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Nebelwerfers at Cassino, 1944

by Owen Raskin

5 Fd Regt tac sign We also became acquainted with nebelwerfers. They were really scary at all times, but especially so at night. Familiarity however reduced their effect to some degree. When they were fired the sound was like a chorus of sighing groans and screeches, followed by silence while the bombs were in flight and everyone speculated as to where they would land. Les Morrison says that he and two or three others were standing behind E4 chatting and waiting for nebelwerfers to land. The silence ended with a bomb landing 2 or 3 feet in front of the gun. No-one was hurt but they all went to ground after the explosion. They had not heard it coming. On another occasion a projectile landed just outside B Troop command post. One landed on a bivvy tent but fortunately no-one was in it. Les and others described the missile casing as being of light metal that curled back like a half-peeled banana on exploding. It was suggested that apart from putting the wind up all who felt they might be the target, the nebelwerfer was intended to kill or injure by blast rather than fragmentation. Nevertheless a small piece of shrap from an explosion in the E Troop area about 150 yards away knocked my writing material from the ground of my sleeping bivvy onto my head. Next morning its track through a paddock of young oats could be seen in line with a hole in my tent.

The War History records that the nebelwerfers would fire and immediately the crew would move the monster under cover. When that was realised the tactics were to keep a gun in various troops laid on a known nebelwerfer position full-time, to be fired immediately the monster sounded off. Jerry countered by firing from a new position each time.

Extract from The Sangro and Cassino by Owen Raskin, published in 5th Field Regiment Association Newsletter 22.

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