I came across a remarkable (to me) fact while researching my late father’s war career. Harold Green was in a heavy anti-aircraft battalion and served in North Africa as well as Italy. He met my Italian mother in either Camaiore or Viareggio, they married in 1945 at end of hostilities.
But in the process I discovered that Brazil had 25000 combatants in Italy as part of the Allied campaign, and that they had liberated Camaiore, Massarosa and Mt Prana in Lucca Province on the Gothic line, very near my mother’s town of origin Viareggio (which had been emptied out by the Germans), before swinging inland towards the Apennines. By sheer coincidence I had just begun learning Brazilian Portuguese when I uncovered this remarkable Brazilian role. Since then I’ve become o good friend of the curator of the Pistoia Monument to the Brazilian Expeditionary Force.
My father absolutely never spoke of his experiences. I learned that he had been in the RA only thanks to his neighbour who had fought in the Australian Army. I am now getting closer to the circumstances in which Harold found himself when he and my mother met. I now know there was a combined “Task Force 45” formed of anti-aircraft complements from British and US forces. They supported, among others, the 92nd Buffalo divison, and the Brazilian Expeditionary forces.
If anyone can shed light on the particular situation around this area of operations, I would be very grateful. It’s quite possible that my father’s unit might have provided covering fire for the Brazilian operation to take Mt Prana. In actual fact his role was as a despatch rider, not an actual gunner as far as I know.