Athick haze hung over the Liri Valley
as dawn broke on May 23.
Some of the most destructive fighting of the Italian campaign took place following the Allied landing at Salerno in September 1943, as the troops making their way along Highway 6 through the Liri Valley
toward Rome came under assault from well-entrenched German forces in the mountains surrounding them.
According to Lawson, the village is a "little cluster of medieval houses [with] olive trees on the slopes in the background." The main piazza boasts a panoramic view of the Liri Valley
, and twilight patrons of the Moonlight CafAaAaAeA@ can sit outsi and watch the moon ascend like a slow-moving lantern.
MANY YEARS AGO, my father (a career army officer) and I watched John Huston's 1945 film The Battle of San Pietro, about the Allies' effort to capture a town in Italy's Liri Valley
. As Texans, we took interest in the film because it features the 36th "Texas" Infantry Division.
The Canadian battlefields in Italy; Ortona and the Liri Valley
Below the monastery, the old Roman town of Casinum (population in 1944: 25,000) was the gateway to the Liri Valley
and to Rome, 140 kms to the north.
On the Liri Valley
, on the Hitler Line [German defensive line in central Italy], the Seaforth Highlanders were the only regiment that actually reached its destination that day.
The only route to Rome was Route 6 in the western sector, through the Liri valley
. But Monte Cassino and other high points stood as unyielding guardians against any move further north.
Monte Cassino, located less than 20 kilometres east of Monte La Difensa, stubbornly plugged the southern entrance of the Liri Valley
until late spring, six months after the daring alpine assault.
Major General Geoffrey Keyes's US II Corps plodded westward across the swampy Liri Valley
to link up with these Anzio breakout forces.
The Liri Valley
, specifically Highway 6, was the road to Rome (once it passed north of Cassino), but first the mountains on its shoulders had to be captured.
Relief lay just beyond the small town of Cassino, some 75 miles to the northwest, where Route 6 slipped into the gentler Liri Valley
for the last leg to Italy's coveted capital.