On July 10, 1943 the Allied armies landed in Sicily, thus starting the Italian Campaign, aimed at putting out of the game the weaker opponent of the Axis (Winston Churchill defined Italy as the “soft underbelly” of the enemy coalition) in order to then be able to concentrate all forces against Hitler’s Germany.
The German divisions, led by a skilled and ruthless Nazi, the feldmarshall1 Albert Kesselring2, opposed a strenuous resistance to the advance of Allied armies, favored in this by the particular orography of the peninsula (mountains, gorges, waterways) and by a particularly harsh and rainy winter, which almost always transformed the dirt roads into mud rivers.
Going up the boot, the Allies met some formidable lines of defense, which ran from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic Sea, prepared by the Germans using in their favor every possibility offered by the ground, aimed at delaying as much as possible the advance of the enemy.
Thousands of civilians were involved in the bitter struggle that ended only in April 1945, most of them women, old men and children, subject to fierce reprisals and often caught between two fires, decimated not only by the bombs that continued to rain from the sky, but also by hunger, cold and frightening living conditions.
A moving testimony of these sufferings can be seen in the unreal silence of a village, once full of life and of hard-working people, frozen with its ruins as it was in December 1943, clinging for centuries to a mountain3, on the border between three regions: Campania, Lazio and Molise.
The inhabitants of San Pietro Infine, who could not or did not want to escape elsewhere, survived hunger and cold finding a precarious shelter in caves dug into the side of the mountain and nourishing themselves, when everything was missing, by figs and dried broad beans, walnuts and wild vegetables4. Some of them lost their lives to obtain simple drinking water, such as the two women, mothers, who were gunned by the Germans to take water at the source of “Holy Mary of Water”5. More than one hundred and forty (about 300 according to others)6 died7,8 on a population of about 1,5009 people!
In January 1943, during the Casablanca conference in Morocco, US President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill decided, among other things10, to start the occupation of Italy by landing in forces in Sicily. Stalin, the third ally, had been calling for a second front to be opened in Europe for some time now, in order to relieve the Nazi pressure on the Soviet Union, even though during the conference in Teheran in November 1943, when Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met for the first time, the urgency of the intervention fell as a result of Stalin’s awareness that the Germans had now run out of steam.11 The USA was more oriented towards a landing in Northern Europe, while England, worried about its leadership in the Middle East and the Balkans, preferred by far a landing in Italy, as indeed happened.
Operation Husky, as it is called with the allied code the invasion of Sicily, is preceded by the fall of the island of Pantelleria on 11 June ‘43, followed by Lampedusa, which surrendered unconditionally on 12 June. On June 13, Linosa also surrendered and on June 14, the island of Lampione.12
At dawn on July 10, the Allied disembarkation on the island begins: the fighting that will lead to the complete liberation of Sicily will last 38 days, causing about 23,00013 losses to the Allies.
British General Harold Alexander, head of the 15th Armed Forces Group, so informs Churchill of the end of the campaign:
“By 10 a.m. this morning, August 17, 1943, the last German soldier was flung out of Sicily…. It can be assumed that all Italian forces in the island on July 10 have been destroyed, though a few battered units may have escaped to mainland.”14
The invasion of the Boot
After the Allies’ disembarkation in Sicily and the subsequent surrender15 of Italy, Germany hastens to send several divisions to Italy, some of which are armored, to occupy the whole peninsula militarily and thus counteract the enemy advance towards Germany.
At first, German forces are commanded to the north by Feldmarshall Rommel and to the south by Feldmarshall Kesselring. At the end of November Rommel was recalled to Germany, in view of the new assignment in France, and Kesselring took full control of the defense of the Italian territory, demonstrating remarkable tenacity and inventiveness in transforming every natural obstacle to the advanced allied in powerful defensive preparations that occur on the way of the Allies.16
The land lends itself very well to a defensive war: mountains, heights, rivers that in winter become almost unfordable and whose banks are undermined, natural and artificial strongholds, wetlands or easily flooded, gorges, etc..
