Italy Pilgrimage 6th-15th September 2013
After an overnight stop at Hythe in Kent, Grahame and I arrived fresh and ready and proudly wearing our Italy Star Association polo shirts, to join the six Italy Star veterans and nineteen other passengers who were all meeting in Dover, in time to catch the afternoon ferry to Calais. After the various feeder buses had arrived and the introductions completed by our tour guide, Paul Reed, (including Simon and Simon our drivers) we were off!
The channel crossing was smooth but not uneventful, as our polo shirts had caught the attention of several of the passengers, and so, I was handing out my Association contact details to two couples who were most interested to hear about us. (Since returning home I have had a telephone conversation with a Mr Roy Herbert, Italy Star veteran, who did not know about the Association’s existence, but who now has a membership application form and he is looking forward to joining! He lives in Aspley, Nottingham and was a Field Engineer of the NZ Force. Mr Herbert has sent me his book of memoirs which I am just reading).
Once in France, Paul explained in outline the forthcoming week’s events, whilst we were travelling toward our first night’s stop-over in Rheims. We learnt during that talk that Paul’s father was himself an Italy Star veteran! (Delighted to say that since returning home, Paul and his father have both become members). Also we realised that with Paul as a military historian, we were all going to increase our knowledge not only of the Italian campaigns but the Second World War in general. (I say that as someone who is a 1950s babe!).
In a piece like this, I cannot possibly do justice to the wealth of military, strategic and historical knowledge that was imparted to us throughout our trip – and indeed, I would not want to attempt to reproduce those facts here, bearing in mind the supreme experience and understanding of the majority of members reading this. Suffice it to say that I am completely in awe of you proud veterans, and in the space available, my account can only be a daily journal of events through the eyes of a grateful daughter and niece.