The 75th Anniversary of the Salerno Landings by Peter Emery



The 75th Anniversary of the Salerno Landings.

I was in the Salerno Area for two weeks on a family holiday initially and stayed on to organize a ceremony in the CWGC cemetery on 9th September which is now the Regimental Day of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Queens and Royal Hampshire’s). This was a tribute to our two forebear regiments who were two of the assault Brigades at Salerno. I was joined by a group of Officers and men from the first Battalion based in Paterborn Germany.

Having explored the battlefield the week before I found the Memorial to the Hampshire Regiment at Uncle Green Beach and some locals said that the local community did commemorate the landings each year. Unable to find more information before the members of the regiment arrived in Italy I concentrated on arrangements for our British Ceremony at sunset on the 9th September at the Salerno Cemetery.

On the Friday while showing the group Hampshire Lane we noticed a local authority workman painting the wall behind the memorial plaque and although he spoke no English we discovered that something was going to happen the next morning. We arrived early on Saturday morning to discover that the Mayor and community of Pontecagnano-Faiano commemorate their liberators every year with a very moving tribute. First a wreath is dropped into the sea flanked by Police, Customs and Coast Guard boats then the Mayor moves across the road to Hampshire Lane memorial to lay a wreath to commemorate the 300 men of the 5th Hampshire’s who were killed, wounded or missing in the exit road during German counter attack on the morning of 9th September 1943. The mayor concludes the day’s events by moving to the CWGC Cemetery about 3 miles away to lay another wreath on behalf of his community. As an extra this year the Beach at Magazzeno was re-named “Hampshire Beach” as part of a regeneration programme including a small park in the beach front area. We were so touched that the Italians do not forget our forebears and they were equally touched that we were present too!

The ceremony was shown on local tv .

Pontecagnano dedica il lungomare allo sbarco alleato del 1943

Pontecagnano dedica il lungomare allo sbarco alleato del 1943
75 anni fa, l’8 settembre del 1943, le truppe alleate sbarcavano sulle coste del golfo di Salerno. Per ricor…

On the following day (Salerno Day) at Sunset my Regimental Group gathered at the CWGC Cemetery for our own act of remembrance . We were joined by about 20 officers and men and their families form the British contingent at the NATO HQ in Naples. Rev Jon Backhouse the vicar of Anglican Christ Church Naples and Chaplain to the British Contingent at JFC Naples led us in a moving act of remembrance. I had the honour of laying the first wreath on behalf of the Italy Star Association and there after wreaths were laid as follows from the many successor regiments and corps who took part in the landings.

Royal Navy
Commandos (Army, RM and RN Beach Commandos)
Royal Artillery
Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Queens and Royal Hampshire’s)
Coldstream Guards
Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Royal Anglian Regiment
Mercian Regiment
The Rifles
The Royal Corps of Engineers
The Royal Logistic Corps
Royal Air Force

Three final wreaths were placed .

For men of the Highland Division who served as re-enforcements to units at Salerno and fought with distinction in the Italy campaign.
For our “brothers in arms” of the 36 Texas Inf Division , US Rangers, US VI Corps and USN and USAAF.
To the men woman and children of Pontecagnano , Salerno and Battipaglia who gave their lives and shared in our suffering.

After the ceremony a separate tribute was placed on the grave of the 6th Duke of Wellington (2 Army Commando ) on behalf of his cousin the current 9th Duke.

 

 

Note. Many British soldiers visited the Anglican Christ Church during Oct 43 after liberation of Naples, they have a small side chapel dedicated to the British regiments who passed through the church which is worth a visit.

Peter Emery. Major (Retired) Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

Editor’s Note: I had been contact by Peter Emery in mid-August regarding his plans to commemorate the Salerno Landings. Peter offered to lay a wreath on behalf of the Italy Star Association as we had not planned anything to mark the anniversary at Salerno. A wreath was sent to him via the NATO HQ in Naples, the Associations exhortation was on the card attached to the wreath.
Robin Hollamby National Vice-Chairman and Magazine Editor

2 Comments

  1. G Clark

    Hadn’t realised this year was 75th anniversary of the landings at Salerno had always wanted to take my father back there to revisit but sadly never managed to before his death a few years back .the little he told me about it has always made me want to know more .When younger he could reel off his army number automatically but by the end when I tried to find out he could no longer remember it!His name was Dennis Clark and he served in the Yorks and Lancs at the time but ended his service in Korea in the Middlesex regiment .he told me he had been in the first wave ashore and had managed to get off the beach but himself and a small group of other men had got pinned down on the slopes above the beach by the German fire coming down on them from above they managed to hold out for a couple of days until overwhelming allied firepower meant they could be relieved?Can’t imagine the horrors he must of witnessed a as he fought his way up through Italy and the again in Korea later .Glad to hear there are groups and people like yourselves who keep the memories of what those young men did and the sacrifice they made to preserve the freedoms I and my children now take for granted

    Reply
  2. Frank de Planta

    G Clark.

    That would place your father in 6 Y&L who were part of 46 Infantry Division at Salerno. If he stayed with them throughout the war then he endured some horrors beyond Salerno.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply

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