. Blood-soaked bandages covered stumps of missing limbs. Some men had their faces shot away. Others had suffered abdominal wounds and attendants had to keep the bandages moist until they went to surgery. Blood-soaked, mud-caked uniforms were cut away to reveal gaping wounds in arms, legs, and torso. Bottles of plasma, dripping into every man, lined the ceiling of the tent. We prepared this life-saving liquid by mixing the contents of two vacuum bottles. One bottle held saline and the other dried blood-plasma cells.
I went to the makeshift table and quickly mixed plasma and prayed I could keep up with the demand. My hunger and fatigue were not important considering the critical situation in the pre-op tent.
I glanced up and saw Capt. Madge Teague, an anesthetist, enter the ward. She went from litter to litter and examined each soldier's wounds. She came to a litter where a young, blond soldier lay under the light of a bare bulb. Beads of perspiration stood on his forehead. His face, including his lips, was deathly white. One leg, still in a combat boot, twisted at a crazy angle. Bandages covered a wound on his chest. She crouched down and gently removed the bandage. A five inch square of flesh was gone and his ribs glistened through the gaping wound. Tears streamed down my cheeks, making it difficult to continue mixing the plasma. My fifteen-year-old brother at home looked so much like this young soldier.
"When will I go to surgery?" asked the soldier weakly. "Will I be all right?"
"We'll get to you very soon," said Captain Teague. She laid her hand tenderly on the soldier's forehead. I never doubted she cared for every patient with the same compassion.
When morning came, I reported to Captain Meadors, who was making rounds of the wards. Her small shoulders sagged under the responsibility of staffing the hospital. She asked, in a weary voice, "Could you stay on duty another twelve hours? I'm sorry because I know you need sleep, but I don't have anyone to relieve you."
"Could I have a cup of coffee first, and where do you want me to go?"
"You can go back to your own ward and I promise I won't ask you to work another shift."
I went to the mess hall and revived myself emotionally and physically with coffee and a bowl of oatmeal. The images of the wounded in Pre-Op #1 swam in my mind.
The patients I saw twelve hours earlier were gone and the tent was full of newly wounded.
One soldier said, "I'd rather be at the front than in here. We have a foxhole there,"
"So would I," chimed in several others.
We made a list of patients for evacuation.
"I don't want to ride down that road to the harbor," said a soldier with shrapnel wounds in his legs. "I'd like to see Naples, but I can wait,"
"Yeah, those krauts in the hills watch every move we make."
"They shoot at everything that moves on the road, even the meat wagons," said another. The soldiers named the road "Purple Heart Alley" because it was a favorite target for shelling.
In our first thirty-six hours, the hospital admitted 1,129 battle casualties. The 750-bed hospital expanded to 1,200 by adding more tents. The day passed quickly and again it was dark and the shift was over. Despite being on duty for thirty-six hours, I felt quite well physically. I again went to bed fully clothed and slept despite two air raids and the shells, too numerous to count, that screamed overhead.
More hospitals arrived on the beachhead, among them the 93rd Evac, the 33rd Field Hospital, and the 95th Evac. This relieved some of the load on our facilities. We had been friends with the 95th Evac ever since we sailed to North Africa together on the Mariposa in April of 1943. I looked forward to seeing Gertrude Morrow again, a friend from our days at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines. We would talk about home, but that could wait until the situation on the beachhead stabilized.
The Germans shelled the 33rd Field Hospital just after they arrived. Hoping the enemy could identify us more clearly, officials grouped all hospitals together. The 56th was the hub and Colonel Blesse was commander of the medical facilities. The compound was between the harbor and the Alban Hills behind us occupied by the Germans. It soon became known as "Hell's Half Acre" because it was one of the most feared places on the beachhead.
Ammunition dumps, motor vehicle pools, fuel dumps, and artillery surrounded the hospital compound. The navy trained their guns on the German lines and the Germans shelled the harbor. Shells and bombs fell hart a few times and landed in the hospital, but they did not injure anyone. Most managed to carry on without a great deal of panic and fear despite shattered nerves and sleepless nights. Less seriously wounded patients continued to plead for a discharge to the front because they felt safer in their foxholes there.