Taking advantage of these characteristics, several resistance lines, between 12 and 18 km apart, are quickly prepared by the Todt Organization17, which also includes a division of the Slovak Military Engineering, strong of 5,000 men18; the main one hundred km from Rome, at a point where the distance between the Adriatic Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea is minimal, and therefore more favorable also for the abundance of orographic obstacles and different watercourses: the Gustav Line (or Winter Line, see map), partly protected on the Tyrrhenian side to the south by the Bernhardt line (also called Reinhard, formed by a wide range of defensive fortified devices, which connects the mouth of the Garigliano river, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, to Castel di Sangro)19 and to the north by the Hitler (or Senger) line.
On September 3, 1943 the Allies crossed the Strait of Messina and landed in Calabria, beginning the hard struggle to get out of Italy German troops. As the British advance towards the Adriatic coast, Americans climb up the peninsula along the Tyrrhenian coast. On the evening of September 8, General Eisenhower gave the official communication of the surrender of Italy and on the same evening Badoglio was forced to broadcast a radio release to inform the Italian people. The reaction of the German ally is immediate: the Achse plan is activated, occupying the main cities and disarming the Italian divisions, abandoned without any directive by the Badoglio government and King Vittorio Emanuele III, who fled in great haste from Rome, leaving the country to its tragic fate, in the direction of Pescara and with final destination Brindisi, an area not occupied by the Germans.20
On September 9 the Allies landed in Campania, in the Salerno area. The progress to the north is getting tougher and natural obstacles (think only of the difficulty of transport, blocked by mud and rain in autumn and winter. From mid-October to the end of December, the rain spilled into those areas fifty days out of seventy-three, then turning into snow with accumulations of up to 8 meters21) are added to the determination of German forces and the ability of their commanders to resist as long as possible. Other problems are the rivalries between the Allied military leaders and a series of mistakes in the assessment of the enemy and the territory22, as well as the use of customary tactics well known to the German adversary23. What seemed to be at the beginning a walk soon turned out to be a risky, slow progression, leading to considerable human losses.24
The advance towards Rome
After the landing of Salerno, it occurs the liberation of Naples, the 1st of October, and the battle on the defensive line of the Volturno river, which was partially penetrated on October 12 after fierce fightings, made more difficult by the disastrous conditions of the land that incessant rains have turned into a quagmire.
On October 16, the Germans retreated to the next defensive line, 25 km further north.
Rome seems closer to the allied forces commanded by General Clark, but the adverse weather conditions, the depletion of various arteries and the demolition work carried out by the Germans still delay the advance. 25
Every mountain that stands in the way to Rome must be taken separately, each valley raked, to find itself in front of always new mountains and another line that must in turn break with bloody attacks of infantry. 26
Trucks, jeeps and other means of transport are useless when mud, stones, potholes and bombings debris cover the roads of communication. The paths that lead to altitude are impervious, only the men who are on the move and the mules (not always) manage to advance carrying loads. 27
The troops are tired, the losses high and the German resistance proves so effective in engaging the allied troops in bloody battles of attrition along the numerous (the main are 7)28 and subsequent defensive lines 29 prepared to bar or slow down the offensive of enemy, that in autumn, after an advance of 110 km in four months and still 130 km from Rome, is now spoken of a “progression centimeter by centimeter“. 30
“… and, instead of proving a death-trap to the defenders, as Brooke had designed, Italian geography became, under climatic conditions that neutralized the Western Powers’ air ascendancy, an insuperable obstacle to the offensive.” 31
The Bernhardt and Gustav lines are built under the direction of an expert commander of the Military Engineering of Army Group C, Major General Hans Bessel:
“… observation points and positions for machine guns and artillery were opened with explosives on mountain ridges and dug in the fields in front of obstacle belts that included anti-tank, minefields and barbed wire meshes. Deep shelters to protect the troops, pitches for the mortars and shelters for tanks and self-propelled artillery were dug on the opposite slopes and carefully camouflaged “. 32
The narrow pass of Mignano and the three M
The state road no. 6, via Casilina, which connects Naples with Rome, passing inland33, near the so-called Mignano Gap enters a sort of gorge dominated on both sides by some mountains and peaks of hills.
