CASSINO WAR CEMETERY
Cassino War Cemetery lies in the Commune of Cassino, Province of Frosinone, 139 kilometres south-east of Rome. Take the autostrada A2 from Rome to Naples and leave it at the Cassino exit. At the junction of this exit and the road into Cassino, is the first of 6 clearly visible signposts to the cemetery and Memorial.
On 3 September 1943 the Allies invaded the Italian mainland, the invasion coinciding with an armistice made with the Italians who then re-entered the war on the Allied side. Allied objectives were to draw German troops from the Russian front and more particularly from France, where an offensive was planned for the following year. Progress through southern Italy was rapid despite stiff resistance, but by the end of October, the Allies were facing the German winter defensive position known as the Gustav Line, which stretched from the river Garigliano in the west to the Sangro in the east. Initial attempts to breach the western end of the line were unsuccessful. Operations in January 1944 landed troops behind the German lines at Anzio, but defences were well organised, and a breakthrough was not actually achieved until 18 May, when Cassino was finally taken.
The site for Cassino War Cemetery was originally selected in January 1944, but the development of the battle during the first five months of that year made it impossible to use it until after the Germans had withdrawn from Cassino. During these early months of 1944, Cassino saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Italian campaign, the town itself and the dominating Monastery Hill proving the most stubborn obstacles encountered in the advance towards Rome. The majority of those buried in the war cemetery died in the battles during these months. There are now 4,266 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated at Cassino War Cemetery. 284 of the burials are unidentified.
Within the cemetery stands the Cassino Memorial which commemorates over 4,000 Commonwealth servicemen who took part in the Italian campaign whose graves are not known.
ŠPaul Reed 2006