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11 November 2019

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PeterVE

There was an Italian film "La Pelle", made in the '80s which looked at the Italian campaign from the Italian civilian point of view. It ends with civilians cheering a column of tanks entering Rome, and one man slips in the crowd and is run over by a tank.

scott s.

It's fairly well known in Hawaii due to the 100th Inf Battalion (sep) made up mainly of Hawaii Nisei who were removed from their HIARNG regiments after Dec 7. They would be brigaded into the Iowa NG 133rd Inf in the 34th Inf Div fighting in North Africa and Italy. After the fall of Rome they were transferred into the newly arrived 442d Regimental Combat Team made up of mainland Nisei. After the Rome-Arno campaign the 442d was transferred to the 36th Inf Div for the Southern France invasion Operation Dragoon and subsequent campaign in Alsace with the 7th US Army/6th Army Group.

I became interested as a result of studying my father-in-law's unit of the 100th Inf Div which was also assigned to the 7th US Army.

oldman22

Yes, Scott, good to remember the 442nd. A movie about them was popular long ago, now available free on youtube,
called "Go For Broke". Van Johnson plays the Texan assigned to lead Japanese soldiers from Hawaii and the mainland. Among those soldiers was Dan Inouye, who dropped out of pre-med studies to volunteer. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_for_Broke!_(1951_film)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Inouye#Military_service_(1941%E2%80%931947)

Thirdeye

It speaks volumes that Monte Cassino and the Gustav Line were only seized when the Germans abandoned them because of a deteriorating rear situation. They were undefeated in battle.

Thirdeye

My favorite story from that campaign is what Alexander Patch's Seventh Army accomplished in the Vosges Mountains campaign. It was a shoestring operation facing an entrenched enemy in winter conditions in terrain heavily favoring the defense. The Seventh cleared everything west of the Rhine and fought off the Nordwind attack that shortly followed the Ardennes attack. Like in the Guadalcanal campaign two years before, Patch was the guy who did more with less.

Diana C

I had an uncle who was injured badly at Hürtgenwald, got some sort of metal for that as he decided to stand out to take the fire so others could run the opposite way from the back of a building. He also served in North Africa. He lived the rest of his life with so much shrapnel in his legs that he could not take a job that required much standing. He repaired clocks in a small room in his house. He was so modest about what he did in the war that it wasn't until he died that I learned about all he had done.

It was not until he died that I ever learned about all he had done in the war. That generation of soldiers were not the kind to at least brag. After he died and I learned the details of his service, I could feel some sense of pride that I had often brought him gallons of cherry cider from the town's orchards where I lived fifty miles away because he said it made the pain/ache in his legs subside a little. Mostly, though, I am ashamed that I hadn't tried harder to get him to talk about his service.

Diana C

I know that the battle for Stalingrad was horrible, but the siege of Leningrad was also horrible for civilians as well as for the soldiers.

In the West we are reluctant to praise anything Soviet. But we do owe much to the Russians' involvement in World War II. So very many Russians lost their lives and in doing so did much to slow the Nazi attempt for world domination.

Diana C

I know this thread concentrates on World War II, but I want to give some thanks for the "boys" of my generation who fought in Viet Nam.

I watched a long documentary of World War II this Veterans Day weekend, and it was followed by a very good documentary of Viet Nam. I had earlier gone out for breakfast with hich school friends, several of whom were veterans of that "unpopular" war. I am very proud of my brother, my cousins, and my classmates who fought but came home to little fanfare and some derision. It makes me sad that few of them ever volunteer stories about what they experienced. It makes me sad that they feel some people will still shun them for having fought in Viet Nam.

EconomicsExpert

Blue Peacock,

ya, Soviet Union lost 20+ million civilians & 9+ million military. URL linked below using actual historical documents gives good details on WW2 Eastern Front
&
table of stats using credible sources linked in footnotes:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Front_(World_War_II)#Results
&
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Front_(World_War_II)#Forces

Nazi Germany deployed their best divisions & most of it's military (3.3 to 3.9 million soldiers (60% to 80% of it's army)
each year to the Eastern Front (Eastern Europe)
to
fight the Soviet Union,
about 3x as much than the 1.3 to 1.9 million military it deployed to the Western Front (Western Europe)

The Soviet Union was responsible for inflicting & destroying about 80% of Nazi Germany's military,
which is why General Marshall
&
Special Assistant to US President FDR wrote at link:

"General George Marshall , the US Army Chief of Staff , did Calculated without the Eastern Front, the United States would have had to double the number of its soldiers on the Western Front. [114]

Memorandum for the President's Special Assistant Harry Hopkins , Washington, DC, 10 August 1943:

"In War II Russia occupies a dominant position and is the decisive factor for the defeat of the Axis in Europe. While in Sicily the Great Britain and the United States are opposed by 2 German divisions.

Whenever the Allies open a second on the continent, it will be decidedly a secondary to that of Russia; theirs wants to continue to be the main effort.

Without Russia in the war, the Axis can not be defeated in Europe, and the position of the United Nations becomes precarious.

Similarly, Russia's post-position in Europe wants to be a dominant one. With Germany crushed, there is no power in Europe to oppose tremendous military forces. [115]"

artemesia

My Dad was in the Navy and, fortunately or unfortunately, was injured (blinded) off the coast of Palermo in the first week of Sept. 1943. His father, born in Italy, died at his home in Ohio in the same week. Tho my Dad eventually recovered the sight of one eye, he was discharged early in 1944 because he was an orphan, and his older brother was in the Army at Normandy.

I learned only after Dad's death some of the details of what happened: his ship was a Landing Ship Carrier and he had been assigned to a landing craft, and to lower the gate so infantrymen ?? could wade ashore. A young officer at the rear of the craft ordered Dad to Lower the Gate, but Dad thought the water was too deep, so he refused. I'm not sure how that insubordination contributed to his injury and discharge -- just never knew. It must have been tough on him -- he was about 20 years old, looked healthy but not in uniform when war was at a fever-pitch, and went home to an empty house.

On the other hand, my older sib and I are pre-boomer boomers because Dad came home from the war before it was over over there. He & Mom -- also from Italy -- lived a life of quiet grace and dignity, and never, ever spoke of the losses they and their parents endured.

On a less personal note, the fundamental history of Italy-in-the-war is not at all clear; that is, there's very little of it, not merely in the TV and movie pseudo-histories but in scholarly work on, i.e. Mussolini's intentions, Allied agenda with respect to Italy, etc. Andrew Buchanan provided interesting insights in a talk at New York Military Affairs symposium a few years ago
https://www.c-span.org/video/?322137-1/discussion-us-engagement-italy-world-war-ii
Buchanan argues that Mark Clark was secretly ordered by FDR to "steal a march" on the British and take Rome without the planned accompaniment of British forces.

Alves

Around 25 thousand brazilians were under the fifth army in Italy as well, it was our FEB. The late second husband of my grandmother fought there.

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