Info on Italian campaign
#1

The granddaughter of a vet posted this on another forum. She posted this article and stated:

 

"Does anyone know anything about the place mentioned in this bit from an old article? My grandpa doesn't remember for sure.....

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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

This was what was going on in Italy during Oct 1944. I will try and find more specifics for the city indicated...

 

 

Americans advanced out of the Apennines and entered the Po Valley before winter, Axis forces in Italy would be doomed.

 

The third and final phase of the II Corps' assault began on 10 October against the ten-mile-long Livergnano Escarpment, a steep eastwest line of solitary mountain peaks constituting the enemy's strongest

 

natural position in the northern Apennines. The 85th Division led the primary attack against Monte delle Formiche in the center of the escarpment, while the 91st and 88th Divisions maintained pressure on the enemy's flanks. For the first time in a week the weather cleared sufficiently to allow the Fifth Army to effectively use fighter-bombers and medium and heavy bombers of the Mediterranean Allied Tactical and Strategic Air Forces (MATAF and MASAF) against the defending 4th Parachute, 94th, 362d, and 65th Infantry Divisions in a series of air strikes named Operation PANCAKE. In the subsequent heavy ground actions the 85th Division succeeded in taking Monte delle Formiche on 10 October, while the 91st Division outflanked the Livergnano Escarpment from the west, forcing the Axis units in the area to withdraw on 13 October. Here, as elsewhere, however, sustained Axis resistance, American troop exhaustion, rugged terrain, and poor weather halted the II Corps' advance ten miles south of Bologna.

 

Field Marshal Alexander now decided to make another attempt at capturing Ravenna and Bologna using the Fifth and Eighth Armies in concert. Under his plan, Clark's Fifth Army would break out of the Apennines and encircle the Tenth Army from the northwest, while Leese's Eighth Army continued the "battle of the rivers" to the east along the Adriatic. Success appeared problematic, considering the high casualties suffered during prior operations that were similar and the difficulties encountered with supply lines that stretched over rugged terrain, which was adversely affected by wintry weather.

 

21

Meanwhile, across the lines, Kesselring's staff pressed their commander to fall back to the more easily defended Alps. Hitler, however, facing Red Army gains on the Eastern Front and mounting pressures in northwest Europe, was loath to cede any territory voluntarily and ordered Kesselring to hold his current line. The field marshal, fearing to oppose Hitler, complied and placed two units from his reserve, the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier and 94th Infantry Divisions, in front of II Corps, giving the defenders six understrength divisions against four larger, but tired, American ones.

 

The U.S. 34th Division launched the American phase of Alexander's plan by continuing attempts to break through to Bologna on 16 October 1944. The attack was quickly stopped by a combination of rugged terrain and stiff enemy opposition. Then, while the British 13 Corps tied down the 334th, 715th, and 305th Infantry Divisions, U.S. 91st Division units moved forward on II Corps' left flank, supported by the U.S. 1st Armored Division. But again the intensity of the enemy's resistance halted both units. Elsewhere, however, the 85th Division moved ahead, giving the Americans brief cause for optimism, but the II Corps had no reserves to exploit its gains or to reinforce the other stalled units. All hope of effecting a quick breakthrough finally ended when Kesselring began shifting the 29th and 90th Panzer Grenadier Divisions to the threatened front.

 

Undaunted, General Clark ordered another attempt to break the Axis line on 19 October. The German defenses just south of Bologna were anchored, east to west, on Monte Adone, Monte Belmonte, and Monte Grande. The plan called for the II Corps' 85th and 88th Divisions to launch an attack toward Monte Grande with the IV Corps and British 13 Corps providing pressure on the flanks. Simultaneously, the U.S. 91st and 34th Divisions would renew their advance in secondary assaults on Monte Belmonte and Savenna Creek. The attack opened on the night of 19 October in a driving rain after an intense artillery bombardment. The 88th Division captured Monte Grande, but the 34th Division failed to seize Monte Belmonte. Clark, sensing an enemy buildup on II Corps' left flank, decided to attack on the right flank where he believed the German resistance would be weaker. On the night of 22 October, both the 85th and 88th Divisions attacked from Monte Grande, but they were stopped by heavily reinforced German units. On 26 October torrential rains washed out bridges, cutting Fifth Army's already strained and overburdened supply lines. The severed supply lines and high casualty rate prompted General Keyes, the II Corps commander, to order his units to fall back to more easily sustainable positions between Monte Grande and the Monterumici hill mass in the west.

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
#3

Here is a MapQuest map of the area. It's southeast of Pisa.

 

http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?formt...orcoli&zipcode=

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
#4

I must add my two cents to the first sentence of the article that says troops

came down off the North Appenines.

If you,(not you Marion), you all, read about the 34th as it came down off

the mountains and what the divn. really did, you will have to read the book

"DOGFACES WHO SMILED THROUGH TEARS", IT'S TO MUCH FOR ME TO

WRITE AND I ALSO GET A LITTLE EMOTIONAL WHEN I START TO THINK

BACK. Sorry about that. Rocky. 1st.Bn. 135th

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#5

Marion,

The history you posted is about the fighting in the mountain during October 1944. On 26 October, the offense was called off and the 88th Division pulled back to a holding position for the winter.

But your MapQuest link located the town of Forcoli much further south near the Arno river between Florence(Firenze) and Pisa. I think you found the right town but something does not add up with the text of the Newspaper clipping. The date is wrong or the town is wrong.

Why? The advance from Rome up to Leghorn/Pisa and Arno River occurred during the summer months of June, July and early August. For a 3-part description of this action, see this webpage on my site.

