Sound: Able Seaman remembers the Italian campaign

Able Seaman Joseph Pedersen, RNZN 2337, joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy in 1940. He trained on HMS Philomel in Auckland before going to the United Kingdom for more training. He then joined HMS Walker on convoy duty in the North Atlantic as an ASDIC rating. In 1942 he was posted to the destroyer HMS Lookout, on which he served in the Mediterranean and during the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943, as he describes here.


'These landings in Sicily and bloody Italy, they were tremendous. They reckoned they had about two thousand ships there. Well, you consider all that. There was the minesweepers first, and then there was the destroyers and sloops and frigates and there was the cruisers. We were with the cruisers most of the time, but you couldn't see the battleships, but they were there. Because you could hear their shells whistling above you. But what got me was - the whole of the beach must be, what, ten miles long ... The British section was about as big as Orewa beach but then the Yanks was about three or four times as big as that. They were further down, on the flat. We were up in, sort of sat in the hill. There'd be waves of planes - the whole horizon, you'd see dots coming over and they'd be planes. There'd be groups of hundreds of them. Be a hundred there, a hundred there, a hundred there, a hundred there. And then behind that, there'd be another hundred and a hundred. Right from the horizon. They were pattern bombing... God, it was a wonderful sight to see...'

Community contributions

2 comments have been posted about Sound: Able Seaman remembers the Italian campaign

What do you know?

Dino De Marchi

Posted: 12 Apr 2020

On land, my father Giordano De Marchi was near Gela in Sicily attached to an Italian Infantry Regiment and he gave me a similar description of the size of the forces involved and the landing, viewed of course from the other side.
Later he returned to his native Trieste now under allied control thanks to the 2 NZ Div,
It should be noted it was led by a WWI hero General Freyberg VC.

Mary-Robyn Pedersen

Posted: 06 Apr 2015

An amazing man my Dad . Very proud of you and what you sacrificed for your children grandchildren and beyond . I am proud to be your daughter and keep you in my prayers Dad with all ANZACS and lost mates . God Bless to all of you . Lest we forget