Story from the battlefields : the American GI’s and the Italian civilians in the battle of Monte Cassino.



While the 168 and 135 Regiment were involved in taking the high ground the 133 Regiment was attacking the town of Cassino and Castle Hill. Among them a soldier that I met, years ago, a Red Buller, Sly Nofs, who came back some years ago  to visit the battlefields. He told me that during the battle he was severely wounded by the jain in Cassino, on 3rd February 1944 and was able to reach the dressing station in Caira and survived. I also met a civilian, who still live in Cassino and was only a little girl during the war. She has vivid memory of the battle. 

Orazia is class 1936 and she was  in Caira (suburban area north of Cassino) amidst the battle in February 1944. She remembers that the  area  was  continuously shelled , day and night. She and her family were scared to death, living underground without the possibility to go out. One day,  early February, just before the bombing of the Monastery, some American GI’s knocked at their door and saved them. They were brought in an area south of Cassino in fully Allied Area, north of Naples, far from the battlefields. 

The American soldier said to them that the next day they were ready to evacuate them. The  appointment was on the other side of the flooded area (the river Rapido had been flooded by the Germans).  Next morning She, her father, mother and other civilians walked across the river she lost the only pair of shoes walking on the flooded area to reach the meeting point where many American tracks were waiting. Suddnely she stopped as on the banks there were so many soldiers, laying in their uniforms and she tought they were sleeping.  When she looked more carefully she saw the water of the river had turned red and understood that the soldiers were not sleeping,  she could never forget this scene. How could anyone not be affected by the tremendous fight.

Back to the battle, on 10th February a new attack to the prison was launched by the exausted company L 3/133 regiment and they were pinned down by the German defensive forces and only one of the building could be occupied. Company L was able to imprison 4 German soldiers buti t seems like the Germans had received new supply from the intense fire that hit the American lines.

11 February 1944 the 133 regiment almost completely pinned down by the Germans. Company K had try to attack the North west side of the town without success while the Nisei soldiers were trapped on the slope  of Castle hill and overrun by the Germans. During the evening the 1st battallion of the 133 was moved near the prison to support the 3rd battallion and company L was positioned just in front of the Jail. At 4:30 am the attacked was launched supported by the 756 tank regiment but arriving to the building of the Kindergarten (Asilo) where the semimobile german tank blocked any further action.

During the following days the 133 regiment  defended the positions conquered with in 23 days of continous hand to hand combat. From 20th January to 12 February the Americans and  their  german enemies wrote one of the most tragic pages of the Italian campaign. The 11 February the Americans fought their last battle at Monte Cassino and Clark could not announce the breaking of the Gustav line. The 3 battallions of the 34 Division, the 756 Armored regiment and 142 battallion of the 36 Division had fought in severe weather conditions, with limited resources against fortified German positions. They fought with courage and devotion a battle that could have been won only with overwhelming forces. Once you have the high ground and fortified positions in the town both the mountains and the town were transformed in fortresses.

On 13 February the Indian units started to relieve the decimated American positions. That was the end of the first battle of Cassino. The courage and determination of the American GI’s will not be forgotten and will inspire the next generations.  Common soldiers who had swon to defend  their homes, their countries and fought with honor until the end.

The Next day the 133 regiment had to withdraw and unfortunately lost the positions in the town of Cassino conquered after 23 days of hard fighting.

 On 13 The Indian units started to relieve the American positions in the town of Cassino. The battles are not make always of success but