Hitler judged the fall of his friend Mussolini as the first step toward the Italian capitulation and he was right. After some months Italy passen on the Allied side, and the Allies landed first of all in Sicily, then in Italy. The man who was in charge to do something to stop the Allies was Albert Kesselring. He knew that a defencive position could not be held for a long time against an anemy with a numerical and material superiority as that of the Allies. So he decided to create some defencive lines in areas that could help his soldiers to resist. He wanted to hold up Alexander's advance for a prolonged period in the south of Italy. And he had a lot of confidence in particolar in the Gustav Line, a special defensive line following the cources of the rivers Garigliano, Gari and Rapido, then over the Abruzzi mountains to Castel di Sangro and the Adriatic coast. But the kernel of all this was the six-miles wide Liri Valley with his two pivots Monte Cassino on one side and Monte Maio in the other. In front of the Gustav line was the Reinhard Line, called by the Allies "Winter Line", based on the Mignano Gap, Monte Camino and Monte Sammucro. During autumn the Todt Organization with the help of Italian labour battalions, created a strong network of modern defencive localities. Villages were transformed into massive strongpoints, caverns were carved in the mountainsides, mine-fields were prepared along the Rapido and the Garigliano rivers, and the rivers themselves overflooded. On the Winter Line, built only to delay the arrive of the Allies on the Gustav Line, two divisions covered themselves with glory the 29 Panzer Grenadier Divisions and the 26th Panzer Division. After the loss of Monte Lungo and Monte Sammucro General Von Senger retreated on the Gustav Line. On the mountain the 5th Mountain Division under the command of General Ringel was controlling the Colli-Atina road and had to face the French Expeditionary Corps. The 29th Panzer Grenadiers Division with the help of the Hermann Goering Division had to withdraw on San Vittore and Mount Porchio, while the Hoch und Deutschmeister come back to help on the same line.
Thanks to the facebook page War Memories-Memorie di Guerra for the old Pictures
Make your trip meaningful!
The "Monte Cassino Battlefield tour for Germans" (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 German most meaningful sites of Cassino:
- Monte Trocchio slopes
- Sant'Angelo in Theodice and the Rapido River
- Cassino town center
- Captai Foltin's Cave
- 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