Skip to comments.What does "34th Signal Company Chronicle: Cassino and Its Abbey" mean to you?
Posted on 12/20/2006 5:22:46 PM PST by cold666pack
Can someone with military knowledge tell me what this title tells them?
"34th Signal Company Chronicle: Cassino and Its Abbey"
I know the author served in the 34th Infantry Division of the US Army, bur from this title, is it safe to assume he fought in Germany where there is an Abbey of Monte Cassino?
Not knowledgable about this type of terminology at all, and would be very grateful for some insight, so as to not make stupid mistakes when writing about it.
When Germans want to allege "the Americans were JUUUUST as bad", they usually talk about this place.
I'm taking NO POSITION, you understand.
You faked me out. I Googled Monte Cassino and it is in Italy. Just where I thought. Whew! I thought I was losing my mind.
I think you're wrong about the thousands of civilian casualties. I believe there were only a few monks resident in the abbey at the time and few were killed. Bombing the place turned out to be counterproductive as the Germans found the resulting rubble made much more effective cover from the US infantry assault than the intact buildings would have. That's what I've read anyway.
A lot of their early history in WWII is told in this magnificent book:
A polish brigade captured the hill and took many casualties.
I've fought my way up that hill many times in Battlefield 1942: Road to Rome.
That's not the way I heard it. The abbey was unoccupied by the Germans, until the U.S. made a huge blunder and bombed it into ruins. The Germans then occupied the ruins, which made perfect defensive positions and greatly increased allied casualties.
I believe it was on a mountaintop. Not exactly a heavily populated residential area. The real significace is the fact that it was a holy Christian site that we bombed mercilessly because that's where the enemy was. If I'm not mistaken, we got permission for it.
Monte Casino is in Italy, part of the Gustav line
We thought it was being held by the Germans, but it was not, we leveled it.
Do you know what Signal Company Chronicle means? Do you think it refers to a certain sect of the 34th? The Signal Company?
very helpful, thx much.
It was the site where St. Benedict put his first monastery in the 6th Century, because it was an excellent defensive position commanding the road to Rome. I believe the original buildings were sacked and destroyed by Saracen pirates a couple hundred years later.
thx. that helps.
Thanks for the link to the book. My Grandma's brother was with the 34th; he spent the last two years of the war as a "guest" in Germany after being captured at Anzio. We have some newspaper articles from when he returned (he described the camp, guards, etc.), the original "MIA" telegram, and some photos from N. Africa.
I think I will pick up the book for some additional stories.
the author is from Pennsylvania though.
sorry, i was confused. I see now they were fighting the Germans IN Italy, where the Abbey was located. my bad.
I've got a few old WWII documentaries, Frank Capra type, the Battle of Cassino was a bloody one.
Most people dont know, almost 50% of all the deaths of US troops in Europe in WWII happened in Italy.
You're most welcome!!
Here's an interesting site.
According to this 11 monks stayed in the abbey and only one died but he died of Typhoid.
And that for some reason the US had no problem bombing the crap out of this huge church, and that some people saw this as really nasty.
PLEASE DO NOT PILE ON, I LOVE THE USA.
Signal Company is communications, the name's from back in the days they when they used flags, but by WW2 it was radios, field phones and the like. Signal Company Chronicle is probably the company newsletter. Company is a unit, bigger than a platoon, smaller than a batallion.
Looking back, I'd say that people should have had a problem with bombing the abbey, starting with the commanding general. It was really nasty, and it caused a lot of allied casualties too.
Above I said John Huston, but I think you are right, it was Frank Capra, not Huston.
If you have a family connection with those events, I can recommend it even more.
The Ernie Pyle book called "Here is Your War" also covers the campaigns in N. Africa and Sicily.
Dad's unit was the 109th Combat Engineer Bn. He was at Anzio (but didn't go in w/ the first wave), then they went up the Italian mountains in the winter of 43-44.
PLEASE DO NOT PILE ON, I LOVE THE USA.
