Monte Cassino - suggested reading

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by BigRed, Oct 16, 2006.

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  1. Learned members of ARRSE, down to go on a Battlefield Study of Monte Cassino in the New Year. Any suggested top reading material as background info, especially anything from a logistic aspect? Additionally any of you that have been there any aspect both historic or social that you would recommend as a must see?

    Yours Aye
  2. John Ellis Cassino: The Hollow Victory - The Battle for Rome, January-June, 1944 (Paperback) A good read. Very critical and ranging from strategic to tacticalpolitics back bighting between genrerals and logistics. Its the Best book I have read on this battle.

    Shepperd, G. A. The Italian Campaign, 1943-45. New York: Praeger, 1968. This is old but good. Its quite high level..

    von Senger und Etterlin, Frido. Neither Fear nor Hope. New York: Dutton, 1963. (Also a Presidio Press edition in 1989.) the German'sperspective

    Graham, Dominick; Bidwell, Shelford. Tug of War: The Battle for Italy, 1943-1945

    Oh and if you can do, I'd be very grateful if you can get a detailed walking map of the Monte Cassino area. I couldn't find one when I was last there.
  3. I found Fred Majdalany`s book "Cassino" the best to get a feel of the battle. If you are visiting by yourself it is worth finding out how you get up to Snakeshead beforehand. I tried it from the Polish War Memorial and it was fenced off and I was told I could not progress further by the staff. Lack of planning and prep on my part.

  4. Monte Cassino- BBC WW2 People's War Link

  5. Also, if you have the time it is worth visiting the site where the 36 (Texas) Division attempted to cross the Rapido in the First Battle. Total disaster and an example of what can go wrong with an assault river crossing. I`m not spam bashing here because those who saw it said it was the bravest thing they saw in the whole war. I think it was the subject of a Congressional Inquiry after the war. It`s some way from Cassino Town so tends to get left off the tours - but well worth a visit.
  6. You can fill a suitcase with titles about this, and whatever book you carry on the tour, guarantee others will have different books they swear by.

    Totally agree with previous posters on John Ellis and Fred Majdalany, the latter being a British officer who served there. Ellis is easy to find, even new for around £6. Majdalany is less available, (though should not be that much more expensive), but IMHO well worth the effort. Other than out-and-out ‘Cassino’ titles there is plenty of mention in various unit histories and memoirs.

    In case the tour doesn’t mention this, as it’s a ‘working’ monastery, the monks employ a fairly strict dress code for women AND men. Short shorts are out. Bermuda style, i.e. knee length, are OK. It’s a long way to go to stand around a car park.

  7. I Reccomend Monte Cassino by Matthew Parker. An excellent account of the overall strategic planning, investigating the decision to invade italy alongside decisions made by the generals such as Mark Clark, and first hand accounts from soldiers from both sides, including the Poles, the FEC, Indians, Ghurkas, Americans, and from civilians in the area. Also tells of the awful logistics problems that meant the allies couldnt use their air, artillery and Armoured support to great effect. Also tells of the allies habit of stealng the dog tags from dead germans, so that there are graves with two bodies with an inscription of "Ein Duche Soldat" written on twice. you can find the book in watersones or WHSmith for about £8
  8. I especially liked "The hollow victory" as it shows how General Juin and his French expeditionary corps were the driving force of the campaign as opposed to the cautiouness and lack of initiative of the other contingents.
  9. As others have said, "Cassino: The Hollow Victory" by john Ellis is an excellent book, very detailed with first hand accounts spliced in. The index was very useful for finding relevant info if you can't read the whole thing!!

  10. How about Monte Cassino by Sven Hassell? Fcuk all about logistics and completely fictional but a grippingly good yarn. Well, it worked for me when I was 15 years old.
  11. As far as must see places - the Historiale museum in town is very similar to the Memorial in Caen (ie anti-war) but it provides an excellent background and there are some cracking models (including the 36 Div's x-ing ot the Rapido). The other museum is more of a local enthusiasts collection of memorabilia - but very worthwhile, lots of good pics and maps. Depending on who you are going with, you may wish to give him a ring first as his other business is a restaurant/bowling alley where he will give you a discount.

    The other places you should visit - St Theodice in Angelo - where the 36 Div tried to cross; Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery is a must; German war cemetery (if nothing else just to compare it and see another side of the Cassino ridges); the Polish Cemetery; and the Abbey itself (although skip the museum unless you like catholic artefacts).

    Hope you have a good time!

  12. Ventress

    Ventress LE Moderator

    Mile Chappel's and Ken Ford's CASSINO published by Crowwood, the old W&G series. Superb illustrations which goes without saying.