British Element Trieste Force 1945 - 1954
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(Here he's still on the train)
There, the train made a tour around much of the cathedral before crossing over to the right bank of the Rhine. As we reached the Mittel Rhein, the aspect changed again. The vine-clad slopes, topped with castles in various states of disrepair, the half-timbered buildings of places like Nieder Lahnstein and above (?) all, the traffic and the myriad suns dancing on the Rhine restored the holiday feel.
Dusk was falling when we reached Wiesbaden and turned off the Rhine to go up the Main. We slept through Bavaria and were awakened as we approached the Ausfrian border. Here, there was another change of locomotive. We were at breakfast when passing Salzburg. The train halted for a short while at Mallnitz, four or five tracks from the station platform on which a line of children was seated. Noticing our military train, they burst into singing, in English, "My bonny lies over the ocean".
The train climbed above valleys of green fields and scattered buildings, all cheerful under the bright sun and blue sky. Disappearing into tunnels, we emerged into another valley or on occasion the same valley but at a different level, having spiralled inside the mountain.
At Spittal, the train stopped and the khaki-kilted Cameronians (or were they Cameron Highlanders ?), returning from leave, departed. Shortly after the train restarted, the Conductor, a WO I, slid back the door of our compartment and having ascertained that we were for BETFOR, told us that in about 20 minutes the train would be stopping at Villach where we would have to alight. He did not know how we were to get to Trieste but was sure that we would find out at the station.
And we did. As soon as we were off the train,a corporal approached us and told us that there was a 'bus with a trailer outside the station and ordered us to put our kit into the trailer and then return to help him with the mail bags. The trailer was a surprise; it was glazed and seated like the 'bus. However, on our way to it, a sergeant came up to us telling us to get on the 'bus with all our kit as there would be plenty of room for it because there were not many fravelling. As George Orwell might have said, three stripes are better than two, so we boarded the 'bus and did nothing about the mail bags. They were probably put in the trailer by some lads returning from leave, for we did not see the corporal again. The sergeant took the front seat and we set off. Somehow, we seemed now to be more in touch with "abroad".
At Thorl Maglern, we reached the frontier with Italy. Over the border (down Italy way), the 'bus stopped for half an hour at Tarvisio, where a bottle of beer, which I did not like (it tasted artificial) cost 60 lire. Then we fravelled down the narrow winding valley of the Fella, through Pontebba, Chiusaforte, Resiutta and Ospedaletto. The valley gradually broadened and then we were on the north Italian plain, stopping for another 30 minutes at Tricesimo. I avoided the beer.
After going round what seemed to be the outskirts of Udine, we could see to our right the hull of a ship under construction at Monfalcone.
We halted at the Sistiana Blockpost where we entered Zone A of the Free Territory of Trieste (FTT or, in Italian TLT) which was administered by Allied Military Government (AMG) and occupied by British (BETFOR) and US (TRUST, i.e. Trieste US Troops) forces under the command of Major-General Sir John Winterton. He occupied Duino Castle.
The coast road, then the main road to the city, rose above the castle and made a 90 degree turn to the left. Suddenly, there was the Adriatic, stretching out to the south, deep blue under the clear blue sky. Ahead, in the distance, over the water was the hazy city. Sun on the shining sea prolonged the quasi-holiday mood as we passed Grignano and Miramare Castle. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Castle had been home to the tragic Maximilian who was thrust by Napoleon III on Mexico to be its emperor and, La France perfide, callously abandoned to a Mexican execution. Now, the castle was occupied by the TRUST commander.
Past Miramare, the holiday feeling was heightened by the sight of the Triestini enjoying the Saturday afternoon sunshine, strolling on the coastal promenade at Barcola.
Under the bridge taking the railway over to the right, we entered the city, passing the station in Piazza della Liberta, then into via Ghega and bearing to the right the bus came round the end of the Old Port where the sea became visible again. On we went, over the Grand Canal, passing Piazza dell'Unita to our left and, on our other side Molo Audace and the Pescheria. From the Riva 3 Novembre we turned left to go up the short curved Via Duca D'Aosta into Via dell'Universita where, in modern parlance, the .bus terminated, outside 'Q' Movements.
The sergeant there told us to change our BAFVs for lire and whilst we were doing so, he would ring for transport. The other passengers had already disappeared into one or other of the two trucks which had been waiting for them.