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 (www.twqpp.org) 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

Email: bernard_warden@outlook.com

 

Bibliography:

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”.

118 Comments

  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.

    Reply
    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

      Reply
      1. William Mackay

        My father was a member of the 4th.Indian div. serving with the Argyll and Sutherlamd Highlanders and is buried at Monte Cassino , also an uncle also with the 4th.Indian with the Cameron Highlanders.

        Reply
        1. Frank de Planta

          William.

          That would put him in 1 A&SH. I have researched the full story of 1 A&SH’s time at the Fourth Battle of Cassino. I am happy to share it with you. Just get hold of me through http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk

          I am out in Cassino 14-18 Oct 19 so I will stop by his grave and tip my hat.

          Regards

          Frank

          Reply
    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.

      Robin

      Reply
    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 https://www.echodelta.net/mbs/eng-translator.php. 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.

      Reply
      1. Colin Tovey

        Just read your journey about your father. My father was in the REME. I have never researched where he went precisely but know he was in this vicinity. He met my mother, an Italian farmers daughter, close to Montefiore in a town called Morciano did Romagna in 1944 After his demob in Austria they married in Uk in 1947. To this day I have a very close affinity for the region. I still have extended family around Rimini and visit most years. Last June I visited the war cemetry at Coriarno to pay my respects. He had a few friends who didn’t make it who are buried there.

        Reply
        1. Frank de Planta

          Colin.

          If you want to find out more, you should go to http://www.gov.uk and search for ‘Service Record’. This will take you to how to obtain a copy from the MoD. From there, you can see which unit he belonged to and then source the War Diaries that will tell you all his movements.

          I will be in Morciano in Sep running a battlefield study because it was important in the battles for Coriano Ridge and Gemmano. The drive across the bridge into the town from the north is delightful.

          Regards

          Frank
          Guide
          http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk

          Reply
    4. Frank de Planta

      Cliff.

      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.

      Regards

      Frank

      Reply
      1. Robin Bate

        Hi
        I’m trying to get my grandfather’s service records. I have the forms and think I have his service number from an old polishing brush. Do you know the format of this? 6 digits? Anywhere to check before sending the form off? Any help appreciated.

        Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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 .

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
    1. Richard Doherty

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

      Reply
  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

    Reply
  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

    Reply
    1. Dave Hirst

      My father James Hirst also served in North Africa, Sicily and mainland Italy including Monte Casino. He rarely spoke about his life during the war but did tell of spending hours waiting to be rescued following a torpedo attack on a troop carrier that sank. His rescue ship was subsequently torpedoed and disabled and he arrived under tow on the mainland.

      Reply
      1. Paul Diss-Evans

        David, my father was sunk as well at about the same time in two troop ships that were torpedoed. I wonder if they were on the same ships? My Dad was Royal Artillery and was in North Africa, Sicily, Monte Cassino and entered Rome as part of a British Division attached to the US 5th Army.

        Kind regards,

        Paul

        Reply
        1. Frank de Planta

          Paul.

          The two Divisions attached to the Fifth Army at the fall of Rome in Jun 44 were 1 British Infantry Division and 5 British Infantry Division.

          Do you know which one he was in?

          Regards

          Frank

          Reply
        2. Robert Bett

          My Grandfather has in recent years recalled this event to me of him being aboard troop ship torpedoed and sunk and subsequent ship torpedoed.
          He was 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment and his Regimental War diary gives great detail of the Regiments campaign in great detail.

          Reply
          1. Michelle Gladwin

            My grandfather was a driver in the Royal Artillery in North Africa and Italy and I recall him telling me the ship in front of him was torpedoed and sunk. I’ve held his Army papers and photos for 30 years and only just beginning to obtain his war records so I can trace where he was in the war. Your comments on this page have shown me I am on the right track so thank you for posting.

        3. David Hirst

          Hi Paul.

          It seems likely that they were on board the same ships. I’m sure being torpedoed wasn’t uncommon but twice in the same journey must be rare.
          Apparently when a submarine attacked all other ships skattered so as not to be an easy next target. My dad was a tremendous swimmer so I guess that that’s why he survived waiting in the water for ships to return to pick up survivors.
          My dad was R.E.M.E repairing radios etc. in tanks jeeps etc. He went into Rome as well but I think he was on leave. He was seconded to the American 5th.

