« THE STRUGGLE FOR MONTECASSINO : PART II
As already said, the first assault at Montecassino was a failure. The US XXXVI has taken 2000 casualties and it was down to one third of its fighting strength.
14 February 1944
The allies (XXXVI and XXXIV division) reached the neighbourhood of the town (Cassino) and they have won striking distance on the monastery itself.
“…it was like the landscape of the moon…”
They were at the feet but, the abbey commanding position means that, any of the allies that came to make ground was almost inevitably doing failure. As a matter of fact “…for every six guys trying to climb up Montecassino you only need one guy to defend it…” and the Americans were exhausted.
Indian e New Zealand troops took the challenge to climb up the monastery hill.
Inside its walls, 150 feet high and 10 feet thick, a handful of monks and thousand of refugees have their shelter from the fighting below.
The German claimed that they had not occupied the building but the allies remained unconvinced.
German artillery fire from behind the mount was too deathly and too accurate. Allies commanders thought that the monastery hided German soldiers and it was a belief backed up by the men on the ground.
Convinced that the monastery did house hostile soldiers, brigadier Deamon Inn, acting commander of the fourth Indian division requested the Abbey to be bombed.
The plan was to attack the monastery in the wake up of the air strike, as the German soldier regrouped.
15 February 1944
“…in a deathly silence in the morning all of a sudden the hell came over…”
Under the direct orders of the General Alexander the famous monastery of Montecassino became a casualties of war. 147 B-17 heavy bombers level out on their bombs run.
High above air reconnaissance mission recorded these images of the aftermath of the bombing and revealed the true extent of the damage caused to the monastery
Allies thought bombing was like forcing German escape just like a bomb-move, bomb-move, bomb-move action. But in real life it happened : bomb- NO move.
As a matter of fact German parachuted soldiers to reinforce positions. Moreover when a building has been bombed you have excellent covers. So when Indian attached they were lost before they even started.
SO FAR … NO WAY!!!
To be continued…
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