The Forgotten Army, Italy 1943-1945



I have used the above heading as something that was used to describe the fighting that was going on in Italy during WW2; after the launch of the D-Day Landing on the Normandy Coast in 1944. There were two armies fighting in Italy at that time, predominantly the United States (US) 5th and the British 8th. The only reporting has been about the US 5th Army on the Mediterranean side of Italy by the Snow family on BBC television. There seems to have been no mention of the fighting on at the Adriatic side. I am going to try to correct that situation by covering the landing into Taranto on the toe of Italy, through to Trieste at the northern end of the Adriatic coast.


The invasion of mainland Italy started with the British 8th Army landing at Taranto on 3rd September 1943 and an operation named “Baytown”. As a matter of interest, the US 5th Army landed on the 9th September 1943 against heavy German resistance at Salerno in operation “Avalanche”. The 8th Army were able to make relatively easy progress for a while up the eastern coast, capturing the Port of Brindisi, Bari, as well as airfields around Foggia, which provided a base from which US bombers were able to exploit the opportunity to bomb oil fields in Romania and various places in northern Germany. There was an interesting episode by the American Air Force who rescued 500 POW’s after landing in Yugoslavia with the assistance of the Italian Partisans.


What has never been reported is the raid by German bombers on the port of Bari on the evening of 2nd December 1943. A small number of planes succeeded in destroying 17 Allied merchant ships and killing well over 1000 military personnel, merchant seamen and many local civilians. The Commonwealth Cemetery in Bari contains 2128 graves. It is reported that every available docking space was occupied, with ships anchored out beyond the jetties jutting out into the Adriatic. The dockyards had become such a beehive of activity that unloading was carried out during the night under the glare of lights. The German bombers had a perfect target – it was described as a “cake walk”. The ships already in the harbour contained a great store of ammunition, along with trucks, bales of clothing and hundreds of canvas mail bags for the troops. Alongside them was a US Navy tanker with half million gallons of high-octane gasoline on board. One ship, “John Harvey”, carried as part of its cargo, 100 tons of mustard gas bombs. It was thought that Germany were going to use mustard gas in attacks during the campaigns in Italy, they did not!


With successful Allied landings completed at Taranto units established themselves in various camps and carried out training in preparation for the fighting that lay ahead. As the Allies advanced northwards encountering increasingly difficult terrain, characterised by a succession of fast flowing rivers and intervening ridges running at right angles to the line of advance, this prevented fast movement and provided ideal defences for the Germans.

On 11th November 1943, Pte Duncan of the Parachute Regiment was awarded the George Cross posthumously for bravery. On 12th November 1943, Major W Hargreaves of the Parachute Regiment was awarded the Military Cross. The 2nd Parachute Brigade, together with other Commonwealth regiments made their way up the coast to the Sangro River, through icy winds and torrential rain, living in improvised shelters, and eating cold rations. During December 1943 the troops managed to establish a bridge across the Sangro River which had widened considerably due to heavy rains. The 2nd Paras moved inland up the Sangro Valley to establish Battalion HQ in a school in Casoli from where they patrolled the local area including the villages of Fara, Lama and Torricella.

One of these patrols met with German soldiers at the Melone crossroads, an intense firefight ensued resulting in the death of Sergeant Alf Goldman and wounding Lt Stewart, who died at a later date. My cousin Trevor Warden, was shot in his back and was rescued by New Zealand medics and eventually to a UK hospital. During brigade stay in Casoli two English Ladies came into the HQ together with several POWs who had escaped from the prison camps. They were able to offer valuable information about the German positions.


