A runner came into our position, shouting that the Germans had overrun the rifle companies positions and were advancing towards our position. In the excitement, we grabbed our belongings. I grabbed my helmet, ammo and gun and forgot about my dog tags and ring. We had to retreat, army word is to withdraw.
April 10. 0800 hours. We're headed for Massa, a seaport. We are set up and dug gun position in 15 minutes. Ten minutes later, we had march order. We're pinned down by the Germans, four times in two hours. Church bells are ringing, we get shelled and no one is hit. We're on the outskirts of Massa and we're dug in. It's 1735 hours and we haven't eaten all day.
Some of the boys are carrying cases of ammo. We walked at least eight miles, 1800. I'm eating at an Italian home. We're back 1,000 yards from Rilfe Companies. We're the first here. First American soldiers here. We're being treated as Kings.
April 11. March order. People hate to see us leave. Dry run, we're back. The people have up their beds for most of us. They say, "sleep in comfort when you can." I did, Jerry puts up a big barrage.
April 12. March order. We saw Partisian, even kids ten years old carry guns. I saw a young, German soldier dead. Probably not over 17 years old. Jerry had some very good dug outs.
April 13. We can see Carrara. Last night it rained. We walked all the way from Massa, 1100 hours. Lt. Brown told us about President Roosevelt's death. The Partisian have over 500 prisoners and have hanged over 200 fasicist.
We're on past Carrara and have set up. I fire into enemy territory. Who knows, maybe I got a Jerry. We fired over the mountain.
April 14. 0100 hours. We fired over the Mountain. Jim Knecht and myself are firing. Jerry returns fires, no one is hit.
April 15. Moving up, Jerry snipers and machine gun fires on us. It's very close. We're riding in Jeeps. Red Minor and D.T. Jones, were hit. Red Minor was hit on the arm while carrying ammo, D.T. Jones was hit bad, above eye, and slightly on the arm.
April 16. German prisoners are really coming down from the mountain and surrendering.
April 17. Fired 700 rounds of maching gun fire. We're with L Co. 3rd Bn. F. Co had a lot of casualties. Carl Swearton, Squad Sargent, was hit by German machine gun fire on both legs. We are now getting a lot of enemy fire from the Germans.
April 18. We fired overhead for L company. We're near Casanova. Last night we saw Jerry use his rocket gun. We saw the flashes. We really walked today.
April 19. Still giving overhead fire and walking. In the night we dug in. We're getting 88's and rocket shells all around us, they're so close. Thank God no one was hit.
April 20. Moving up. 0800 hours. Met strong opposition. Jerry opens up with everything. John Bessy our Squad Sargent got a close call with a bullet barely missing him. Jerry fires at everyone of us while crossing road. Close, yes. Again we thank God, 1000 hours.
1700 hours. I fired 500 rounds into Jerry positions. Jerry really shelled us. We're all so jittery, nervous and scared.
April 21. We're still being shelled.
April 22. Jerry throws in a coastal shell right in between our two machine guns. The crater was four feet deep, six feet wide. They're getting closer every minute.
April 23. Jerry is really throwing it at us. We have some S.P.G. They're trying for them and the shells are hitting all around us. We're all shaky. We better get relieved or the outfit will go nuts.
It's 1100 hours. I left the room where I was resting in to get some ammo. On my way back, a shell hit and destroyed the buiding I just left. I was only 15 yards away. Pieces of the building landed all around us and on us. What if I had not left the building? You wouldn't be reading this. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt. The Italians around the area were crying and praying, making the rest of us more nervous and shaky. I found myself saying,
"Oh God, get us relieved before it happens. They're landing around us."
We were relieved that night. God knows we needed it. We were so tired.
April 24. I visitied a family at Massa. I had dinner with them.
April 25. Here we go again. 14:00 hours. We're at Levento. Jerry puts up a ba rrage. Several of our trucks and jeeps are hit. Our Major, our Battalion Command is killed.
April 26. We're now in Rapallo, 20 miles from Genova. People are throwing flowers at us. Our jeeps are covered with flowers. We're still after Jerry, we can't locate him.
April 27. At 09:30 we entered Genova. First American soldiers in the city. Streetcars are still running. Everybody wants to take us here and there. Partisian marches Fasicist women who entertain Jerrys down the street. Their hair is shaven. We're drinking wine and their best of everything. What a town!
That evening, a convoy of Jerrys' comes down in regiments to surrender driving their own trucks. at 2100 hours, we set up positions outside of Genova.
April 28. We're back in Genova.
April 29. We get passes to go to Genova. We have beer and everything a GI wants.
May 8. We hear the War is over. It's so hard to believe it's over. We drink beer in camp. I'm not going out to celebrate tonight. I'm scared someone may get careless and shoot someone.
We paraded in Genova right after the war.
May 10. Met Dan Gonzales from Pratt, KS. as we went into town. We went to an Italian dance.
May 13. Left Genova. We're in Pisa guarding German prisoners.
Guarded German prisoners till about the end of July, 1945. The 473rd Infantry Regiment was dissolved and all of us were sent to different outfits to come home. I was sent to the 351st Regiment, 3rd Battalin, Company K, 88th Division.
I left Leghorn Italy (Pisa). the leaning tower on September 10, 1945. I arrived in Newport, Virginia, on September 29th, then left to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where I was discharged on October 8, 1945. I left for Kingman, Kansas, where I was born and raised. Later, I went on to Garden city and married Mary Louise Hernandez on February 2, 1946.
In May 1993, this diary was discovered in my mother's trunk when she was placed in a nursing home. It's been there since I arrived back to the states in 1945.
As of November 26, 1993 this diary has been rewritten. Mary Louise and I are now parents of 14 adult children, 26 grandchildren, and one great-grandson.
Signed: Nick Ortiz Sr.