“The Mignano Gap itself contains two formidable barriers, Mount Rotondo and Mount Lungo. Mount Rotondo rises 357 meters just west of Cannavinelle Hill and is densely covered with brush. Mount Lungo, a long barren ridge with several peaks, is an obstruction 343 meters high almost in the middle of the gap.“ 34
To reach Cassino and Valle del Liri it is necessary to neutralize the Bernhardt defensive line. According to estimates by the American Intelligence, the resistance is supported by 3 battalions: one on Mount La Defensa-Maggiore, another on Mount Lungo, and the third in San Pietro, arranged to use all the opportunities offered by the terrain and provide mutual support.35
“The village stronghold of San Pietro was a key point in these defenses and became a symbol for success or failure in the early attacks.“ 36
On November 13 the German general Joachim Lemelsen, commander in charge of the 10th Army, intends to order the retreat of the Panzergrenadier from San Pietro Infine, with the assent of Kesselring, who asks for confirmation, receiving a positive response, at OKW37 in Berlin. Shortly after the order is personally withdrawn by Hitler, always opposed to any withdrawal or retreat 38 .
On December 3, General Clark began the offensive against the German troops, commanded by General Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin, well protected in their defensive posts scattered in difficult mountain positions, practically invisible even to aerial reconnaissance, also hindered by frequent cloudiness. The Germans have had time to dig and camouflage rifle holes, build small wooden fortifications reinforced by concrete, casemates, disseminate explosive traps, prepare anti-tank pits, sow mines39 (called Bouncing Betties from the GI)40, raise barbed wire barriers.41
“These emplacements, almost impervious to our constant artillery fire and to frequent attacks by A-36 fighter-bombers, were deep pits covered by three layers of logs and further protected by earth and rocks. Each had only one opening, just large enough for a man to crawl through. To approach these pillboxes, our troops had first to go through a field of S-mines, then through barbed wire and more S-mines. If these outer defenses were penetrated, the enemy could bring down artillery, mortar, and heavy machine-gun fire without danger to his own troops hidden in their shelters… From its stone buildings enemy observers could look across a narrow valley, less than a mile wide, and watch for activity on Cannavinelle Hill, Mount Rotondo, and Mount Lungo.”42
It is also frequent the use of tanks (with tracks or damaged engines) buried, with the turret camouflaged to the ground.43
The environment is also unfavorable to attackers: perennial humidity and low temperatures, which, combined with poor hygiene, cause the “trench foot” 44 in many infantry, forcing men to wear bulky clothes that limit mobility, and the combination of rainfall, cloudiness and cold produces a soil with a surface unsuitable for maneuvering machinery and vehicles.45
The summary of the situation is explained by the three M: Mud, Mules46, and Mountains.
“Without mules our winter campaign in Italy would have been impossible.” 47
There are times when “… the temperatures are so low that the steering columns and the engines of the vehicles freeze up and break, thus blocking transport.” 48
” At the beginning of November the 45th Division had 32 animals; at the end of December the number exceeded 400, with an additional 140 in a section of an Italian pack troop. Still more mules were needed, for 250 animals were required to supply the basic needs of an infantry regiment in the line.“49
It is necessary to create a veterinary hospital, where, in addition to treatment, it also intervenes on the vocal cords of animals to make them silent! 50
In a British division of the X Corps, with a night attack to conquer Monte Camino (on the left in the picture) reaching 819, departments of the 36th division of the USA took possession of Monte Maggiore 51 .
On December 8 begins the attack of the village of San Pietro Infine, on the slopes of Monte Sammucro (or Sambucaro) , defended by a regiment of the 29th Panzergrenadier-Division, but without the conquest of Monte Lungo, which will take place on 16. In December, any attempt to seize the village will fail and result in a large number of losses. The 141th and 143rd regiment of the 36th Texas division are reduced to one third of their members! 52
It had simply escaped to the men of the Military Intelligence how inaccessible San Pietro was, since there were no good entrances to the village, where the houses provided thick stone walls for the placement of weapons! 53
San Pietro could only be reached through tracks and driveways on the steep side of Monte Sammucro, impossible to travel safely with tanks, as wide as the paths. Nor was it clear to the Allied Intelligence how important it was San Pietro for the observation that it provided of Monte Lungo and the valley floor that led the state highway 6 to Cassino. 54
Only the next day, December 17, after the Germans left the camp, American units of the 2th Corps finally entered San Pietro Infine, now reduced to a pile of rubble from the German and allied war activities. There is no trace of enemies, only death is present.55
The battle for San Pietro cost the 36th Division 1200 victims – about 150 dead, more than 800 injured and almost 250 missing. The 504th paratroopers regiment had 50 deaths, 225 wounded and 2 missing. The losses sustained by the other units involved – the 3rd Ranger battalion, the artillery battalions, the 753 battalion, the 111st battalion of the shadowy Genius C and the Italian group – must be added to these figures.56
Field experts had warned of the uselessness of frontal attacks to conquer the positions of the Germans. Nevertheless, it was the frontal attacks that were ordered, causing the losses reported above!57
San Pietro Infine58
The medieval village of San Pietro Infine (” … a cluster of gray stone houses huddled in medieval fashion part way up the dark and forbidding slope of Monte Sammucro …” ) 59 , dating back to the X-XI century, from the narrow paved alleys in white flint, from limestone constructions with wooden roofs, transformed into a German stronghold, suffered irreparable damage during 15 days of intense bombing, resulting in one of the most fiercely contested territories of the Italian Campaign. 60
That part of the population (about 800 people)61 who did not obey the orders of the German command (arrived in San Pietro the very evening of the armistice)62 to evacuate the village, initially took refuge in caves existing in the territory. But the direct exposure to the shooting of cannons located in the area of Mignano and the wounding of some civilians hospitalized there push the population to seek another safer arrangement.
