ANNA MARIA PRIORA

Via Tommaso Campanella 26 CASSINO (FR)
annamaria.priora@gmail.com

PHONE  +39 328 1965 002

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Montecassino war tour visiting the museum
Montecassino war tour visiting the museum

I was at the "Museo Internazionale delle Guerre Mondiali" (this is the true Italian name of this Museum!) for the first time only some weeks ago, following an advice of a very good friend of mine!

I didn't know that to aspect. I was looking for a museum that could show to my customers some particular memorabilia, something difficult to find, something special. And I didn't find only a very particular and Unique Museum, but also very special and passionate new friends, Johnny and Filippo.

 Outside the Museum

It is an unequalled and matchless historic collection, that retraces the events of  1943 and 1944 exactly at the beginning of the conquest of Rome. Museum displays not only for adults but even for the younger generations, an understandable history that retraces the period leading up to the conquest of Rome , through the breaking of the Winter and the Gustav Line.

40 Years of research and passion, 10 years of hard work, have enable this Association of very brave people, to form this unique collection:  more that 3000 sqm of exposition, thousands and thousands pieces of memorabilia, including many vehiches, tanks, cannons, a plane, all combined in an original exibition which in unique in the Southern of Italy.

Some memorabilia are quite unique! If you want to see a North American Aviation T-6 Texan, a Bofors 40 mm gun, or M115 203 mm howitzer, just come and you will see them parked outside the museum just as a litle car...

Visiting the Museum

At the heart of the historic site of the Italian Battlefields , the Museo Internazionale delle Guerre Mondiali shows a special perspective of one of the greatest moments in the history of mankind.

The museum let us follow the Allied forces who partecipated to the Battles, but even the Italian and German soldiers in their daily life diuring the bloody battles that occurred in our area. Scenic recontructions of the major operations of the Battles, using uniforms, weaponsmannequin figures, and very precious memorabilia.

Visiting this museum will put you into history and back in time. 

Website: www.migm.it/

Scritto da Guido Priora
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The Allies view from the top on Trocchio hill
The Allies view from the top on Trocchio hill

Studing the Four Battles of Montecassino, to be sure to deeply understand the different attacks, I visited with new eyes all the places I had seen for years. And the first place I reached was the top of Monte Trocchio. Let's remember what happened here 76 years ago.

On 9th January the battlefield moved to the slopes of Mount Trocchio, where the battle started on 10th January. The 168th Infantry Regiment 34th Red Bull Division started its attack from a small hill called il Gallo and the surrounding ridges, but only on 11th January it was able to attack Cervaro, this little montain town trasformed in a mass of rubbles. The 71st Panzer Grenadier Regiment  reinforced  in the nicht of 10/11 by soldiers of the Hermann Goering Panzer Division, was very well protected in the stone houses and cellars of Cervaro town centre.

Montecassino Abbey seen from Trocchio hill

Cervaro was taken on 12th January but there was no collapse of enemy resistance, and the Germans  retreated. The 168th reached Le Pastenelle and the Rapido plain. The other regiments of the 34th Division helped the 168th and on 13th January was ready to help to attack the Trocchio hill. The 135th reached point 189, between Cervaro and Trocchio hill, along Highway No.6, where the 2nd Hermann Goering Regiment had some dangerous pillboxes.

Mount Trocchio, The German Barrier Monte Trocchio, 17 Gennaio 1944

Lt. Arthur M. Shelous, of Santa Monica, California, and S/Sgt Ray Chapman, Lyndhurst, New Jersey, examine a 57mm anti tank gun used by the Germans to cover route 6 near mount Trocchio. Cervaro, Italy. 17 January 1944
(NARA MM-5-152785)
Tank on point 189 Cervaro Aerial view taken fr. Amer. Piper Cub observation plane looking down on Route 6 which runs past German-held Mt. Porchia (bottom), around Mt. Trocchio (C) & on into Mt. Cassino (bkgd.) where the Germans are entrenched in its hilltop monastery.
(Photo by Margaret Bourke-White/Time Inc.)
Point 189 Cervaro The stubborn battle of Cassino and Monastery Hill: an Allied tank moving into position for attack, while in the background the devastated town at the foot of the Monastery burns fiercely.
(Photo: “The Illustrated London News”, April 1, 1944)

When the Germans were reached by the 168th on one side and the 34th on the other, they retreated. The Allied forces organized the attack: the 34th had to attack the norther flank of Mount Trocchio, the 168th from Le Pastenelle on the Highway no.6 side, and the 141st  Infantry 36th Texas Division from the south. But the Germans were already far away, and the Allied joined one of the best observation point they could have for the next 3 months: Trocchio hill and its castle were perfect to see everything on the Liri Valley.

Mount Trocchio seen from Monte Cassino

Thanks to Alessandro Pistilli and Giuseppe Giovini for the modern pictures of Trocchio hill and Thanks to the Facebook page called War Memories-Memorie di Guerra, for the old ones.

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In Sant Angelo, looking southern...
In Sant Angelo, looking southern...

At the beginning of January 1944 the II Corps continued its effort along the Highway No.6 to join as soon as possible Rome. The Germans were regrouping to stop the Allied way to Rome, but because of the 29Th Panzer Grenadier  Division were too tired to continue fighting , the 44th Granadier Division took over their key positions from Mount Majo to Mount Porchia.

On the way to Cassino along Highway No.6 there were 3 isolated hills called Cedro Hill (the Smallest), Mount Porchia and then next to San Vittore village Mount La Chiaia. These three hills offered the enemy a good barrage againts the Allieds and a good observation point. Behind them one of  the keystones of the German defenses of Cassino , a hill called Mount Trocchio. 

 

Old map writen by a veteranThe opening attack of the Allied was plan as following  Mount la Chiaia had to be attacked by the 135th and 168th Infantry 34th Red Bull Division with the help of the 1st Special Service Force who had to clear Mount Majo  and the surrounding Peaks. 

Mount Porchia instead had to be attacked by the 6th Armoured Infantry and Cedro Hill had to be cleared by elements of British 10 Corps.

The Battle of Mount Porchio  started on 4th January  when the 1st Battalion of the 1st Armoured Infantry moved to Mount Porchio. The first difficulty was in crearing two small reses on either side of Highway No. 6 untill they arrived next to Mt Porchio. The second Battalion tried to move along the railway line, but had to withdraw. On 6th January the 1st and the 3rd were ready to join the attack with the 2nd Battalion  at 07.00am. Thanks to the smoke that covered the north flank of Mount Porchia , some soldiers of the 1st Battalion were able to reach the crest even if the loss of lives was huge. Even if the Germans organized a counterattack with the help of the Hermann Goering Panzer Division. But the 6th Armoured Infantry held its gains on 7th January the entire hill fell and the Germans withdraw during the night.

Mount Porchia seen from Google Earth

While  the 168th was fighting on the Porchio hill the 46th Division of the 10 Corps had the same problems on Cedro Hill. During the night of 4/5 January the 138th Brigade  reached the opposite banks of the Peccia River, but untill when the 168th was not able to take the crest of Porchio Hill , the poor soldiers of the 138th and 139th Brigade  were pushed back by the enemy mortars. When  the Germans retreated from Mount Porchio , they also abandoned Cedro Hill and they all meet on Mt Trocchio