The next obstacle was the German Gustav Line where a battle ensued to secure Ortona. Blizzards, drifting snow and zero visibility at the end of December 1943 caused the advance to grind to a halt. By the middle of December 1943, Canadian troops at the front of the 8th Army had reached Ortona, a coastal city occupied by German troops. The armies clashed for nine days outside that city, with many casualties on both sides. Canadian troops finally won the terrain, but the Germans still held the city. The Canadians and German soldiers then battled within Ortona in fierce door-to-door fighting. After a week, the Germans retreated. These battles damaged or destroyed most of Ortona’s buildings and ravaged surrounding countryside. Ortona was secured on 28th December 1943. River Moro War Cemetery is where 1615 service personnel are buried; mostly Canadian, but it also contains other Allied service personnel as well. Sangro River War cemetery has 2617 burials, with a memorial commemorating more than 500 Indian service members who died fighting in the sector. In addition, the cemetery contains the graves of a number of escaped prisoners-of-war who died whilst trying to reach the Allied lines. Sangro cemetery is the second largest cemetery in Italy after Cassino. There are 2117 different regiments buried there, 279 from the Royal Artillery, 352 from New Zealand, 837 from the Combined Indian Regiments and 62 from the Parachute Regiment.

General Montgomery (Monty) halted the 8th Army in order to conserve resources for the spring campaign. Monty then handed over command of the 8th Army to General Oliver Leese in Vasto and flew to England to prepare for the invasion of France, scheduled for mid-1944.

In the meantime, the Canadians, New Zealand and Polish troops moved north along the coast towards Pescara. After reaching Pescara, the Indian, Canadian and Polish Regiments were moved across Italy to support the American 5th Army who were in deep trouble attempting to take the Benedictine monastery on Mount Cassino. Eventually the Polish regiment took Mount Cassino, which to the Polish fighters was satisfying, in return for Germans invading Poland in 1938. Most of the Polish fighters came from units that had found themselves in the UK after escaping from Poland at the beginning of the war.

Editors note: Information received from Michal Smal and confirmed by Roy Quinten.   “The Polish 2nd Corps (2 Korpus Poliski) 1943-1947 was a major unit o the Polish Armed Forces in the West, commanded by General Wladyslaw Anders. The training site for the 2nd Corps in the Middle East was Khanaqin-Quizil Ribar in Iraq (1943-1944) and was composed of the soldiers who had been released from exile in the USSR, the Carpathian Rifle Brigade, the 12th Podolski Lancers and 15th Poznan Lancers. Re-organised, the Polish 2nnd Corps comprised two infantry divisions each of which had 2 brigades and 2 light artillery regiments. General Anders also formed the Polish women’s Auxiliary Corps (Pomocznicznz Wojskowo Sluzba Kobiet) and they largely trained as heavy vehicle drivers. Approximately 80% of the Polish 2nd Corps came from Poland’s pre-war Kressy or Eastern Borderlands. In 1944 the Polish 2nd Corps were transferred to Italy where they were an independent unit of the British Eighth Army under General Oliver Leese. The Polish 2nd Corps took part in major Italian Campaigns- the Battle of Monte Cassino, the Battle of Ancona and the Battle of Bologna. Three previous Allied assaults on Monte Cassino had failed and Monte Cassino was a major victory fro the 2nd Polish Corps. With it, the road to Rome was at last open.”


The 8th Army continued fighting along the Adriatic coast; sadly this created the need for cemeteries at Ancona 1029 burials, Castiglione South African, 502 burials; Montecchio 582 burials; Gradara 1191 burials; Coriano Ridge 939 burials; Rimini Gurkha 618 burials; Cesena 775 burials; Medola 145 burials; Forli 1234 burials plus a cremation memorial for nearly 800 Indian servicemen; Ravenna 955 burials; Villanova 955 burials; Villanova Canadian cemetery 212 burials; Faenza 1152 burials; Santerno Valley 287 burials; Bologna 184 burials; Argente Gap 625 burials; Padua 513 burials.