          I was in France last November re-tracing my grand dads steps on the western front made easy by the diaries he kept throughout the First World War. At 11am on 11th November one hundred years to the day I marked the armistice in the town where he was.

          I intend now to re-trace my dads footsteps although not sure about the North Africa bit. Sicily seems a good place to start. Much research now needed because unfortunately he didn’t speak much about his war really and didn’t keep a diary.

          Reply
  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?

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
    2. Peter Ellingworth ISA Associate member.

      The International Military Music Society should be able to help, I am a member myself so let me know if I can be of assistance. Just Google this title in and it should take you to the site:
      hope this is of use.

      My late Father was in N. Africa, Tunisia & Italy with the 240/39th LAA, then front line infantry from the River Po to The Apennines/Gothic Line (some of the AA units were stood down and hastily retrained to make up the shortfall as the threat from the Luftwaffe had diminished sufficiently by around mid 1944,)finally being transferred to The Royal Engineers around Feb `45 until demob in `46. To use the cliche, he did not talk about it very much, “the more I put the war behined me the happier I am” although it had a very profound effect on him, as it did countless others.

      I am currently doing some research as to what his unit did having obtained his army records from Glasgow, and hope to follow in his footsteps before long.

      Does anybody reading this have connections to the 240/39th LAA and 18th Field Park Co. RE`s?

      Comments welcome and thanks.

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    1. Jane O'Rourke

      My father and 5 of his comrades were very badly wounded at Brandisi and were taken to a hospital in Naples (which is still there but now a hotel). Of the 6 of them, only my father survived. He was in the RAF special forces and so his war record is sealed. I know that he had been in Tunis but not the timeframe and if he went directly from Tunis to Brandisi. He recuperated in Sorrento and was there when Vesuvius erupted.

      Reply
  10. sharon arnett

    can you send a copy of this document so i can print it for myb 84 year old mum to sharonarnett957@virginmedia.com as her brother was killed there james arkwright

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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’

    Reply
    1. Frank de Planta

      Jo.

      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.

      Regards

      Frank

      Reply
  14. GM Thomas ( Horton)

    My dad, 5178971 W/Sit Horton T
    835698 W/Col/sjt Ellis .FG
    CQMS
    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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    1. Robin HollambyRobin Hollamby (Post author)

      Please see the email I have sent direct to you.

      Robin

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  17. Frank de Planta

    Alan.

    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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  19. Frank de Planta

    Jennifer.

    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.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  21. Frank de Planta

    Ray.

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

    Frank

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
  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?

    Reply
  23. Frank de Planta

    Sharon.

    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.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
    1. Sharon

      Frank,
      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

      Reply
  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

    Reply
    1. Derrick

      Hi Claire,

      My late father left North Africa for Italy early in 44 , I’m trying to locate the troopship he would have travelled on out of Alexandria.
      I see your Grandad was on an LST , did he note what port in NA he left from?
      Any other details?
      Kindest regards

      Derrick’

      Reply
      1. Christopher Barnett

        Derrick,
        My father’s unit (73rd Med. Rgt. R.A.) embarked from Alexandria early 1944. The regiment traveled on the Reina del Pacifico and disembarked in Taranto. My dad was sent to Bari with the Regiment’s guns and vehicles on a Liberty ship. The “Reina” was a passenger liner before serving as a troopship, and most likely carried other units as well.
        Kind regards,
        Chris

        Reply
  25. Frank de Planta

    Claire.

    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.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  26. Claire Taylor

    Frank,

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

    Kind regards

    Reply
  27. Claire Taylor

    Frank,

    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,

    Reply
  28. Frank de Planta

    Claire.

    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.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
    1. Gordon Roberts

      Going through some of my late fathers photos I have discovered one which he has labelled 178 medium wireless section Siena October 1944. There are 50 people in the picture. Could you give me any information about this unit? I know my dad was at Caseta, Naples and later in Greece, though he never fired a shot in anger.

