Monte Grande Bologna 1st Infantry Division Anniversary

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Uncle Target, Nov 24, 2023.

  1. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Beware of Italian names on maps.
    Casa Nuova on RS Maps and on Ubique
    Not the same place but close by.
    The name means "New House"
    Very confusing.
    Casa Nuova below Castellaro or near Cerere
    Monte Grande.jpg
    Last edited: May 4, 2024
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  2. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Google Maps
    It seems that this was a war fought by the United Nations.
    Last edited: May 4, 2024
  3. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    I will beg to differ. To me, Casa Nuova is to the south of M. Cerere. I will go with the Italian map I sent you. Have a look Chris.

    If I'm wrong, then my hands will go up?

    Edit: Nuova is to the South East of M.Cerere. The maps that will follow will show this.

    Last edited: May 4, 2024
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  4. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Don't mean to be difficult but on the map that you sent,
    after a quick look. I make it three places called C.Nuovo
    992393 (Top left of the map)
    983333 (South west of M Castellaro
    005316 (South of Cerere)

    Look forward to seeing your next offerings
    (Feeling a bit better now, waiting more results from the Doc)

    The thread is running well, don't want to spoil it now.
    Still much to do before they go to Palestine.

    Snr NCO's in Palestine.jpg
    Mennell Family Collection
    Last edited: May 5, 2024
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  5. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    This will help you to understand the German attack.



  6. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.


    you have beaten me to it. I see you have not used the original map that I pestered you for, and I can understand why. I will show mine in time along with the Sketch map of the German Attack from the Frontier Force Rifles. When did you do that map? It's not in the pack.

  7. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.


    good news you are feeling a bit better. Fingers crossed re quacks. Be a while before I can had much more. Off to that lovely country that is Italy for a couple of weeks has you do! Happy days.:D:smug:

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  8. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Last edited: May 5, 2024
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  9. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    The para supply columns were not just decimated by by Mortar fire.
    They were bombarded with 25 pounder shells from the guns of the 67th firing in Upper Register.
    The shells were fired over the crest of the hills dropping into the gullies used to supply the paras.
    Here the shell bursts had maximum effect.

    Upper Register 3.jpg Upper Register 4.jpg
    Capt Averill San Clemente.jpg
    Mennell Family Collection

    Capt Tom Averill 446 Bty in the background
    on the banks of the River Silaro San Clemente Valley, December 1944.
    Last edited: May 6, 2024
  10. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.


    This is my attempt of the map. I've not worked out where the the Mule head was of ("A" Coy 6 RFF RIF). The sketch map which is on page 316 is rather good if you ask me. It gives House, Medium machine gun, Platoon HQ's, Company HQ's & T.A.C HQ's postions. Plus the shrine that is on the top of M. Cerere.


    I'm sure you once sent me the War diaries of 1A &SH for this period? I've not got them. I think we will not need them. These lot have two battalion histories has you will know. That's it for me for a while.

    Edit: Frank, thanks for the map.

    Last edited: May 6, 2024
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  11. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    I sorted it when I took a group on to Monte Grande in 2022.


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  12. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    It is, plus another one. Open your eyes Stuart. Pages 53, & 54.:oops: on my part. I still say I can understand why you have not used the map that I sent you. You probably did not have it when you spent much time in putting the pack together. Any chance you can show page 53? I've little on the 3/8 Punjabs. I think a chat with Sue Hughes is needed regarding the War Diaries. I was looking for some more Info re the Punjabs to see if they had a book and came up with the following info from a thread I started some time ago on this board.

    Ahmad, Rifat Nadeem & Rafuiddin Ahmed. Unfaded Glory: The 8th Punjab Regiment 1798-1956. Abbottabad, Pakistan, Baloch Regimental Centre, 2007 IWM LBY/2537.

    Frank, in time, can you ask the PCL if they have this book please? Plus the other Library at Boston-Spa that you mentioned not long since (that I never knew about). Okay, they don't lend out the books which is a shame.

  13. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Not a book but there is a memoire by one of the officers.


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  14. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Photos from an envelope taken by relatives of someone in the 67th FR during a visit in 1986.
    Possibly Ivamy family, Lt Ivamy was in the OP with the Argyles during the battle 12- 16 December 1944

    Written on the envelope: Monte Grande incl Monte Castellaro and Cerere.

    Anyone recognise which is which?
    Think top two lines are Calderaro.

    Monte Calderaro Castellaro and Cerere.jpg
    Averill Family Collection
    Last edited: May 6, 2024
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  15. Vladuka

    Vladuka New Member

    Google Maps 5532! 4d11.500973!16s%2Fg%2F11v9zd24n2?authuser=0&entry=ttu
    Hi Uncle Target,
    it is the castle of Frassineto, today for sale and in a state of abandonment. The first mention is in the year 1136.
    Google Maps

    Attached Files:

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  16. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    This could be significant in the battle of M. Cerere.
    Was it where the 1st Argyle's had their Command Post and why the Artillery Observers survived with them.
  17. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    For your benefit I have posted the story of this battle from the perspective of the 67th Field Regiment 1st Division Artillery.
    A History of the 67th Field Regiment by Peter Mennell.
    (Many of the photos are from his wartime photo album).

