After the battle for San Pietro Infine in December, the US 36th Texas Divisionhad needed numerous replacement to beready for a new battle. Major-General Fred Walker was concerned about the success of the next attack and the lack of time for preparation. The Germans in front of them had excellent observation from the fortified village of Sant'Angelo in Theodice on a high bluff on the far side of the river in the centre of the valley.
He knew it had to be a night time attack, but he was worried about the river itself that could be a formidable obstacle, and the numerous mines and the barbed wire that was believed to be on both sides of the river. The attacking troops would have to carry their own boats to the river's edge, where engineers would need to construck footbridges to get the majority of the vanguard troops across. But such bridge, General Walkers had discovered, were in very short supply, along with other engineering materials. The crossing of the river started at 8.pm on 20th January, and after some hours of fighting the Americans counted 1300 dead men and 770 captured.
|Photo:Smoke bombs used to cover the Amerocan Attack to the Rapido River (Nara)|
And the Us Newspaper reports described it as the worst disaster since Pearl Harbour. The New Zealander officer Howard Kippenberger stated bluntly two weeks later : "Nothing was right, except the courage"
The 36th Division tour (3 hours) includes:
- Monte Trocchio slopes
- Rapido river banks and the Peace Bell
- The war monument dedicated to the 36th Texas Division
- The Commonwealth war cemetery
- Cassino town center
- Caste Hill
- The Panoramic point
- The Germans' caves
- The Abbey of Montecassino.