Up on the Gothic Line

Discussion in 'Italy' started by jamesmurrow, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. jamesmurrow

    jamesmurrow Senior Member

    The Ford at San Clemente, this area, including the town, was under constant enemy observation, so artifical smoke was utalised to cover daytime movement. A modern bridge down spans the river.
    IMG_0659.jpg Italy Pics 033.jpg

    Ponti Alidosi bridge, and Piazza del Republica Castel del Rio. Didn't have the bottle to ask if I could take a picture from the same window as the original. :lol:
    IMG_0661.jpg Italy Pics 208.jpg IMG_0660.jpg Italy Pics 211.jpg Italy Pics 215.jpg

    The castle in the town beside containing municipal offices, has a really good small museum of WW2 weapons & equipement on the upper floor, pity I couldn't read Italian though! An American fighter a/c was positioned outside, which scrambled onto to view inside ;)
    Italy Pics 209.jpg

    Incidently, it was when re-reading some documents back in the hotel,that I found dad and the battalion were billeted in the castle when out of the line.

    Santerno River Military Cemetry. Started by 78 Div whilst in the area. Stuck on the side of a hill, it appears to be in the middle of nowhere, but then, when you are up in the mountains, you are restricted for space.

    IMG_0353.jpg IMG_0361.jpg
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  2. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member



    Nec Aspera Terrent...
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Good to see a different part of Italy.
    Just found this illustration on IWM website.
    © IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 4930)
    Creator: Ardizzone, Edward Jeffrey Irving
    A winter's day. The road, buildings and hills beyond are covered with snow. An army convoy is parked in front of the buildings and various personnel are in the street. A small group are warming their hands on a fire.
    Ardizzone departed Rome for Florence on 6 January 1945. After a day there, he moved forward into the mountains visiting Castel del Rio on the way. He records this in his diary on 10 January 1945: 'Through Castel del Rio, a little mountain village packed with army transport...'. He worked on this drawing from 18-22 January finding the snow very difficult to capture.
    Soldiers and Transport in the Mountain Village of Castel del Rio. © IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 4930)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  5. sanchez

    sanchez Patron Patron

    hi james,
    amazing photos must have been a wonderful trip . have you any more photos to post ? and with which regt did you father serve ? mine was in the 56th recce .
  6. jamesmurrow

    jamesmurrow Senior Member

    Hi Dave
    My trip was very worthwhile notably having got up to the Gothic line, the Damiano and some other locations I didn't get to or didn't have the maps for, last time I went.
    Pity that some of the locations have changed due to road improvements and building spread. Travel distance was another factor, but hey I am 14 years older :lol:
    Do have some pics for the Senio river and Spring Offensive.

    Owen thanks for posting the painting and web link.
  7. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    Castel del Rio was 78 Div Rear HQ. I know it's mentioned in the Cyril Ray book. Does anyone have any more information about this place in War Diaries/personal accounts? Any maps or details?
  8. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    The Irish Brigade were in/out of Castel del Rio to rest/clean up there in Nov '44.. is there anything specific you want to know?

    Brigadier Pat Scott:
    "By the beginning of November, the 5th Army was at a standstill and defensive positions, with their inevitable build up, were the order of the day. The problem of getting battalions out to have a wash and a rest in reasonable comfort was becoming vital. On the 6th, the Skins went back to Castel del Rio where they took up residence in the old castle.

    How to work reliefs and how to overcome our maintenance problems at this time. We were pretty stretched and it was not possible to arrange reliefs on a Brigade basis; if everyone was to come out for a bit, it had to be arranged by Division, with a fair amount of give and take between Brigades.

    The war had lapsed into what the papers call “patrolling and artillery duels”. The patrolling was a difficult matter as it was so hard to move about without making an appalling noise, either from knocking stones about or, from having to pull your feet out of a bog at every step. The artillery duels consisted of destructive shooting at the few remaining houses by both sides and in unpleasant harassing fire, which one was inclined to meet anywhere from Castel del Rio onwards but mostly, of course, on the forward troops.....