Fighting along the Adriatic section of Italy was quite intensive and continuous from Bari in the south to Milan in the north. The CWGC estimate that the Commonwealth lost nearly 50,000 dead in Italy during World War II most of whom lie buried in 37 war cemeteries, and over 4000 soldiers whose graves are not known but remembered by name on the Cassino memorials. Almost 1500 Indian servicemen, whose remains were cremated, are remembered on three memorials in various cemeteries. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that the 8th Army had a difficult time fighting the Germans over very difficult terrain along the Eastern Adriatic coast of Italy. It seems only the Mediterranean side of Italy that is reported on, maybe it is because the American 5th Army proved to be more attractive to the TV producers or they had better PR service personnel?! In addition, they had wanted to be “first” into Rome! It is interesting to note that in the film “Anzio” showed two American soldiers entering Rome to find no Germans there. Having reported back to the American generals they decided not to follow-up on the information fearing it was a trap by the Germans. In fact the truth is that it was two British soldiers that were first to drive into Rome, not the Americans. I wonder if the two British soldiers are still alive and remember the occasion.


An interesting situation developed when a New Zealander, Lt. Titchener, with a patrol of eight men set out for Casoli. “Before they set out an Italian who spoke English informed them that the Germans had vacated, or were vacating, Casoli and he offered to take them there by a back road. His offer was accepted. There were no Germans in the first village, Altino, so they moved into Casoli. The Italian led the way, with Lt Titchener armed with a tommy gun immediately behind him, waiting to deal with him if the whole thing was a trap.

The patrol descended a steep hill, which they had to do in stages marvelling all the while at the untiring pace of the Italian guide, a short stumpy man. At last, on reaching the top of the hill they were greeted by a farmer and his family, offered chairs and given a glass of wine each, we moved on again however, and refusing repeated offers of wine and food, we came to the main street. It was a big town of 9,000 inhabitants and at first, the people did not seem to realise who we were. Then it suddenly struck them, they rushed out, shook our hands and as we neared the centre of the town started clapping, cheering and many of the women wept, Lt Titchener said he felt very embarrassed.”


Should any member of the Italy Star Association like to have a photograph of a relative buried in Italy, they can get in touch with the program director of the War Graves Photographic Project, Steve Rogers ( requesting a copy of a photo. There will be a small charge to cover postage and packaging. Please state the name of the service person, together with service number, and name which cemetery the person is buried at.


As it is, just over 70 years since 1942 and a considerable number of service personnel who died in Italy were no more than 20/21 years old. Many of them are about 90 years old now. Does anyone remember any of the occasions I have mentioned?


We are aware of the D-Day remembrance programmes that were promoted but sadly, nothing was highlighted about the fighting in Italy, even though the fighting stopped in Italy at the same time as fighting on D Day 1945. This is why I headed this article “The Forgotten Army “, remembering the 50,000 Commonwealth personnel that died in Italy! It is very interesting to note that The Far Eastern Association asked the same question! They also seem to have been forgotten!!


Any British Ex-Pat living in Italy reading this article, who would be interested in adopting a Cemetery in Italy near where they live, and be prepared to lay a wreath at a cemetery in November each year to remember those who are buried there and not forgotten, please do contact me. I would love to hear from them.

Thank you,

Bernard Warden




Some of the following books may be of interest to readers.

“The Forgotten 500” The story of how the Americans rescued the 500 POW’s in Yugoslavia.

“Ortona” The Canadian efforts to capture Ortona.

“The Allied Forces in Italy 1943 – 1945” – Guido Rosignoli

“Italy’s Sorrow”. Fighting in Italy – James Holland.

“Travel Guide to WW2 sites in Italy” Including cemeteries – Ann Saunders.

“Rome remembers her Liberators” Story of Anzio and the role Italian Partisans played during WW2. – H Shindler

“4th Battalion Parachute Regiment – War Diaries, November 1943 – December 1943”.


  1. Cliff Norris

    Really interesting reading – my father landed in Sicily and then the Italian mainland and served through the whole campaign with the R.A.O.C. In a small unit Forward Ammunition Section. He eventually finished up in Trieste and was demobbed from there I believe in 1946. I would love to know exactly the places he passed through and possibly follow in his footsteps at some time. Does anybody know how I could find the path he travelled? He mentioned serving with and near Indian and other British and international units during his time in Italy. Just a pity he never told me more before he passed away.