    20240506_171115 a.jpg
    20240506_171237 b.jpg
    IO App.jpg
    next aa.jpg
    20240506_171330 d.jpg
    Last edited: May 6, 2024
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  18. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    314 6th Royal Battalion: The Gothic Line, August-September, 1944

    In the light of these developments, the supreme importance of the coming conflict was emphasized in an Order of the day from​
    Lieutenant-General Sir Oliver Leese, the Eight Army Commander, which was read at the head of the troops.
    It ran as follows:
    "You have won great victories. To advance 200 miles from Cassino to Florence in three months is a notable achievement in the
    Eighth Army's history. To each one of you in the Eighth Army and in the Desert Air Force my grateful thanks. Now we begin the last lap. Swiftly and secretly once again we have moved across Italy an army of immense strength and striking power to break the Gothic Line. Victory in the coming battle means the beginning of the end for the German armies in Italy. Let every man do his best, and again success will be ours. To those who go temporarily under of the great Fifth Army, your role is vital to our success. You will win fresh honours and the Eighth Army will be proud when you come back to us."

    On 26 August Colonel Green, on return from India, resumed command of the Battalion. The role of the 8 Indian Division in the​
    assault on the Gothic Line in the autumn of 1944 took it to entirely fresh terrain in the mountains on the east flank bordering on the Adr-
    atic: and here the Division concentrated on a narrow front to attack in concert with the combined offensives of the Fifth and Eighth Armies opening along the front of the Gothic Line to the west. On 1 September the Battalion advanced towards its objective, Monte Calvana, about seven miles distant to the north-west, but was held up by the failure of the remaining battalions of the 19 Brigade to take the two main peaks of a mountain which overlooked its line of advance. The Battalion was nevertheless ordered to push on, with the assurance that the peaks would be taken during the night. The morning, however, found the peaks still in enemy hands and the Battalion's position was most uncomfortable. It was completely overlooked, and for two days the men were exposed to a continuous enemy shelling to which they could (no effective reply.) Colonel Green represented the facts to Brigade and obtained permission to withdraw his much-tired men to a somewhat more sheltered position not far from Castel Luccia, the withdrawal being carried out after dark. The casualties in this affair amounted to thirteen killed, seventy-three wounded, and eight missing.
    On the 8 and 9, patrols pushing cautiously forward found that the enemy forces had withdrawn under cover of shell fire, and the​
    Battalion continued its advance over most difficult country, consisting of a succession of hills joined by narrow saddles, where it was impossible to deploy on a wide front in order to avoid casualties. The companies had to take turns in leapfrogging through one another, and for days the men slept on the open hillside, soaked with rain and harassed by enemy fire.

    6th Royal Battalion: Monte Cerere, October, 1944 315
    At the end of this period the Battalion approached its final objective, Monte Cavallara, and from 1 to 5 October they were engaged​
    in a desperate battle for this dominating feature overlooking the Lamone valley. Although a subsidiary feature was captured, the main massif remained in enemy hands. The fighting left the troops completely exhausted and a short respite followed during which, on 15
    October, the Battalion received a visit from the Maharaja of Patiala. His Highness made a stirring speech to his Sikh audience and was afterwards entertained at a tea-party, to which the local inhabitants, who by this time had become fast friends, contributed milk, fruit, cakes and other delicacies. Many men were given leave to visit Florence for sightseeing. On the 21 October a redistribution of company commands took place as follows:
    "A" Company ... ... ... Captain A. Eckford.
    "B" Company ... ... ... Major G. Bharat Singh.
    "C" Company ... ... ... Captain Wilcox.
    "D" Company ... ... ... Captain Pocklington.​
    The advance up the Lamone valley was now resumed, and companies took it in turn to capture a succession of peaks dominating​
    the road. The object of the Germans was to cover their withdrawal by road demolitions, mines, and booby-traps, and by holding on to strong positions in order to compel their pursuers to deploy.

