From World War II Today: In Italy, attacking the Gustav Line: Fusilier F. R. Beacham:
Immediately our troops began to place their boats in the water and the first ones started to cross. The shells whined overhead incessantly and it was difcult to hear anything above the din. I saw the first of our troops start to clamber up the fairly short, but steep, bank on the far side and then the enemy replied.
Large mortar bombs started to explode all around us followed, almost immediately, by heavy artillery fire. The enemy infantry opened up with his machine guns and tracer bullets whipped and whanged their way a few feet over our heads. I prepared to return the fire but found that, as our troops were now in my line of fire, I was unable to do so. I could see them reasonably clearly moving forward just across the river and all we could do was to watch as the machine gun bullets arched and swathed across the crossing point.
The enemy had obviously fixed their machine guns to fire on fixed lines so as to cover this crossing point. Had I known where that particular machine gun was located, I could have returned fire if I had positioned myself to the left of the crossing point instead of to the right.
The amount of artillery being fired now by both sides was tremendous and a gradual mist and smoke started to envelop the battleeld. Mortar bombs were continuing to fall all around us. The bullets were flying in droves about us and it was becoming increasingly apparent that I would not be able to return the enemy’s machine gun fire from that position and there was the real prospect that at any moment one of the mortar bombs would find its mark smack in the middle of our backs.
I suggested to Bill that we find somewhere a little bit safer and he agreed. We crawled back a relatively short distance from the bank and found a large shell hole, it still smelt strongly of cordite but on the presumption that no two shells fall in the same place, we stayed put.
The shelling continued unabated and it was whilst we were in this shell hole that we heard a cry for help coming from from somewhere to our right. It was a plaintiff [sic] cry repeating over and over again ‘Help me, I’ve been hit’. We had orders not to stop in the event of anyone getting wounded as they would be dealt with by the Red Cross stretcher bearers. We did not go to the aid of this person and it may well be that he was killed in the continuing enemy bombardment for after a few more minutes, the cries stopped...