World War II Battle of Monte Cassino Jan 4 - May 18, 1944
In late 1943… • German troops had blocked off northern Italy, Rome from allies • Monte Cassino, an elevated area in the Liri Valley, was crucial to Germany’s defense of Rome http://www.45thdivision.org/CampaignsBattles/Naples_Foggia/map1.jpg
December, 1943 • Allied troops from the United States, Great Britain, Poland, Morocco, France, and Algeria began arriving in Italy. • German troops held their position in and around Cassino. • Allied troops surrounded Monte Cassino from the West, North and East
The Battle Begins… • Phase One began Jan. 4, 1944. • In preparation for Allied troops, German army laid land mined to the South along the Rapido River, gained high ground, set up heavy artillery. • Artillery fire began on January 17, 1944.
Attack from the East • To completely surround the German Army, the Allies had to cross the Rapido River. • Allied troops tried to cross the river to the East of Cassino, but were held back by land mines, sniper fire. • Allies eventually gave up to the East and traveled North and crossed the river at a more shallow area.
The ascent of Monte Cassino • Once they crossed the river, the Allies began ascending the steep terrain around Cassino. • By Feb. Allied troops made it within 1000 meters of the monastery at the top of Monte cassino. • After trying to reach the top, Allied troops were forced to retreat after losing too many soldiers to German artillery fire. http://images.google.com/hosted/life/l?imgurl=cbc9a60fee262b9a&q=monte%20cassino%20rapido%20river&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmonte%2Bcassino%2Brapido%2Briver%26ndsp%3D21%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26start%3D21%26um%3D1
http://www.ngatoa.com/e107_images/newspost_images/looking_towards_the_ruins_of_the_monastery_at_monte_cassino_italy_circa_1944._photograph_taken_by_l_h_ross..jpghttp://www.ngatoa.com/e107_images/newspost_images/looking_towards_the_ruins_of_the_monastery_at_monte_cassino_italy_circa_1944._photograph_taken_by_l_h_ross..jpg Destruction of the Abbey at Monte Cassino
Phase Two Begins • On Feb. 15, 1944, United States Air Force bombed the Monastery for three hours after receiving information that German troops were inside. • The information proved incorrect, German troops remained mostly unscathed. • Allied troops, who had fled the area to allow for bombing, made their way back to Monte Cassino on newly-flattened terrain. • German troops dug in behind the rubble and prepared for combat.
Before Destruction During the Bombing http://faculty.cua.edu/pennington/ChurchHistory511/MonteCassino18Cent.jpg http://6.media.tumblr.com/2KfNZVJctidqry37oDC7ADBoo1_400.png
The Ruins… http://blog.oregonlive.com/oregonatwar/2008/11/ruinsmontecassino.jpg
March, 1944 • After destroying the monastery, Allied troops tried, once again, to get to the top of Monte Cassino. • German troops decimated the Allied troops with sniper and artillery fire from inside their fortifications inside the ruins of the monastery. • Out of 3,200 Allied soldiers, only 840 survived the March attack.
Second Bombing Attack • After too many casualties on the ground, the Allied Air Force took over. • On March 14, seven hundred and seventy five (775) Allied aircrafts bombed Cassino and the surrounding areas for four hours. • In total, they dropped 1,250 tons of explosives. • Allied troops waited until the bombing stopped, then stormed Monte Cassino.
Allied Victory in Sight • For a month after the March bombing, Allies and German troops were in a stalemate. • Allied reinforcements came in early May to relieve worn out troops. • Fresh Allied troops began to make their way around the southern side of Monte Cassino.
German Troops Retreat • In one final attempt to surround the Germans, British, French, US, Moroccan and Polish troops moved in a great synchronized sweep around Monte Cassino. • French troops overwhelmed the German Troops and opened a route to Rome. • By May 14, German troops realized they were surrounded, on May 17 they withdrew. • Allied declared victory. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3487075.stm