We debarked in Benghazi—there was no port, and my ship stopped a long way from shore. We put the horses on scows, and in the turmoil my watch fell into the sea. I fished it out, but it no longer worked very well.
On the square in Benghazi was a heap of salt as high as our cathedral—there were salt pans there, and a lot of women, tüte fumnase
[all sluts] black, with foul mouths, filthy. They even gave off the smell of wild animals, and they were disgusting to look at, but then we got used to them. Oh, they were warm—it was like putting a small nail in an oven… Eh, there was the danger of disease. A warrant officer, ’n maraman
from Grosseto, a Tuscan, was a blasphemer—every day in his hut he had himself one of those women.
Our base was in Benghazi; we guarded the Bedouins. We went out to mop up—it was like here when the Germans went out to pick up the partisans. We set out on foot in a column. We burned all the barley stores in the country, swept up ewes and rams—oh, all the mutton we were always eating. We wanted to make the Bedouins lose, oh pütan
. All of Cyrenaica is under the command of General Amerio, and Cantore was a major general in the Alpini—it was always Cantore who commanded the mop-up columns. We fired—damn it; opening fire wasn’t prohibited.
Eh, the first time I didn’t go out on the round-up because my horse had a leg wound that wouldn’t heal. I later sold him to a coachman in Modena—he was a good racehorse I had grown fond of.
The second time we were on horseback and the askaris on foot, and we had a little artillery with us, too. There was the Arab band, more than two hundred Arabs with their horses. We went out into the desert—all the wells were poisoned. We suffered terribly from thirst. At night, we put our mess tins outside our tents: the dew fell drop by drop and we scraped together a mess tin of water. To eat we got only dried food, canned food. You could say that there was fighting with dead and wounded every day. The askaris killed everybody, women and i masnaiun
[children]. They used Abyssinian sabers to do their killing. “But he’s a child,” we said to the askaris. “He grow up, become Bedouin like others, and make more Bedouins.” The women wore jewels all over their arms and neck, pöi pà roba ’d valüta
[cheap trinkets]; it was made of tin. The ascaris had rucksacks full of that stuff. Eh, the askaris had mercy on nothing. And how quick they were to grab the finest lambs in a herd! The planted their sabers in the back of the lambs and had them skinned in an instant. The Bedouins were armed with Mausers that fired long bullets. They were dressed in rags, with those baracana
that covered them a bit. […]. General Amerio tamed the Bedouins! I know they had two or three Bedouins hanged—first they made them dig their graves. Rumor had it that Amerio had already been in Africa and that he’d been ’nciastralu
, castrated, by the women. And yet he got married when he went back to Italy.