    1. Ronnie Noades

      Dear sir,
      The 4th Indian Division comprised of Indian Sikh, Gurkha ,Australian, Maori, British, a multi commonwealth division – 1944 Monte Casino Italy .
      hope information helps
      R Noades

    2. Robin Hollamby

      Hi Cliff,
      My be worth posting on our Lost Trails page.
      Other places worth looking at would be regimental records and regimental war diary’s.
      Applying for your fathers service records may also fill in some of the blanks.


    3. Roy Redman

      We did exactly what you want to do. A visit to the National Archives at Kew revealed the complete daily reports his Royal Engineer 221 Field Company. These are totally free to access and copies can be purchased, although we merely photographed them. The map coordinates were detailed in the British Cassini Grid, but we used this programme to translate into lat and long Once armed with these, we overlaid the route on Gooogle Earth and booked our flights to Rimini. My brother and I drove the route they took and tried to pinpoint the place he died on 5th September 1944, as they approachd Montefiore Conca. We believe Sapper George Arthur Redman was killed as his company built a ford through the river Conca. He was buried on the outskirts of Montefiore Conca and then moved to the Coriano Ridge cemetery a year later. Our trip revealed sites where Bailey bridges were built and river crossings where the ruins of bridges remain untouched. We even found a track that was opened up by 221, to bypass Tavelleto, which we would have never found without the research. I sincerely hope this helps you to retrace your father’s footsteps.

    4. Frank de Planta


      If you obtain his Service Record from the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow, that will tell you the unit he was in. From there, you can get the War Diaries for that unit and follow it in great detail.

      If he goes through Cassino, do get back to me.



  2. graham alcock

    Mt father landed at Taranto with 2 SAS. He was first of the boat ahead of the parachute regiment and he and 22 other SAS captured a major crossroads. He SSM John Alcock of 2 SAS.

  3. Beth aggus new Humphrey

    My grandfather is buried in forli mr Cyril Humphrey died in December 1943 I believe .my father was 5 years old when his dad was killed in action.
    I would love to visit there with my 3 boys his great grandchildren .

  4. Paul

    My dad’s cousin was in the 5th army,died in 2011 . The story was that they traveled on the Appian way. Wonder is it true?

    1. Richard Doherty

      Yes, Paul, one of Fifth Army’s lines of advance was along the Via Appia.

  5. richard charlto-taylor

    Interesting.My late father,’Toby’ Taylor 1st btn East Surrey Rgt ,France,N Africa,Sicily,Italy & Austria (Greece comes in here somewhere)is quoted in several books,and you can see/hear him if you google his name.Also logged in the Imperial War Museum.Some amusing anecdotes humanising the reality of battle.R

  6. fred hall

    trying to find out about service history my cousin Leslie John Reader RAOC crossed from north africa to Scicily then up the adriatic coast. Not sure where landed in Italy, I have photo of him in Corato near Bari . Was torpedoed in the Med either on tank transport ship or other spent many hours clinging to a raft before being rescued. Always spoke about the Brenner pass on the way home, also hospitalised with malaria died 1960. Wish i had asked him more before he died, not many left now who remember

  7. Linda Rodi

    My father served in the British 8th Army in Cyprus, Africa and Italy in the Royal Artillery,.
    I have a photograph of him in an army band which played popular music to the Italians and our troops in Milan ,I think. The BBC World radio covered one of their performances.
    My father played guitar and sang. Anyone still alive who remembers this band or has a similar photo of it?

    1. Claire Taylor

      Hi, Just seen your post. My Grandfather mentioned Mark Clark too in his personal diary. “16th Dec 1944 Rumours of a break up coming now that Mark Clark is the big shot from today”. He also saw Vesuvius erupt.

