- 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 offensive commenced on April 14, with aircraft bombardment of about 45 minutes followed by another 25 minutes of artillery so as to weaken the German defense line. But as we found out later, it hardly weakened them up at all. The 1st and 2nd Battalion of the 87th Regiment was to start the offensive, specifically the first one. The 1st Battalion mission was to seize Hill 860 and 903; the latter was the higher of the mountains, which overlooked the small town of Torre Iussi. B Company of the 1st Battalion commenced the attack towards Hill 860. A Company was supposed immediately attack Hill 903. They encountered a lot of resistance. We were still in reserve and heard artillery fire falling around us. Looking outside our foxholes at Mt dellaSpeand Mt Sinistro, in front of Castel d’Aiano, we saw that the Germans weren’t giving up and retreating from their positions. They then came out of their bunkers and began to retreat pushed back by the Companies. B Company was on the top left side, while A Company was to the right. One covering the other, between them meeting a lot of resistance causing a lot of casualties, there were dead all along the valley. So we were the third and we were in reserve. I later found out that General Hays had only used the 3rd Battalion to help out the other two Battalions if they would have had problems. Around noon A Company of the 1st Battalion took control of Hill 903. But there were still many ridges to take control of. Further up, the ridge of Le Coste was to be taken by the second Battalion. On the far right of Le Coste ridge after Mt. Croce, overlooking Tolè, and Mt. Mosca there was Route 64. Once Mt Croce was taken, our orders were to take position on the front line. We began our descent from Mt. della Spe to cross over the valley to Roffeno. Passing alongside Hill 903 we saw many dead, it was a real massacre. We were able to cross the valley but were always under German artillery fire. There was destruction all over the place. I was running through the valley when I saw a body of a fellow I knew. He was seriously wounded. He was yelling desperately for water. I wanted to stop and give him some from my canteen when the Sergeant told me “No Cruz, don’t stop. Somebody will take care of him. You have to keep going.” I felt kind of bad for not giving him water. I’ll remember for the rest of my life, that I couldn’t help him.
Even now, when re-living that moment, I know why I couldn’t stop. If I would have stopped to help all the wounded on the ground, those wounded would have increased quickly, more of us would have been most likely hit by the artillery fire instead of just the one. There were still snipers around so we had to keep on going.