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Was just reading through some of the material I collected from the National Archive on my Dad's Battalion. As I read the following two paragraphs I thought about what the upcoming holiday really means:



"On the 26th of March, 1945, the 85th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion, made the assault crossing of the Rhine River in the vicinity of Frankenthat, Germany. The movement to the river was delayed by occasional air burst and intermittent 88 fire. At 0200 hours the Allied artillary barrage began. At 0205 hours before the Allied barrage could be of any use a terrific enemy barrage arose and caused some causualties. At 0230 hours the first wave started across the river and shuttling continued as directed. Enemy shelling continued all through to early morning and did not cease until 0605 hours when a flight of four Thunderbolts appeared overhead.


This assault was carried out in the face of small arms and automatic weapons fire. The storm boats with crews and infantry passengers left the rear shore and proceeded to the far shore, which was held by the enemy. Upon reaching the far shore the craft were to land their troops and return to the rear shore as ordered. One of the boats failed to return and on the next trip over one of the storm boat operators beached his craft and proceeded to look for the missing boat and operator. The missing operator was found sprawled on the beach behind a tree trunk with a serious head wound, caused presumably by German shell fragments. He was immediately returned to the rear shore and taken to the medical aid statiion. Three days later this man died of his wounds."



In the morning, from 2:05 a.m. until 6:05 a.m., imagine that you are 18 years old and are spending those 4 hrs as described above. Maybe then you won't take Memorial Day for granted, maybe then you'll realize that it's about more than just picnics. Because for many a young man in 1945, it was no picnic.


To the Greatest Thompson wielding Generation, Thanks!


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The best way I know of this weekend for me to honor those who have gone before us is spend some time at a local memorial or museum.For me that means going down to the NASLEEM Museum and viewing many such personal accounts that you descibe 85th Engineer...this is truly the time to set aside a moment for reflection of where this country has been and where it is going. http://www.machinegunbooks.com/forums/invboard1_1_2/upload/html/emoticons/wink.gif
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My Grandfather was with the 85th infantry Custer Division. Lately he is not doing so well and not sure of the outcome, it has been a tough week. I've been trying to find some of teir history and he has told me little bits. I did find a web site dedicated to the 85th Custer Division and here's a snipit of the battles they fought and died in. They fought Hitlers toughest divisions, He told me he walked from the bottom if Italy to the very northern points. Wow. So on this Memorial day, shake a hand or give a hug or kiss to those men and women who fought to give us what we have. After all, they are the greatest generation ever.



Outline of the Italian Campaign in 6 parts

General Map of Italy and area.


(1) Sicily Campaign, July 9 - August 1943. The 5th US and 8th British Armies landed on Sicily on July 9, 1943. General Patton was selected to lead the secondary attack on the left flank, around General Montgomery. Patton beat the British to Messina. On 25 July, the King Emanuele overthrew Mussolini. The monarchy tried to make an armistice with the Allies. The Germans rescued Mussolini from prison and set him up as a puppet leader over a new Republic.


(2) Invasion of Italy, September 9. The Allies announced the Italian government had surrendered on the 8th, just before the 5th US Army landed at Salerno, below Naples. Montgomery landed at the toe of Italy after an extensive artillery bombardment. Soon, both armies had captured the lower part of Italy, including the Foggia airfield and the valuable port of Naples. By December, the Germans had retreated to the natural fortresses along the Liri Valley just south of Rome. The Allies were about to attempt something that had only been done once in Rome's history; capture the Eternal city from its southern approaches .

Map of Salerno - Landing by 36th 'Texas' Division.


(3) GUSTAV Line & Battles for Cassino - Jan - May 1944. An estimated 180,000 men were killed or wounded during this 4-month period. The British had a hard time on the east coast because of the many rivers and ridges that crossed their paths. On the Cassino front, or GUSTAV Line, the US had a set back at the crossing of the Rappido River. The II Corps were landed further north behind German lines at Anzio. Both fronts became a stalemate after 3 attacks were made against the GUSTAV Line. The Allies made a controversial decision to bomb the abbey Monte Cassino.

