8th Army in Florence

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    • #16390
      David MarstonDavid Marston

      Hi, I have a picture of my father and two of his friends standing in front of a statue in Florence.

      In homage to my father who passed away a while ago I would like to find that statue (if possible)and have my picture taken in front of that statue. I’m encouraging his grandchildren to do the same. As a great family man he would absolutely love that.

      I have spoken to the Florence tourist board. They can’t locate the statue. They think it may be in a private residence rather that a public square or piazza. So that makes it more difficult to trace.

      If I knew where he may have been billeted when in or near Florence it might help to locate the statue.

      My knowledge of my father’s detailed history in Italy is limited. They didn’t really like to talk a lot about their experiences did they!?

      What I do know is that my Dad, William (Billy) Marston, was from Liverpool. He was in an artillery regiment. He served in North Africa before going in to Italy.

      That’s very sketchy I know. So if someone has any information about the 8th army near Florence – when and where they were billeted I would be really grateful.

      I’ve put the photo on my profile but I don’t have the option to upload it here.

      But I can send a link to it if anyone thinks it may help.

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed but realise it’s a huge ask.

      Best regards,

      David (son of Billy Marston).

    • #16391
      Frank de PlantaFrank de Planta


      I suggest that you get hold of your father’s Service Record from the MOD in Glasgow. This will tell you which Regiment of Artillery he served in. From there, you can get the War Diaries for that Regiment and this will describe their time in Florence.



    • #16392
      Chris HarrisChris Harris

      Are you sure he was 8th Army. Florence was taken by them but came under 1st Infantry Division their direct Artillery support was from 2nd Field Regiment, 19th Field Regiment and 67th Field Regiments Royal Artillery.
      They fought in Tunisia followed by Italy landing at Anzio with the Americans who they fought alongside in the mountains north of Florence bridging the gap between the British on the East Coast and Americans on the West.
      After Anzio they rested in Rome then advanced to Florence moving against the Gothic Line.
      In Jan 1945 They withdrew to Palestine for 6 months but the war ended before their return.
      Names to remember Medjez el Bab, Banana Ridge, Anzio, Rome, Florence. The Gothic Line (the mountains between Florence and Bologna).
      Does any of that fit in with stories you may have heard from him.
      Look at the Eyes and Ears of the Regiment on here.
      The suggestion of getting his service papers from Glasgow is the best place to begin. From those you will know for sure what he was in but not what they did.
      Everything else re 67th is to hand including a group of enthusiastic relatives of the men in the Regt.

    • #16395
      David MarstonDavid Marston

      This is exactly the sort of information I was hoping for! Thank you so much guys.

      I will definitely contact the MOD in Glasgow. I’ll do that tomorrow to get things rolling because I’m booked to out to Florence in Feb 2019. I know these things take time.

      Chris, I’m pretty sure he was part of the 8th army. He was at El Alamein barrage kicked off. Does that help. But I don’t know exactly how regiments were organised once they got in to Italy.

      What identification would need to get my Dad’s info from the MOD though? I’m sure they wont just release that to anyone? I’ll get straight on to them though. They’ll soon let me know I guess.

      So thank you very much chaps. Really appreciated.



    • #16396
      David MarstonDavid Marston

      Another detail I forgot to mention which may help.

      Apparently there was a prison of war camp where Italian soldiers were held after the war had ended.

      It was all pretty relaxed – apparently the Italian soldiers used to slip through holes in the fence to go in to town for the evening but return to their dorms and bunks. The was was over, everyone just wanted to get home.

      My dad did some guard duty there. Don’t know if that helps. Is there a a particular place where this would have been or were there many such camps/prisons?



    • #16397
      Chris HarrisChris Harris

      He would have been 8th a few men moved across but if he was with POW’s after the war he certainly wasn’t 1st Div as they withdrew to Palestine for 6 months in Jan 1945 to rest, refit and replace casualties mainly in the Infantry Regiments. The war finished before they completed their tour.
      He was most likely billeted south of the river as 1st Div crossed it going north.
      8th moved east of Pontissieve.
      Enjoy Florence its been a long time since I worked there in the 1970’s, pity I cant see your statue might have recognised it. Try visiting some of the many villa sites on line available for rent/hire a lot have beautiful gardens with photos of statues. Even take a look on Satellite map views.
      Don’t miss a trip to Fiesole wonderful views.

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