British units nearest Cesena?

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Chris C, Mar 12, 2021.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Hi all,

    I had a look briefly at Canadian history Mark Zuehlke's book The River Battles about the fighting for the Canadians in the latter half of 1944. I was looking mainly for his presentation of fighting at/around Cesena, which he gave little coverage to.

    However he did mention units of both 46th and then 4th British Divisions (in that order, after a relief, I think?) were in Cesena? I was wondering if maybe if Cesena was right at the boundary between 1st Canadian Division and 46th Division's allocated areas during the advance. (And how would I figure that out?) And did British units enter the town and when?

    In another thread Sheldrake mentioned that 46th Recce Regiment was at/in Cesena - anyone know anything about that? 12th Manitoba Dragons Report on Operational Methods

    And the Canadian Carleton and York Regiment war diary mentions getting in touch with Black Watch troops and I'm not sure which battalion that would have been?

    Screen Shot 2021-03-11 at 7.02.04 PM.png
    and that same day:
    Screen Shot 2021-03-11 at 7.02.35 PM.png
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
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  2. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    The Official History, The Canadians in Italy, has some detail about the attack on Cesena: Microsoft Word - Pages 001-200.rtf (, I hope that works if not searching "The Canadians in Italy pdf" will take you to the book.

    This is a map from within the file, which shows the Divisions involved in the advance on Cesena.

    I hope this little bit helps.

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  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Map from the 4th Div history.
    6th Bn The Black Watch was in 12th Infantry Brigade.

    Page 238 says "12th Brigade was to come under the command of 46th Division to relieve 138th Brigade on that division's right."

    There's quite alot more in the 4th Div history about the fighting around Cesena.

    Not so much in 46th Div's history.
    Pages 91 & 92 .

    edit: see also 16th DLI Itlaly Pt 4 Gothic Line (

    Attached Files:

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  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  5. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    I've a book on the 12 British Infantry Brigade ( which cost me a arm & a leg!) Well over £100. Probably nearer 150. I came across this book some years ago. It is rare has donkey poo. An account of the operations of 12 BRITISH INFANTRY BRIGADE In Italy. March-November 1944. Athens 1945. This small book has 240 pages.

    The above book may give some more detail?

    Hugh Williamson's original book in pristine condition is just has rare has the above. The Fourth Division 39-45. I first bought a reprint about four years ago. Not a bad one has reprints go.

    I also have the battalion history of the 6 Black watch that i scanned a while back. I will try & help if i can? See the file below.

    Another book that is not cheap if one can be found?


    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
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  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Looks like the Toronto Public Library actually HAS a copy of the 6th Battalion Black Watch history if not the other two. Not that I can get to it right now, but maybe later this year I will be able to access it.

    Sorry I have not yet taken a look at all the references you have all so usefully provided. I feel some of the energy to write returning (it was at about zero through the winter) but I haven't set aside the time. It also helps enormously if I can go out of my apartment, such as in a park, but I am now drifting off topic. Anyway, thank you all!! :)
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  7. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    I can empathise totally. I am having trouble getting back into the swing myself, I am always finding rabbit holes to fall down, especially those of the YouTube and streaming variety.
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  8. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Thanks BFBSM. Part of the problem is that I find it easier to focus on writing when I am out of my apartment (flat) than in it. I've done most of my writing in coffee shops and (during COVID) in parks. When it is snowy and freezing out even parks became impossible. There are too many distractions and "easier things to do" at home.

    Anyway now that I look again at The Canadians in Italy, I see that it outlines the corps boundaries but it does seem a little peculiar:

    Screen Shot 2021-03-13 at 8.25.47 AM.png

    So the 5th Corps main supply artery was Route 9 (the Via Emilia), but the Canadians were responsible for clearing it, with the boundary set 1000 yards south. I am going to guess this was for geographical reasons - that it was too hard to bring the supplies in entirely via the hilly country that 5th Corps was operating in, so they'd want to move as much as possible along Route 9 and only leave it when they had to. (This was because of all the rain that had been received - the hills were proving better going.) I'm going to see if the footnotes lead anywhere accessible.

    Footnote 70 references: Operations of the British [Indian and Dominion] Forces In Italy, III, "B", 56. I think I'm stuck there.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2021
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  9. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Maybe also worth looking at CWGC page for Cesena War Cemetery as it will give an idea of some of the units that were nearby
  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Here's the Chapter on Cesena from Williamson's ''The Fourth Division 1939 - 1945''.

    Attached Files:

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  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Owen, what was the title of the first 4th Division history that you provided pages from?

    On page 238 it explains the road situation which led to the boundaries, I think, and the British supply route on Route 9: there were no parallel roads in the hills, only roads leading down to it.
  12. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    It says in my post.
    I shall add '' --- '' to make it more obvious.
    Williamson's ''The Fourth Division 1939 - 1945''

    See this post on a useful thread.
    WW2 British Army Divisional histories

    Last edited: Mar 14, 2021
  13. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Ahh ok sorry, I got myself confused: the pages 91-92 you provided earlier were from a history of 46 Division, which you said but I didn't take in. (Was that The Story of 46 Division 1939–1945, published 1946?) Thank you very much!!
  14. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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  15. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Here is map from the 6 Black Watch which is also in the 12th British Infantry Brigade Italy 1944 that i mentioned earlier. It shows more detail than is in Williamson's book. The 12 Brigade book has more pages than the Divisional history (193-208.) I will have to read both chapters to see if the Brigade copy has more detail? It would be easier if my b..... scanner was working.
    Map No 17 &18 6th Bn Black Watch..jpg

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  16. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    That's great Stu, I don't want to put you to any more trouble. This is all masses more information than I had - will probably only end up reflecting a few sentences in my book but very interesting reading.
    I do wonder though if location 'W' was the position of the bridgehead?
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  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    That denotes the position of W Company of 2 Royal Fusiliers .

    Reading the account in the 4th Div history I would say that is where the Bailey span was going to be put on the ruined southern bridge but German harrassing fire prevented it from being built for a few days.

    Photos in the rear of the 4th Div history showing the Ark crossing & the pontoon ferry.

    Attached Files:

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  18. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    I have to admit that from the description of the Ark crossing I didn't imagine it ending in what looks like the shallows rather than getting all the way across!
  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Have a look at the IWM Photo collection.
    There are several more taken of the Ark bridge. Just search for "Savio" on their collections page.
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  20. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    It was completed at noon on the 24th October & was christened " Keatings Bridge"(see the Keatings.) I've done a copy of the pages & will post them once I've resized them.

    B.T.W. 16 DLI did a battalion history. I forgot that i had it tooked away in the draw. Off the top of my head, i think its 39-45?

    Edit.. Class 40 bridge.

    Last edited: Mar 15, 2021
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