It was difficult to differentiate between day and night because it was dark when we went on duty and dark when our shift was over. We didn't think about working twelve hours and then having twelve off because the flow of patients never let up. How long would this go on? I walked slowly to my tent after a shift of night duty. I could not erase the image of every cot filled with newly wounded men. The odor of fresh blood and wet plaster hung over the entire ward. These were the lucky ones. How many had died?
A man from the Rangers had his right arm shattered and many pieces of shrapnel still in his body. He said, "The shell that hit me blew my buddy away. I was lucky. That shell didn't have my name on it." Our survival depended upon the luck of the draw. I didn't want to think about it. Nothing could prepare me for the next few days.
The Evacuation Department came through each morning to carry the wounded to waiting ambulances for the trip to Naples for further care. They left everything except their billfolds, which they clutched almost reverently to their chests. Money had no value here, but the pictures inside were their link with home in this insane war. I swallowed hard and fought back the tears. My heart ached for everyone of them.
On one of the first mornings, after a night of duty, I went outside for a breath of fresh air before I found my tent for some much-needed sleep. It was quiet and I tried to imagine what it had been like on that beautiful beach before the war tore everything apart. I again though I about the 95th Evac in the same area and wanted to look for Gertrude. Maybe there would be time to find her before I went on duty again.
Despite exhaustion, I preferred to be on the wards, because my tent was dark and lonely, not a retreat from the agony and suffering around me. I longed for a bath, but there was no way to heat the water. I hated to be without my helmet handy and the cold water would make it hard to fall asleep. I forgot about bathing, crawled into the sleeping bag, and soon fell into deep, exhausted sleep.
I had been asleep for several hours when I heard planes overhead and gunfire close by-or was I dreaming? I slid deeper into the sleeping bag and covered my head. I shifted and turned, trying to block out the noise.
Mary burst into the tent. "Thank God, Avis! You're all right!"
"What was all that noise? I could hardly sleep."
"Oh,"I'm so glad you're all right," cried Mary, her words spilling out hysterically. "It's so
terrible-the 95th was bombed. We don't know how many are killed. We're working on the wounded and
surgery is swamped."
"Was anyone we know killed?" I asked, afraid to hear her answer.
"The chief nurse and a Red Cross worker were killed instantly. Most of the patients in the post-op ward were killed. Your friend, Gertrude, is critically wounded. The doctors don't think she'll survive. She's in surgery now."
My head swam with despair and grief. I heard excited, anxious voices in the distance and hoped I'd hear that this horrible massacre was not true.
"Do you have to go back on duty?" I asked pleadingly.
"I could get away only for a minute to see if you were okay," said Mary, and I heard her running as soon as she got outside the tent.
I thought about the chief nurse who was from Ft. Dodge, a neighboring town in Iowa. Sweet, gentle Gertrude was helpful and kind when I was a freshman in nurses' training. I looked to her for guidance even in the war. She survived the bombing at Salerno and I prayed for her at Anzio.
I lay on my cot for an hour and stared at the top of the dark tent. I fought choking emotions of grief, fright, and anger. I was angry at Hitler, the Germans, and the war that put us here. My heart ached and it was hard to breathe. I realized any breath could be my last.
I lay on my cot for an hour and stared at the top of the dark tent. I fought choking emotions of grief, fright, and anger. I was angry at Hitler, the Germans, and the war that put us here. My heart ached and it was hard to breathe. I realized any breath could be my last.
A tap, tap on the tent brought me to my feet. It was Jon.
"I just wanted to see if you're all right." said Jon.
"How is Gertrude Morrow?" I asked anxiously.
I wanted to cry, but the hurt was so deep, tears would not come. I was numb and did not want to believe what I heard.
"Couldn't they do anything to save her?" I cried.
"The bomb blew her leg off at the hip" said Jon. "She also lost her kidneys. Her life wouldn't have been worth living." I found little comfort in his words.
"There isn't any place that's safe here, is there?" I asked despairingly. "What are we going to do? The men wounded at the front are killed in the hospital."
"First, I think you'd better dig a foxhole," said Jon.
"I'd help you, but I can't get away because we're so busy in receiving."
