60th Anniversary Italian Campaign

Discussion in 'All Anniversaries' started by Walts Daughter, Dec 7, 2004.

  1. Walts Daughter

    Walts Daughter Junior Member

    Thought I'd pass along this info. Seems nothing was in the works for the 60th Anniversary until the American Legion Post 50 stepped in. Cheers and hats off to them. :D

    Pelham American Legion Post 50 Initiates Commemoration
    of World War II 60th Anniversary Ceremonies in Italy
    Former Sen. McGovern, Ambassador Boggs Plan to Participate

    Pelham, NY, November 9, 2004 – One of the most important yet often overlooked campaigns in World War II will be recognized in May 2005 when ceremonies will be held to honor the sacrifices made by the forces of freedom in the Battle for Italy. The ceremonies have been initiated by American Legion Post 50 from Pelham, NY, which features several veterans of this conflict.

    Post 50, together with fellow organizations of the American Legion, plan to conduct memorial ceremonies on the 60th anniversary day of the surrender of German forces to American and Allied forces on Monday May 2 at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial which is located in Nettuno, a short drive south of Rome. On Thursday May 5, a wreath laying ceremony will be held at the Florence American Cemetery located near Florence, Italy. At the Nettuno cemetery, 7,861 Americans are buried and 3,095 American military personnel who are “Missing in Action” are memorialized. At Florence, 4,402 Americans are buried and 1,409 “MIAs” are listed on a memorial. The ceremonies will be an opportunity for those lost 60 years ago to be remembered in the presence of WWII veterans and their families.

    “It is sad that, even on Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, some Americans take for granted the sacrifices that have been made to provide the freedom and rights enjoyed by all Americans,” said Post 50 Commander Michael Barrett. “The United States is a nation where its citizens unite and fight for what is right and just. A mere 60 years ago, the very existence of our country was at stake, and the men and women of our land willingly chose to defend this nation and the rights we have, even at the risk of losing their lives. Their sacrifice for the common good should never be forgotten and Post 50 is honored to initiate the commemoration of these efforts in the Italian campaign of World War II. This may be one of the last opportunities for these patriots to honor their fallen fellow Americans and for those of us who have been born in the last 60 years to honor them all. We are humbled by the chance to offer our personal thanks for their efforts to keep freedom alive in the world.”

    Surprisingly, until Post 50 decided to put together this memorial program, no ceremonies had been planned to recognize this important contribution to the Allied triumph in WWII. Members of Post 50 were moved when watching the ceremonies honoring the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion in June. They wondered what recognition would be planned for the Italian fight, but were told by the WWII 60th Anniversary Commission in Washington that no ceremonies were planned due to resource limitations.

    Taking the initiative, Post 50 drafted a resolution requesting approval to organize an anniversary ceremony in Italy and has presented this to American Legion leadership on the county, state and national level. To date approval has been received from the county and state level and a “Favorable” response was received from the National Executive Committee.

    Post 50 was also informed by the WWII 60th Anniversary Committee that the proposal had generated interest within the leadership of the U.S. military and the Federal government and each could be expected to send senior (-more-)
    American Legion Post 50 Leads National Commemoration…, page 2

    level representation to the ceremonies. Former Sen. George McGovern, a WWII veteran, and former Vatican Ambassador Lindy Boggs have already expressed interest in participating.

    The Battle for Italy began on September 3, 1943 with an amphibious landing by Allied forces on the southernmost tip of the country and continued until May 2, 1945, the final week of the war. The 602-day campaign was the longest of any conducted by the US military during WWII and claimed the lives of over 19,000 American service men and women. Beyond those who made the ultimate sacrifice in Italy, thousands more were injured, including future United States Senators Robert Dole and Daniel Inouye. The Italian campaign was crucial to the defeat of Nazi Germany, providing an assault that diverted important military resources away from the defense of France and liberated the Nazi’s closest ally. In 1994, memorial ceremonies were held at Nettuno on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of Rome. On that occasion the ceremony was led by then President Clinton and four US Senators who had served in Italy during WWII.

    Residents of Pelham who are memorialized at Nettuno include Capt. Kendall K. Fish US Army Air Force who died on April 24, 1945. At the Florence Memorial, Flight Officer Bertley H. Moberg US Army Air Forces who died on March 14, 1945 and First Lieutenant Ellsworth Totten III US Army Air Forces who died on Dec. 23, 1944 are both listed. These two sites along with other overseas military cemeteries run by the American Battle Monuments Commission are sacred places for all Americans to remember.

    To help veterans and their families participate in the ceremonies in Italy, travel plans are being coordinated by two tour companies. Both tours offer participation in an opening reception, transportation to both of the ceremonies, and a variety of sightseeing opportunities. Information is available by contacting Andy Ambrose of Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours at 1-888-903-3329 (which will provide a historic military perspective) or Harriet Balter of Rich Worldwide Travel at 1-914-835-7600 x134 or 1-800-431-1130 (which will provide a tour highlighting Italian culture and history).
    The American Legion is the world’s largest Veteran’s Association with nearly three million members. American Legion Post 50, which actively supports current military personnel serving overseas, is commanded in 2004-2005 by Michael Barrett and has over 160 members. Post 50 plans and conducts the Town of Pelham’s annual Memorial Day Parade and Veteran’s Day Ceremony commemorating the 83 residents lost in military service during four wars of the 20th Century. Members of the Post are active in entertaining veterans being cared for in Veterans Administration facilities and supporting youth programs such as Boy’s State.

