After having seen how difficult it had been the British attack on Castelforte and the Minturno area and after having loose so many lifes on the Rapido River in the middle of the Liri Valley, Mark Clark decided to ask to the II Corps of Keyes to send the 34th Red Bulls Division at the orders of Charles Ryder to try to cross the Rapido River norther than Cassino. The plan he had, was to ask to the 133rd regiment to attack and occupy the little village of Caira, what at the time was a former barrack and then to climb the hills.
On the left side of the 133rd, the 135th had to cross the Rapido too, but in this case the goal was to attack Monte Cassino from this side. Naturally the poor American soldiers didn't know that the Germans had already dug pillboxes and foxholles, they had already prepared barbed wire lines and minefilds to delay the Allies.
On 24th January they reached the barracks but the German fire pushed them back the night after, thanks to the help of the 100th Battalion, a group of American-Japaniese, the so called Nisei. They fought like lions and on 26th January they discovered that the battalion formed by 187 men, after 24 hours had only 28 of them left. The Red Bulls organised with the help of the tank battalion several attacks, but the mud was so difficult tor tanks and havy guns, but they had to wait until the 1st February when also the 142nd regiment of the 36th Division came to help, the 34th reached point 593 but only for few hours.
Even if the Times continued to write article about the luky attacks and how weak were now the German defences aroud Cassino, the Germans had ask to their regiments all over Europe to Reach Cassino and join them. At the end on Febbruary Mark Clarck and Keyes had to decide to retreat the 34th and the 36th. In few days of fighting the 34th Red Bulls Division lost 1/3 of its forces: 318 deaths, 1641 wounded, 392 lost.
The "Monte Cassino 34th Division Battlefield Tour for Americans" (about 3 hours) includes:
1) pickup from your arrival at the railway station in Cassino everyday at 10.00am or 02.00pm (Main Square, near the Green Kiosk)
2) about 3h30 guided tour of the American most meaningful sites of Cassino:
- Monte Trocchio slopes
- Caira village the Rapido River and Rio Secco banks
- The Barracs and the Caruso Road
- German Cemetery
- Cassino town center
- Caste Hill
- The Panoramic point
- The Germans' caves
- The Abbey of Montecassino.
3) return to the railway station in Cassino at 01.30pm or 05.30pm
Dr. Anna Maria Priora Ph.D
WW2 Monte Cassino Battlefield expert, researcher and tour guide