    Monte Cerere​
    The 19 Brigade were now detached for (an urgent and special task) and thank the Lord they did my own words in another portion​
    of the front as the situation at the head of the Lamone valley looked like being cleared up by the advance of the Polish Corps on the right. This task was to reinforce the 1 British Infantry Division on Monte Grande.
    The sister peaks of Monte Grande and Monte Cerere, towering about 4,000 feet above sea-level, dominated the main lateral high-​
    way of Italy, and were only seven miles south-west of Bologna. The key position had been [taken earlier in the campaign by the Amer-
    cans, who had employed SEVEN battalions for the purpose.] The Germans, fully alive to the menace to their security, were determined to recapture it at all costs, and a criterion of their determination to do so was the appearance on the scene of the 1. Fallschirmjager-
    Division-a corps known to be reserved for tasks of special importance. On the other hand, the Fifth Army's future offensive depended on the possession of this key sector, wherefore it was decided to reinforce it. The 19 Brigade accordingly came under the orders of the
    1 British Infantry Division in Monte Cerere, with a task ahead of them that was to call for all their skill and determination.

    MONTE GRANDE. No 8b..jpg

    98 & 99..jpg

    6th Royal Battalion: Monte Cerere, 6-10 December, 1944 317​
    On 3 December the Battalion relieved the 2 North Staffs as centre battalion on Monte Cerere itself, with the Argyll & Sutherland​
    Highlanders on its right and 3/8 Punjab Regiment (see sketch map & illustrations to follow) on its left. The move was carried out in bitterly cold & very difficult conditions. Only a mule track was possible for the latter portion, and this was so bad that some of the mules crashed to their death with their loads. Still not worked out the exact position of the Mule Head. The answer will probably be in the war diaries of 2, 12, 17, & 26 Indian Mule Companies . I'm thinking one of the latter three. I've had quick read of all three.
    On the position itself the crest was found to be too narrow to hold in depth, and was therefore vulnerable to a sudden & determined​
    rush. Moreover, such tactics were the speciality of the paratroopers. To add to the physical discomforts, the ground was swept day and night by persistently maintained shell fire from guns and mortars of all calibres, (including the Nebelwerfer and a monster 240mm railway gun from Bologna.) On one day alone this piece fired a hundred rounds into the position. To these no reply was possible.
    The Battalion occupied a front of approximately five hundreds yards. "B" Company (Major Bharat Singh) was on the right, "C" Com-​
    pany (Major Wilcox) on the left, and "A" Company (Major Eckford) laid back in the centre with one platoon as an outpost. Which platoon? I don't have the war diaries. "D" Company (Captain Cocksedge) was in a rest position at the bottom of the mountain, where it supplied a guard to the mule concentration and to the jeep-head.
    The period 6 to 10 December was one of much active patrolling on both sides, & artificial moonlight was used by us on a number​
    off occasions. Owing to the difficulty of a crest clearance it was not possible to put down artillery defensive fire close in front of the position. The Battalion mortars had, therefore, to assume the greater part of this responsibility. During these days of intense discomfort there was never a dull moment. On the night of 9/ 10 a patrol, boldly led by Major Eckford, got into the middle of the enemy's most forward posts and brought back valuable information. What was this valuable information that he brought back? Unfortunately, Major
    Eckford was again wounded during this remarkably daring feat. He was awarded the Bronze Star (U.S.A.) for this action.
    On the 10 "D" Company relieved "A," which went into rest at the bottom of the mountain at jeep-head until the 11 when (less the​
    guard left for jeep-head) it moved up to the mule-head, a shoulder of the mountain much nearer to the forward companies. Here, des-
    pite the fact that it was perched on a steep slope well below the Battalion position. it could act as a sort of lay-back position, which was better than nothing. From this position it could also give a certain amount of local protection to the Mahratta M.M.Gs. The forward M.M.Gs. were manned by Battalion personnel and not by Mahrattas. Active patrolling by both sides continued during the night. On the 12 at 0630hrs, after a night of continuous patrol movement on the front, a heavier than usual artillery and mortar concentration fell on the Battalion area, and shortly afterwards a forward post of "D" Company reported that the enemy were attacking in large numbers.