  8. Cliff Barber

    Thank you all for this information. My father, Sergeant Victor Ernest Barber of the Royal Signals was, as far as I know, part of this campaign from its beginning until the end of the war. Unfortunately he is no longer with us and my recollections are from a long time ago. He was with the British First Army, having been called up at 21, and I know he went to Gibraltar and then on to Africa for the desert war. When it finished the troops thought they were going home but instead were sent to Italy and I am sure he said it was as part of the 8th Army or in support of it. I thought he said they went via Sicily to Taranto but cannot be sure. I do know that somehow he was in or around Naples when Vesuvius erupted in March 1944 (Jerry was bombing us to hell and we thought that was part of it!!) and I have photos of him visiting Rome on leave. I know he wasn’t at Casino. I don’t know who was in charge of them but his views on General Mark Clark are unprintable. I know he finished the war in or around Austria and he once gave my Daughter a phrase book issued to the troops to help with her schooling (where is the ammunition dump etc.!!). Any information would be much appreciated. I have left it far too long to find out.

  9. Andrew Ewart-James

    Very interested to read all this. Our family folklore has it the my father William Ewart-James ( I believe he had the rank of Major) captured Brindisi with six men: :”Well, William” said one of his friends ” they wanted to be captured” — rather unkind, but probably true, and that there is a statue or monument erected to them. I would love to see it. He too took part in the invasion of Sicily, I believe as part of the first wave. For some years he was a member of the Special Forces Club in Hans Place. He died in 1988. I could probably find out more from my brother, who keeps the family “archive”, and was himself responsible for War Graves when he was in the RAF.

  10. sharon arnett

    can you send a copy of this document so i can print it for myb 84 year old mum to as her brother was killed there james arkwright

  11. Jayne Gale

    I’m interested in the story my Grandfather told travelling up Italy as a driver. Never to stop for Italians carrying eggs as it was an ambush. They would rob the vehicle. His name was William’s Gale. Also has an Italian daughter living life through the horror!

  12. john cosentino

    I like to reach out for some help please my family had a uncle who was in the Italian Army back in WW2 he was killed they said in Tunisa but cannot find were he might be layed to rest any help would be great

  13. Jo Loftus

    My late father Thomas William Gott was a tank driver in the Duke of Wellington’s in Italy. I know he went from Sicily up the Adriatic coast but little else, he lost a lot of his good friends there, shame they seem to have been forgotten when it comes to remembering. I would love to know more about what actually happened in Italy. Sad they only seem to be remembered for the song ‘D’ Day Dodgers’

    1. Frank de Planta


      1 DWR were part of 3 Infantry Brigade who were part of 1 Infantry Division. The Division landed at Anzio on 22 Jan 44 and stayed there until the breakout on 23 May 44.

      In that time, he would have endured a very nasty war. I suspect that he was a carrier driver rather than a tank driver – 1 DWR were Infantry and had no tanks.

      If you would like to see what happened to 1 DWR at Anzio, I am guiding a trip there on 7-10 Jun 18. You are welcome to join it.



  14. GM Thomas ( Horton)

    My dad, 5178971 W/Sit Horton T
    835698 W/Col/sjt Ellis .FG
    13057261 Pte Bartlett W
    6146865 Pte Codral .A
    Was on a sharp raid in Bari and was recorded with distinquished contuct and mentioned in despatches for their bravery and grave risk to themselves. 2/3rd December 1943.

  15. Elizabeth Routh

    My father was a tank driver, I have no idea of his regiment but was in the 8th Army and a desert rat. He rarely talked about the war but his respect for the Gurkhas was immense. He was also in Gibralter. He had his sixteenth birthday whilst serving his country. He was injured with shrapenel in his eye. I would love more information.

    1. Robin HollambyRobin Hollamby (Post author)

      Please see the email I have sent direct to you.


  16. Alan Dixon

    Isn’t it amazing that in 1944 Italy , the horrendous conditions that the troops had to suffer and the sights they witnessed were accepted as part of the ‘job’ . My dad was in the 8th Army and won a Military medal for bravery in crawling forward of the lines to identify positions of German tanks so that they could be taken out in order for advancement to be made. He had only volunteered himself after 2 other attempts were made by others and they were gunned down in succession . This was during one of the battles of Monte Cassino around May 1944 . He often talked of terrible winter conditions and being up the waist in mud, vehicles getting bogged down etc. On another occasion one soldier of his own regiment had been drinking and cracked up , wielding his gun above his head in circles and shooting at his own colleagues. The Sargent asked my dad to disarm him! It’s wonder any of them came back sane and lived a normal life after the war.