    For additional participant information, contact Kenneth G. Kraetzer, Jr. at (914) 381-5353 or by e-mail at (kgk914@aol.com). Please direct media inquiries to John Chuhran at (914) 235-5523 or by e-mail at jtchuhran@aol.com.
  2. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bravo 50 Post - it is wonderful that the Italian Campaign is not forgotten be everyone! Thank you for bringing the Posts's efforts to the attention of the Forum. One important correction though - the Campaign started on 10 July 1943 with the invasion of Sicily.

    Alexander summed up the Battle for Italy in the following words:
    "Any estimate of the value of the campaign must be expressed, not in terms of the ground gained, for the ground was not vital, in the strict sense, either to us or to the enemy, but in terms of its effect on the war as a whole. The Allied Armies in Italy were not engaged with the enemy's main armies and their attacks were not directed, as were those of the Allies in the west or the Russians in the east, against the heart of the German Fatherland and the nerve-centres of Germany's national existence. Our role was subordinate and preparatory. Ten months before the great assault in the west our invasion of Italy, at first in very moderate strength, drew off to that remote quarter forces that might have turned the scale in France. As the campaign progressed more and more German troops were drawn in to oppose us. The supreme directors of Allied strategy were always careful to see that our strength was never allowed to grow above the minimum necessary for our tasks; at one time and another during those 20 months no less than 21 divisions in all were removed from my command for the benefit of other theatres. The Germans made no comparable detachments. Except for a short period in the spring of 1944 they had always more formations in Italy than we had, and we made such good use of that brief exceptional period that in the summer of 1944, the crisis of the war, they found themselves forced to divert eight divisions to this secondary theatre. At that time, when the value of our strategic contribution was at its greatest, 55 German divisions were tied down in the Mediterranean by the threat, actual or potential, presented by our armies in Italy. The record of the comparative casualties tells us the same story. On the German side they amounted to 536,000. Allied casualties were 312,000. The difference is the more remarkable in that we were always the attackers. Four times we carried out that most difficult operation of war, an amphibious landing. Three times we launched a prepared offensive with the full strength of an army group. Nowhere in Europe did soldiers face more difficult terrain or more determined adversaries."

    With best wishes,
  3. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    I will be out in Italy again next May, going up to the Gothic Line, Faenza and River Lamone, amongst other places.

    Has anyone heard of any British veteran events in Italy planned for next year?
  4. colinhotham

    colinhotham Senior Member

    As Gerry says do'nt forget Sicily, I'm sure it was as hard fought as the rest of the Italian campaign. Like Paul, next May I head for the Med, but in my case I shall be on Sicily tracing the US 7th Army path from Licata/Gela, via Agrigento and Corleone to Palermo and the north coast.


  5. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Great to hear about this event. I'm glad to see that people are becoming aware of both "forgotten" campaigns of World War II, the other being the Burma front. I've always been interested in the Italian campaign since I got the Avalon Hill wargame "Anzio" many years ago, with its brown-and-butter hex map of the long peninsula, and the vast and complex order of battle and colorful counters that represented the order of battle. And the lineup of nations that fought in Italy is incredible: Britain, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Germany, Italy, Greece, South Africa, Brazil, France, Morocco, Algeria (by proxy), India, Nepal, Russia (in German service), Poland, Palestinian Jews, Australians (RAAF), even Japanese-Americans. Wow.
  6. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

  7. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Although grainy, here are a couple of photographs taken while supporting with the Cremona Group in its first action against the Germans.
    Troop Leaders Lt. King (center) and Sgt Shaw (left) conferring with members of 9th Company, 21st Regiment, prior to the attack 2nd March 1945. IWM - N.A.22733
    The last photograph in the series. Men of 11th Company, 22nd Regiment, shepherding German prisoners to the rear. IWM N.A.22741
  8. Walts Daughter

    Walts Daughter Junior Member

    Glad to see so many replies. This news has made many WWII vets who fought in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns very happy to say the least.

    I thought everyone would enjoy seeing a photo that my dad took when the men captured ANZIO ANNIE. I am very proud to have this one in my personal collection.

  9. millsbomb

    millsbomb Junior Member

    Hello, I am a 'new boy' this is my first post, I fought in Italy with the British 46 div and landed with the American 5th army at Salerno after fighting in the British 1st Army in North Africa.
  10. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    Welcome to the forum millsbomb, thankyou for you service in the war.
  11. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Hello, I am a 'new boy' this is my first post, I fought in Italy with the British 46 div and landed with the American 5th army at Salerno after fighting in the British 1st Army in North Africa.

    Thank you for joining us, Millsbomb, and for your service for Crown and Country in World War II.

    I hope you can share with us your experiences of the African and Italian campaigns.
  12. John Vincent McLoughlin

    John Vincent McLoughlin Junior Member

    Dear Paul,
    I am researching my dad´s experiences in the Italian Campaign. He was with 1st British Infantry Division at Anzio, Florence and the Gothic Line (including the Monte Grande sector). Do you know of any photos of the Gothic line positions in the Monte Grande sector?
    John McLoughlin

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