    ....On the 10th, the Skins came back from Castel del Rio and came under command of 11 Brigade in the Travollata area. All the battalions had a turn at Castel del Rio and were the cleaner and better for the four or five days they were down there..."
  9. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    Thanks Richard, that's very interesting. I am planning a trip to Bologna and Castel del Rio is not too far. Just wanted to know as much as possible before visiting. Currently researching 49th LAA and transcribing their diaries. Interested in 78th Div generally.
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  10. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    You might like to have a look at this previous post of mine, hope the trip goes well.

    56 Recce Operations, Fontanelice, north of Castel del Rio, Italy
  11. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    Thanks, I will check that out.

    I also found this from the BBC People's War website from a veteran named Jack Parkinson, 78th Div (Div HQ probably). I wonder if this is confirmed by other sources?

    In 1943 I was in a small village called Castel del Rio north of Rome. The Advance was on and we were near Route Six which was the main supply route for our troops on the Front Line. The village is built on the side of a cliff with a castle at the top of the street and the river at the bottom of the cliff, thousands of feet below. It was the Rear Head Quarters of the 78th British Division. It was so packed that we had to park all the trucks side by side on the village street.

    We were given some leave and I took six days in Rome. When I arrived I bought a copy of The Union Jack, the Forces newspaper. In it I noticed a picture of our Division and all the trucks on the village street.

    When our leave was over we went back to Castel del Rio and I remember sitting in a building which overlooked the precipice. All of a sudden there was a terrific bang. I thought, “We’re being shelled.” We rushed down to the cellar - It was actually underneath the road and above our heads all our trucks were on fire. We were ordered to make for the Castle and we all had to run up the street past the flaming trucks. For me this was the most frightening moment of the War.

    When I got back to my quarters I found that the shutters were all burnt and my washing, which I had left hanging on a line in my bedroom, was completely black.! It turned out that the Germans had read the newspaper report and they were shelling us from 30 miles away. When we realized what was happening the RAF went and blew them up.
  12. hutt

    hutt Member

    In 1943 I was in a small village called Castel del Rio north of Rome.
    I assume there is a typo or error here. That location only works if the date was 1944. Rome wasn't liberated until June 44 and Castel del Rio is between Florence and Bologna.
    For example 78th Division CRASC diary would suggest that in December 1943, they were much further south near Campobasso.

    Attached Files:

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  13. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    From Algiers to Austria - A history of the 78 Division by Cyril Ray.

    "Late that night Castel del Rio was shelled by a heavy gun, probably a 210 mm that could get the range from 29,000 yards. An English weekly of November 18 had published a photograph of the village, given its name, and drawn admiring attention to the number of vehicles parked in its street! A copy was produced by Brigadier Andrew Scott, of 1 Guards' Brigade, and the Divisional Commander, in his official protest, asked for advance copies of the future issues of the paper, so that he could make his dispositions accordingly. the shelling went on for an hour and a half and did a great deal of damage to Rear HQ, burning transport and records. Six men were wounded."

    Edit: agree 1944
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
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  14. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    castel del rio 76th medium RA.jpg
    Castel del Rio, 76th Medium RA guns. The distinctive bridge can be seen in the distance. Does anyone have the War Diary for 76th for this period...Winter months 1944?
  15. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    Another one from 'The Guns of 6 AGRA' book...
    castel snow6AGRA.jpg
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  16. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    To add to the photos above by James...my comparison: 78 Div Rear HQ, then and now.
    castle 78 Div HQ now.jpg

    castel HQ 78 Div.jpg
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  17. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    Another one taken from the window of the castle. I found the 1944 photo in the castle museum and took it through the glass, so it's got some reflection but you get the idea. I hadn't seen that particular shot before.
    castel from castle window.jpg

    castel in snow.jpg
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  18. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    ammo crate.jpg
    This is what you find on a doorstep in Castel Del Rio today! Taken quickly so apologies for the shadow! 25pdr?
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  19. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    I spent some time walking the ground, trying to match this picture I found on the Internet, but failed. It is captioned Castel Del Rio and the damaged trucks are British - is that a shamrock and a number 55? Irish Brigade? If anyone knows where this is exactly, I would be interested to know...

    castel shelled 1944annotated.jpg
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  20. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    Recycling WW2 style! The museum in the castle at Castel Del Rio had a big display of objects found on the Gothic Line and used for all sorts of practical purposes. My favourite - PIAT bomb lamps and a British helmet fruit bowl!
    piat bomb lamp.jpg
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