      Reply
      1. Gordon Roberts

        Shot though he did have some comments on the latrines!

        Reply
        1. Robin HollambyRobin Hollamby (Post author)

          Hi Gordon,

          You may notice I have updated your original comment.

          Regards

          Robin

          Reply
  29. Claire Taylor

    Thank you very much Frank

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  31. Frank de Planta

    John.

    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.

    Reply
  32. Frank de Planta

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  35. Frank de Planta

    Martin.

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

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  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?
    Jenny

    Reply
  37. Frank de Planta

    Jenny.

    Go to the http://www.ww2talk.com Forum and ask there. It is full to the brim with experts who can help you.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  38. Claire Smollett

    My Grandfather Arthur Herbert FOX died on 13 April 1945. He was a lieutenant in the British Army 48th Royal
    tank regiment. He’s buried in Faenza. I visited his grave a few years back and have just sent off to MOD in Glasgow for his records. My mother would never talk about the circumstances of how he died, not sure if she ever knew or was to painful to know. Any details on the 48th RTR most welcome.

    Reply
  39. Frank de Planta

    Claire.

    If he was a Lieutenant, it is highly likely that the manner of his death will be in the 48 RTR War Diaries. King’s Regulations required the Adjutant – the Commanding Officer’s private secretary, to keep a log for each day. The actions of officers were almost always mentioned – less so for other ranks.

    I recommend that you go to http://www.ww2talk.com and track down drew5233. He can get the War Diaries for Apr 45 for 48 RTR for you and only charges £0.10 per page. They reach you on a CD.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
    1. Claire Smollett

      Thank you so much for your reply Frank. I’ll try to track drew5233 down. I really appreciate your help.

      Reply
    2. Claire Smollett

      Frank thanks so much for your suggestion, I was able to obtain from Andy a full copy of the diary of interest.

      Reply
  40. Pradeep Kanthan

    My father was a VCO in the Royal Indian Engineers, QVO Madras Sappers and Miners. 5 Fd Coy and 12 Fd Coy were part of 8th Army. I think he was with 5 Fd that stayed back after the war to clear mines they had laid. Somewhere near Sangro River and Bari. He had many interesting stories about the entire N African and Italian Campaign. Nice to see this website.

    Reply
  41. Frank de Planta

    Pradeep.

    12 Fd Coy were supporting 4th Indian Division who were at Cassino Feb-Apr 44.

    Was your father serving with that Fd Coy during that period?

    I ask because if he was then he would have been involved in building the incredible Cavendish Road. It was so well built that som parts of it are still intact after 74 years. I walk it regularly guiding groups and still marvel at the achievement.

    It was the lifeline for those soldiers deployed high up in the hills behind the monastery.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  42. Don Heald

    I am trying to find info.on the uncle of a friend.his no.is 14531132 Charles Edward Watkinson & states the Royal Ulster Rifles. I have copies of his photo & enlistment cards. He was captured after the Anzio landings & escaped. There is a letter from a priest as he took refuge in a village called Tounicoda. I understand that he was in a glider that landed at Arnhem & was granted his parachute badge. Anymoreinfo. would be appreciated.

    Reply
  43. Frank de Planta

    Don.

    If he was a soldier in the Royal Ulster Rifles at Anzio then he was actually serving in 1 London Irish Rifles. The RUR sponsored this reserve unit by providing all the Regular training staff. 1 London Scottish, for example, were sponsored by the Gordon Highlanders for the same reason.

    If he was in 1 London Irish, that would put him in 168 Infantry Brigade of 56 Infantry Division. They were at the crossing of the River Volturno on 15 Oct 43, the Second Battle of Monte Camino in Dec 43 and the crossing of the River Garigliano on 17 Jan 43. When Anzio went belly up, they were rushed there and the battalion was allocated the defence of Aprilia.

    The Arnhem bit makes less sense.

    Get hold of me through http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk and I will give you what info I have on 1 London Irish in the period Oct 43-May 44.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  44. iain Young

    Your comment about the 2 British Soldiers reaching Rome before the Americans. My father who is no longer with us but was a Major with the Gorden Highlanders who fought in North Africa and then in Italy. He once told me that his machine gun section was told to hold back from entering Rome to allow Clarke as a RC to enter first. I don’t know when he reached the outskirts of Rome but it was before the Yanks.