This was found in the west valley of the village, in caves dug with small shovels and with any other tool found on that occasion63 in a tufaceous ground (about 50064 people). Small, cold, humid, with a limited outward opening to shelter from the shrapnel of grenades and projectiles that may explode nearby, were dug by the arms. Inside, near the openings, there are some protections made with stones, boards and earth, in a zigzag path65, in imitation of the military trenches. Almost all of them communicate with each other, thus making it possible to escape in case of entry obstruction. Small niches are dug out of the floor, each one able to hide a man huddled to escape the raids of the Germans . In case of need, the hole is covered with a table, with a layer of earth on which the family members are placed. Only a small hidden hole allows the uninhabited buried alive to breathe66. Hygiene is absent due to lack of water (the little that was falling from the sky, and it was precious to drink) and overcrowding. Unfailing companions, nits and fleas.
The water is missing, because “… the Germans blocked access to the only source of drinking water and made the cisterns useless, throwing away animal carcasses. ” 67
During the shooting in town, the director John Huston is forced to take refuge in a cave with his cameraman, due to a sudden bombing. Once the blows have ceased, the shots are however hampered by the constant tremor of the operator, who is clearly in crisis. In the cave there is also a girl, about 7 years old, who likes to caress the cheeks of the director, who wonders why. Only later did he realize that the child had no memory of a shaved face! There were only old people in the village, and everyone had the “stubble” on the cheeks. On December 17, after the departure of the Germans, the director sets off in search of the child, considering it an orphan, to adopt it. Fortunately, he finds her in good health, happy and in the company of her parents!68
The damage is so extensive (98% of destruction)69 that in 1950 the population moved further downstream, building a new country, partly using some stones of the damaged buildings in the ancient millenarian village, now indistinguishable from the rocky terrain that surrounds.
Initially abandoned to itself, to the neglect of time and to the aggression of vegetation, the old village was “rediscovered” in 1959 thanks to some scenes of a famous movie by the director Mario Monicelli, The Great War, shot in the ruins of the destroyed village.
Even the stages of the conquest of the country were immortalized in a film of what would later become a famous director, captain John Huston, of the Army Signal Corps, unit aggregated to the 143rd infantry regiment of the 36th Texas Infantry Division.70 The documentary realized, partially “censored”, is available on-line with the title “The battle of San Pietro“71 . When the film was viewed in the US in 1944, it was judged so realistic and impressive that the military authorities banned it from being shown.
In his autobiography, “An open book“, Huston recounts, with a fine irony, how the first screening of his film took place.
A number of senior Army officers, including a 3 stars general72, are present at the screening. At about three-quarters of the film, the general gets up and leaves the projection room; it is presumed that what he had seen up to then he did not like, so it was only right for the remaining soldiers to show their disappointment. Naturally respecting their rank, according to the rules: certainly could not a lieutenant colonel go out before a general! And in fact the general was followed after a minute or so by the officer who followed him in the rank, and then one by one, with the lower grade military who closed the retreat. “What a bunch of assholes! There goes San Pietro“, thought the director.73
Accused of having made a film “against the war”, Huston replied that he would never make a “pro-war” movie.
But when the US Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall asks to see the film, things change after his statement: “This picture should be seen by every American soldier in training. It will not discourage but rather will prepare them for the initial shock of combat.”