"Maybe I could dig a hole inside the tent if there's enough room", I said. "Canvas isn't much protection, but I hate to be outside alone."
"Why don't you dig half outside and put your head and upper body inside?"
That sounded reasonable to me because I was afraid of getting hit in the head more than anything.
"I'm working a few hours tonight and will be working tomorrow. Could you bring a litter and I'll put it inside the hole so I can sleep there? Night time is the worst because I might not wake up during an air raid."
When I got off duty the next evening, the litter Jon had promised was propped against the tent. I found an empty plasma can on the ward to use for a shovel. I lit a candle and sat on the cold, wet ground to dig. I shook from the cold, the two red alerts, and the whistle of shells overhead. Despite digging furiously, progress was slow because the wet sand stuck in the can. I abandoned the can and dug with my bare hands, packing each handful around the excavation. The hole was large enough for the litter when I quit at midnight. I'd put in the refinements the next evening. After shedding my damp clothes, I went to bed feeling more physically secure than I had ill several days.
As soon as I opened my eyes the next morning, I looked at the hole to see what else needed to be done. To my dismay, the hole was full of water and the litter floated at ground level. I did not have time to agonize over my misfortune because it was time for breakfast and another day on the wards.
We did not spend much time in the mess hall because mealtime was a favorite time for Jerry to pay us a visit. Tablesplanks over sawhorses were outside the tent. During one daylight shelling of the hospital area, pots and pans flew skyward when shells hit the kitchen. Fortunately, they did not hurt anyone, but they did shorten mealtime. We no longer concerned ourselves about adding a few pounds. The stress of work, sleepless nights, bombing, and shelling made a very effective weight-loss program.
After trying to dig a foxhole, I needed to devise an alternate plan. I wanted to go to bed and sleep when I got off duty. Maybe we'd be lucky and not have any air raids. I put on my helmet before going to bed to be on the safe side. Sleeping in the steel helmet gave me a stiff neck, but I would recover quickly.
Before I could find a comfortable spot, the red alert sounded and I heard the drone of planes overhead. I looked outside. Flares, dropped from German planes, floated downward, lighting the area with a blinding greenish white light. Bombs whistled and crashed into the earth nearby with an explosive thud. The antiaircraft guns sent up a deafening roar and I prayed for the men manning the guns. I crawled under my cot and curled up in a ball. Shaking from terror and the dank, cold ground, I prayed, "Please God, don't let any bombs touch me. If I'm wounded, don't let it be my head." My life marched in front of me. How would word that I was killed or wounded affect my family? Who would find me? Would I ever see home again, and in what condition? The all clear sounded, and I climbed back on the cot and slept fitfully until morning.
After another night of raids, officials decided that the nurses off duty needed an air-raid shelter. Most of us did not have foxholes. A contingent of enlisted men worked into the night digging a hole a few feet below ground. They covered the excavation with four inch posts and a layer of sand.
I saw Ellen at breakfast the next morning and said, "Aren't you glad we have a place to go during a raid?"
"I'm not going to use it;' she said. "Everyone will be killed if a bomb hit that shelter. I'll take my chances elsewhere."
"It'll protect us from shrapnel from antipersonnel bombs." I said. "That's Jerry's favorite weapon against us."
I always ran for the shelter during a raid when I was off duty. Ellen told a friend later, "I should go to the shelter to be with Avis because the raids scare her so much."
The Germans shelled our hospital, along with the 33rd Field Hospital, on February 10. The shells killed two nurses and one enlisted man at the 33rd. Our men put out the fire in their generator and carried the wounded to our hospital. The administration sent a detailed map of the hospital area to the German lines. Medical personnel are unarmed and the Geneva Convention rules of war prohibit enemy activity against medical facilities.
