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Campaign 134: Cassino 1944

by Ken Ford, illustrated by Howard Gerrard

Published by Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-84176-623-2, 96 pages.


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The Cassino campaign is notorious for the ferocity of the fighting, and the full story is given here. Mr Ford sets the scene from Sicily onwards, with the reasons why the German defensive lines were so strong. The Italian terrain was hardly favourable to an attacker moving north: successive river lines ran across the advance with mountainous ground between them and more mountains preventing easy movement from the east coastal plain to the west when reinforcements were needed. The German expertise in defense added to these problems, so the Anzio landing behind the Gustav Line was an attempt to force their withdrawal. For reasons still not fully understood the initial success there was not followed up and the stalemate continued.

Successive attacks against Cassino town and the Monastery failed due to a stubborn German defence and the sheer difficulty of movement, and assaults across the Rapido river were no more successful because of the ground conditions – waterlogged where not flooded. The eventual success of Allied troops is recounted, as is the failure of the US Army to follow it up properly thanks to a General’s wish to be “first into Rome”.
The photographs are very well chosen and show the men end tanks of both sides; good references for anyone modelling the Italian campaign. I did spot one booboo with a Pak 40 captioned as Pak 38, but that was all. The plates are just as good, though not intended for modellers’ use but as atmosphere, and the maps and bird’s-eye views show just what was facing the Allies.


John Prigent

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