Letter to Rocky - Mt Pantano
#1

Hi Rocky,

 

My name is Emilio Menchini, I live in Wales in the UK and I recently attended the 34th Div. Association reunion in Carlisle.

I started a committee a few years ago to help organize a memorial and other events to commemorate the Battle of Mount Pantano.

 

You may remember the Mount Pantano assault took place on November 29th 1943 just after the third crossing of the Volturno. Mount Pantano is a high rugged mountain which comprises four prominent peaks with a deep gully in the centre. I visited Pantano in June this year and climbed up part of the slopes using one of the trails that was used by the 168th regt.

 

I know this mountain well because I grew up in the village of Filignano which is around 1km from Mount Pantano, my mother still lives in the village and I visit every year.

 

I went to the 34th div. reunion this year in the hope of meeting 168th veterans who remembered the Mount Pantano battle, however the vets attending were mostly from the 133rd and a few 135th.

 

I had hoped to meet you Rocky at the reunion in Carlisle, I was disappointed to hear from Pat Skelly who told me you would not be attending, I was hoping to talk to you about your involvement and experiences on Mount Pantano.

 

I believe you helped Dr. Emile Schuster on top of the mountain during the 5 day battle and you spent some time in the area around Pantano.

Maybe you can help me confirm this. I would be very grateful Rocky if you could get back to me with any information relating to this battle and any memories you have of being at Mount Pantano, which I believe was one of the most brutal and savage battles of the entire war.

 

I will include some photographs in this email which I took of Mount Pantano and Filignano in June this year, I hope you like them!

 

I hope you can help me Rocky,

 

I look forward to hearing from you,

 

regards,

 

Emilio Menchini

 

============

 

Emilio--I have been caught completely off guard, with your e/mail. That I am at a short for words. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get mail from across the pond.

 

I just couldn't make this years reunion, too many things just piled up. And since Iost my wife I have had a rough time alone. Anyway getting to Mt. Pantano.

 

First of all--Do you have the book,"DOGFACES WHO SMILED THROUGH TEARS" ?? It was written by Homer Ankrum, who was in the 168th. It gives a detailed account of the battle at Mt. Pantano. The 168th and 1334rd made the initial attack and later the 135th along with the 100th Bn. relieved and also there was still fighting. The 45th Divn. was on our left flank.

 

If you don't have the book, get hold of Pat Skelly and he can tell you how to get one. The book is the ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE 34th. FROM BEFORE IRELAND TO THE RETURN FROM ITALY. BATTLE FOR BATTLE. It seems like a lifetime ago that Iwas there. I will be 87 in Aug. and I seem to have forgotten and also I have let myself forget. The book will answer your question better than anyone. If you can't get it, let me know and I will try and get the Gold Star Museum, They have the books. But Pat can help you.

 

The Mt. Pantano affair starts on page 353.

 

EXCERPTS OF PAGE-- Mt Pantano will be remembered by participants on both sides as a short-lived, but brutal battle; close quartered and fought with ferocious violence.

 

Many years have passed since the cold morning Nov. 29, 1943 when the 168thinf. assigned to the left flank with the objective Monte Pantano and the 133rd inf. on the right flank moved up to launch an attack on Monte Marrone. While they waited in pre-dawn darkness, directly ahead of them loomed Monte Pantano, with its four grey hill masses,the highest of which strechingupwards to 1600 feet.

 

I WILL STOP HERE, SO TRY GET THE BOOK.

 

Emilio, again this was a very nice surprise to hear from you, so keep in touch.

 

GOD BLESS AND TAKE CARE. ROCKY

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#2

THANK YOU, MY DEAR MAID MARION FOR POSTING

THIS. I HAVE READ EMILIOS' E/M SEVERAL TIMES

CAN'T GET OVER THE FACT HOW HE GOT MY NAME.

Thought Wales was a fish--but then I realized that it's

WHALES that's the fish. HELL TO BE OLD. Rocky---

---- :armata_PDT_23:

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#3

Dear Rocky,

 

It is I that was left short for words ... I was overwhelmed that you replied so quickly to my email and so positively. I was very saddened to hear of your loss, my heart felt condolences and prayers go out to you from across the pond ... I sincerely hope you will be able to pick up and look a little to the future for better day's than recent.

 

If there is anything I can offer or do for you Rocky then please just ask, my respect and admiration for the red bulls and particularly those that were at Mount Pantano has been an inspiration to me for more than 30 years.

Ever since my first walk up Mount Pantano as a kid, when I first stumbled across some old bits and pieces from the battle scattered around the mountainside, my interest and fascination in the battle and the 34th div. has been relentless.

 

I started my research into the battle when I was at school in Scotland as a teenager and have continued to this day, in your email Rocky you suggest that I look at Homer Ankrums book, Dog faces who smile through tears. Unfortunately I bought this book around 9 years ago and have read it many times, a fantastic book.

 

I also have managed to locate many other books with chapters or paragraphs on Mount Pantano, such as Brickbrats from F Company, As you were Cannon Co., Battlefire combat stories, Fifth army at the winter line, The history of the 34th Div., Ed Birds story in Citizen soldier, and a few more.

 

I have also managed to collect several official battlefield intellegence reports on the battle for Pantano, including reports from John Moore and Robert Berens.

I also have monologues of the battle from various cammanders and a selection of WW2 maps of Panatno.

 

I also have some veterans accounts of the battle which they kindly emailed to me over the last ten years. I have built up quite a knowledge and library on the battle for Mount pantano. I doubt anyone else knows more about the subject than i do.

 

I would love to have heard at first hand from you Rocky about your memories of the battle for Mount Panatno and in particular what you went through during those long, wet, cold winter day's in Nov/Dec 1943. However I understand that it was a long time ago and memory is a difficult thing to control as one gets older, If you do remember anything you would like to share with me then please do get in touch with me. Do you remember a village about half a mile from the mountain where in the village square is a beautiful old church. This village is called Filignano and this is where my mother was born and lived until after the war, my mother was only 6 during the Pantano battle and hid in another nearby village called Lagone.

 

Anyway, I have taken enough of your time for today Rocky, I will get back to you soon, and I hope we can stay friends until next years 34th reunion in Iowa which I will be attending and which I truly hope and pray you also will be attending so I can meet you in person and shake your hand!

 

Thanks again for your time Rocky, take care and God bless.

 

Emilio

 

 

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#4

Makes me feel humble after reading the above, from a

TOTAL STRANGER. and from so far away. I must have

been a topic of conversation at the last reunion of the

34th ID at Carlisle, Pa. Rocky

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#5
...and a good topic of conversation, you would be! :armata_PDT_01:
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#6

Absolutely facinating!

Reply
#7

...and a good topic of conversation, you would be! :armata_PDT_01:

 

M-1 Emilio would like to join and I told him to e/m you

Hope he does. I will e/m you personal and you can see his add.

cracking nuts right now................

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