The Last Days of the Regiment
12th May 1945 to 1st January 1947

The regiment concentrated in the Gradisca area on 12 May, during which time all
available A.E.C.S and three-tonners were employed on 13 Corps transport duties.
The story behind this is that until 10 June when the Jugoslav agreement was finally signed, nobody knew which way the "cat was going to jump." So all of the compo rations and other stores which were in dumps in southern Italy were flown up to Udine airport, loaded on to all R.A.S.C. vehicles, assisted by all other units with large transport, and ferried to new dumps. The loading at Udine was carried out by German POWs.

Conforming with 13 Corps' move forward the regiment again moved on 23 May to the
east of the river Isonzo and deployed "in tight formation" with H.Q. 6 A.G.R.A. and 75 Medium Regiment R.A. in a waterless area of "blasted heath" and limestone north-east of Duino. Once more we lost our lorries and gun tractors for supply duties. Here, despite poor facilities for sport or amusement on the spot, many football matches were played 'away', whilst cricket, netball and deck tennis were played in the regimental area. Though technically in action, this period was spent mainly in attempting to bring the guns and equipment up to a peace-time standard of cleanliness and polish.

On 10 June 1945, as mentioned above, the signature of the Jugoslav agreement was
officially announced, and most ofTito's forces were withdrawn. The regiment then moved to Monfalcone, a town and naval base west of Trieste, where it became a part of the troops under AMGOT (Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories).

Monfalcone stood on the Adriatic, and from there south to Muggia was Italy's largest
shipbuilding area. The many ship-yards were of course in ruins, and the harbour at
Monfalcone held a number of vessels of all sizes which had been sunk or scuttled, lying on their sides, the larger ones half-submerged. Beside the harbour were the modem buildings of the naval barracks, gleaming white, and these buildings were to be home for most of us until the end of our army service. They were comfortable once we had furnished them with our own kit, and the upper floors provided fine views of the Alps, some 50 miles away to the north-east. Often at night there were electrical storms in the mountains, and they provided us with pyrotechnic displays worthy of some of the barrages we had seen in the past two or three years.

Once established in our new billets the prime thoughts in our minds were :
RELEASE. Quite soon we were in receipt of the arrangements for our release from the Service. The principal was first in, first out, and we were all allocated Release
Group numbers. The first release personnel seemed to be on their way back
to the U.K. quite quickly.

HOME LEAVE. Since railways were operating from Turin and Milan, via Switzerland, to the Channel Coast, a scheme called LIAP came into being (but the initials are part of a phraseology which now has no meaning) under which
personnel with appropriate service were sent home for 28 days leave, and then came back to their units.

So very soon lots of men went off, some to return but others for good. Now let us return to the remarks at the end of the previous chapter - how do you cope with a large number of men whose chief reason for being for several years has now disappeared? Apart from release and leave there is another possibility - local leave. Not far along the coast was a small seaside resort called Grado, which had a pleasant sandy beach and was approached by a causeway. There were a number of hotels, one of which was taken over as a short stay leave centre for the regiment. For longer stays (up to a week) there was Velden in Austria, only about 60 miles away. This was (and is) a resort at the southern end of the Worthersee, a lakeside town with good facilities and excellent walking in the hills. Here too there was an hotel which we took over for the use of our people.
(and, of course, other hotels here and at Grado were taken over by other units).

Then the city of Trieste was only 18 miles away by the coast road, and our own transport ran a bus service in the evenings to take our men into the city. This was shared between ourselves and the Royal Navy, who had in the harbour a squadron ofMTBs, and the frequent arrival of destroyers and cruisers. It is a large and cosmopolitan city and had a wide variety of entertainments as well as our own clubs in which we could enjoy ourselves. There was an occasion, too, of symphony music. The composer. Constant Lambert was an R.N. officer serving in a cruiser visiting Trieste, and he conducted a concert in the local Opera House, which was a fine hall with excellent acoustics, and which many of us enjoyed. We have already mentioned a concert in Rome, and one is reminded that there had been a third classical occasion- this was on the "blasted heath" near Duino when a performance of "II Bottega Fantastica" was given by part of the Ballet of La Scala, Milan. When one considers that it was done on the backs of five 3-tonners parked together it was some performance.

Then there was sport. In Trieste there was an excellent stadium (for those days) and the highlight there was a match between the Italian national side, and the Eighth Army XI . Of course, all of our players were professionals, and we are glad to say that we won. Apart from this there were football leagues, cricket leagues and hockey leagues, and much more competitive sport.

One cannot leave this subject without the word "Education" as this was one of the
keystones of the programme. Each unit was ordered to appoint a Unit Education Officer, and his duty was to find men suitably qualified to be instructors in appropriate subjects, and suitable clerical and support staff to run the Unit Education Scheme. The instructors were all given the acting rank of sergeant, and the scheme worked very well, and much boredom was averted.

Another feature of life at Monfalcone was the Gazelle Yacht and Rowing Club. This
was, of course, named after the 13 Corps sign, and when it was up and running some 200 people sailed every day. During the German occupation no pleasure craft had been allowed, and the civilians did not wish to sail, due to the RAF bombing and strafing. There were certainly boats, but they had been out of the water for years. There was a permanent staff of two gunner officers and some 15 gunner O.R.S. at Monfalcone alone. Many of them thought when sent there first that this was just another fatigue, and they were going there because the C.O. was keen on sailing. After a while few of them wished to change their occupation before their age group was due.

But all this time the strength of the regiment was ebbing away as men went home on
release, on transfer to other arms of the service, and elsewhere. After all the aim was to thin down the TA regiments, and particularly the 2nd line TA units. In the area were two regular medium artillery units, 2nd and 4th - in the latter unit one of our own, Lex Cadzow, was already commanding the Gibraltar Battery.

Now the bulk of the younger men were transferred to 4th Medium Regiment, and went off to Udine. By the late summer of 1946 all of the personnel had drifted away although according to the City of Edinburgh and the Lothian and Peebles Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations, the 66th (Lowland) Medium Regiment, R.A..T.A., was not officially disbanded until 1st January 1947.

We had been in existence for 7 & half years, of which we had spent 2 & half years in continuous action against the Germans - no mean record.



Copyright © 2003, Chris Dunham . All Rights Reserved