    Reply
  45. Frank de Planta

    Iain.

    That would most likely make your father a member of 6 GORDONS if he was serving at Regimental Duty at the time. It was the only battalion of GORDONS in Italy.

    Mark Clark had always intended that the Americans would be first into Rome. Eighth Army will still down near the Hitler Line and pushing very slowly north against good German delaying position and a diabolical road network that simply could not handle such a large force – it was chaos.

    Equally, the only two British Divisions at Anzio, and anywhere near Rome, were only the diversionary part of the VI (US) Corps breakout plan. It would never intended that they would march north and be in Rome first. The ground in front of them – the River Moletta, was a major obstacle to rapid movement.

    I am taking a group to Anzio on 13-16 Jun 19, if you would like to see how 6 GORDONS got on during their time in the Anzio beachhead. It was pretty grim. You should read Edward Grace’s book.

    Regards

    Frank

    Frank de Planta
    Guide
    http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk

    Reply
  46. Ian Richardson

    A good Friend of mine now 98 years old Bombardier William Blackburn was decorated with the Military Medal for action at Sangro River crossing night of 22/23 November 1943. Taking up the task of FCO in support of 2nd Lancs, after his troop and Battery commander were killed during a heavy counter attack. The CO 2nd Lancs gave him a note to go back to Regt and say that both offices had been killed. Bill had a serviceable wireless and offered to remain and act as FCO for the duration of the advance despite several counter attacks by the enemy.

    Reply
  47. David Marston

    My father was based in or near Florence during this time.

    I have a photograph of him and 2 friends standing in front of a statue from that time.

    I would really like to find that statue and have my picture taken in front of it as a homage to him.

    To do that I really need to discover where he was billeted. I’m advised by the Florence tourist board that it is most likely the statue is in a private residence (a mansion or something of that sort) rather than a public piazza.

    Can anyone advise me where I might look please.

    Reply
  48. Rosemarie Kibbke

    My father was in the RASC. He served in Italy and his company received the 5th Army clasp and commendation for their help with mule trains in October 1944. However I can not find any information about this.

    Reply
  49. Frank de Planta

    Rosemary.

    The best was to tackle this is to obtain your father’s Service Record from the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow. Go on to the http://www.gov.uk site and, in the search box, type ‘Get a copy of military service records’.

    This will tell you exactly where he served and with whom.

    Once you have his record, get in touch me me through http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk and I will be able to track his movements through Italy.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  50. Bill

    Frank could I send you my dads army records he was a driver 1st class Royal Signals He was 44 yrs old in 1944 and I believe he was nicknamed pop by the Americans.He was in N Africa Sicily,Italy,Syria Palestine. Would you tell me where and when and the hardships he went through I’m 81 and my brother is 87 so time is moving on to find out these things Regards and thankyou BillBill

    Reply
  51. Frank de Planta

    Bill.

    Please do and I will see if I can decipher his Service Record. That Record will tell us what unit or sub-unit he was in and from there we can get hold of the War Diaries. These Diaries are full of all sorts of useful information.

    Robin. Would you mind sending Bill my email address. Alternatively, Bill you can get me through my website at http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  52. Salil Mahadik

    My granduncle Havildar Govind Mahadik was in the 1/5th Mahratta Light Infantry (Service No. 7005) under the British Army. He got martyred in the Sangro battle on 25th November, 1943 and his name is engraved in the Sangro River War Memorial in Italy. His listing in the Forces War Records: https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/records/2342357/havildar-govind-mahadik-british-army-5th-mahratta-light-infantry/
    Frank, can you help me get details about the whereabouts and action taken by the 1/5th Mahratta Light Infantry on 25th November when he breathed his last? I need this info to be added on my village site: https://matwanvillage.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/havildar-govind-mahadik/

