Improved weather, ground conditions and supply would also be important factors. Some of these units were accused of committing atrocities against the Italian peasant communities in the region. Under constant artillery and mortar fire from the strongly fortified German positions and with little natural cover for protection, the fighting was fierce and at times hand-to-hand. Together, these features formed the Gustav Line. Freyberg was convinced that the attack could not continue and he called it off. The Battle of Monte Cassino (also called the Battle for Rome and the Battle for Cassino) was a battle during the Italian Campaign of World War II.It was a series of four attacks by the Allies against the Winter Line in Italy held by the Germans and Italians.. At the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was held by Germans. The Allied landings in Italy in September 1943 by two Allied armies, following shortly after the Allied landings in Sicily in July, commanded by General Sir Harold Alexander, the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the 15th Army Group (later retitled the Allied Armies in Italy), were followed by an advance northward on two fronts, one on each side of the central mountain range forming the "spine" of Italy. Battle of Monte Cassino Conclusions. It had been very close. [78], In the course of the battles, the ancient abbey of Monte Cassino, where St. Benedict first established the Rule that ordered monasticism in the west, was entirely destroyed by Allied bombing and artillery barrages in February 1944. 257 BC – Battle of Tyndaris – Naval victory of Rome over Carthage in Sicilian waters. There is some speculation[by whom?] [8] After the raid, Pius XII, along with Msgr. All the fire has been from the slopes of the hill below the wall". Smashed by bombing it was a jagged heap of broken masonry and debris open to effective fire from guns, mortars and strafing planes as well as being a death trap if bombed again. Rome was eventually declared an open city on August 14, 1943 (a day after the last Allied bombing) by the defending forces. The main central thrust by the U.S. II Corps would commence on 20 January with the U.S. 36th Infantry Division making an assault across the swollen Gari river five miles (8 km) downstream of Cassino. Getting 20,000 vehicles and 2,000 tanks through the broken Gustav Line was a major job taking several days. [58], The German defenders too had paid a heavy price. That same afternoon and the next day an aggressive follow-up of artillery and a raid by 59 fighter bombers wreaked further destruction. [21] Kesselring refused the request. Juin's French Expeditionary Corps consisted of the Commandement des Goums Marocains ("Command of Moroccan Goumiers"; CGM) (with the 1st, 3rd and 4th GTM) of General Augustin Guillaume[66] totalling some 7,800 fighting men,[67] broadly the same infantry strength as a division, and four more conventional divisions: the 2nd Moroccan Infantry Division (2 DIM), the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division (3 DIA), the 4th Moroccan Mountain Division (4 DMM) and the 1st Free French Division (1 DM).[66]. After the breakout from the Anzio beachhead in late May of 1943, Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark, commander of the U.S. Fifth Army, split his forces in order to ensure that American units would be the liberators of Rome, a decision that remains controversial. General Juin was convinced that Cassino could be bypassed and the German defences unhinged by this northerly route but his request for reserves to maintain the momentum of his advance was refused and the one available reserve regiment (from 36th Division) was sent to reinforce 34th Division. Keyes pressed Walker to renew the attack immediately. On the Cassino high ground the survivors of the second Polish offensive were so battered that "it took some time to find men with enough strength to climb the few hundred yards to the summit. Success would pinch out Cassino town and open up the Liri valley. The Polish cemetery is the closest of all allied cemeteries in the area; an honor given to the Poles as their units are the ones credited with the liberation of the abbey. The last one was Monte Cassino, The Hardest Battle of World War II by Matthew Parker. It was hoped that the Anzio landing, with the benefit of surprise and a rapid move inland to the Alban Hills, which command both routes 6 and 7, would so threaten the Gustav defenders' rear and supply lines that it might just unsettle the German commanders and cause them to withdraw from the Gustav Line to positions north of Rome. With the aid of a near constant smoke screen laid down by Allied artillery that obscured their location to the German batteries on Monastery Hill, the Māori were able to hold their positions