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battle of monte cassino casualties

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battle of monte cassino casualties

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. There was no natural shelter and the weather was wet and freezing cold. On February 15 the Allies bombed and demolished the Benedictine monastery, erroneously believing that the Germans had occupied and fortified it. When informed of others' claims of having seen enemy troops there, he stated: "They’ve been looking so long they’re seeing things."[27]. 17 Feb 1944 : Indian 4th Division attacked Monte Cassino, Italy, failing to make advances and suffering heavy casualties. [nb 3], During prior months in the Italian autumn of 1943, two officers in the Hermann Göring Panzer Division, Captain Maximilian Becker and Lieutenant Colonel Julius Schlegel, proposed the removal of Monte Cassino's treasures to the Vatican and Vatican-owned Castel Sant'Angelo ahead of the approaching front. The battle was a brutal one, lasting four months with over 55,000 Allied casualties and 20,000 Axis casualties. [68] In the early hours of 18 May the British 78th Division and Polish II Corps linked up in the Liri valley 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Cassino town. "[36] Clark and Gruenther refused to be on the scene and stayed at their headquarters. In 1943, the Goumiers were colonial troops formed into four Groupements des Tabors Marocains ("Groups of Moroccan Tabors"; GTM), each consisting of three loosely organised Tabors (roughly equivalent to a battalion) specialised in mountain warfare. The capture of Monte Cassino by the Polish alone had 55,000 casualties. Mark Clark (USA)Oliver Leese (UK)German CommandersAlbert KesselringHeinrich von VietinghoffF. 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. There were about 55,000 Allied casualties. Polish soldiers carry ammunition to the front lines just before the capture of the abbey. and over 105,000 Allied soldiers killed or wounded. Fears escalated along with casualties and in spite of a lack of clear evidence, it was marked for destruction. Nevertheless success was there for the New Zealanders' taking, but by the time a follow-up assault on the left had been ordered that evening it was too late: defences had reorganised and more critically, the rain, contrary to forecast, had started again. 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. On the right Polish II Corps (3rd and 5th Divisions) commanded by Lieutenant General Władysław Anders, had relieved the British 78th Division in the mountains behind Cassino on 24 April and would attempt the task which had defeated 4th Indian Division in February: isolate the monastery and push round behind it into the Liri valley to link with XIII Corps' thrust and pinch out the Cassino position. It was anything but "soft". [4] Total Allied casualties spanning the period of the four Cassino battles and the Anzio campaign with the subsequent capture of Rome on 5 June 1944, were over 105,000. Three clear days of good weather were required and for twenty one successive days the assault was postponed as the troops waited in the freezing wet positions for a favourable weather forecast. That same afternoon and the next day an aggressive follow-up of artillery and a raid by 59 fighter bombers wreaked further destruction. 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. In 1999, a monument commemorating the Battle of Monte Cassino was unveiled in Warsaw and is located next to the street that is named after Władysław Anders. 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. The old abbot was leading the group down the mule path toward the Liri valley, reciting the rosary. The dark rain clouds also blotted out the moonlight, hindering the task of clearing routes through the ruins. Whilst General Alexander, C-in-C of the AAI, chose (for perfectly logical co-ordination arguments) to have Cassino and Anzio under a single army commander and splitting the Gustav Line front between the U.S. Fifth Army and the British Eighth Army, now commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Oliver Leese, Kesselring chose to create a separate 14th Army under General Eberhard von Mackensen to fight at Anzio whilst leaving the Gustav Line in the sole hands of General Heinrich von Vietinghoff's 10th Army. Once again, the pinching manoeuvres by the Polish and British Corps were key to the overall success. 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. The idea was to clear the path through the bottleneck between these two features to allow access towards the station on the south and so to the Liri valley. For the whole battle of Monte Cassino there are 20,000 Germans killed or wounded. It became clear that the attack had failed and on 18 February Dimoline and Freyberg called off the attacks on Monastery Hill. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Monte Cassino: The Hardest-Fought Battle of World War II. The capture of Monte Cassino came at a high price. [32] Finally Clark, "who did not want the monastery bombed",[33] pinned down the Commander-in-Chief Allied Armies in Italy, Alexander, to take the responsibility: "I said, 'You give me a direct order and we'll do it,' and he did. [29] Tuker said he could not be induced to attack unless "the garrison was reduced to helpless lunacy by sheer unending pounding for days and nights by air and artillery". 