    Reply
  53. james mcdonald

    I worked in a park as a gardener in 1979 and there was a chap there who was in the eighth army and told me that he was in a large column of troops on foot and in tanks and Bren gun carriers etc.
    He said they were heading towards Rome on a classic Roman road which had slanted sides that had ditches at the bottom,all of a sudden an American Mustang fighter plane flew over the column and the tommies all waved at their allied aircraft.
    The Mustang started to turn and the commander shouted through a megaphone that the plane was going to straff the column obviously mistaking it as Germans or italians, the commander shouted for the men to leave the road and take cover in the ditches.
    As the plane lined up for the straffing run the commander ordered all the troops to Target the plane the troops in the tanks had not abandoned their vehicles and the commander ordered every gun including tank guns to open fire when he ordered them.
    They fired on the yank plane after it had fired a few bursts of it’s machine guns the the order to fire came.
    My colleague said it exploded in a big fireball and the debris fell to the ground,the troops let out a cheer even though they had no joy in downing an allied aircraft they were glad they took it out.
    They only had one casualty a big fat sergeant who had two machine gun bullets in his rear as his foot got stuck in a Bren gun carriers an couldn’t get out. They call it friendly fire!

    Reply
  54. Yolanda Ropschitz-Bentham

    My late father was an internee in Ferramonti di Tarsia camp in Calabria which had 3,500 mostly Jewish prisoners. The 8th army (I believe) liberated the camp in September 1943. My father joined the British Army in Taranto or Treviso as an interpreter at first as he spoke fluent Italian and German then he was made a Lieutenant and then Captain in the RAMC as he was a qualified doctor. I know he spent some time in Libya with the army and I have 3 or 4 photos from that time. He was eventually demobbed to England where he remained till his dearh in 1986. Is there a way to find out more about his movements please? His name was David Henryk Ropschitz. Happy to share the photos!

    Reply
  55. Frank de Planta

    Yolanda.

    He will have a Service Record.

    If you go to http://www.gov.uk and do a search for How do I obtain a Military Service Record, the site will take you to the right place.

    From there, the MoD will dig out your father’s Service Record and send it to you. This will show all his movements until demob.

    Regards

    Frank
    Guide
    http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk

    Reply
  56. Fiona Muxlow

    My grandfather, Kenneth James Muxlow, was a Second Lieutenant in the 27th Lancers and then an Acting Captain. He served in Egypt then Italy. He was shot in the face whilst attacking a sniper post in a farm near Rimini and was mentioned in dispatches. He was in hospital in Italy for two years. He wouldn’t talk about his experiences but it was clear he never recovered from them and they affected the rest of his life. He was from Sheffield and joined The Sherwood Foresters at the outbreak of war.

    Reply
    1. Fiona Muxlow

      I forgot to mention that I’d be very interested in hearing from anyone with information about the 27th Lancers and their service. I have the letters sent to my Grandmother from the men of my Grandpa’s platoon, following his injury. As I’m typing I also have Grandpa’s hip flask on my desk. He always said it saved him from a sniper’s bullet when he was driving through Rome.

      Reply
  57. Gillian Hutton

    Does anyone know anything about the 19th construction company in Forli, Italy in 1943? I think it was the Royal Signals

    Reply
  58. Frank de Planta

    Gillian.

    Are you sure about the Forli date. The Eighth Army were nowhere near Forli in 1943. If the soldier was from a Construction Company, he would have been a Royal Engineer.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  59. Pauline Salinas

    Hi, this is a bit obscure but in watching the D day commemorations I began to wonder where my dad was at that time. Sadly he died in 1997 age 81. He spoke about the war very rarely and would sit for hours remebering unknown things to us. His name was Thomas Goodwin.
    He mentioned about being in the Royal Transport Corps and was assigned to the 8th army. We remeber a little about him being in Afica, Al Alamien, Algeria and others.
    He said he would often drive and one of the tasks was to drive David Niven around… His claim to fame!!
    He originated from Liverpool and I’m so sad now that I didn’t spend more time trying to encourage him to talk about his time and experiences in WW2.
    He was in the TA for many years after the war.
    Does anyone have any idea where the RTC where involved in WW2 and where they would be with the 8th army at that time – if he was still with them?

    Reply
  60. Frank de Planta

    Pauline.