for much of the day. Cradle Of Rome en 1001 Bejeweld spelletjes speel je op 1001 Spelletjes! On 20 March Freyberg committed elements of 78th Infantry Division to the battle; firstly to provide a greater troop presence in the town so that cleared areas would not be reinfiltrated by the Germans and secondly to reinforce Castle Hill to allow troops to be released to close off the two routes between Castle Hill and Points 175 and 165 being used by the Germans to reinforce the defenders in the town. On 25 May the Poles took Piedimonte and the line collapsed. The original estimates that Rome would fall by October 1943 proved far too optimistic. [12], 112 USAAF bombers attacked the Prenestino marshalling yard; the objective was hit, but the surrounding districts also suffered damage, with 150 civilian casualties.[12]. On 15 February American bombers dropped 1,400 tons of high explosives, creating widespread damage. The route to Rome from the east using Route 5 was thus excluded as a viable option leaving the routes from Naples to Rome, highways 6 and 7, as the only possibilities; Highway 7 (the old Roman Appian Way) followed along the west coast but south of Rome ran into the Pontine Marshes, which the Germans had flooded. With its heavily fortified mountain defences, difficult river crossings, and valley head flooded by the Germans, Cassino formed a linchpin of the Gustav Line, the most formidable line of the defensive positions making up the Winter Line. [35] Many Allied soldiers and war correspondents cheered as they observed the spectacle. British 78th Infantry Division, which had arrived in late February and placed under the command of New Zealand Corps, would then cross the Rapido downstream of Cassino and start the push to Rome. Pius XII, Pope and Taylor, M.C. The German XIV Corps War Diary for 23 March noted that the battalions in the front line had strengths varying between 40 and 120 men.[59]. The first assault (11–12 May) on Cassino opened at 23:00 with a massive artillery bombardment with 1,060 guns on the Eighth Army front and 600 guns on the Fifth Army front, manned by British, Americans, Poles, New Zealanders, South Africans and French. Monte Cassino, a historic hilltop abbey founded in AD 529 by Benedict of Nursia, dominated the nearby town of Cassino and the entrances to the Liri and Rapido valleys. as to what might have been if X Corps had had the reserves available to exploit their success and make a decisive breakthrough. The balance of Clark's forces participated i… Increasingly, the opinions of certain Allied officers were fixed on the great abbey of Monte Cassino: in their view it was the abbey—and its presumed use as a German artillery observation point—that prevented the breach of the 'Gustav Line'. (2004) "Die militärische und innenpolitische Entwicklung in Italien 1943-1944", Chapter 11. The Allies had been bombing the Italian mainland, including Rome, causing shortages of food and material. Clark also paid tribute to the Goumiers and the Moroccan regulars of the Tirailleur units: In spite of the stiffening enemy resistance, the 2nd Moroccan Division penetrated the Gustave [sic] Line in less than two-day's fighting. Torrents of rain flooded bomb craters, turned rubble into a morass and blotted out communications, the radio sets being incapable of surviving the constant immersion. ...[However] he was not on the beachhead and could not be reached even by radio. Indeed, sixteen bombs hit the Fifth Army compound at Presenzano 17 miles (27 km) from Monte Cassino and exploded only yards away from the trailer where Clark was doing paperwork at his desk.[41]. [20] In return they sustained losses of about 80 per cent in the Infantry battalions, some 2,200 casualties.[19]. Many of the troops had only taken over their positions from II Corps two days previously and besides the difficulties in the mountains, preparations in the valley had also been held up by difficulties in supplying the newly installed troops with sufficient material for a full-scale assault because of incessantly foul weather, flooding and waterlogged ground. The French Corps to their right would attack from the bridgehead across the Garigliano originally created by British X Corps in the first battle in January into the Aurunci Mountains which formed a barrier between the coastal plain and the Liri Valley. The day following the battle, the Goumiers, French Moroccan colonial troops attached to the French Expeditionary Forces, have been accused of rape and murder through the surrounding hills. This proved a faint hope. Although in the east the German defensive line had been breached on the Adriatic front and Ortona was captured by the 1st Canadian Division, the advance had ground to a halt with the onset of winter blizzards at the end of December, making close