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. During the battle there had been occasions when, with more astute use of reserves, promising positions might have been turned into decisive moves. It was planned therefore to shell point 575 which had been providing supporting fire to the defenders of point 593. [21] Kesselring refused the request. 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]. By early February, American infantry had captured a strategic point near the hamlet of San Onofrio, less than 1 mile (1.6 km) from the abbey and by 7 February a battalion had reached Point 445, a round-topped hill immediately below the monastery and no more than 400 yards (370 m) away. v. Senger und Etterlin, Allied US 5th ArmyBritish 8th Army1,900 tanks4,000 planesGermanGerman 10th Army, Allied55,000 casualtiesGerman~20,000 casualties, Eight days into the battle the Allied forces attacked German defenses on the Italian front. Battle of Monte Cassino Map (First Battle), Battle of Monte Cassino Map (Second Battle), Battle of Monte Cassino Map (Third Battle), Battle of Monte Cassino Map (Fourth Battle), Negative Effects on the U.S. Economy Caused by World War 2, The P-51 Mustang in Europe, The need for and effects of the P-51 Mustang in the skies over Europe, The Deuce and a Half, The Backbone of Allied Armies. Battle of Monte Cassino is the ninth mission of the game and last of the Italian front missions. Rome was captured on 4 June 1944, just two days before the Normandy invasion. [31] Clark and his chief of staff Major General Alfred Gruenther remained unconvinced of the "military necessity". At this point, astonishingly, Clark ordered Truscott to change his line of attack from a northeasterly one to Valmontone on Route 6 to a northwesterly one directly towards Rome. Whilst the task of crossing the river would be easier in that the Rapido upstream of Cassino was fordable, the flooding made movement on the approaches each side very difficult. Augmented by the Germans' meticulous deployment of minefields, fortifications and flooding though demolition of stop-banks, Cassino was a defender's dream and an attacking army's nightmare. [51] Success depended on taking advantage of the paralysing effect of the bombing. Kesselring knew from the beginning of the Allied invasion of Italy that his fight would, at best, be a slow, agonizing withdrawal. However, attempts to take Monte Cassino were broken by overwhelming machine gun fire from the slopes below the monastery. An opportunity was indeed missed and seven divisions of 10th Army[73] were able to make their way to the next line of defence, the Trasimene Line where they were able to link up with 14th Army and then make a fighting withdrawal to the formidable Gothic Line north of Florence. One hundred and thirty men and 12 officers were killed or wounded - the remainder escaped but was able to regain control of the Rapido. 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. I would not comply with the order without first talking to General Clark in person. 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. This is map shows the actions taken by the Axis and Allies during the battle of Monte Cassino, which took place near Cassino, Italy. This was evidenced in the writing of Maj. Gen. Howard Kippenberger, commander of New Zealand 2nd Division, after the war. Lying in a protected historic zone, it had been left unoccupied by the Germans, although they manned some positions set into the steep slopes below the abbey's walls. In four great battles (January-May 1944), the Allies then attempted to punch a hole through the Gustav Line at Monte Cassino. Later, an imposing Polish cemetery was laid out; this is prominently visible to anybody surveying the area from the restored monastery. As the battle grew longer their forces just increased and the Germans started withdrawing from various positions. [30], On 11 February 1944, the acting commander of 4th Indian Division, Brigadier Dimoline, requested a bombing raid. 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. The withdrawn American units were replaced by the New Zealand Corps (2nd New Zealand and 4th Indian Divisions), commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Freyberg, from the Eighth Army on the Adriatic front. In the aftermath of the successful defence of the Salerno bridgehead, the Allies broke out, captured Naples, and attempted to push on to Rome. The attack on Monte Cassino was a bloody affair and one that was dubbed the Stalingrad of the Italian front. The Allies suffered around 55,000 casualties in the Monte Cassino campaign. But none of this stopped the Allies from advancing in the Battle of Monte Cassino. Immediately after the cessation of fighting at Monte Cassino, the Polish government in Exile (in London) created the Monte Cassino campaign cross to commemorate the Polish part in the capture of the strategic point. The Battle of Monte Cassino (also known as the Battle for Rome and the Battle for Cassino) was a costly series of four assaults by the Allies against the Winter Line in Italy held by the Germans and Italians during World War II.The intention was a breakthrough to Rome. The British 46th Infantry Division was to attack on the night of 19 January across the Garigliano below its junction with the Liri in support of the main attack by U.S. II Corps, under Major General Geoffrey Keyes, on their