We also had no problem installing a second sun in the sky over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But hey, if a country wants to start a war, unpleasant consequences are inevitable. I can't ell from your post if you are criticising the bombing or the lack of regret evidenced by the Americans, who were being ground up like sausage in the mountains of Italy
At Cassino, it was only after several attempts to capture the hill had failed that bombing of the monastery was authorized. So, I put the blame squarely where it belongs: on the Germans, for declaring war on the United States on 12/8/41 and then for using a monastery as a military strong point.
The 34th ID has a very proud legacy (and the legacy is still going on today).
Yeah, that's how I heard the story. The allies made multiple attempts, but no troops from any country could take the hill -- until someone decided to let the Poles have a go. They fought ferociously (almost suicidally) and finally won.
Didn't the Nisei troops in the 442nd have a part in this too? I thought this was where Sen. Inouye lost his arm.
As I understand it, that movie was never released because it made General Mark Clark look like an incompentent buffoon. Clark ordered attack after attack against the German (Gustav) line, in the face of murderous fire. Terrible casualties were incurred, many from some Texas-only infantry units. Commanders of those units curse Clark's name to this day.
I won't get into who was to blame for the destruction of Monte Casino, but it was a terrible tragedy. It was one of the oldest monuments of Christian European Civilization.
The Abbey at Montecasino was founded by Saint Benedict himself, the founder of the Benedictine order and the savior of European civilization.
It was destroyed four times: By the Langoberds, by the Saracens, by an earthquake, and by allied bombing.
According to most accounts, the first time it was bombed there were no German troops in it. Only lated, after the first bombing, did they move in. So, I suppose you can blame both the American and British commanders and the Germans for this destruction of an ancient and venerable monastery.
Here's a brief extract of a generally good history of the several battles of Montecasino at Wikepedia, concerning the bombing that did most of the damage:
He said that Clark could never go to Texas, he would have been hanged to the nearest tree.
The 442nd may have been there, but I think Sen. Inouye was wounded later in the war.
Back in Italy, the 442nd was assaulting a heavily defended hill in the closing months of the war when Lieutenant Inouye was hit in his abdomen by a bullet which came out his back, barely missing his spine. He continued to lead the platoon and advanced alone against a machine gun nest which had his men pinned down. He tossed two hand grenades with devastating effect before his right arm was shattered by a German rifle grenade at close range. Inouye threw his last grenade with his left hand, attacked with a submachine gun and was finally knocked down the hill by a bullet in the leg.The source is here.
Dan Inouye spent 20 months in Army hospitals after losing his right arm. On May 27, 1947, he was honorably discharged and returned home as a Captain with a Distinguished Service Cross (the second highest award for military valor), Bronze Star, Purple Heart with cluster and 12 other medals and citations.
His Distinguished Service Cross was recently upgraded to a Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for military valor. He received that medal from the President of the United States on June 21, 2000.
Sen. Bob Dole basically had his arm and shoulder shot away at the same time in Italy.
go here http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/brochures/romar/72-20.htm
and here http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cocoon/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.05844/enlarge?ID=pm0042001&page=1
Air photos graphically depict the destruction of the abbey of Monte Cassino in southwestern Italy. Monte Cassino was the target of several concentrated Allied air strikes and assaults in the early months of 1944.
From the National Archives here http://www.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/lae/images/LE282L9.jpg and http://www.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/lae/images/LE282L10.jpg
and here http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/brochures/naples/72-17.htm
and here http://www.army.mil/cmh/books/wwii/11-9/6-3.htm
34th Signal Initially South Dakota NG http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/STB/STB1BrigadeCombatTeam34InfantryDivision.htm
European Theater of Operations
On February 10, 1941, the 109th Engineer Regiment, 109th Quartermaster Regiment, and the 34th Signal Company, were called into active service, and assembled with the 34th Division at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. The 34th Division which contained the South Dakota units set sail for Ireland on January 14, 1942. The 1st Battalion, 109th Quartermaster and Company A, 109th Engineers were part of this movement, and the first soldier to disembark in Ireland, was a soldier from Pierre named Baer Schliussmann. The 34th Division landed in Oran, North Africa in January, 1943. They participated in the North Africa Campaign, the Italian Campaign and the occupation of Northern Italy after May of 1945.
