"The Men of the Landing"
The accounts on this page are taken from the book Gli Uomini Dello Sbarco - Anzio/Nettuno 1944 by Silvano Casaldi, copyright 2006 by H.E. - Herald Editore, publisher. The title translated is The Men of the Landing - Anzio/Nettuno 1944.
In the Introduction to his book Silvano Casaldi writes:
The landing at Anzio and Nettuno was the most challenging and exciting event for those who lived and fought through it; that in spite of the fact that it was sometimes filled with boredom and occasionally with terror, discomfort, loneliness, and indignity, for such are the things of which great events are compounded.
The inspiration to collect all these experiences, came after I met hundreds of veterans of the Second World War, who participated in the landing, and after years of experience as responsible and curator of the Allied Landing Museum, which I set up, tidied and made open for visit and which has been established by the Municipality of Nettuno on March 14th, 1990 as a permanent record of the tragedy that changed the life of the cities of Anzio and Nettuno.
Since then people, with whom I spent many hours of my days, sent me tens of their personal accounts which not only record extraordinary moments in time of warfare of which they have been eyewitnesses, but reveal the thoughts and emotions and reflect the several facets of the war: that it was terrible, cruel, dislocating, occasionally funny, often tragic.
There were many more soldiers than there were generals (who in the past years published their exploits), so this book is about the real simple people, some were famous, but most were unknown, who tell us about their daily living during the four months that followed the landing; their stories throughout crucial episodes, as the bombardments, the battles, dead and wounded show a different war, a war without rhetoric. From their albums they took out documents, letters and photographs, and they have taken again in the hands their diaries that let us know how American, British, German and Italian soldiers undertook their war, how they went from innocence and defeat, to knowledge and victory and what they saw and felt about it as they did so. Psychologically the experience was similar for those who fought by one side and for those who fought by the other side. All of them, in the same way, remember their friends, less lucky, who rest in the American and Italian cemeteries at Nettuno, in the British cemeteries at Anzio and Falasche and in the German cemetery at Pommezia: to these young men and women this book is dedicated as well. For the respect of their memory and sacrifice which is the witness of the horror of the war, we offer it, wishing that the reproducing of the war would be avoided forever, and that in the humanity would grow awareness about freedom and democratic values, which were born indeed in Italy in those days. SC The stories related here are from the members, both living and now deceased, of the Anzio Beachhead Veterans.
You may access each account directly by selecting a name below.
Click on a beachhead flag to return to the top of the page.
I was born November 23rd, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York and joined the Army, 3rd Infantry Division, March 23rd, 1943. I went through basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama and advanced infantry training Camp Rucker, Alabama.
Late in the afternoon of January 21st, 1944 the invasion craft bearing the amphibious 7th Infantry Regiment "Cotton Balers", my regiment, set sail from the port of Naples with the entire invasion convoy of 6th Corps.
On January 22nd 1944 with a calm sea and a light wind the "Shingle" assault wave hit the beach on schedule at 0200 hours. That was our easiest landing, since we were in this war, though some mines were encountered and the regiment suffered some casualties. I was on the first wave of the 7th Infantry, and we landed without much difficulty in Red Beach, south of Nettuno and then proceeded inland to an assembly area in the vicinity of the Tre Cancelli road junction and from there we moved further toward the left flank of the Mussolini Canal.
On January 30th we supported the Rangers attacking at Cisterna. 'We were on their left side at Ponte Rotto, and we also suffered many loses on this attack, in which we just couldn't do anything to help the Rangers to come out from the surrounding area.
While the Ranger Battalions were being destroyed, my regiment became involved in a fight that was to last days and be the toughest engagement we had encountered. Initially only one battalion was committed, but by the end of the day, all three had been thrown into the conflict.
I was very lucky to walk in Rome in June 4, 1944.
Among the many Italian families I became more acquainted with was the Treglia family. Consisting of 'Mama" Treglia, her son Rinaldo, a former Italian Air Force pilot, another younger son, the oldest daughter whose name was similar to Pia or Lia of 18 years old and her younger sister of 16.
Rinaldo had asked me for a favor and we went together to their house in Anzio to pick up personal items. He sang all the way home, because he knew the welcome he'd get from Mama. After the greetings, and some wine passed around, he made a speech: "My friend Giacomo (Jim), I thank you very much, and now you must honor me by accepting my pistol which I carried as an aviator. I am a civilian and no doubt I might get into trouble if it is found on me". And among the kisses I got around, I guess they thought I was a hero.
Up to this point, this was the good happy part, as much as it was. Now comes the tragic. The girl of 16 years old, and it was difficult to really converse with her, she would answer or talk, but held her head and eyes down. She appeared not shy, but afraid. I would kid her about fright. I talked to her one day, seeing as I was regarded as a brother and really a part of the family, I talked to her as one. I wanted to know what she was afraid of, and was gently on asking.
She lifted her head and said, "Giacomo, you are like a brother to me, and also a soldier. You are the only one who will give me your clothes to wash as I have this disease, which you can see all over my face; No other soldier will make me do any clothes. The others do not even want to look at me, as they know what I have. You do not care. I will show you, and also tell you what was happened to me", with that she looked up to her sister and her sister had tears streaming down her face, and nodded in ascent.