No one escaped the feeling of desperation that hung over the beachhead. The Germans had a massive troop buildup ready to launch a counterattack against our infantry. Germans boasted they would make Anzio another Dunkirk. The BBC reported, "President Roosevelt is conferring with high military officials about the gravity of the situation at Anzio." We would be forced to surrender or be evacuated to ships waiting in the harbor if our forces did not hold. Officials made plans to evacuate the nurses and later dropped them. They determined that our presence was a morale factor for the wounded. The Germans harassed us further by dropping propaganda leaflets over the beachhead telling us our situation was hopeless. "Axis Sally;' the sultry voiced German propagandist, played the latest American music on the radio. She tormented us with stories of life in the United States. Daily invitations were issued: "Nurses come on over. We have many handsome German officers who will take good care of you." These broadcasts angered and amused us. Meanwhile, the news from the Cassino front was discouraging because the Allies were fighting for their lives there, too.
Conditions on the beachhead grew worse each day. The Germans sent the Anzio Express with its quarter-tons shells over our heads with increasing regularity. The enemy detected every move we made from their observation posts in the hills. Everything that moved was a target.
The men partially buried ambulances in the sand to protect their motors from incoming shells. Officers and men with foxholes dug deeper. Shelling came day and night without warning. Air raids came most often at night. Everyone became expert at distinguishing the familiar sound of German planes before the red alert sounded. Before a raid started, my heart pounded and my throat was dry and it was hard to swallow. I wanted to cry out in anguish for everyone on the beachhead, but I hadn't seen the worst yet.
The Germans unleashed their heaviest raid after dark on February 12. I was outside my tent when the red alert sounded. The foreboding tone of the warning left no doubt we should seek shelter. I ran to the air-raid shelter and was just inside when planes dropped flares over the hospital. They lighted the whole area brighter than day. Planes made pass after pass over the hospital, unleashing a deadly load of antipersonnel bombs. Jagged fragments of metal tore into the flesh of anyone near the explosions.
Bombs screamed earthward and landed with a thud. Above the chaos and bedlam, someone shouted, "They're falling on the nurses' tents!"
A soldier ran to the air-raid shelter shouting hysterically, "Is there a doctor in there? We need a doctor!" Before anyone could answer, he said, "Ellen's been hit!"
Ignoring the falling bombs, two soldiers ran out, found a litter, and carried Ellen to the pre-op ward. No one knew the extent of her wounds. I ran toward the pre-op tent when the all clear sounded an hour and a half later. I met a soldier who had just seen her.
"How is she? Is she badly hurt?" My questions tumbled out faster than he could answer them.
"A piece of shrapnel about the size of a quarter pierced her chest. She has a sucking chest wound." When he saw my anxiety, he said, "It's serious, but I think she'll make it."
"Is she conscious? When can I see her?"
"Not right now because they're getting her ready for surgery. She's wide awake and I heard her tell Captain Young her blood pressure was 130/80."
I walked back to the dark tent and fell on my cot knowing there would be little sleep.
"When,O God, is this madness going to stop?" I prayed.
Bomb fragments riddled my tent, which was about six feet from Ellen's. I found a jagged hole in my metal sewing box that was deep inside my barracks bag. We learned later that the Germans flew about two hundred planes in the raid. The Luftwaffe was still alive.
I met Major Meadors on my way to the mess hall the next morning.
"How's Ellen?" I asked anxiously.
"She's a pretty sick girl," she said. ''I'm going to have you take care of her during the day. I know this will be hard because you're close friends. I'll have Danny take care of her at night until she's better."
The wound in Ellen's chest appeared small. The white hot metal passed through the lung into her abdomen and internal injuries were massive. Stomach contents spread throughout her lungs and abdomen, which made her condition grave. We did not discount her indomitable spirit and prayed for her recovery.
In a regular hospital bed, Ellen was on a surgical ward, screened from other patients. A nasogastric tube was in her nostril and intravenous fluids dripped into her arm. I choked back tears when I saw her. She detected my alarm when I approached her bed.
"Don't worry, Avis," she said. "I'm tougher than anything Jerry can throw at us."
"I know you are," I assured her. She was alert, her color good. That lifted my spirits. "Was anyone else hurt?" asked Ellen. As always, she was thinking of others.
"No, you're the only one."
"Oh, thank God," she whispered, closing her eyes.
The noise of battle raged in the distance. I held her hand while she dozed and she squeezed my hand tightly when the noise of an exploding shell was close. I prayed God would give me strength to do everything possible for Ellen. Before we had come to Anzio, battle casualties were strangers fighting on the front lines. Now they were close friends. I also came to the choking realization anyone of us could be next.
