1945. Photos and memories of U.S. 10th Mountain Division
By Andrea and Giuliano Gandolfi
The second edition of the book Gotica Rosso Sangue, published in Montese (Modena) in May 2018 by the publisher Il Trebbo, consists of 192 pages of which 82 are dedicated to color photographs, compared to 152 pages of which 76 are photographs, of the first edition.
The spirit of this book, ten years after the previous publication In My Father’s Foxholes and Footsteps, is focusing on the memories and photos by Cruz Rios, Company K, 87th Regiment, US 10th Mountain Division in 1943/1945, follows the same motivations.
Gothic Line Bloody Red takes life from another collection of color photographs which crossed the atlantic Ocean thanks to Stephanie, wife of William Ferguson in force, in 1945, to the medical detachment of 2nd Battalion, 86th Regiment which allowed us to use them for this book, and Val Rios.
As in the previous book this photographic heritage, set with memories of officers and a soldier of the 10th Mountain Division, could not go forgotten - or lost - because it is a testimony of a dark chapter but certainly the most important in the recent history of our country. More than in black and white, the numerous color photos pass on aspects of life and places so changed as to be unrecognizable or unknown to the younger generation.
Of this first and only “Alpini” Division of the American Army, framed in the V American Army and deployed in front of the German soldiers of the 232nd Infantry Division that defended the second line of defense of the Gothic Line on high ridges Apennines between the provinces of Bologna, Modena and Pistoia, has relatively little spoken in Italy and especially in a piecemeal way ignoring the overall picture; this is why the first chapter is devoted to the history, until 1945, of the 10th Mountain Division.
Compared to the first edition, the first chapter of Fred Wendorf's memoirs has been extended with additional original contributions and a fifth chapter of memories of the Commander of the 126th Engineer Mountain Battalion has been added. The book contains the memoirs of three Officers, a Non-Commissioned Officer and a Soldier of the 10th Mountain Division.
The last chapter is dedicated to the Iola di Montese' Museum: Memorie d’Italia 1939-1945. The collections of equipment, uniforms, weapons and objects used daily by soldiers of the opposing armies well reflect the weaknesses and strength of the respective technologies, logistics and industries of the belligerent nations.
Two rooms of the museum, recognized in partnership by the Association of 10th Mountain Division Descendant, are dedicated to the U.S. Army soldiers with emphasis on the specific equipment of the “Mountaineer”.
The book, whose texts are bilingual in Italian and English, consists of 192 pages of which 82 are dedicated to color photographs, 63 are unpublished, taken between May and August 1945.
The MUSEAL SYSTEM of Iola Montese was founded in 2011 and consists of a series of collections, of approximately 4,000 objects, which are exhibited over 16 rooms with a total area of about 600 sqm. Additionally, there are itineraries through the battlefields where Allied and German soldiers fought during the months between late 1944 and early 1945 on the last line of defence of the Green Line better know as the Gothic Line.
The museum, recognized MUSEUM OF QUALITY by the Institute of Artistic Heritage Cultural and Natural Heritage of the Emilia Romagna Region, overlooking the square of the village, which is located about 920 meters above sea level, beside to the church built in 1630's. The hospitality is guaranteed by large parking area and nearby restaurants, one of which is reached by a short walk.
The collections MEMOIRS OF ITALY are dedicated, since its establishment in 2003, to the World War II period and consist of five rooms devoted to the armies that fought in the areas adjacent the hill town of Iola between last months of 1944 until the end of war in Italy: Wehrmacht Heer, 232nd Infantry Division and the 114th Jager - U.S. 10th Mountain Division - BEF, Brasilian Expeditionary Force and the Royal Italian Army.
All items, collected by typology, represent what was available to soldiers on the front line. On display there are uniforms, decorations, badges, weapons, everyday objects, medical first aid and various type of clothing and accessories. The collections, which highlight the technical features and quality of the equipment available until the first line of battle, aim to understand the logistic organization behind the fighters on the various battlefields in accordance with the axiom that wars are won by the army with the men more motivated and the better logistics organization. The museum was officially recognized by the 10th Mountain Division Descendants who organizes, every three years, the return on the battlefields of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine. The next tour is scheduled on June and will be an important event by resorting the 70th anniversary of the 5th Army battle that, in this area, led the breakthrough of the German defenses by 10th Mountain Division soldiers. The Brazilians soldiers, after the conquest of Monte Castello and Montese, replaced the Americans in the backline. In the rooms devoted to the history of our country there are also books, report cards and school objects of the prewar period.