The Battles of Monte Cassino: The Campaign and Its Controversies

The Battles of Monte Cassino: The Campaign and Its Controversies

The Battles of Monte Cassino: The Campaign and Its Controversies

The Battles of Monte Cassino: The Campaign and Its Controversies

Synopsis

The first thematic analysis of the Battles of Monte Cassino brings to light new and controversial ideas and information about some of the most critical battles of World War II

The Allied forces' actions in and around Monte Cassino in Italy remain some of the most controversial of World War II. Adolf Hitler described them as the battles that came closest to the bitter struggles on the Western Front. This reappraisal of the battles brings new information about the events at Cassino to light. This is another campaign narrative but a fresh look at some of the key aspects of the battles- the controversial bombing of the Benedictine monastery, the effectiveness of the commanders involved on both sides, the consequences of the Anzio beachhead, the performance of the Germans, and why four agonizing battles were needed to defeat the Germans at Cassino.

Excerpt

The battles at Monte Cassino were some of the toughest that occurred in the Western theatre of operations during the Second World War. German, New Zealand, British, Indian, Polish, French and American troops played prominent roles at Cassino, and each country takes pride in what its forces achieved. This was a tough, gritty fight: skilful, determined opponents and challenging terrain made Cassino an amazing feat of arms for both sides. These very issues have united those nations that fought there. For example, during my career I have met Polish veterans or serving soldiers who instantly recognised me as a New Zealander and made reference to how at Monte Cassino the Divisions from each country fought side by side.

With this book, Glyn Harper and John Tonkin-Covell have added to the rich historiography around these battles. Even those familiar with the events should find that this work adds dimensions to our understanding. the two authors make good use of American archival material that has not been assessed in depth before, as well as skilfully examining the views of other historians. the issues that they raise resonate strongly with my own experiences of operations: the impact of personalities, the issues around coalitions and joint operational procedures.

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