As a result of this statement, the film was universally appreciated, everyone wanted to see it, Huston was decorated and promoted to major! 74
The Memorial of Mignano Monte Lungo 75
Worth a visit, if only to remember the too often forgotten contribution of Italy to its liberation.
The Memorial is located along the Via Casilina, about 2 km from the town of Mignano Montelungo, where on the 8th and 16th of December 1943 the first fights of the Italian regular troops took place against the Germans. The Italian unit is called the First Motorized Grouping, it depends on the II American Army Corps and is made up of 5,48676 men led by General Dapino, who was succeeded by General Utili, under whom it was enlarged and transformed into the Italian Liberation Corps. The 973 fallen of the Liberation War are buried here, coming from the old Monte Lungo war cemetery and the various military cemeteries scattered along the peninsula.77
The Caira German cemetery78
Colle Marino, fraction of Caira, about 3 km north of Cassino: the most important German cemetery in Italy is located at the top of an imposing hill. Started in 1959 by architect Tischer and completed in 1964 by prof. Offrenberg, gathers in five terraces adorned with pines, cypresses and hypericum about 20,100 79 bodies of the fighters under the German flag fallen in the south of Italy (excluding Sicily, where there is the cemetery of Motta S. Anastasia, with 4,561 fallen).
Walking among the graves, all equal and all equally treated, many last abode of very young, one cannot but reflect on the words of the Nobel Peace Prize Albert Schweitzer, reported in the brochure distributed at the entrance of the cemetery:
” The soldiers’ graves are big
preachers of peace and their meaning
as such will increase over time. “
How to get to the Historical Memory Park
What better words than John Huston’s?
“I especially learned great respect for Italian farmer. On reconnaissance flights we could see the farmers beginning to plow as soon as we took land from the Germans. Beyond our lines nothing was cultivated. Sometimes I would see them plowing an area that was under artillery fire, trudging behind their white oxen, ans sometimes pulling the plow themselves. The fields had been mined, and the farmers knew they were mined. Every day casualties were brought into the field hospital. But nothing deterred them. The land had to be plowed.” 81
1Generalfeldmarschall (abbreviated to Feldmarschall) was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire; in the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, the rank Feldmarschall was used (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalfeldmarschall)
2Commander in chief of the German armed forces of occupation in Italy, he was tried in Mestre by a British court in 1947 for war crimes (Fosse Ardeatine, Marzabotto and other massacres of innocent people, women, old people and children, killed in “retaliation”). He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. However, already in 1952, in view of his “very serious” state of health, he was released from prison. He died in 1960.
3The old village is located at an altitude of about 230 meters.
4Zambardi,R. Memorie di guerra, Venafro, Edizioni Eva, 2010, pag. 39
5Zambardi,R. Memorie di guerra, Venafro, Edizioni Eva, 2010, pag. 54
6Parker,M Montecassino. 15 gennaio-18 maggio 1944. Storia e uomini di una grande battaglia, Milano, Il Saggiatore, 2009, pag. 85
7Zambardi,R. Memorie di guerra, Venafro, Edizioni Eva, 2010, pag. 15
8About 300 according to Blumenson,M. Salerno to Cassino,Washington, D.C., Center Of Military History United States Army, 1993, pag. 285, note 17
9Carloni,F. San Pietro Infine, Milano, Mursia, 2003, pag. 50
10An important fact was undoubtedly Roosevelt’s declaration on “Unconditional surrender” that would be imposed to the Axis powers, Germany, Italy and Japan.
11Bryant,A. Trionfo in Occidente vol. 3, Milano, Longanesi, 1966, pag. 78
12Salmaggi-Pallavisini 1939-1945 Continenti in fiamme – 2194 giorni di guerra, Milano, Selezione dal Reader’s Digest, 1982, pages 381-382
13Liddell Hart, B.H. Storia militare della seconda guerra mondiale, Vol. 2, Milano, Mondadori, 1982, pag. 627
14Liddell Hart, B.H. Storia militare della seconda guerra mondiale, Vol. 2, Milano, Mondadori, 1982, pag. 626
15An event known as the “armistice of Cassibile” was in fact an unconditional surrender, formalized on September 29, 1943 with the document “Instrument of surrender of Italy“.