  17. Frank de Planta


    What Regiment was your father in and what was his name. There will be a citation for his Military Medal and I wonder if you have ever seen it. With his name and Regiment, I should be able to find it.

  18. Jennifer Cole

    This is a really interesting read thank you. One of my mums friends son died in the fighting in Italy and is buried in the Sangro River Cemetery. I am trying to find the regiment that he was in, I think it’s possibly the Essex regiment I do not have his name just a picture of him and a picture of his mum at his grave In the cemetery I would so like to visit the cemetery to pay my respects. If you can supply any further information on the regiments that are buried there it may be useful in finding out more info?! Thank you so much

  19. Frank de Planta


    The Sangro Cemetery has 2,619 buried soldiers in it. They came from every Regiment that served in the Eighth Army at that period of the Iralan Campaign – Nov-Dec 43.

    If you could get a name, we could start there.



  20. Ray Mapps

    Excellent site. Trying to find info about i believe 150 RG Coy Royal Engineers, part of 6th armoured div. Italy. Wife’s father served with them but never talked much.

  21. Frank de Planta


    Not 6 British Armoured Division. The Field Squadrons RE supporting the Division were 5, 8 and 625 as well as 144 Field Park Squadron.


    1. Billy Johnston

      My Uncle Patrick Gallagheris buried in the Sangro War Cemetery. He was killed in December 1943.
      He had originally been in The Cameronian, but for some unknown reason was taken over by the Essex’s Regiment.
      It is an immaculatey well kept cemetery in a quiet hillside.
      I have visited it several times and can lay my hands on some pictures.

  22. Sharon

    My Aunt’s fiancée Pte Philip Jones 4 Bn Parachute Regiment 6148642 was killed aged 21 19th September 1943 Taranto and is buried in Bari Cemetery. Rumour was he landed on a mine parachuting, subsequently may have been by a mine at sea landing. Would like more information or where to find information if anyone is able to assist?

  23. Frank de Planta


    4 Para Bn landed at Taranto by sea along with all of 1 British Airborne Division on 9 Sep 43. There were not enough transport aircraft in the Mediterranean theatre of operations so Eisenhower allocated all of them to support 82 US Airborne Division for the Salerno operation. Pte Jones could therefore not have been killed whilst parachuting.

    Some paratroopers were killed when HMS Abdiel struck a mine on 10 Sep 43 but the casualties were from 6 Para Bn and not 4 Para Bn.

    1 British Airborne Division pushed north pushing 1 German Parachute Diivision northwards passed Bari and reached Gioia del Colle airfield by 20 Sep 43. They were then withdrawn back to Taranto on 24 Sep 43 in order to be withdrawn to UK to prepare for Normandy.

    Only 2 Independent Parachute Brigade, to which 4 Para Bn belonged, stayed behind to push both with the rest of the Eighth Army.

    Pte Jones was most likely killed between the landing at Taranto on 9 Sep 43 and the arrival at Gioia del Colle on 20 Sep 43.



    1. Sharon

      Thank you, that is really very helpful information and gives me a better area to research. Funnily enough a relative of my husband was killed on HMS Abdiel, so plenty to learn look in to.
      Regards Sharon

  24. Claire Taylor

    My Grandad Cpl William A. Ames was in the Royal Signal Corps. After serving in North Africa he was posted to Italy on LST 420 arriving at Taranto on 8th Jan 1944. He was posted to the 15th army group on 3rd Feb in Caserta. June he left for Rome and November on to Siena. In Feb 1945 he left the 15th and joined the 5th army. He spent time in Florence and then Bologna up to 3rd May. He was moved to 183 section in July. I have his personal diaries for 1944, 1945 and 1946 where he frequently mentions the cold, bad food, persistent hunger and lousy red tape. I am in the process of transcribing his diaries to preserve their contents.