    318 6th Royal Battalion: Monte Cerere, 12/13 December, 1944
    By 0645hrs this forward post reported that the first attack had been beaten off and eleven prisoners taken. "C" Company's forward​
    platoons (which ones?) had also been attacked, but the attack had been broken up by anti-personnel mines and the company's small-
    arms fire. Just after 0700hrs "D" Company's forward post was attacked. This time, with the aid of flame-throwers and after a fierce hand-to-hand struggle, the (enemy completely overran it.) The last report from the post commander was that he had only a few wounded men left and that he estimated the enemy to be at least two companies strong. After this, general infiltration by the enemy took place. The German paratroops worked their way forward in groups, bombing and firing bursts from automatic weapons. They over-
    ran the right-hand post of "C" Company and were in some cases within a hundred yards of, and overlooking, Tactical Headquarters of the Battalion.
    At this stage thirty men from "D" Company's reserve platoon (which one?) were collected under Captain Cocksedge ( see illustra-​
    tion that will follow) and ordered to recapture the vital ground ahead on which the paratroops had begun to consolidate. They charged up and over the slope and hurled back the surprised enemy off their newly won position. Mortar defensive fire was called for, while the M.M.Gs, firing on fixed lines across the front, did great execution among the enemy. A platoon of "A" Company which had rushed up the hill from below was sent to "D" Company's aid. Meanwhile on "B" Company's right another enemy attack had surged over the left-hand post of the 1 A & SH ( 1 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) at Casa Nuova. Having done this, the enemy turned and threw themselves on "B" Company, overrunning two section posts before being stopped. The Germans suffered many casualties from one of the Batta-
    lion's M.M.Gs. on the extreme right of "B" Company's position. My own words here: according to page 99 of the First Divisional History it says the following- In this area (37 Dead Germans were counted immediately in front of the 6/13 positions.) See file above. This
    M.M.G., manned by Havildar Tara Singh ( not by the Mahrattas as sited in some histories), which histories? fired across the front of the
    Highlander's position and was vitally effective in the part it played in this action. The attack on "B" Company having failed, the enemy suffered many more casualties as they withdrew. Havildar Tara Singh can also be seen in the illustration. The Highlanders then carried out a dashing counter-attack on Casa Nuova and greatly contributed to the Argylls' position. By 1250hrs the enemy attacks had been finally beaten off.
    On the night of the 12/13 there was slight shelling and mortaring of the forward positions and considerable movement on the front​
    as the enemy endeavoured to collect their dead and wounded. On the morning of the 13 congratulatory messages were received from the Corps Commander and the Commander of the 1 British Infantry Division, under
    6th Royal Bn.: The U.S. Negro Division on the Serchio, December, 1944 319​
    whom 19 Indian Infantry Brigade was serving. The 8 Indian Infantry Divisional Commander (General​
    Russell) and the Brigade Commander (Brigadier Dobree) also sent messages. That from General Russell read: "Well done, you have seen off the best troops in Europe." That evening a message was also received from the 2 North Staffs ( off which I can't see in the war diaries) whom the Battalion had relieved on Monte Cerere, which read: "Heartiest congratulations on the defence of Monte Cerere from all ranks of the 2
    North Staffs."
    From the 13 to 17 December the enemy plastered the positions with shells and mortar bombs, including hundreds from the 240mm​
    railway gun. The threat to the Monte Grande position, had however, by now passed. On the 18 the Battalion was relieved and moved to a rest area at Bivigliano, eight miles north of Florence. During the withdrawal much difficulty was experienced owing to the appalling state of the tracks. The Battalion rested until the 22, during which period baths & cinemas were arranged for the whole Battalion.

    Map & Illustrations to follow in time.

    Need to edit this: files not showing for some reason which will be a first.

    Edit done with map & pages added. The above is from The Frontier Force Rifles Compiled by BRIGADIER W. E. H. CONDON O.B.E. ALDERSHOT GALE & POLDEN LTD. 1953.
    Edit two: HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE VI Colonel-in-Chief of the Frontier Rifles 11 December, 1936 ---
    6 February, 1952.


    Last edited: Jun 2, 2024
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  19. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Deleted what I just posted.
    What on earth am I doing? Too early to finish yet, more to resolve

    Good work Stu not seen that before.

    Very revealing regarding the battle on Mt Cerere

    Do you have any more revelations from Battalion War Diaries?

    Perhaps someone can post something from the Fallschirmjäger point of view.
    Almost 6 months to do it in.
    Last edited: May 28, 2024
  20. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    I only have the 4. Fallchirmjager-Division's Aufstellung Kampf um Italien Kapitulation which is a limited edition reprint. Has you know they caused mush pain in the Anzio Campaign. The book is about 323 pages and a decent reprint at A4 size in hardback. The illustrations are c...! Not sure why they decided to put the illustrations in greyscale? It spoils a rare book. About 200 copies only.

    Just been sent the War diaries of 1A &SH for the month of December. My thanks to Frank for doing so. I will give them a miss, and will stick with the two battalion histories of the jocks. Has for the 3/8 Punjab's war diaries, then they should be on there way in time. They may well be a complete bag-of-spanners and give not much detail? I'm hoping this is not the case. Just been sent a 3/8 Punjab Regiment History from a lovely lady who I mentioned in a earlier post (Sue Hughes). The author seems to have side-tracked this period ( for what ever reason) which will only be known to himself of which is a shame! I'm sticking to a book that I mentioned in a earlier post that I'm still after.

    Need to edit my last post. Spent most of the last weekend in typing it up. Stick to driving a wagon Stuart. If Gary Tankard has more info on the 1. Fallshirmjager point of view then that would be appreciated? I could be wrong here, but I'm sure a reprint was also done?

    Not sure about the six months to complete. That depends on where do's one stop adding to this division. I've not even started on 36
    BRIGADE. 5 Buffs, 6 RWK & 8 A & SH. No war diaries of this brigade, but two of the Regimental Histories, plus the battalion history of the 8 A & SH.

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