16Petacco,A. La nostra guerra 1940-1945, Milano, Mondadori, 2001, pag. 219
17The Todt Organization (OT), which takes its name from its founder, Mr. Fritz Todt, Minister of Armaments and Supplies, was a civil and military engineering group that operated first in Nazi Germany, and then in all countries occupied by the Wehrmacht, employing in the work, almost entirely forced, up to 1.5 million men and boys. After Todt’s death in 1942 as a result of an air accident, the OT was led by the architect Albert Speer until the surrender of Germany
18Caddick-Adams,P. L’inferno di Montecassino, Milano, Mondadori, 2014, pag. 19
19Salmaggi-Pallavisini 1939-1945 Continenti in fiamme – 2194 giorni di guerra, Milano, Selezione dal Reader’s Digest, 1982, pag. 439
20Petacco,A. La nostra guerra 1940-1945, Milano, Mondadori, 2001, pag. 166
21Caddick-Adams,P. L’inferno di Montecassino, Milano, Mondadori, 2014, pag. 35
22Liddell Hart, B.H. Storia militare della seconda guerra mondiale, Vol. 2, Milano, Mondadori, 1982, pag. 639-640
23Liddell Hart, B.H. Storia militare della seconda guerra mondiale, Vol. 2, Milano, Mondadori, 1982, pag. 656
24There are more than 300,000 allied soldiers dead, wounded, missing or imprisoned.
25Liddell Hart, B.H. Storia militare della seconda guerra mondiale, Vol. 2, Milano, Mondadori, 1982, pag. 660
26Blumenson,M. Salerno to Cassino,Washington, D.C., Center Of Military History United States Army, 1993, pag. 286
28Caddick-Adams,P. L’inferno di Montecassino, Milano, Mondadori, 2014, pag. 29
29Short,N. German Defences in Italy in World War II (Fortress), Oxford, Osprey, 2006, pag. 61
30Liddell Hart, B.H. Storia militare della seconda guerra mondiale, Vol. 2, Milano, Mondadori, 1982, pag. 665
31Bryant,A. Trionfo in Occidente vol. 3, Milano, Longanesi, 1966, pag. 103
32Caddick-Adams,P. L’inferno di Montecassino, Milano, Mondadori, 2014, pag. 30
33State road n. 7, via Appia, which follows the west coast, is much narrower and is therefore undesirable for military strategists because it is not very suitable, with its continuous bottlenecks, to a massive force of invasion.
34CMH Pub 100-8, From the Volturno to the Winter Line, Washington, D.C., Center of Military History United States Army, 1990, pag. 97
35Blumenson,M. Salerno to Cassino,Washington, D.C., Center Of Military History United States Army, 1993, pag. 265
36CMH Pub 100-9, Fifth Army at the Winter Line,Washington, D.C., Center of Military History United States Army, 1990, pag. 45
37The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW, “High Command of the Armed Forces”) was the High Command of the Wehrmacht (armed forces) of Nazi Germany during World War II.
38Caddick-Adams,P. L’inferno di Montecassino, Milano, Mondadori, 2014, pages 26-27
39They are the deadly Schrapnellmine (abbreviated to S-mine), an anti-personnel land-mine containing 360 steel balls or splinters, much feared by soldiers for its lethal force, designed more to mutilate than to kill. In this way, the rescue of the wounded diverts men from the attack to transport them safely. Once activated by the impact of an unsuspecting passer-by, the mines blow up exploding more or less at waist height, projecting a deadly swarm of shrapnel and steel fragments in all directions. It was one of the most imitated mines even after the end of the Second War, produced in about 1.9 million copies.
40Ambrose,S.E Cittadini in uniforme, Milano, TEA, 2011, pag. 148
41Blumenson,M. Salerno to Cassino,Washington, D.C., Center Of Military History United States Army, 1993, pag. 261
42CMH Pub 100-9, Fifth Army at the Winter Line,Washington, D.C., Center of Military History United States Army, 1990, pag. 46-47
43Carloni,F. San Pietro Infine, Milano, Mursia, 2003, pag. 21
44Trench foot is a medical condition caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary, and cold conditions. It is one of many immersion foot syndromes. The use of the word trench in the name of this condition is a reference to trench warfare, mainly associated with World War I. Affected feet may become numb, by erythema (turning red) or cyanosis (turning blue) as a result of poor blood supply, and may begin emanating a decaying odor if the early stages of necrosis (tissue death) set in. As the condition worsens, feet may also begin to swell. Advanced trench foot often involves blisters and open sores, which lead to fungal infections; this is sometimes called tropical ulcer (jungle rot). If left untreated, trench foot usually results in gangrene, which may require amputation. If trench foot is treated properly, complete recovery is normal, though it is marked by severe short-term pain when feeling returns. (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trench_foot )
45Blumenson,M. Salerno to Cassino,Washington, D.C., Center Of Military History United States Army, 1993, pag. 256
46Also used to transport the bodies of the fallen, the mules were indispensable to carry on the war of one of the most mechanized armies in the world. They are a novelty for many GI, and at first everything has to be improvised, including mule skinners.
