Monte Cassino - Salerno Stand 1, 1a & 2

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Ewen, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. Ewen

    Ewen Member

    Hi, I am going out on a Battlefield Tour in early Sept and I am trying to do some research into Stand 1 & 1a - What were the formation of medical assets within the 46th Division at the start of the campaign and how does this compare to todays groupings?

    In addition for stand 2 - From the German perspective why was it so important to contain the allies and what was the British Medical Support plan, specifically looking at 'Beach Bricks'

    Any information on either of these topics would be gratefully received. Many thanks in advance.
  2. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Could you clarify which action you’re interested in? Are you interested in the medical plan for the Salerno landings? I can probably help with some stuff for 56 Infantry Division.


  3. Ewen

    Ewen Member

    Hi Tom,

    Here is an extract of what i have been asked to research prior to going out to Monte Cassino and what my group will be expected to brief on....We will be expected to deliver a 20-minute overview to the rest of the group on our given topics


    Discussion – Stand 1&1a– What was the formation of the medical assets within the 46th Division at the start of the campaign and how does this compare to groupings today.

    Stand 2– From the German perspective why was it so important to contain the Allies and what was the British Medical support plan, specifically looking at “Beach Bricks”.

    Anything you can offer will be great as i wouldn't know where to start with this. I gather from lots of research that the 46th weren't really at Cassino but more to the left towards Garigliano...
  4. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    It sounds like you are a serving soldier so the first thing that you should do is call the Prince Consort’s Library in Aldershot. They will be able to post you a copy of the 46 Inf Div History.

    Secondly, you need to ask for a copy of ‘The Army Medical Services Campaigns Volume 3’ by FA Crew.

    These two docs will help you with your briefing.

    Just to be clear, although you might be standing at Cassino, these are Salerno questions. Both questions have nothing to do with Cassino.


    Ewen likes this.
  5. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    As for the point about the need to contain the Allies, it was important to do so because every day of delay allowed the Germans to build their massive defence line anchored on Cassino - the Gustav Line.


  6. Ewen

    Ewen Member


    Many thanks for coming back to me on this topic. I really appreciate your guidance. I will get onto the Prince Consort’s Library in Aldershot first thing tomorrow in the hope that they will be able to post me a copy of the 46 Inf Div History. I will also ask for a copy of ‘The Army Medical Services Campaigns Volume 3’ by FA Crew as you have suggested.

    Many thanks once again for the steer.

  7. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    In addition, try to get hold of the Official History - you want ‘The Mediterranean and Middle East Volume V’. Pages 278-280 describe the landing of 46 Division and its associated 35th Beach Group. The whole battle of Salerno is well described from page 276 to about 329.

    Ewen likes this.
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Hope this helps.
    If you want dates later than 22nd Sept just shout.

    Attached Files:

    dbf likes this.
  9. Ewen

    Ewen Member

    Owen, This is fantastic, thank you indeed. :)
    Owen likes this.
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Hi Ewan,

    I work as a battlefield historian and have supported a number of staff rides and battlefield studies, including one this June for a Field Hospital looking at medical services in the Heurtgenwald.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the exact composition of the Medical support for 46th Division on the day it landed at Salerno. You are really being asked to set up a discussion about the comparison of how the WW2 medical services worked compared to modern day practice.

    You could probably do a good presentation based on the following internet resources

    Trux's piece on the RAMC explains the organisation and functions of RAMC units.
    Royal army medical corps

    There is some primary source material in the Report on the Staff Officers Combined Operations course run at Largs. Report on staff officers' courses held at Combined Training Centre, Largs : 30 Jul 43-18 Mar 44. :: World War II Operational Documents This was an American report on the course run in the UK between May 1943 and March 1944 to train army officers how to do amphibious landings and include the handouts and lecture notes.

    At least two parts tell you what medical services were supposed to do in landings.
    part 5 1040.pdf has the beach organisation and the medical services element.
    part 7 1042.pdf includes Appendix J17 the lecture notes on Medical services in a Combined Operation, including estimates of casualties, the proportion of dead to wounded, the expectations of the conditions on the beach on D and D+1.

    There are several people in the system who can help with historic information about the medical services. I would start with Colonel Alistair McLuskey, late RAMC. You can contact him via here. CHACR | About Us
    He is a member of the British Commission for Military History, written books and articles, including the article on medical services in the Great War for the Army Battlefield Guide to the Western Front and knows a lot about battlefield studies.

    Is there a historian supporting the exercise? If so contact him or her. They should be very happy to help. They want you to get the historic bit right.

    The second question asks you to explain the German tactical and operational perspective. The Official history has this in summary, but there are plenty of books on the Italian Campaign that will do as well.

    Hope this helps
    minden1759 and Owen like this.
  11. Ewen

    Ewen Member

    Sheldrake, Thank you very much for the advice and guidance. This is really helpful.

    I have now got a lot more, useful information which will help shape our particular discussions. I will give Col McLuskey a shout, he works in our building anyway so should be relatively easy to pin him down over the coming weeks. Sadly, we do not have a historian attached to the Ex, although there will be a guide when we get into the region who will chaperone us throughout the areas to be visited. From my groups perspective, i think giving accurate accounts based on evidence is better than trawling the internet and books which is an absolute minefield.

    Thank you once again, if there is anything else that you do think of over the coming days/ weeks which will bolster the material that you have already pointed out, it will be gratefully received.

    Best Regards


  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....


    Glad to help.

    The MOD should have the papers from previous staff rides to Salerno and Cassino. Al should be able to point you at these.

    I would not dismiss the internet as a resource. Trux's article I referred you to is based on the referenced WO publications he lists. His material isn't infallible but it is a very good start.

    The Combined Operations course notes are from CARL. This isn't any random internet source, but the US Army digital archive at Fort Leavenworth. The Combined Operations course notes are a primary source about British best practice for combined operations in Mid 1943.

    CARL also has a lot of American material on Salerno and Cassino as these operations were mounted by Mark Clark's Fifth Army. The Fifth Army Histories and the Fifteenth Army Group Military encyclopedia has a lot of useful material as does the much shorter British "Notes from Theatres of War No 20 Italy 43 - 44"

    If you want primary sources about German intentions, find copies of the following post war interviews documented by the American Army under the Foreign military Studies series, recorded on microfilm and available on the internet through Fold3 (Ancestry) :-

    • 26th Pz Div, southern Italy, 7 Sep 1943-23 Jan 1944 By Oberstleutnant Douglas von Bernsdorff; 32 pp, 12 illus; 1947. MS # D-316
    • Strategy in the Italian campaign By Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring and General der Kavallerie Siegfried Westphal; 55 pp. Answers to a questionnaire MS # B-270
    • Situation estimate in the Mediterranean up to Allied landing on the Italian mainland By Generaloberst Heinrich von Vietinghoff; 7 pp; 1947. Also included in MS #T-1a, Chapter VI. MS # D-116
    The listing of the FMS studies are here HyperWar: Guide to Foreign Military Studies 1945-54

    Kesselring wrote an autobiography

    Enjoy your Battlefield study
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
  13. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    As promised, this is the Operation Order by the ADMS of 56 Division for Salerno (Source: Wo177/414):
    72dpi00001.jpg 72dpi00002.jpg 72dpi00003.jpg
    I would expect this to be replicated quite closely in the 46 Division sector.


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  14. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    I am gobsmacked that you only have a guide to chaperone you about rather than a military historian to explain everything.

    I am a battlefield guide and will be in Cassino on 14-18 Sep 19 with 4 LANCS so if I can be of help do say.

    I will be at the Hotel Rocca.

    Get me through my website for you need anything.



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