    The link to David Niven is helpful because that would confirm that your father worked for the GHQ Liaison Regimemt – known to all as ‘Phantom’.

    Phantom deployed in squadrons in North West Europe, South East Europe, North Africa and Italy. Each squadron supported an Army and consisted of a squadron HQ (SHQ) and a number of patrols (one per Corps and a further ten further forward of Corps). Each patrol consisted of an officer, an NCO and up to 9 other ranks. They were typically equipped with Norton motorcycles, Jeeps, Morris 15cwt trucks and White M3 A1 Scout cars and carried a 107 Receiver, 52 and 22 sets. The patrols either embedded with other formations or went on specially-directed missions from their individual Army HQs. The patrols’ role was to provide collection, passage and dissemination of real-time information on the progress of battle back to Corps HQ.

    David Niven commanded A Squadron in Italy.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  61. David white

    I am going through my late fathers letters and photographs from WW2 Africa and Italy campaigns.

    Like many of the veterans he spoke very little of the dark side of his experiences during WW2 but did like to tell us tales of the situations he found himself in.

    At the moment I am cataloging and trying to plot a timeline of events based on letters and photographs.

    I will share these as soo. As I have made sense of them all

    Reply
  62. Richard Buttrey

    Readers may be interested in my father’s war time diary which I have published at:

    asoldierstale.wordpress.com

    It covers his R.E.M.E service in the 8th from the long passage to South Africa, then on to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan back to Egypt and Tripoli before the invasionn of Sicily on 9/7/1943 and then on through Italy.

    I wonder if Colin Tovey’s father (ironically writing here only today 25/6/2019) might have known my Dad – Arthur Buttrey.

    Yesterday I returned from a holiday in Sicily. My Father’s diary doesn’t record precisely where the landing beaches were, only that they were close to a town called Avola south of Catania. Whilst there I looked for any evidence of the landings and asked locals if they were aware of the events of July 1943 but with no luck. Like the Burma campaign the 8th army seems somewhat of a forgotten army too.

    Reply
  63. Loretta Littler

    My father was at Dunkirk, N Africa, Malta and eventually Rome after Casino. Trying to find film footage of him which i saw on documentary on program on Granada TV. He was running with a stretcher across sand while bullets flew all around. I am writing a book about him and my mother who he married in Rome. He was Ist Army, Reg.330, Corps 25FD HYG sec.RAMC, ARMY NO 7264737, name Harry Livingston from Manchester. Anybody know him or can help how to find footage. Being looking at World at War but can’t find footage I have seen several timnes in the past. Thank you his daughter

    Reply
  64. Terry Addington

    Michelle Gladwin i read your post with interest which sounds similar to my father who was also a driver in the royal artillery he towed a large artillery weapon, i dont have any records on his service but always wondered where he was stationed during the war and what route they would have took in Italy, i do remember him saying about a ship being sunk while he was landing and that a volcano erupted, he went to Florence and always wanted to go back to although he never did, i do know that he was in Austria after the war and was demobed in 1946, he died in 1974 aged 66 his name was Arthur Addington

    Reply
  65. Michelle Gladwin

    Terry Am patiently awaiting the war records for my grandad from the MOD and waiting for my dad to reply from Cyprus as to what he remembers. He has some photos and papers also. Will share info once it’s to hand. My grandad lived in East Ham before he was called up and demobbed in 1946 also.

    Reply
    1. Terry Addington

      Hi Michelle thanks for your reply i have since spoken to my sister about my father and she thinks he was on the ship that was sunk, i cant confirm this but she also said he started in North Africa and then went to Sicily he also met his brother in Florence who was 12 years younger than him and i know he was as Anzio and i remember him saying to me about a German bomb landed next to him while on the beach and did not explode although they had to dig him out of the sand, my family come from Northampton. it sounds like they had the same journey

      Reply
  66. Adam Nixon

    My step-grandfather, Henry (‘Harry’) Barber Burton, 8th Army (from Grimsby), was the abovementioned first man into Rome. Sent in to recon, his driver was shot (I believe killed) by a lone German sniper on the way in, and Harry carried on alone. The city was deserted, the Germans had left, but after a few minutes, a few Italians emerged from hiding and introduced themselves. They took him to the Ardeatine caves nearby and showed him the massacred bodies of their countrymen.
    Harry told me this story himself. He died in 2006.