Anzio Diary - Day-by-day experiencies of a soldier who was on the Anzio beach.


(4) Spring Offensive & Capture of Rome, May - June 1944. After receiving more fresh troops, the Spring offensive came on May 11. The GUSTAV Line was broken and by June 4, 1944, the allies on the two fronts had linked up and advanced into Rome, as the Germans gave it up without causing further damage. The Germans were fighting a delaying action as they retreated north of the ARNO RIVER Line and into their major defense line in the mountains.

Map of Gustav Line - Positions of all Allied units on May 11, 1944.

Hill 69 - Brief description of combat of 2nd Battalion, 339th Regiment on May 12.


(5) GOTHIC Line in the North Apennine Mtns. Germans set up a defense line north of Rome along the backbone of the northern Apennine Mountains. Again, the British attacked along the east coast. The main crossing of the Apennines was atIl Futa pass. This was heavily defended, so the main attack was at IL Giogo Pass to the east. This fighting was described as an all up-hill battle as several large peaks had to be assaulted. Both the 5th & 8th Armies were drained of men as units were pulled out for the invasion of Normandy and southern France. Without sufficient reserves, the fighting drew to a stalemate as the second winter in Italy set in.

Gothic Line - II Corps attack on the Gothic Line, 10 - 18 September, 1944.

Battle Mountain - One lone company of 88th Division holds a hill with heavy losses.


(6) Rapid advance into Po Valley. Feb-April 1945. A few more new units arrived, most notably, the 10th Mountain Division, which was used effectively during late winter operations. On April 19, the British initiated an attack towards Bologna. This was followed by the 5th Army attack that had been delayed by a couple of days. After fall of Bologna, the allies pushed out of the mountains and raced across the Po River valley. Amid much confusion, the Allies rapidly advance and chased the retreating Germans into the Alps. Mussolini and 15 other leaders were executed by the partisans.

Po Valley Map - Final drive across the Po Valley. 5th & 8th Armies. 21 April - 2 May.

Liberation of Vicenza - Two US divisions advance thru Po Valley amid confusion and chaos.

Capture of Imola, April 9-15, 1945 - Initial attack by British 8th Army.

Execution of Mussolini - The last days of IL Duce. Where there American witnesses to his execution?




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Mike, I remember seeing photos of Il Duce and his wife hanging upside down, with many Italians lined up for their turn to kick their faces in! http://www.machinegunbooks.com/forums/invboard1_1_2/upload/html/emoticons/blink.gif I guess they took his misrule personally. http://www.machinegunbooks.com/forums/invboard1_1_2/upload/html/emoticons/cool.gif I'm not sure if they were were dead before the kicking began. These photos were once shown in American History textbooks. But, sadly, everything has been sanitized by the liberal educational establishment. The same whimps and traitors who have seen to it that there is now hardly a mention of George Washington in our current American History texts, for public schools. http://www.machinegunbooks.com/forums/invboard1_1_2/upload/html/emoticons/mad.gif Yes, recognition of all the WWII vets is long overdue in Washington. Finally, after waiting nearly 60 years, our fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, uncles, brothers, etc. are being recognized for their sacrifices, ultimate and otherwise. I wish my father (a WWII Pacific Theatre veteran) was still here to see it. http://www.machinegunbooks.com/forums/invboard1_1_2/upload/html/emoticons/ph34r.gif Regards, Walter
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Do you mean these pictures?







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Yes, Mike, those are some of them. I saw others with their heads and faces bloodied beyond recognition. http://www.machinegunbooks.com/forums/invboard1_1_2/upload/html/emoticons/blink.gif http://www.machinegunbooks.com/forums/invboard1_1_2/upload/html/emoticons/ohmy.gif http://www.machinegunbooks.com/forums/invboard1_1_2/upload/html/emoticons/unsure.gif http://www.machinegunbooks.com/forums/invboard1_1_2/upload/html/emoticons/cool.gif Regards, Walter
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