monte cassino bombing

Soldiers on a neighboring slope watched in awe. For the time being, the military situation at Cassino remained unchanged. These were produced by the same US Fifth Army propaganda unit that normally peddled surrender leaflets and devised psychological warfare messages. Today Saint Benedict’s structure again occupies its mountaintop serenely, a landmark visible from afar. Stripped of its cover, the hill revealed a surprising complex of dugouts and trenches, thus confirming, in the words of one report, its “extensive organization … by the enemy.”, Around noon of February 15, the German corps commander in the Cassino sector, General Frido von Senger und Etterlin, had informed Vietinghoff of the bombardment. The beachhead at Anzio was still isolated. His surprise turned to concern when he saw their bomb doors open — as far as his battalion was concerned the raid was not due for at least another day. Meanwhile, the wreckage of the monastery, high above the battle, remained in German hands. Gruenther now phoned Clark again and reported Alexander’s reaction. American infantrymen fought a battle marked by extreme exertion and heroism. Toward the end of May, after moving forward relentlessly, American forces made contact with the troops at Anzio, who then broke out of their confined beachhead. Now, accompanied by those who could walk, he wended his way down a mule path until he was picked up by Senger’s automobile, which had been solicitously dispatched to bring him to the German’s headquarters. Our first thought was that they were the enemy. The aged Abbot…found here a place of refuge and recovery after the days of horror which he, his monks, and numerous refugees, women, children, old men, crippled, sick and wounded civilians had to undergo because of the order of the Allied Supreme Commander. All this was so, Alexander admitted. One thing soon became self-evident: the Germans had little hesitation about moving in afterward. But I have something still to do, namely to thank you and the German Armed Forces for all the consideration given to the original abode of the Benedictine Order both before and after the bombardment. Facing the massive force of Freyberg’s personality and prestige, all his superiors were uncomfortable. The monks negotiated a safe passage through the German lines for 16 February — too late, as it turned out. Both believed they saw radio masts inside the monastery walls, and other convincing proof of the presence of enemy soldiers. Yet the commander of the Indian division, General F. S. Tuker, a British officer, felt sure that the monastery was a very real obstacle to progress. General Dwight D. Eisenhowcr, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean theatre, assured his superiors that “all precautions to safeguard works of art and monuments are being taken. Any damage caused by our artillery fire would be purely unintentional.…”, Despite the clear comprehension reflected in this report, General Clark repeated his instructions. At the same time they managed to retain enough troops at Cassino to keep their defenses intact and solid. Inside the abbey, at its summit, were seventy resident monks, about two hundred schoolchildren, nuns, and orphans normally housed there, and several hundred people who had fled the battlefield and sought refuge and sanctuary. In January, 1944, as Allied troops approached, the Germans were ready. Or subscribe to articles in the subject area by email or RSS. For 70 years, American Heritage has been the leading magazine of U.S. history, politics, and culture. We will only use your personal information to register you for OUPblog articles. These men would come ashore at Anzio, about seventy-five miles ahead of the main Allied forces and only thirty miles below Rome. Monte Cassino (today usually spelled Montecassino) is a rocky hill about 130 kilometres (81 mi) southeast of Rome, in the Latin Valley, Italy, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the west of the town of Cassino and 520 m (1,706.04 ft) altitude. A virtual stalemate then characterized the military situation in Italy until early in May, when the Allies launched an overwhelming attack along the Cassino line. Gruenther repeated that Clark was ready to authorize the bombing if Freyberg considered it a military necessity. The Abbot accepted their offer. On the morning of February 15, about 250 Allied bombers attacked the monastery. The division commander who is making the attack feels that it is an essential target, and I thoroughly agree.”. Halfway between Naples and Rome, on a mountaintop and visible for miles, stands the Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino, serene and benign, apparently indestructible. “Until this day we have done everything to avoid bombing the abbey. But the prize was too tempting. Support with a donation>>. Not particularly beautiful, it is impressive because of its massive size and commanding location. Clark was visiting the Anzio beachhead, and his chief of staff, General Gruenther, took the call. There was not time to move the Allied troops to safety. Was heavy bombing useless for giving direct support to troops on the ground? Bond and his friends were astonished when, ‘now and again, between the waves of bombers, a wind would blow the smoke away, and to our surprise we saw the gigantic walls of the abbey still stood’. To settle the question of whether German troops were actually inside the abbey, General Jacob Devers, Wilson’s American deputy, and General Ira Eaker, the American in command of the Mediterranean theatre air forces, flew over the German lines in two small observation planes. To the pope. This excerpt from Peter Caddick-Adams’s Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell, recounts the bombing. … If, however, military necessity should so dictate, there should be no hesitation in taking whatever action the situation warrants.”, In the fall of 1943, although the fighting front was far from Monte Cassino, Italian museum officials reminded the Allied command of the historic and artistic importance of the abbey. Monte Cassino, in the province of Lazio, is located 81 miles South of Rome is the site of the ancient Roman town of Casinum, but it is best known for its historic Benedictine Abbey that was a focal point for one the most bloody WWII battles.It was St. Benedict of Nursia who established this very first Benedictine monastery around the year 529. But if Freyberg wanted the monastery bombed, the monastery would have to be bombed. Yet it was true that some of their positions were so close that it was scarcely possible to fire on them without striking the religious structure. General Alexander had decided that the monastery should be bombed if Freyberg considered its reduction a military necessity. According to a new plan that envisaged stretching the German defenses, the Indians would attack Monte Cassino while the New Zealanders crossed the Rapido. Between the waves of bombers, allied artillery fired on the target, adding to the destruction. “Over 150 enemy were seen wildly trying to get away from the Abbey as the first planes dropped their loads,” one observer reported. Course, that this immunity “ will our ground troops have occasion to demolish it artillery. Alexander brought in two fresh divisions—one of New Zealanders, the Nazi Ministry of Information would proclaim was! Prefer the aircraft to attack reached General Clark, and seeming to mock the Allied,... Strong views were more valid than the slim chance of facilitating the capture of the two-division attack at Cassino plans... 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