    Regards, Claire

  25. Frank de Planta


    Brilliant that you are transcribing his diaries. Whilst you are, it would help future readers if you labelled organisations correctly. At Caserta, for example, he served in HQ 15th Army Group. This is the organisation that controlled the two Armies in Italy – the Fifth US Army and the Eighth Britiish Army.



  26. Claire Taylor


    Thank you. I’m learning as I transcribe and I would like to get it right

    Kind regards

  27. Claire Taylor


    On 18th Jun 1944 he wrote “Amalgamation completed this week with 28 MED W/T SECT the whole now known as 178 MED W/T.

    Could you please translate into layman’s terms. Google is not helping me.

    Many thanks,

  28. Frank de Planta


    28 Medium Range Wireless Transmission Section amalgamated with 138 Medium Range Wireless Section to form 178 Medium Range Wireless. It does not say what size of unit but I suspect that it was 178 Medium Wireless Transmission Section.



  29. Claire Taylor

    Thank you very much Frank

  30. John beate

    My father served in the 9th queens royal lancers in ww2 he spoke very little about his service in the war , but after his death in 2000 I found a war diary ( a run through ) from the sateen to the po (hope I have it the right way around ) the front page says it was a record of the 9th lancers operations in Italy between the two rivers it has the units involved with the 9th lancers the 8th army etc it says the force became known afterwards as the private army ? I cannot find anything out about this force ( only popskis private army ) I would love to find out more but have hit a dead stop , even the lancers regimental museum in derby knows nothing about it

  31. Frank de Planta


    9 QRL were part of 2 Armoured Brigade which, in Italy, were part of 1 Armoured Division. They had a disaster during Operation OLIVE – the Eighth Army attack on the Gothic Line at Rimini in Sep 44. On 3 Sep 44, Keighley who commanded V Corps was convinced that 46 Infantry Division had cut a whole in the German line beyond Morciano and so 2 Armoured Brigade was ordered to exploit the gap and reach the River Marano. Overnight, the Brigade moved up to their Start Line over treacherous mountains and in clouds of thick dust and went into the attack on 4 Sep 44 thinking that they were exploiting success. In reality, 46 Infantry Division had got it completely wrong and 56 Infantry Division had failed to clear the high ground around Croce and Gemmano. The result was a bloodbath for 9 QRL, the Queen’s Bays and 10 Hussars. Each started with 52 tanks. By the end of 4 Sep 44, the Queen’s Bays had 18, 10 Hussars had 30 and 9 QRL had just 21. Your father was a very lucky chap to have survived. Funnily enough, I will be guiding a group over that exact piece of ground in two weeks time.

  32. Frank de Planta

    9 QRL were temporarily known as Price’s Private Army after their Commanding Officer.

  33. Jaz

    My great Uncle was A/C/Serjeant in the Royal Field Artillery, 15 fd. R. Bdn 56 is on his casualty card they were hiding their tanks in a Village near Rimini when he was blown up by a shell, is it the place mentioned above.

  34. Martin Sleeman

    Looking fir any news related to my Uncle Jack Trehane Richards who was at Salerno as a Warrant Officer 1st Class. He was mentioned in dispatches. Any inforamtion most welcome. Thanks.

  35. Frank de Planta


    WO1s were as rare as hen’s teeth ar Salerno so of you know his Regt he will be easy to place.



  36. Jenny Smith

    Hello, I am trying to find out something about my Dad Henry Hall. He was always reticent about his war experience, I know he was a sapper, and fought in North Africa, then was part of the liberation force into Italy, via Sicily. I understand he was also shipwrecked on the way to Sicily in the Med and was picked up by a US ship. I don’t know his service number and the info I have is rather sketchy. Can anyone give some pointers please?

  37. Frank de Planta


    Go to the Forum and ask there. It is full to the brim with experts who can help you.




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.