right. The Allied campaign of Monte Cassino was fought in four phases between January and May 1944. The Battle of Monte Cassino (also known as the Battle for Rome and the Battle for Cassino) was a costly series of four assaults by the Allies against theWinter Line in Italy held by Axis forces during the Italian Campaign of World War II.The intention was a breakthrough to Rome. In the Battle of Monte Cassino, the Allies faced insurmountable obstacles in their mission to break down German defenses and liberate the Eternal City of Rome. [24] The commander in chief of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces Lieutenant General Ira C. Eaker accompanied by Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers (deputy to General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, the Supreme Allied Commander of the Mediterranean Theater) personally observed during a fly-over "a radio mast [...] German uniforms hanging on a clothesline in the abbey courtyard; [and] machine gun emplacements 50 yards (46 m) from the abbey walls. The town of Cassino was a key stronghold on the Gustav Line, the German defence line in Central Italy designed to prevent Allied advance towards Rome. [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. 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. Professor of War History at Massey University Glyn Harper said Cassino was a long, drawn out, tough series of battles. 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. Freyberg had informed his superiors that he believed, given the circumstances, there was no better than a 50 per cent chance of success for the offensive.[23]. However, because the Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff would only make landing craft available until early February, as they were required for Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Northern France, Operation Shingle had to take place in late January with the coordinated attack on the Gustav Line some three days earlier. Feliks Konarski (known as Ref-Ren) wrote the song with Alfred Schutz on the eve of the battle and it was sung on the day of victory for General Anders: “For the first time, singing “Red poppies on Monte Cassino”, we all cried. While the battle itself was unsuccessful, its importance in the accumulative sequence of events that ultimately led to the fall of the German position at Monte Cassino … In fact there were thirteen. The Battle of Monte Cassino concluded on May 18th, 1944. FIRST BATTLE OF MONTE CASSINO: JANUARY 17 – FEBRUARY 11 1944 Reaching the Gustav Line near Cassino on January 15, 1944, the US Fifth Army immediately began preparations to assault the German positions. The second battle of Cassino (15-18 February 1944) was the most controversial of the four, as it began with the destruction by bombing of the ancient Benedictine Monastery on top of Monte Cassino. That same night, the 28th Maori Battalion of the 2nd New Zealand Division attacked directly across the Rapido River with the aim of capturing the vital railway station south of Cassino. https://www.whatweseee.com/2020/04/04/battle-of-monte-cassino As a result, the army's conduct of this battle became the subject of a Congressional inquiry after the war. The Germans however had a completely different view on it, for them Monte Cassino was a representation of the courage their soldiers had facing the Allies who were superior in material strength, meaning numbers and firepower. [52] The defences rallied more quickly than expected and the Allied armour was held up by bomb craters. This proved a faint hope. An initial attack by American forces on Cassino in January had already met with heavy losses and a failure to br… Near the coast, the British X Corps (56th and 5th Divisions) forced a crossing of the Garigliano (followed some two days later by the British 46th Division on their right) causing General Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin, commander of the German XIV Panzer Corps, and responsible for the Gustav defences on the south western half of the line, some serious concern as to the ability of the German 94th Infantry Division to hold the line. The intention was a breakthrough to Rome. The Battle of Monte Cassino has been described as the hardest-fought battle of World War II. Tuker reiterated again his case from a hospital bed in Caserta, where he was suffering a severe attack of a recurrent tropical fever. 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. Like all the other units at Monte Cassino, the Kiwis suffered heavy casualties for little gain. The Allies had come to a halt in their advance towards Rome, 100 miles on the south of Rome at the town of Cassino the Axis blocked their advance. 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). They had to be carried out in small units to maintain secrecy and surprise. Responding to Senger's concerns, Kesselring ordered the 29th and 90th Panzergrenadier Divisions from the Rome area to provide reinforcement. The "right hook" in the mountains had also been a costly failure and it was decided to launch twin attacks from the north along the Rapido valley: one towards the fortified Cassino town and the other towards Monastery Hill. In his memorandum to Freyberg he concluded that regardless of whether the monastery was currently occupied by the Germans, it should be demolished to prevent its effective occupation. Canadian I Corps would be held in reserve ready to exploit the expected breakthrough. The following night the Royal Sussex Regiment was ordered to attack in battalion strength. At Cassino, 343 New Zealanders died and 1000 were injured. The casualties in the 28th Battalion now totaled 128 men. [citation needed] In the early morning hours of 12 May, the Polish infantry divisions were met with "such devastating mortar, artillery and small-arms fire that the leading battalions were all but wiped out". 