The oldest monastery in continuous use in Europe. Walter Miller, a navigator on that raid, wrote A Canticle for Leibowitz, the original "atom doom" s.f. novel, partly in penance for his role in the event.
Yes, that was just one of his bad decisions.
Undoubtably, Clark was getting a lot of pressure from his superiors to take the Gustav line, so in all fairness, it probably was not all his fault. He was in a very inferior tactical position. Clark was a vain man, however, and a darling of the presscorps. He wanted desperately to win a big victory at Cassino. So he used the old WWI French tactic of "let's charge the machine guns until we're all dead".
The History of the Fallschirmpanzerkorps "HermannGöring" (FranzKurowski). Hard cover, small format (6"x9"), 504 pages, 157 photographs, 37 maps and 27 documents/orders of battle.
This book covers the entire history of the HG unit from its inception as Polizei-Regiment "Wecke" to its formation as a Parachute Panzerkorps. This elite unit fought in France (1940), Russia (1941/42), Tunisia, Sicily, Italy (Anzio and Monte Cassino), Poland (1944) and East Prussia. This is the first combat history of this formation. Price $50 USD / $62 CDN.
I linked the wikipedia feature about "Monte Cassino" to a feature I did to explain what is necessary to defeat the various sectarian militias in Iraq. It aint pleasant ! But then thats war. You crush opposition.
My father was in the Army Signal Corps, and at Monte Cassino. Luckily, he survived, and made it to Naples. Got a photo of him in his Army uniform, with Mt. Vesuvius in the background belching black smoke.
I'd recommend "Monte Cassino: The Hardest-Fought Battle of World War II" by Matthew Parker. The section about General Clark and the Rapido River is horrifying.
From the National Guard Association.
"34th Signal Company, Oregon Boost Museum Inventory"
"With the members of the World War II-era 34th Signal Company dwindling, the company's association recently donated their entire collection of historic artifacts to the National Guard Memorial Museum.
They are leaving to the National Guard Educational Foundation (NGEF) an "invaluable gift to future generations," says Jason Hall, NGEF director.
The 34th Signal Company was part of the Guard's 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division, which spent more time in combat than other U.S. infantry division in World War II.
During the Allied advance into Africa and Italy, the 34th Signal Company's wiremen and radio operators maintained contact between the division headquarters in the rear and those at the front.
They laid 2,019 miles of wire from January to July 1944, and installed 40 switchboards, (one of which they donated to the museum). This work alone brought the total teletype traffic to 453,707 groups at the time.
Wiremen of the 34th Signal Company overcame especially adverse conditions on the march to Monte Cassino, Italy, connecting units by laying 160 miles of wire over rugged terrain, dodging friendly vehicle traffic movement and enemy fire.
On Dec. 9, 1944, the company received a meritorious service plaque, now also part of the museum collection for its exploits from January to July 1944
Don Smith of Watertown, S.D., coordinated the donation for the museum, working with the remaining veterans of the 34th Signal Company to collect and pack the items for transport.
Items include uniforms, documents, a photo album from the Italian campaign, field phones, a field switch-board and other items related to the company.
The museum also recently received several artifacts from the Oregon Military Museum.
Of note is an M1898 Mills cartridge belt used during the Philippine Insurrection, which began in the late 19th century.
The 2nd Oregon was heavily engaged in the Philippines. In the conflict's first year, three 2nd Oregon members earned the Medal of Honor.
Also included in the donation is a haversack used by a member of Company F, 3rd Oregon Infantry Regiment in either the Mexican Border Mobilization or World War I."
The "34th Signal Company Chronicle: Cassino and Its Abbey"
most probably, historically details the unit's activities and casualties during the 34th. Infantry Division's valiant but unsuccessful attempts at storming the Abbey on the crest of Monte Cassino and the village of Cassino below
Some further information on the unit and the Italian campaign can be found at:-
Your book may have historical significance,check with the Signal Corps Museum.
and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.
Where the papers of Major General Charles Wolcott Ryder, Commanding Officer of the 34th Infantry
Division and IX Corps during World War II are on display.
Interestingly, Eisenhower was the 34th. POTUS.