Sepino is located at the border with Campania, two hours from Naples, two and a half hours from Rome, 1 hour from the Adriatic Coast. Characteristics of the area include mountainous relief, beautiful valleys, and forests. The region is bordered by the Maiella montain range to the West and the Adriatic sea on the East.
The back of this photograph reads 'Secret until declassified or censored. 17 March 1944 Sepino area Italy. Mule train moving over mountainous terrain. No. 1 Mule leader is Sgt Alfred Pieren San Francisco Calif. No. 2 Mule leader is S\Sgt. Robert Galaher North Andover Mass. and No. 3 Mule leader is Sgt. Gordon Wren Steamboat Springs Colorado. Photo by Elson 196 Signal photo Co.'
Notes of possible improvement in organization and equipment of second Sikhs.
If each man had been equipped with a suitable carrier such as a rucksack, he could have carried at least two days ration (at the most three), his kit (battle), and extra ammo for the mortars. This could have been dropped when the first fire was brought upon them and collected and carried up by reserve companies or platoons. Then with the assault jerkin the man could move to his objective unhampered by kit and with plenty of ammo to expend and mortar support that will not have to be skimped due to the lack of supply.
It seemed that our loss of mules was not commensurate with the risk to which they were exposed. Were they held in the impact area longer than was necessary? Could they have not been left back another two to four hundred yards by packing in the stuff with men who are less inviting and less vulnerable targets? If a dump could have been established and the stuff brought in at night, the shelling would have had less affect on the supply problem. Could not a route that held its cover longer been found at the start? If there had been a guard at each end of the mule route to check in and out supplies it would have been a definite check on each and every item of goods, negating the old army game of "passing the buck". Could jeephead have been pushed ahead sooner? Why no route Marks?
Each message to jeephead of importance should be written down upon receipt. For items of importance (codex books etc.) the use of a runner is again better than the mule because he is faster, draws less fire, and is solely responsible for the delivery of said item. One man should be at Jeephead constantly to receive and be responsible for requests for supply ammo etc.
Each man should carry a shell or first field dressing and if possible sulfal powder. Several triangular bandages are feasible for each platoon. On a long stretcher haul the bearers should work in relays along the trail and not attempt the entire haul. Also the use of slings to assist the bearers would help. If the unit plans operations in country any rougher they (the bearers) should learn the proper way to tie a patient in. Particularly the amb. jeep drivers. Jeeps should have a four man rack for use where country is smooth enough to permit it.
Would a 4.2 mortar have been of use as we could not get adequate arty support? Pack boards would have better for the transport of radios, batteries and charger etc. Would a hand charger or generator have been more useful and cut down the supply and transport problem? Were no Air photos available? They would have supplied much info that maps can or do not. Asset per battalion should be supplied by Brig.
There was too much bunching both while moving and dug in. There was a marked tendency to "funnel" dow and up gullies. The examination of a village by a patrol should be done as quietly as possible and doors should be kicked out instead of the more convenient use of the tommy gun. The adaption of at least a non belligerent attitude gets more out of the natives. The (Mspelling?mg)amildar I was with did not dig in at all but merely had a sleeping platform built. It was on this platform that two men were hit beside me one of whom was killed. When a man was wounded many clustered about and made a setup for the next shell. Mule parties had fires.
Climbing photos courtesy of Gordy Wren March 15, 1944 Sepino area Italy. 196th Signal Photos co.