May 12 – Roll of Honour

Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the final successful attack on Monte Cassino in 1944 which opens the way for the liberation of Italy in WW2. John Gilmore from Killyleagh was lost in HMS Grove. He had been torpedoed twice and taken part in the Dunkirk evacuation. His younger brother was also in the RN. Local newspapers in 1915 report on major army events in Belfast and a march from Finner Camp via Strabane to Londonderry.


1 Comment

  1. 38 (Irish) Brigade actually entered the Fourth Battle of Cassino on the afternoon of 14 May when it spearheaded 78th Division’s move across the Gari river into the bridgehead created by 4th British and 8th Indian Divisions. The pep talk given by Pat Scott two days earlier, when the GOC had retired out of earshot, was ‘the kind of speech which was only possible with Irish regiments’ (John Horsfall).

    The Cassino battles began on 12 January 1944 with the French Expeditionary Corps attack on the northern flank and didn’t end until the liberation of Rome, the strategic objective of the battles, on 4 June. There were tussles along the Gustav Line even earlier which were preludes to the battles, fought for both Cassino town and the heights around it dominating the entrance to the Liri valley, the only viable road to Rome for an attacking army.

    Although New Zealand troops had fought hard in the Second and Third Battles, no New Zealand units were involved in the final battle. There were no Australian ground forces in Eighth Army in Italy, Australians were serving in the Desert Air Force, the name still used by what was officially 1st Tactical Air Force.


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