Fall of Rome, 4 June 1944

Discussion in 'Italy' started by HAARA, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    With the rememberance events due on 6th June for D-Day, the fall of Rome on 4th June and the northward push of Allied forces and the difficulties encountered in Italy are often overlooked. So with that in mind I post below a letter home from a BSM in 76th HAA Regt, the regiment on 5 June being based to defend the railhead south east of Cassino at Vairano,

    " 5th June ‘44, Viarano
    We seem to have found time to have one huge session of celebration. All the news lately that at least things are going on their way at long last has gradually worked us up into a very excited fever pitch. Now today we have the official news that Rome has fallen, and that we’re well on our way. To you at home it will be grand news, and there must be a very high feeling that at last the war is being fought to smash the Hun completely. To us it’s a relief. For ages now it seems we’ve been hanging on and that all promises of “getting cracking” have been little more than a means of cheering us up because things were becoming so ’um drum. So when at last we do see that not only have we had all this time in preparation, but we also see that things are going well it’s like having waited to have a tooth out. Now it’s out, and feeling a lot better. The fall of Rome has led to enormous celebrations. The people in the nearby village are really jubilant. The old church next door with one good bell and several cracked relics has been like a mad thing clanking away for hours, so that bats and birds long since living in peace in the belfry – at least since the noise of shell and shot took several corners out of it and broke all the windows – have taken flight in crazy circles. Roger wound his way into the belfry and was banging away at a very decrepit affair that sounded like he was hitting a piece of metal. Apparently the bells are lucky to still be there, and show scars of battle. We have inaugurated a canteen at B.H.Q. since it is impossible for the blokes to go out anywhere to celebrate. Bill was given the task of stocking the place, and up to going to press it’s going like anything. The O.C. is giving us a barrel of 100 litres of wine, which is a very decent gesture and will set him back oodles. His only fault up to date is that I get saddled with anyone below the rank of officer who comes in, “You can find him a drop of wine can’t you S’arnt Major.” I can, but the old pocket is taking an awful bashing. All my Sergeants come in for a drink, and I’m just about flat broke. The little credit I’d saved up has I regret to say had to be drawn out. I’d give so much if you were with me. It’s the sort of thing we should be together over. We’ve shared all the losses and retreats together, but never seem to have been able to have these sorts of days. Still, I feel it’s all helping for that Day of Days when we shall be together for keeps. And now I suppose we shall hear even greater things ere long. Things that will make us “back page boys”.

    6th June ’44. At last after all this waiting it’s come and the much talked of invasion has materialised. I expect there must be a whole lot of talk and excitement about it at home. You will also probably be getting a good view of things. Last night was a pretty hectic party after I’d started this letter. News has been dripping through spasmodically all day – not having a wireless has left us rather in the dark and we’ve to rely on masses of rumour as well of snatches of news from various sources. The tension seems to have broken. Everyone is jubilant. Makes you feel all this sweat and toil of the last few weeks has been really worthwhile, and we are well on the way at last. Gosh it’s wonderful. Have a crowd of visitors tonight and as far as I can see it’s going to be a party. If this seems disjointed I can only say there’s so much talk going on here. We have another busy day tomorrow. Masses of inspections and I shall join in the crowd of ‘high ups’ trundling around in clouds of dust. Have had to do a bit of spit and polish tonight to get it all ready. We start off at an unearthly hour. "
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
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  2. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
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  3. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    D8NY50HWwAA3c_G.jpg A couple more images from that Longest Day in Italy - 4th June 1944....no attribution sadly..

    My Dad and his mates were still in Ripi...and got to the Vatican on D8NY50BX4AEHr9N.jpg June 12th.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
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  4. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Indeed it is: in my wish to post this item I inadvertently lifted the date from the letter rather than the correct historical date!
  5. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I thought that was what had happened - it was the headliine that disturbed me - can it be changed?.
  6. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Seems not - the edit button does not include the heading.

    As you were! Found the button by accident, and have corrected it!
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
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  7. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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  9. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Nice - thanks.

    The IWM has uploaded a number of photos and I add a few randoms below.

    Also, if you listen to Ron Goldstein's chat with me, he mentions going to the Jewish area in Rome - very moving memories.

    "Look around the mountains in the mud and rain
    You'll see the scattered crosses, there's some that have no name
    Heartbreak and toil and suffering gone
    The boys beneath them slumber on.."

    large_NA_015808_1.jpg large_NA_015822_1.jpg large_NA_015881_1.jpg large_NA_015899_1.jpg large_NA_015894_1.jpg large_NA_015901_1 (1).jpg large_NA_015917_1.jpg large_NA_015929_1.jpg large_NA_015936_1.jpg large_NA_015940_1.jpg large_NA_015958_1.jpg large_NA_015971_1.jpg large_NA_015983_1.jpg large_NA_015994_1.jpg large_NA_016000_1.jpg
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  10. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Well-Known Member

    I hope that I dont appear as a killjoy for those who celebrate D Day in Normandy but I hope that this excerpt from a letter is in keeping with the last part of Post #1.
    It was written home some weeks after the event but I think eloquently portrays the feelings on the men in Italy, frequently referred to as the D Day Dodgers.
    (you might wish too add it to threads on that subject rather than here).
    After 6th of June the Italian Campaign indeed took a downturn in the media and still does today.
    It is to be expected but we should not forget the efforts of the "Forgotten Armies" fighting in Italy, Burma and elsewhere.

    "You will know by now that my butterfly phase is over again and that I’m back once more amongst the horrors of war. But the Italian front is not what it was!
    Our mild exploits seem very outmoded and moth eaten compared with the mighty events in France.
    It would seem that we have had our day and must sit down and wait now for the end of things in good patience.
    No doubt this prospect gives you the greatest satisfaction, and after Anzio we are not complaining unduly.
    But never the less, so contrary and illogical does war make us that we all feel pangs of envy and impatience when we hear the news of the sweeping blitz in Normandy and the steady expansion of the Southern France Bridgehead.
    Like Napoleon we have acquired a certain taste for glory, depraved no doubt, but quite unmistakeable. And it’s that which is going to be the greatest threat to settling down cheerfully again after the war.
    Although the Italian battlefields are now so somnolent we are kept very busy and fired in the endless chess game which goes on, whether we are actively fighting or no. It’s nothing but movement which baffles us just as much as it does the enemy".
    Lt H N Beadle CPO 266 Bty 1944
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2021
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