    Reply
  67. Frank de Planta

    Adam.

    Forgive me but I think that your step-grandfather may have over stated his story. Firstly, the Americans were the first into Rome on 4-5 Jun 44 – Lt Gen Mark W Clark commanding US Fifth Army gave specific instructions that his American troops were the first in Rome – and got his wish, and secondly the Ardeatine Caves were not discovered until Jul 44.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  68. Antonino Zarcone

    Dear Sir
    I would be pleased if you will be so kind to help me in funding which 8th Army unit was deployed west of Florence, in the town of Signa on September, 26 1944.
    Thanks for your help.
    Best regards.
    Col. ITA Antonino Zarcone

    Reply
  69. Frank de Planta

    Antoniono.

    The unit would have been part of XIII (British) Corps because the rest of the Eighth Army was on the Adriatic coast at Rimini on 26 Sep 44.

    I am in Cassino at the moment but will be back in UK on 20 Sep 19 so get me through http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk and I will check my records.

    I was at Pasquali Barracks in L’Aquila with 9 Alpini Regiment yesterday.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  70. Bob Hose

    Dad was a regular soldier when war broke out,2nd RTR,was in France as part of the BEF fought the rearguard action and shipped out from Brest after the evacuation from Dunkirk.
    Fought in North Africa then regiment on their way to reinforce Singapore when it fell to the Japanese,landed in Rangoon Burma and again were used in the retreat from Burma to India. Spent some time in Iraq before moving back to Egypt for the invasion of Italy,landed atTaranto.
    Dad would only say that he lost some of his best friends in Italy,it always saddened him thzt the Italian campaign was largely forgotten, for anyone with a relative in the 1st or 2nd RTR there is a very good book called “Battles with Panzers,Monty’s Tank Battalions,1 & 2 RTR at War”,a very good account of their time in Italy.A very poignant poem at the end of the book entitled “We are the D Day Dodgers” which brilliantly sums up the story of thoss that fought in Italy

    Reply
  71. Joan Whyte

    My father, Van Talmage Marchant, Army No. 1123514, was a driver in the 68th (South n) field Regiment. After serving in Iraq, Palestine and Syria, I think he ended up in Italy about March 1944 and was there until he was demobbed at the end of the war. I remember him saying they passed through the Monte Cassino area after the battle and I know he had leave in Rome as I have a guide book he was give by the NAAFI. He ended up in Bolzano.

    I have been trying to find out from the National Archives site if there are any unit diaries I could look at to find out more about where he went but have so far been unsuccessful. Any help would be much appreciated.

    My dad was a greengrocer from Redhill, Surrey and he had a great friend in the same unit, George Perham, who was a butcher from Croydon.

    many thanks for any help.
    Joan Whyte

    Reply
    1. Frank de Planta

      Joan.

      If you go to the http://www.ww2talk.com website and register you can ask for someone to point you at the War Diaries for 68 Field Regiment RA. Once you have the National Archives reference, other members will copy them for you and place them them on a USB stick or CD and post them to you. The going rate is about £0.10 per page which is inexpensive.

      Regards

      Frank

      Reply
  72. Joan Whyte

    Hi Frank

    Many thanks for your quick reply and helpful comments about how to proceed. I am keen to find out more about what my dad did after seeing Gary Lineker’s programme last night.

    best wishes
    Joan

    Reply
  73. Frank de Planta

    Joan.

    Get me through http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk and I will give you the list of where the Regt went and who they supported.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  74. Joanne Shurvinton

    Searching for more information on Lt Patrick Henry William Wauchope BUCHAN 271883 9th Queen’s RoyaL Lancers. Died September 10 1944 aged 22. Was initally buried in a ‘small cemetery’, presumably near where he fell and then exhumed and reburied in Gradara the following May.

    His is one of a number of names on the Memorial at my son’s Prep school and these names are read out by current pupils each year at a Remembrance service in the local church. We want to try and bring these young men to life for the pupils, not just for one day in November each year but also to enrich their study into the WWs.