air support and movement in the jagged terrain impossible. [12], 206 USAAF bombers attacked the Tiburtino, Littorio and Ostiense marshalling yards; these were hit but so were the surrounding urban districts, with 400 civilian deaths. Matters were not helped by the loss of Kippenberger, wounded by an anti-personnel mine and losing both his feet. On 14 May Moroccan Goumiers, travelling through the mountains parallel to the Liri valley, ground which was undefended because it was not thought possible to traverse such terrain, outflanked the German defence while materially assisting the XIII Corps in the valley. On the night following the bombing, a company of the 1st Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (one of the British elements in 4th Indian Division) serving in 7th Indian Infantry Brigade attacked the key point 593 from their position 70 yards (64 m) away on Snakeshead Ridge. Despite their fierce fighting, the 34th Division never managed to take the final redoubts on Hill 593 (known to the Germans as Calvary Mount), held by the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Parachute Regiment, part of the 1st Parachute Division, the dominating point of the ridge to the monastery. & Director Maurizio Carta, Producer Claudia Pompjli, CTV Centro Televisivo Vaticano. The assault had been a costly failure, with the 36th Division losing 2,100[17] men killed, wounded and missing in 48 hours. Who Bombed the Vatican? [18] By 31 January the French had ground to a halt with Monte Cifalco, which had a clear view of the French and U.S. flanks and supply lines, still in German hands. By 25 May, with the German 10th Army in full retreat, Truscott's VI Corps was, as planned, driving eastwards to cut them off. U.S. II Corps, after two and a half weeks of battle, was worn out. The battle was won but it came at a high price for the Allies. The third battle began 15 March. [84] The task was completed in the first days of November 1943. Simultaneously the French Expeditionary Corps (CEF), under General Alphonse Juin would continue its "right hook" move towards Monte Cairo, the hinge to the Gustav and Hitler defensive lines. Once again the fighting was brutal, but no progress was made and casualties heavy. The bombing of Rome in World War II took place on several occasions in 1943 and 1944, primarily by Allied and to a smaller degree by Axis aircraft, before the city was invaded by the Allies on June 4, 1944. However, the Germans were still able to reinforce their troops in the town and were proving adept at slipping snipers back into parts of the town that had supposedly been cleared.[53]. "[25][nb 1] Countering this, U.S. II Corps commander Geoffrey Keyes also flew over the monastery several times, reporting to Fifth Army G-2 he had seen no evidence that the Germans were in the abbey. On the 26th the order was put into effect. On 16 May, soldiers from the Polish II Corps launched one of the final assaults on the German defensive position as part of a twenty-division assault along a twenty-mile front. [62] For three days Polish attacks and German counter-attacks brought heavy losses to both sides. However, it is more likely that he just had too much to do, being responsible for both the Cassino and Anzio offensives. [14] There were no fatalities. [15][16], There is no obscurity about the identity of the British plane that dropped bombs on the edge of Vatican City on 1 March 1944 as this was explicitly acknowledged, at least in private, by the British Air Ministry as an accidental bombing when one of its aircraft on a bombing raid over Rome dropped its bombs too close to the Vatican wall. Rome was eventually declared an open city on August 14, 1943 (a day after the last Allied bombing) by the defending forces. On the Eighth Army front, British XIII Corps had made two strongly opposed crossings of the Garigliano (by British 4th Infantry Division and 8th Indian Division). As it happened, Fifth Army HQ failed to appreciate the frailty of the German position and the plan was unchanged. In the mountains above Cassino, the aptly named Mount Calvary (Monte Calvario, or Point 593 on Snakeshead Ridge) was taken by the Poles only to be recaptured by German paratroops. The German defenders were finally driven from their positions, but at a high cost. Nevertheless, some Allied reconnaissance aircraft maintained they observed German troops inside the monastery. The first bombardment occurred on July 19, 1943 and was carried out by 500 American bombers which dropped 1,168 tons of bombs. Polish II Corps lost 281 officers and 3,503 other ranks in assaults on Oberst Ludwig Heilmann's 4th Parachute Regiment, until the attacks were called off. This was evidenced in the writing of Maj. Gen. Howard Kippenberger, commander of New Zealand 2nd Division, after the war. The