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. The Allies suffered around 55,000 casualties in the Monte Cassino campaign. The request, however, was greatly expanded by air force planners and probably supported by Eaker and Devers, who sought to use the opportunity to showcase the abilities of U.S. Army air power to support ground operations. New Zealand forces were involved in the second and third battles, which were both unsuccessful. Actually, the Germans were able to remove both the monks and the treasures of the abbey; and, after the bombardment ceased, they in… Keyes pressed Walker to renew the attack immediately. [8] The capture of Monte Cassino resulted in 55,000 Allied casualties, with German losses being far fewer, estimated at around 20,000 killed and wounded.[4]. 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]. During this attack, 8th Army troops finally occupied Monte Cassino. By daylight the U.S. II Corps had made little progress, but their Fifth Army colleagues, the French Expeditionary Corps, had achieved their objectives and were fanning out in the Aurunci Mountains toward the Eighth Army to their right, rolling up the German positions between the two armies. The first assault was made on 17 January. The Germans were fighting from a series of prepared positions in a manner designed to inflict maximum damage, then pulling back while buying time for the construction of the Winter Line defensive positions south of the Italian capital of Rome. [58], The German defenders too had paid a heavy price. [71], At the time, Truscott was shocked, writing later, ...I was dumbfounded. Artillery could not be used in direct support targeting point 593 because of the proximity and risk of shelling friendly troops. The Battle of Monte Cassino had been a bitter part of WWII. In the next few days Gaeta was surrendered as well and this was part of a larger German withdrawal from east to west. "In three weeks, in the middle of a losing war, in another country, it was quite a feat. With the arrival of the spring weather, ground conditions were improved and it would be possible to deploy large formations and armour effectively. For the third battle, it was decided that whilst the winter weather persisted, fording the Garigliano river downstream of Cassino town was an unattractive option (after the unhappy experiences in the first two battles). When you look at it I was 19 and wounded three times before I was 20. ... By the time the Allies broke through the deadlock in May 1944 they had lost 55,000 casualties compared to lighter German losses of 35,000. So before the war reached Monte Cassino German leadership decided to move these priceless treasures to a safer place. [48][49] They were ordered to pull back to the river when it became clear to headquarters that both the attempts to break through (in the mountains and along the causeway) would not succeed. 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". The French and Italians are on Route 6 in the Liri Valley; the Americans are at the Sicily–Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno. New Zealand involvement in this challenging task was in part due to the failure of the American 5th Army's attempt to bypass the German front line by staging a seaborne attack at Anzio, south of Rome. 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. Fifth Army (U.S. II Corps and French Expeditionary Corps) would be on the left and Eighth Army (British XIII Corps and Polish II Corps) on the right. 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. In all they dropped 1,150 tons of high explosives and incendiary bombs on the abbey, reducing the entire top of Monte Cassino to a smoking mass of rubble. While the battle itself was unsuccessful, its importance in the accumulative sequence of events that ultimately led to the fall of the German position at Monte Cassino … On 11 February, after a final unsuccessful 3-day assault on Monastery Hill and Cassino town, the Americans were withdrawn. 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'. As Miller stated, this experience deeply influenced him and directly resulted in his writing, a decade later, the book A Canticle for Leibowitz, which is considered a masterpiece of science fiction. The short-lived Second Battle for Cassino ended like the first––with the Germans in command of the town and now occupying the ruins of the monastery atop Monte Cassino. 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. 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. Despite the Allies’ superior numbers the terrain and winter weather allowed the Germans to hold their ground. On 23 March Alexander met with his commanders. 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). Clark's Fifth Army made slow progress in the face of difficult terrain, wet weather and skillful German defences. [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.

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