Christmas Eve in a brothel
24th December 1943: Some of the Irish Guards go on an escapade with their 'American pals' - and do battle with the US Army 'Snowdrops'
The Irish Guards had now arrived in Italy after rebuilding their strength following their battles in Tunisia. Having recovered from his wounds Sergeant John Keneally1 knew that they would soon be back in combat - and he and his closest comrades were determined to enjoy themselves.
After the award of the Victoria Cross, he was now a celebrated figure but it would make no difference to his outlook. Keneally - it was an assumed name, adopted when he rejoined the army after he had earlier deserted - was not going to be deterred by Army rules and regulations.
The Madame was cursing the American Military Police Sergeant, the girls were screaming for their money and the Gls were trying to escape in all directions.
Now they hitchhiked down to the town of Bari, which was being used exclusively as a rest and recreation centre for U.S. forces. Teaming up with some American soldiers who knew a place where they could have a 'smashing time', they set off on their adventures:
Against our better judgment we joined them. As we approached the stucco building in the back streets our misgivings increased; plastered all over were the signs, ‘Out of Bounds to all Military Personnel’, ‘Strictly Forbidden’; there were even German ‘Verboten’ signs which had not been taken down. Al smelt trouble. Monty said, ‘It doesn't say anything about the British.’ We entered.