    Any help or pointers as to where else I could look would be gratefully received.

    Reply
  75. Frank de Planta

    Joanne.

    9 QRL were involved in a catastrophic advance on 4-5 Sep 44 at San Clemente near Coriano when they suffered terrible losses. I suspect that Patrick Buchan was injured in that assault and was then withdrawn through the medical chain. If he had died on the spot he would have been buried in Coriano Ridge CWGC cemetery. Gradara CWGC cemetery is about 90 mins from San Clemente and contains lots of men who died of wounds some time after their injury.

    Get hold of me through my website http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk and I will happily give you my notes and maps for what happened on 4-5 Sep 44 at San Clemente.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
    1. Joanne Shurvinton

      Thank you Frank. I had always assumed that ‘killed in action’ meant he was actually killed on the 10th September; I hadn’t considered that he might have been injured a few days earlier.

      Reply
  76. Neesha Roy

    My grandfather, Dr. Capt Nagendra Nath Das, served in the British Indian Army’s Eighth Army Division.

    He fought at the Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944 during the Italian campaign of WWII. His team landed at the port of Taranto, Southern Italy before continuing fighting their way up with the rest of the Allied forces. Under the command of General Sir Bernard Montgomery, they advanced up the Adriatic coast on the eastern front.

    He was also posted in Egypt as a part of an allied effort to relieve the besieged city of Tobruk. They camped for several days near the base of the Pyramids before crossing the Egyptian frontier into Libya in November 1941.

    Reply
  77. Frank de Planta

    Neesha.

    If your grandfather fought at Cassino, that would place him in either the 4 Indian Division or 8 Indian Division. Do you know if he was a medical officer?

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  78. Richard Thompson

    Dear Mr de Planta,

    I have been researching my late father’s WW2 experience over the last 3 years and received his war medals, including the ‘Italy Star’. On looking through his military records there is no mention of him in any Italian campaign. He was sent to Basra, Iraq in 1942,then to Egypt.
    He was in the Royal Artillery, 83 Anti-tank Regiment.
    I have reference numbers of the regiment’s war diaries at the National Archives which I intend to visit in the near future.
    I would be most grateful if you could pass on any information about the 83 Anti-tank Regiment and whether they did fright at any stage in Italy. If his regiment was not involved in the fighting in the campaigns what would be the reasons for receiving the Italy Star?
    Thank you for your time.

    Reply
  79. Frank de Planta

    Richard.

    Get in touch with me through my website and I will dig out what I have.

    Regards

    Frank

    http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk

    Reply
  80. Terry Addington

    Dear Frank after much waiting i have just received my fathers service records, there is not a lot of information where he was during his time from 1941 to 1945 but he was posted to the 72nd HAA regiment after training with the 11th AA training regiment could you shine any light on his journey through Italy, i cant see any transfers to different regiments during this time

    Regards Terry Addington

    Reply
  81. Frank de Planta

    Terry.

    Outstanding.

    No problem. Get hold of me through my website at http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk and I will happily see if I can add anything to your knowledge. Include the Service Record.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  82. Patricia Wilcox

    Looking for information on events in and around Bari on or abt 20 Jun 1944. This is the date of death for my Uncle Trooper Walter Pritchard from Liverpool. Number 3716882 -10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Own) RAC. The casualty list online (FMP) just states he was lilled as a result of an Accident. Mum, his younger sister, says the family where told it was something to do with a tank and Italian POW’s.
    any help would be really appreciated as Mum is now 92yrs old and it plays on her mind a lot.

    Reply
  83. Frank de Planta

    Patricia.

    This may well be recorded in the Regiment’s War Diaries.

    The best person for that is Gary Tankard who can be reached at garytankard@gmail.com. I use him a lot and he provides a first class service. He only charges £0.10 per page.

    Talk to him on email and. I am sure that the next time that he is at the National Archives in Kew, he will be able to photograph the right pages.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
    1. Patricia Wilcox

      Thank you so much Frank for the suggestion, I will send Gary an email straight away.
      Many Thanks
      Patricia

      Reply

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