The introduction of French troops into the Italian theater started with the Winter line battle. The 2nd Moroccan Infantry Division arrived at Naples by 1st December 1943, and the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division was scheduled to arrive at the end of December. Both divisions have been trained in mountain fighting and both were eager to vindicate the old glory of French Army. While the 36th Division was attacking San Pietro Infine, the Vi Corps and in particular the French 2nd Infantry Division was told to take to high ground east of Cardito, while the 45th Division was ordered to attack the peaks along the road to S. Elia. After had been successful in the first French-German encounter on the Italian front near Scapoli, the French were successful on Mount Pantano, on the Cerasuolo flat, Monna Casale. By the 21st December, the troops of the VI Corps were running to Viticuso and Casale.
General Mark Clark asked to the French General Juin to attack a very difficult area on the Gustav line, on the right side of Cairo massive. This Monte Cassino Battlefield was clearly the most difficult of the area
General Clark had little faith in the French army. The major assault on the Gustav Line should be by British X Corps across the Garigliano River and by US II Corps across the Rapido River near Cassino. General Clark asked the French Expedition Corps to plan an attack on the mountain east of Monte Cassino, called Colle Belvedere. It wasn't an simple task. Colle Belvedere was 800 feet high and was fortified with bunkers and mines, and defended by units of the German 44th and 71st Infantry Division. The Rapido river should have to be crossed merely to reach the position. Yet General Juin knew he could not refuse Clark's request if the Allies were to take the FEC seriously. It was, Juin noted, one of the least accessible parts of the Gustav Line, backed by the enormous peak of Monte Cairo. The initial advance to this battlefield would involve crossing the Secco River and the Rapido River, then braking through the defences in the valley, before climbing over 800 metres over bare rock, under direct observation by German Artillery spotters on Monte Cifalco. having the FEC on Colle Belvedere was essential to the safety of the American Red Bulls Juin's Tunisians from the 3rd Algerian Division was chosen to lead the attack. On 25 January, Commandant Gandoet was ready. The aim was to capture Hill 470, then push on along the north side of Belvedere. A raven had been chosen and was called Ravin Gandoet because it seemed to offer cover from artillery fire and the possibility of surprising the defenders on the objective. It was a bloody battle. On 31st January, not only Colle Belvedere but also Colle Abate was captured. The two French Divisions were now amongst the defences of the Gustav Line, and Juin felt that introducing one more division into the battle would allow them to break through. Clark was not convicted, however, and he was loath to transfer any American unit to the French sector. Juin wrote in his diary: 'we saw them coming back, haggard, unshaven, their uniform in rags and soaked with mud, the glorious survivors of the regiment'. They were glorious, but few of the assaulting companies only 30 percent had returned unscathed.
Come and visit the Monte Cassino Battlefields with your family at a unique rate!
WHAT YO EXPECT
The "Monte Cassino Battlefield Tours for French" (about 3 hours) includes:
1) pickup from your arrival at the railway station in Cassino every day at 10.00am or 02.00pm (Main Square, near the Green Kiosk)
2) about 3h30 guided tour of the French most meaningful sites of Cassino:
- Road from Conca Casale to Sant'Elia
- the Rapido River crossing on both sides of Sant'Elia
- Secco River in the Olivella Area and Gandoet Ravin
- Belvedere hill and Abate hill
- Castle 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
WHAT IS INCLUDED
Minivan and ww2 tour guide
Lunch and dinner are not included but I can suggest...
WHEN AND WHERE
At the railway station in Cassino every day at 10.00am or 02.00pm (Main Square, near the Green Kiosk)
PRICE PER PERSON
80 euros (lunch or dinner not included)
I will held this tour.
MORE TOURS IN THIS AREA
Informations and Booking
Our rate on Tripadvisor is 5/5 on 63 reviews.
If you don't believe me, have a look on Tripadvisor
Dr. Anna Maria Priora Ph.D
WW2 Monte Cassino Battlefield expert, researcher and tour guide