I was glad to see Danny when my shift was over. Her sunny disposition always lifted my spirits. I needed friends now more than ever. It was comforting that Mary was on day duty now and we could spend the evening together. She told of the exhausting duty in the operating room. Her experience and maturity were invaluable. We read to each other the few pieces of mail that arrived, reassured that those at home had not forgotten us.
Front-line casualties told of a massive German troop buildup and possible counterattack. Air raids and shelling increased in number and intensity, but the troops believed the line would hold. The Germans bombed and shelled the hospital three times in the next two days. The gloom and desperation that hung over the beachhead spared no one.
Ellen lost ground each day. She was aroused only when the percussion of a shell was near or the red alert sounded. I believed much of her lethargy was due to heavy narcotics we gave her regularly. Her abdomen was distended and we gave her oxygen through a mask. She remained so mentally alert that I could not dismiss her fighting spirit. I refused to think she would not recover.
We attached the chain with her dog tags, rabbit's foot, four-leaf clover, lucky-seven dice, and St. Christopher medal to her medical record. Captain Sloan, the ward officer, and I were at the desk when he picked up the chain loaded with charms. He said, "She might as well throw this away." I then realized how grave her condition had become.
On February 16, her breathing was shallow and her pale skin ashen. I tried to moisten her parched lips. She waved me away weakly. I could see her life slipping away. At 1000 she reached to remove the oxygen mask.
"Ellen, we'd better leave the mask on," I whispered.
She rolled her eyes back and took her last breath.
I was momentarily frozen with shock. I ran to summon Captain Sloan.
"Come quick! She's gone!" I cried hysterically.
We rushed to the bedside but could not revive her. Captain Sloan put his arm around my shoulders and said, ''I'm sorry. I know you were good friends. She never had a chance."
Shocked and numb, I couldn't comprehend what had happened. Tears did not come. "You'd better lie down on that empty cot," said Captain Sloan pointing across the tent. "I'll call Captain Meadors."
I lay on the cot for a few minutes. Why couldn't I cry when it hurt so much? I wanted to tell Mary and Danny what had happened. Before I could gather strength, an announcement blared on the public address. "Funeral services for Lieutenant Ainsworth will be at 1430 hours."
Captain Meadors dressed Ellen in the new uniform she'd never worn. Her body, wrapped in two new army blankets, was placed in an ambulance. She was the first fatality among our personnel. A shocked and demoralized group gathered in front of the ambulance. The chaplain offered prayers and a few words of comfort. While the bugler played taps, the sky overhead filled with bombers on their way to bomb German lines. We watched the planes unload over the front and clouds of dust float skyward. The ambulance pulled slowly away for the trip to the cemetery. Then I started to cry.
Captain Meadors came to Mary and me after the service and asked, "Would you gather her personal items, since you were her best friends? We'll send them to her parents." We put her watch, rings, pictures, and fountain pen in a cloth bag and took it to Captain Meadors.
"You can take the rest of the day off," said Captain Meadors. "You'll report to Ward Six in the morning."
The dark tent was more lonely than ever. Ellen loved to sing and her beautiful voice was stilled forever. Why hadn't I insisted she go to the air-raid shelter with me? I thought about her parents' grief when they heard that their "baby" was killed in the war. In despair, I was reliving the past few days when I heard a tap on the tent. It was Jon.
"I thought you might like someone to talk with and perhaps you could use a drink;' said Jon. He mixed a cocktail of grapefruit juice and medical alcohol nicknamed "moose milk."
"The Germans started their big counteroffensive at 0530 this morning and casualties are pouring into receiving;' said Jon. "The line is pretty thin in places, but most of the men think it will hold."
"What'll we do if it doesn't?"
''I'm sure the officials have a plan. The Germans might take us prisoners, or we might go to boats in the harbor if there's enough time;' said Jon. Neither plan relieved my anxiety.
We talked of the day's events and speculated about what to expect next. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. The wards were full of wounded and I needed sleep before going on duty.
"I'll see you tomorrow;' said Jon as he was leaving.
While shells from the Anzio Express screamed overhead, I went to bed and prayed I would see another day.