Sunday, April 6, 2014

Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell

Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell by Peter Caddick-Adams


This is the second book I have read dedicated to Cassino and one of several on the combined Cassino/Anzio campaign.  The book brings an unique perspective to the battle by focusing on how the the various Armies were successful or not successful.  Of particular interest was the success of the French under Juin and the Polish Corps that finally took Monte Cassino.  Caddick-Adams is much friendlier to British General Harold Alexander than most historians.  There is also a nice focus on the 8th Army's breakthrough up the Liri Valley.  We know that Churchill liked Alexander, but the author considers him to have similar skills to Eisenhower as a diplomat general.  The author also goes easy on American General Mark Clark's decision to take Rome and deliberately disobey orders by not cutting off the retreating German 10th Army.   Caddick-Adams  notes that there was no guarantee of trapping the 10th Army which seems to be a spurious argument for disobeying orders.

Interesting Facts

Nearly 15,000 mules were used during the campaign as they proved the only reliable means of bringing supplies up and the injured and dead down from the mountains.

The Germans would mount a revolving Panther turret, called a Pantherturm, to a concrete bunker in the Gustav line.  One killed 17 Allied tanks in 3 days, the Pantherturm leader actually becoming a "tank ace." Below is an intact Pantherturm and one that has had its turret blown off by an Allied shell in Italy.

Because of such a lack of food in Naples, it is estimated that 42,000 women out of 150,000 engaged in regular or part-time prostitution.


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