- From the book "In my father's foxholes and footsteps"
- The arrival in Italy and the transfer to the Apennines
- The attack on Mt Belvedere
- The defence of Mt Belvedere
- Il Malandrone, Cimon della Piella and Pietracolora
- The conquest of Castel d'Aiano and Mt della Spe
- The Spring Offensive
- Tolè towards Monte Pastore
- The conquest and crossing Savigno
- Fly down into the Po Valley
- Crossing the Po river
- The end of the war in Italy
- Return back to America and to the family
- All Pages
The 1st Battalion of 87th Regiment was given the task of crossing the Po River first. We crossed over it about noon. We were attacked by artillery fire…it was more like flack fire, anti-aircraft fire. Despite this we were able to cross over; the 2nd Battalion followed us, and soon there after the 3 rd Battalion. I remember being so helpless…feeling so helpless during the time in the boat, a little old boat crossing the Po River. I then noticed the presence of a small town towards the left of us where a motorcycle came out. It must have been a German observer; none of us were prepared to shoot. And I thought, oh my, he could have had a machine gun and could have really taken aim at us. We were now out in the open. Once on the other side of the river we were able to move quickly for approximately 25 miles. Now on the bus it’s quite an easy cross, but back then we were on foot and marching it.
I have to go back a little bit. After we broken the German defense line, General Hays formed a Task Force. It was the main Task Force and was to be ahead of the main Division. The Commander of the Task Force was General Duf. He was wounded at the Po River by one of our own men who ran over him. Colonel Darby replaced him. At the moment he took command, the 1st Battalion of the 87th Regiment was in the process of crossing the Po River. Meanwhile, we were in the vicinity of Verona. He arrived later in Verona and then went towards the direction of Lake Garda. The 3rd Battalion, ours, didn’t pass Verona but rather had cut across to Lake Garda. One of the other Battalions, after crossing Po River, arrived near Verona in trucks because together we were to get to Lake Garda as quickly as possible. After offloading the 1st Battalion at Bussolengo, the trucks went back for the 2nd Battalion. The two Battalions began to move towards Lake Garda. By that time there wasn’t much resistance by the Germans. We would come across a German truck but we would just bypass them.
K Company arrived at Lake Garda. That day we were in the front we were the spearhead. We arrived unopposed in the Town of Garda crossing over Lazise and Bardolino. If only it was always this uneventful. Up toward the north, where the higher mountains begin, we were told that would be running into German resistance. Sergeant Robert Manchester was leading the platoon, who, while ascending along Lake Garda, scrimmaged with the Germans. We had difficulties advancing because many of the bridges and tunnels were demolished. We arrived in Spiazzi, were we had quite a few casualties due to the blowing up of several of the German warehouses located there. Many of men of the 1st Battalion were killed here. You can say that that was the last firefight of the Italian Campaign for the 87th Regiment and for K Company. I think it was towards the end that the 86th Regiment bypassed Spiazzi and started fighting the Germans at Torbole. General Hays realistically didn’t want the regiments, who attacked Spiazzi and Torbole, to engage in battle but rather to have withdrawn. Unfortunately they were already in the midst of it and were no longer possible to withdraw.
Our Battalion was the last to arrive after the battle finished and still had to find some lodging. Later we found ourselves a mansion where we stayed and tried on some generals’ uniforms. We took some pictures of the boys in the caps and uniform, I think the majority of the uniforms were Italian. For us the war ended here.