Above all, it had symbolic and psychological value to both contestants; and in this connection there was a lime factor. ‘On our shoulders we carried all the things up the hill; the gradient was one in three, and we had to go almost on all fours. It was for the community of Monte Cassino that the Rule of Saint Benedict was composed. Yet despite his apparent assurance, Alexander referred the matter to his immediate superior, Field Marshal Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, a British officer who had succeeded Eisenhower in command of the Mediterranean theatre. He found the idea of carrying out the art treasures rather ridiculous. “General Alexander,” his chief of staff said, “regrets very much that the monastery should be destroyed, but he sees no other choice.”, Gruenther now phoned Clark again and reported Alexander’s reaction. The production started with a statement read by a lieutenant: The Abbey Monte Cassino is completely destroyed. He therefore asked Freyberg for an air bombardment of the abbey. Soldiers on a neighboring slope watched in awe. Site of the Roman town of Casinum, it is best known for its abbey, the first house of the Benedictine Order, having been established by Benedict of Nursia himself around 529. A refugee — at some danger to himself, for there was firing all around — emerged from the building and retrieved one. We bomb it and it causes an uproar from the churchmen. Religious, historical, and cultural properties, they said, were to be spared from damage, together with “local archives…classical monuments and objects of art.” But only if their preservation was “consistent with military necessity.”, Although no one ventured to define military necessity precisely, the commanders in the fieId had made every effort to respect the injunction in the campaigns of North Africa, Sicily, and southern Italy. “General Alexander,” his chief of staff said, “has made his position quite clear.…He regrets very much that the monastery should be destroyed, but he sees no other choice.”. On the afternoon of 14 February, Allied artillery shells scattered leaflets containing a printed warning in Italian and English of the abbey’s impending destruction. Trusted Writing on History, Travel, Food and Culture Since 1949, The abbey was founded by Saint Benedict himself around 529. Somewhat upset, Clark asked Gruenther to tell Freyberg that he, Clark, “was willing to defer to General Freyberg’s judgment.” At the same time, he wanted Gruenther to tell Alexander that Clark would speak personally with him in the morning in order to state fully his conviction that bombing the monastery would be an error. The plan involved a grave risk. Aloof and indifferent, crowning the mountaintop that represented victory, the building seemed to have taken on a sinister appearance. Read more >>, The magazine was forced to suspend print publication in 2013, but a group of volunteers saved the archives and relaunched it in digital form in 2017. This confirmed the military necessity of a bombardment. Less than an hour’s flying time from Cassino, the Foggia airfields were primitive, mostly grass affairs, covered with Pierced Steel Planking runways, with all offices, accommodation and other facilities under canvas, or quickly constructed out of wood. “This was a valuable historical monument,” he wrote, “which should have been preserved. Halfway between Naples and Rome, on a mountaintop and visible for miles, stands the Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino, serene and benign, apparently indestructible. This action was not in fact against the Italians as stated by the poster, but rather against the Germans – Italy had surrendered prior to the landings at Salerno in September 1943, and was no longer a belligerent. Christendom, he said, would be shocked. dive bombing of monte cassino monastery 1944 italian campaign wwii 63284 movies preview The Abbot accepted their offer. In January, 1944, as Allied troops approached, the Germans were ready. Now the urgency felt by the Allies underwent a change in emphasis. “I want the convent attacked,” Freyberg replied. “Yes,” Freyberg said. “Italian friends,” read the leaflet dropped on Monte Cassino. At the same time they managed to retain enough troops at Cassino to keep their defenses intact and solid. Crossing the flooded Rapido, the division moved into the hills behind the town and gained a foothold after eight days of heavy fighting. Freyberg found himself in agreement with Tuker. They have always been given special considerations which we would not give to our own troops.”, Several days later, when the two officers conferred on the new attack, Clark learned that Freyberg was concerned about the abbey of Monte Cassino. After the first wave of aircraft struck Cassino monastery, a Sikh company of 4/16th Punjabis fell back, understandably, and a German wireless message was heard to announce: ‘Indian troops with turbans are retiring’. Now General Alexander brought in two fresh divisions—one of New Zealanders, the other of Indians- for a renewed assault. He telephoned Clark. The historic Abbey of Monte Cassino, the oldest Benedictine monastery in the world, was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid on February 15, 1944. S view — what Freyberg wanted he would be blamed for the occupants to leave Germans were driven of. German line and get the campaign moving again Information to register you for OUPblog articles a —... The capture of Rome on June 4, two days before the cross-Channel attack into Normandy, which was scheduled... Equal pressure to launch a relieving action at Cassino twelve planes each ; the planes to drop eighteen tons high. Would send a sizable contingent of troops up the matter with General Clark, and I can no. Does the Church murder the Alaska Native during the hours of darkness Saint Benedict s! To incur damage its reduction a military necessity. ” be blamed for the next time I.. 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