15th March 2018 - 74th Anniversary of the bombing of Cassino town

The Ides of March written in the destiny of Cassino! 

The strategical location of Cassino located north of Naples and south of Rome had always been of strategic importance even before the Roman time. In the Vth Century BC, the Romans built a main road connecting the south with the eternal city. This vital artery was called by the Allied Highway 6 (Statal road n. 6) and the strategic importance was soon recognized by the Allies.  The geographic  location of Cassino, the Highway 6 and the Liri valley were essential to the advance to Rome. The Germans knew and occupied it and Cassino became one of the major strongpoints.

Soon after the 8th September 1943 when the Italian Govern  surrendered to the Allies, the Germans occupied the town of Cassino and all the others , including my hometown Frosinone, who were located along Route 6 on the way to Rome.  As the Germans occupied it the Allied bombed those towns.

Cassino was bombed by the Allied  for the first time on 10th September 1943 and over 100 civilians died.  The Allied bombing was completely unexpected as we had surrendered but soon the Italians realized that this was only the beginning of one of the longest and bloodiest battle of the second world war.

The battles to break the Gustav line and liberated Cassino from the German occupation started in January 1944. In the first attack the Allies failed to cross the “Rapido river” and were driven back. In the second attack they tried to capture the monastery but even tough it was heavily bombed on 15th February 1944 they never gained summit.

In March 1944 the hills and town of Cassino were still held by the Germans.

It was decided to heavily bomb the town of Cassino occupied by 2 companies of German paratroopers. On 15th May 1944 the third attack began with an artillery barrage and over 1000 tons of bombs obliterated the town. Cassino ceased to exist.

Through the resulting rubble the New Zealanders tried to storm the town, capture the Hills. They succeded in occupying three-fourths of Cassino, but the Germans fought stubbornly and clung to their strong points in the town, to their artillery positions in the hills. Eventually the Allied advance once again stopped.

German-held Cassino and the mountains above it blocked the advance to Rome.