47CMH Pub 100-9, Fifth Army at the Winter Line,Washington, D.C., Center of Military History United States Army, 1990, pag. 90
48Caddick-Adams,P. L’inferno di Montecassino, Milano, Mondadori, 2014, pag. 35
49CMH Pub 100-9, Fifth Army at the Winter Line,Washington, D.C., Center of Military History United States Army, 1990, pag. 90
50Caddick-Adams,P. L’inferno di Montecassino, Milano, Mondadori, 2014, pag. 40
51Salmaggi-Pallavisini 1939-1945 Continenti in fiamme – 2194 giorni di guerra, Milano, Selezione dal Reader’s Digest, 1982, pag. 460
52AA.VV. Cassino 1944-2014, Ceprano, Historia, Storia & Militaria, 2014, pag 25
53Blumenson,M. Salerno to Cassino,Washington, D.C., Center Of Military History United States Army, 1993, pag. 271
54Blumenson,M. Salerno to Cassino,Washington, D.C., Center Of Military History United States Army, 1993, pag. 271
55Blumenson,M. Salerno to Cassino,Washington, D.C., Center Of Military History United States Army, 1993, pag. 285
56Blumenson,M. Salerno to Cassino,Washington, D.C., Center Of Military History United States Army, 1993, pag. 285
57Huston,J. An open book, London, Macmillan, 1981, pag. 109
58The medieval village of San Pietro Infine, not to be confused with the current town of the same name.
59Blumenson,M. Salerno to Cassino,Washington, D.C., Center Of Military History United States Army, 1993, pag. 270
60Huston,J. An open book, London, Macmillan, 1981, pag. 109
61Carloni,F. San Pietro Infine, Milano, Mursia, 2003, pag. 68
62Zambardi,R. Memorie di guerra, Venafro, Edizioni Eva, 2010, pag. 22
63Zambardi,R. Memorie di guerra, Venafro, Edizioni Eva, 2010, pag. 36
64Carloni,F. San Pietro Infine, Milano, Mursia, 2003, pag. 68
65Zambardi,R. Memorie di guerra, Venafro, Edizioni Eva, 2010, pag. 38
66Zambardi,R. Memorie di guerra, Venafro, Edizioni Eva, 2010, pag. 40
67Zambardi,R. Memorie di guerra, Venafro, Edizioni Eva, 2010, pag. 20
68Huston,J. An open book, London, Macmillan, 1981, pag. 112-113
69Zambardi,R. Memorie di guerra, Venafro, Edizioni Eva, 2010, pag. 15
70Huston,J. An open book, London, Macmillan, 1981, pag. 109
72He is a general lieutenant.
73Huston,J. An open book, London, Macmillan, 1981, pag. 119
74Huston,J. An open book, London, Macmillan, 1981, pag. 119
75GPS coordinates: 41.422691, 13.969057 or 41°25’21.7″N 13°58’08.6″E
76CMH Pub 100-9, Fifth Army at the Winter Line,Washington, D.C., Center of Military History United States Army, 1990, pag. 28
77Taken from the print distributed in the small annexed museum, on the opposite side of the Via Casilina: Military Memorial of Montelungo, Ministry of Defense, General Commissariat for the honor of the fallen, 2016
78GPS coordinates: 41.528937, 13.821990 or 41°31’44.2″N 13°49’19.2″E
79German Military Cemeteries, Kassel, D, Volksbund deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V., 2016, pag. 5
80GPS coordinates: 41.445823, 13.967185 or 41°26’45.0″N 13°58’01.9″E
81Huston,J. An open book, London, Macmillan, 1981, pag. 114