next three days were spent stabilizing the front, extracting the isolated Gurkhas from Hangman's Hill and the detachment from New Zealand 24th Battalion which had held Point 202 in similar isolation. Yet the legend records one verifiable truth: Rome’s emergence as an independent state. [87][88], The U.S. government’s official position on the German occupation of Monte Cassino changed over a quarter-century. Its timing had been driven by the Air Force regarding it as a separate operation, considering the weather and requirements on other fronts and theaters without reference to ground forces. British public opinion, ho… Although a battalion of the 143rd Infantry Regiment was able to get across the Gari on the south side of San Angelo and two companies of the 141st Infantry Regiment on the north side, they were isolated for most of the time and at no time was Allied armour able to get across the river, leaving them highly vulnerable to counter-attacking tanks and self-propelled guns of Generalleutnant Eberhard Rodt's 15th Panzergrenadier Division. On the right, the Moroccan-French troops made good initial progress against the German 5th Mountain Division, commanded by General Julius Ringel, gaining positions on the slopes of their key objective, Monte Cifalco. The German 14th Army, facing this thrust, was without any armoured divisions because Kesselring had sent his armour south to assist the German 10th Army in the Cassino action. [56] The German 1st Parachute Division had taken a mauling, but had held. The Italian campaign of World War II, also called the Liberation of Italy, consisted of Allied and Axis operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to 1945. They had to find the materials necessary for crates and boxes, find carpenters among their troops, recruit local labourers (to be paid with rations of food plus twenty cigarettes a day) and then manage the "massive job of evacuation centered on the library and archive",[80] a treasure "literally without price". The Battle Of Rome. During Word War II in 1943, a combined American, British and Canadian invasion began. In truth, Clark did not believe there was much chance of an early breakthrough,[12] but he felt that the attacks would draw German reserves away from the Rome area in time for the attack on Anzio (codenamed Operation Shingle) where the U.S. VI Corps (British 1st and U.S. 3rd Infantry Divisions, the 504th Parachute Regimental Combat Team, U.S. Army Rangers and British Commandos, Combat Command 'B' of the U.S. 1st Armored Division, along with supporting units), under Major General John P. Lucas, was due to make an amphibious landing on 22 January. [14] Damage from the raid is still visible. Here is a list of films that convey the Italian WW2 experience. The southern group was forced back across the river by mid-morning of 21 January. This battle cost Rome three entire legions and came to be known in Rome as the Varian disaster. [13] Both Allied and Axis bombers made some effort not to attack the Vatican when bombing Rome. The plan for Operation Diadem was that U.S. II Corps on the left would attack up the coast along the line of Route 7 towards Rome. [40] There is no evidence that the bombs dropped on the Monte Cassino monastery that day killed any German troops. Butler, deputy commander of U.S. 34th Division, had said "I don't know, but I don't believe the enemy is in the convent. To be first in Rome was a poor compensation for this lost opportunity.[72]. Units of the Eighth Army advanced up the Liri valley and Fifth Army up the coast to the Hitler defensive line (renamed the Senger Line at Hitler's insistence to minimise the significance if it was penetrated). The 141st Infantry Regiment also crossed in two battalion strength and, despite the lack of armoured support, managed to advance 1 kilometre (0.62 mi). [5], Bombing of Rome was controversial, and General Henry H. Arnold described Vatican City as a "hot potato" because of the importance of Catholics in the U.S. Armed Forces. The corps did not have the extra men, but there would certainly have been time to alter the overall battle plan and cancel or modify the central attack by the U.S. II Corps to make men available to force the issue in the south before the German reinforcements were able to get into position. Following the first Allied bombing of Rome on May 16, 1943 (three months before the German Army occupied the city), Pius XII wrote Roosevelt asking that Rome "be spared as far as possible further pain and devastation, and their many treasured shrines… from irreparable ruin." It signaled a turning point in the story of Rome’s conquest of Ancient Germany – though many more battles were fought in Germania, the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest … The next assault on the line commenced