May 18 – Monte Cassino and Roll of Honour

This day in 1944 Allied forces captured Monte Cassino, Italy, after 123 days of heavy fighting. 55,000 Allied troops became casualties. It took four separate battles before the Abbey was finally taken by part of a multinational force of 20 divisions assaulting across a front of 20 miles. There are 19 unique stories of service in today’s Roll. William Cummings, a doctor from Dungannon and a well known Queen’s rugby player, was killed in the WW1 battle around Bullecourt. John Hood, son of a Larne family, died in Lybia in the Australian Infantry in WW2.


1 Comment

  1. While Polish troops entered the Benedictine Abbey on Monte Cassino on 18 May, no Poles were involved in the liberation of the city of Cassino. Most of the city had been cleared of Germans and only a small area remained in enemy hands but that area controlled part of Highway 6, the Via Casilina.
    On Kesselring’s orders the German paras abandoned the Abbey’s ruins and the town below on the night of 17/18 May since the British 78th Division, spearheaded by 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers of 38 (Irish) Brigade had reached Highway 6 in the Liri Valley beyond the town and a Faughs’ patrol had called down mortar fire on the road.
    On the morning of the 18th a Polish patrol under command of Lt Kazimierz Gurbiel entered the Abbey ruins to find only some wounded Germans and an officer. Gurbiel hoisted a regimental pennant of his regiment, 12th Podolski Lancers, from the ruins, not a Polish national flag as is often claimed. That pennant was made from a blue handkerchief and a red cross flag. Not long afterwards it was joined by the Union Flag.
    The French Tricolore already flew from Monte Faito across the valley and the French Expeditionary Corps was heading for the Hitler Line. Tragically, the French advance was marked by a horrendous war crime when Moroccan soldiers raped and murdered women and children in and around the village of Esperia. The French government has consistently refused to acknowledge what happened in Esperia and elsewhere.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.