25th April 1945, The River Po.

Discussion in 'Italy' started by bexley84, Apr 25, 2022.

  1. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    A reminder (largely) to myself that it was 77 years to the day, during the morning of 25th April 1945, that my Dad and his mates reached the banks of the river Po - and their war might now be over (spoiler alert - they had indeed fired their last shots of the conflict).

    My father would recall the events of that day/night - no doubt reflecting on the memories of 350 of his friends and comrades from the 2nd Bn London Irish Rifles, who had been killed in Tunisia and Italy during the preceding 29 months:

    "We had arrived at the Po. During the last days of the offensive, we had passed a most distressing sight. Beautiful draught horses had been shot dead and lay bloated and stinking. The Germans had killed them rather than let them live and remain for us. Most had been commandeered from the unfortunate Italians. They had lost so much. Their beautiful country had been destroyed from Sicily to the Po and occupied by aliens from all over the world.

    The south bank of the Po was an extraordinary scene. The Germans, trapped by the river, had abandoned everything. Many had even tried to swim the Po to escape and many died as a result. The carnage of war continued relentlessly as if it were now on a form of autopilot.

    The company rested by the side of Po while the Royal Engineers set about bridging its mile width. I arranged a campfire and ‘drunk’ using Canadian beer and hot rum toddy. Corporal Howarth was, as usual, master of ceremonies. When directed, each person had to sing.

    The war was virtually over on our front and the Germans were suing for a separate peace in Italy. The Po bridge was completed. It was a magnificent structure with, at its entrance, the numbers of the engineer regiments and squadrons that had built it. Below that were listed the subcontractors. They included the London Irish Rifles who had contributed labour to the project."

    A long thread tracing the story of Operation Buckland can be found here:
    Operation 'Buckland' - April 1945.

  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Richard, hope that you don't mind me jumping in on your post. As you say "the war was virtually over on our front" as confirmed by the title of this publication!
    River Po cover - Copy.jpg River Po campaign - Copy.jpg River Po OOB - Copy.jpg

    C Sqn, 56 Recce, were u/c of 38 Inf Bde during this operation and the following are from their diaries:
    WD Apr23.jpg WD Apr24.jpg WD Apr25.jpg
    78 Div OO 1 - Copy.jpg 78 Div OO 2 - Copy.jpg
    78 Div Msg Frm - Copy.jpg Map - Copy.jpg
  3. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Tony, in this case, you enhanced the thread… thanks,
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Present day river Po drying up.
    Mention of a barge sunk in 1943 now visible for the first time since 1943 due to the lack of water

    4jonboy likes this.
  5. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Spotted this extended article yesterday:
    "Drought blighting country’s longest waterway continues as economic hub battles climate crisis."
    ‘We worry about it disappearing’: alarm grows over Italy’s drought-hit Po River

    I'll be at the Po east of Ferrara in 2 weeks time, on Thursday 7th July, and will raise a glass of bottled water to the memory of my Dad and his mates who reached the river bank 77 years and 2 months ago. First time there since 2009.

    Another article was also pointed out to me today from March 2022:
    "Drought and dryness of the Po: from the sand, a German tank has re-emerged, we are in the municipality of Sermide and Felonica."
    Po dry: a German tank re-emerges from the sand – breaking latest news-breakinglatest.news-Breaking Latest News
    4jonboy, Chris C and Tony56 like this.
  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    That's not a bloody tank ...

    However, that's beside the point. I hope you have a really good trip! In July I must get back to finishing Doherty's book on Op Buckland.
    BFBSM and bexley84 like this.
  7. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Ta… I’m packing the Factor 50 and a change of hat…
    Chris C likes this.

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