on 23 May with Polish II Corps attacking Piedimonte San Germano (defended by the redoubtable German 1st Parachute Division) on the right and 1st Canadian Infantry Division (fresh from Eighth Army reserve) in the centre. "[36] Clark and Gruenther refused to be on the scene and stayed at their headquarters. [9][10] Between 11 a.m. and 12 noon, 150 Allied B-17 Flying Fortresses attacked the San Lorenzo freight yard and steel factory. By the next day they would have been astride the line of retreat and 10th Army, with all Kesselring's reserves committed to them, would have been trapped. German casualty figures are estimated at around 20,000 killed and wounded. [85], Among the treasures removed were Titians, an El Greco and two Goyas. [12], 149 USAAF bombers bombed the Littorio and Ostiense marshalling yards, hitting both their objectives and the city. The military targets were few, the largest Stazione Termini contained a marshaling yard, railways and industries that manufactured steel, textile products and glass. Though not a major world power, Australia was a significant contributor to the Allied cause. Once the German 10th Army had been defeated, U.S. VI Corps would break out of the Anzio beachhead to cut off the retreating Germans in the Alban Hills. [7] Following this Allied victory, the German Senger Line collapsed on 25 May. What sent Roma to the bottom was the first of a wholly new class of weapon, known today as precision guided munitions (PGM). Running across the Allied line was the fast flowing Rapido River, which rose in the central Apennine Mountains, flowed through Cassino (joining to the Gari River, which was erroneously identified as the Rapido[9]) and across the entrance to the Liri valley. The third target was the Ciampino airport, on south-east side of Rome. The dark rain clouds also blotted out the moonlight, hindering the task of clearing routes through the ruins. [11] The surrounding urban districts were also badly hit, and 502 civilians were killed. As a result, the army's conduct of this battle became the subject of a Congressional inquiry after the war. (ed.) "In three weeks, in the middle of a losing war, in another country, it was quite a feat. The ‘bulge’ refers to the wedge that the Germans drove into the Allied lines during their ultimately unsuccessful attempt … Alexander's strategy in Italy was to "force the enemy to commit the maximum number of divisions in Italy at the time the cross-channel invasion [of Normandy] is launched". Crucially, the engineers of Dudley Russell's 8th Indian Division had by the morning succeeded in bridging the river enabling the armour of 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade to cross and provide the vital element (so missed by the Americans in the first battle and New Zealanders in the second battle) to beat off the inevitable counter-attacks from German tanks that would come. The Joint Allied Forces Headquarters was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre and it planned and led the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, followed in September by the invasion of the Italian mainland and the … This view is supported by the inability of Major General Lucian Truscott, commanding the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, as related below, to get hold of him for discussions at a vital juncture of the Anzio breakout at the time of the fourth Cassino battle. At the height of the battle in the first days of February von Senger und Etterlin had moved the 90th Division from the Garigliano front to north of Cassino and had been so alarmed at the rate of attrition, he had "...mustered all the weight of my authority to request that the Battle of Cassino should be broken off and that we should occupy a quite new line. Some units which participated in the first part of the campaign were awarded the battle honour 'Cassino I'. [8], Ciampino was attacked again, this time by 35 bombers. "[84] After a mass in the basilica, Abbot Gregorio Diamare [it] formally presented signed parchment scrolls in Latin to General Paul Conrath, to tribuno militum Julio Schlegel and Maximiliano Becker medecinae doctori "for rescuing the monks and treasures of the Abbey of Monte Cassino". The British press and C. L. Sulzberger of The New York Times frequently and convincingly and in (often manufactured) detail wrote of German observation posts and artillery positions inside the abbey. Lytton, H.D. However, General Alexander, C-in-C of the AAI, had clearly laid down the Army boundaries before the battle and Rome was allocated to the Fifth Army. The battle is particularly famous for the military and tactical genius of Hannibal. Canadian I Corps would be held in reserve ready to exploit the expected breakthrough. 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