Based on the author’s diaries, From Addis to the Aosta Valley is the account of Keith Ford’s service in the Second World War from 1940–1945. As a gunner, he was deployed ‘up north’ to East Africa and experienced his first taste of action with the 1st South African Division during the invasion of Italian Somaliland; thereafter he was involved in the Abyssinian campaign and was with the victorious Allies when Addis Ababa was liberated.
Then came North Africa and the dark days of the Desert campaign as a Gun Position Officer’s Assistant on 25-pounders with the 1st South African Brigade: from Taieb el Essem, the defensive box south of Sidi Rezegh, to Bir el Gubi, Bardia, Tobruk and Gazala, and to the annihilation of his battery by German panzers at Agheila. Retrained as a Bofors anti-aircraft gunner, he was with the Eighth Army at El Alamein. On posting to Italy, his Light Anti-Aircraft Unit 1 became D Company Witwatersrand De la Rey Battalion and dug in on the 1944 Winter Line.
He saw action during the assault and capture of Caprara, the advance to the river Po and finally, St Bernard’s Pass in the Aosta valley.
This is the story of an ordinary soldier, but one who has a keen eye for detail for the countryside and people around him. He brings a sense of immediacy and pathos to his writing through his relationships with his comrades and the civilians he encounters, particularly with the Italian women for whom he retains a special place in his heart.
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