Pursuit North of Rome

The news article says Sgt. Garrett operated a Tank so he was obviously in the 1st Armored Division---but he might have been in a Tank Destroyer Battalion. Either way, the Apennine Mtns were too rugged for tanks and by October it was much too muddy for tanks to maneuver. If you check my maps in Pursuit North of Rome, you will see that the landscape was flatter and more conducive to Tanks. And the rainy season had not begun in July/August.

I think the date is incorrect in the newspaper article. If we could find the records of his Purple Heart, I bet it would read 17 July 1944.

 

See my map: Advance on Leghorn

 

Just trying to help solve this mystery. I'm surprised you didn't come to me first.

Steve

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#6

Okay, I searched the unit history of the 1st Armored Division and it doesn't have much detail about their action in this area---but they were organized into Task Forces and pushing north towards the Arno River Line.

I have a set of WW2 road maps of Italy. These maps are in 1:200,000 scale and there are 30 maps for all of Italy; I have about half of them.

 

Forcoli is just south of the medium-size town of Pontedera. Pontedera is on Hiway 67 from Pisa to Florence(remember this is WW2 highway identity). There are two roads going south out of Pontedera, the main one goes directly south from the west side of the town then bends back south-east direction. The smaller one proceeds from the east side of town on the east side of the Era River and winds along the river next to a ridge. Forcoli is about 5 miles south of Pontedera on this secondary road.

On MapQuest, this road is marked "Via Delle Coline" that goes thru the town of Val Di Cava before reaching the intersection near Forcoli.

 

Now you know exactly where it is.

 

Steve

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#7

Just trying to help solve this mystery. I'm surprised you didn't come to me first.

Steve

 

Well actually in a way dear I DID come to you first. Since you are in regular attendance here, I knew you would probably see it within a day or so. Knew you WOULD reply and you did. So everyone is happy! :pdt34:

 

As far as things not being probable...

 

Note what the article said, "..manuevered his tank over PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE ground..." (word emphasis mine)

 

It will be interesting to see what transpires, huh?

 

I suggested that she check other newspaper clippings from his home town. Many of those mention the unit. Others have been able to solve the mystery this way too. Also could check the grave marker. Most also have the unit engraved along with the epitath.

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
#8

This is from the same gal...

 

Thank you so much for answering my post!

 

My grandpa was with the 757th Tank Battalion. Latey he is have trouble remembering what and who he was attached to. He was in C company. He said something about the British 8th army that he was attached to often. He isn't 100% sure though. He also mentioned a 5th army. I don't know how or if that would help in finding out more about this place.

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
#9

This does list the 757th and other major allied units involved in the Italian Campaign. This DOES include your grandfather's unit. Yeah! :pdt34:

 

http://www.milhist.net/ordbat/mtounits.html

 

Here's a contact name for all companies of the 757th Tank Bn:

 

Mr. Warren & Nancy Davis at 1-612-484-8229

 

--------------------

 

More info:

 

This site talks about the 752nd and 757th Tanks Bns:

 

http://www.752ndtank.com/RocketTanks.html

 

---------------------

 

Please see the Red Bull's site (34th Infantry Div). Your grandfather's unit was attached to them.

 

http://www.34infdiv.org/

 

Who Were We?

 

WW II Order of Battle - 34th Infantry Division

Headquarters, 34th Infantry Division

133rd Infantry Regiment

100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) [assigned Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno]

135th Infantry Regiment

168th Infantry Regiment

168th Commandos

442nd Regimental Combat Team [attached Rome-Arno]

442nd Infantry Regiment

100th Infantry Battalion

232nd Engineeer (Combat) Company

442nd Medical Detachment

522nd Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)

34th Division Artillery

34th Division Artillery Headquarters and Headquarters Battery

125th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)

151st Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)

175th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)

185th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)

34th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)

109th Engineer (Combat) Battalion

109th Medical Battalion

34th Division Special Troops

Headquarters, Special Troops, 34th Division

34th Infantry Division Headquarters Company

34th Infantry Division Band

Military Police Platoon, 34th Division

34th Counter-Intelligence Detachment [attached]

34th Quartermaster Company

34th Signal Company

734th Ordnance (Light Maintenance) Company

 

Other Attached Units

 

Jewish Infantry Brigade (attached Occupation)

A Company, 2nd Chemical Warfare Battalion (attached Naples-Foggia)

35th Quartermaster War Dog Platoon (attached North Apennines)

38th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon (attached Occupation)

72nd Signal Company (Special) (attached Naples-Foggia)

84th Chemical Mortar Battalion (attached North Apennines)

100th Chemical Mortar Battalion (attached North Apennines, Po Valley)

105th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled) (attached Naples-Foggia)

107th Coast Artillery Battalion (AAA Automatic Weapons) Battalion (attached Tunisia)

A Company, 191st Tank Battalion (attached Naples-Foggia)

2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry Regiment (attached North Apennines)

432nd AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (attached North Apennines)

435th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled) (attached Anzio)

443rd AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled) (attached Tunisia)

751st Tank Battalion (attached Tunisia)

752nd Tank Battalion (attached Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley, Occupation)

753rd Tank Battalion (attached Rome-Arno)

757th Tank Battalion (attached North Apennines)

776th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached Naples-Foggia)

804th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached North Apennines)

807th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached North Apennines)

813th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached Tunisia)

and still other units which remain to be found, confirmed, and listed here.

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
#10

Here is a page she started for her grandfather:

 

http://web3.military.com/HomePage/UserCrea...,714827,00.html

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


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