She rose from the chair and proceeded to take off her dress. She had her face to me. As she turned ever so slowly toward me revealing her back, she was scarred up, with pits all over her back. Pia (or Lia) then spoke very slowly, "Giacomo, when the tedeschi (Germans) were here before you came, they were terrible to us. They would play with my sister day after day. One of them had a small whip and would beat her when she struggled. They would walk over her body and call her an Italian pig. They only stopped when she got those sores on her face, and beat her once more. That is why my sister sits and eats alone, here, which you have seen her do. You are loved here. mio fratello (my brother). This is why we are telling you this". I held her hands as gently as I could. Also, I told them I would talk to our medical officer. That promise could not be kept.
The next day's visit I had brought one of my buddies along with me and the girls brought out a bottle half filled with wine. We had our own cups from the canteen kit. We were at the table and as it got dark a candle was lit in the center. Across from me sat the girl, with a window to her back. Pia (or Lia) had the chair at the door entrance. We conversed for a while and all sudden a boom and in a split of a second came the rush of air only a shell would make along with shrapnel flying through the building and the interior tearing all the walls and the zipping of thousands of metal.
The air blew out the candle and actually blew us like we were not even with weight. I was flung against the blank wall and then I heard the women screaming something terrible. I heard a strange noise, a swishing noise, and could not figure it out, like rushing water. I was being hit with liquid. What was it? I shouted for my buddy to get his Zippo and see how things were.
The most frightening unimaginable scene met our eyes. Pia (or Lia) had her right wrist hanging by a sinew! And blood pouring all over, as she held her wrist. The light went out as my buddy dropped the lighter. But as he scrambled for it the vision of her young sister had been seen on the dirt floor. When he found and relit the lighter there was poor girl's body gushing-out the last of her blood all over us and the room. Her throat was slit open as neatly as a knife would do it. Her face was ghastly white and the blood gushed as a cut water hose would as the water was turned off. Nothing could be done for her younger sister.
On January 22, D-Day, my small special unit of the 51st Signal Battalion landed with the first wave at Anzio. My orders were to occupy Villa Borghese and establish a command post for 5th Army Headquarters, code name "Lightning Advance" and also to maintain outside telephone wiring to Division and other Allied Headquarters.
I served with the 1st Armored Division, 11th Infantry Battalion at Anzio. We came ashore January 25, 1944, D-Day plus 3. We were hit by the German Luftwaffe, which strafed our troops as we came ashore. If the Germans had anything to say about it, the troops at Anzio were going nowhere as they brought in every division they could spare from other fronts. When we got ashore and in position that night, the Luftwaffe came over us and dropped personnel bombs on us continuously. We had 18 casualties and several deaths. Not long afterward, we were on the move, going to where the British artillery had been before. The British had been pushed back to the rear. We took their position as they had dug many foxholes there.
It was not until then that Germans laid down a barrage of artillery on us again. We hit the foxholes but we still suffered heavy casualties. One round hit within a few yards of my foxhole bunk mate, Murphy, putting him out of action for good.
It was tough going until I we made it to the streets of Rome on June 4th, 1944.
I was with "C" Company, 53rd DUKW Battalion. I was on the beachhead at Anzio-Nettuno, on D-Day, January 22nd, 1944.
DUKW's were boats that rode on land or a car that floated on water. Or better to say, a DUK was a motor boat on wheels. We used to bring the troops in and then we supplied them. I was one of the DUK crews which streamed across the water 24 hours a day unloading supplies from the ships.
The DUKs got off pretty easy during the Anzio-Nutteno landing - two were destroyed by land mines, one was hit by a bomb and a fourth sunk off into the water and never came up. Our invasion job was to carry men and guns and deposit them safely on shore. Then we settled down to the routine, yet all-important task of transporting the ammo and rations that are the lifeblood of the beachhead.
But that's just when the going got tougher, shells and bombs followed us around through out the day. We e had a casualty list of nine men killed and about 30 injured. The only danger from shelling and bombing while on the job was when the ducks draw alongside a Liberty that ship, the target for enemy artillery and planes.
In the bivouac area, we had the misfortune to pick a spot that Jerry seemed to have a weakness for. Enemy guns or aircraft had to make a hit in that part of the beachhead or it didn't seem legal. Once the shelling got so tough that two of our men were killed in one day, so we moved out.
The insignia of our unit was a Donald Duck clasping a shell under his wing, symbolizing the work of bringing in the ammo. We also wore the familiar gold and blue combined operations insignia, which was also worn in red and black by a British DUK outfit with whom we worked.
Technically, the Yank DUK crews were in the Quartermasters Corps.
On D-Day the regiment landed with the 3rd Infantry Division below Nettuno. My company was attached to the Rangers and we landed in Anzio harbor.
I recently returned from a trip in Italy which highlighted by a trip to the Anzio/Nettuno area to see the battlefield. I was pleased to see that it has been beautifully rebuilt, so much so that I couldn't find our positions on what we called the Moletta River front.
We spent 45 days on the front line there but the river is now gone and apartment houses cover our muddy foxholes. After the Moletta River front we were sent to the right flank of the beachhead at the Mussolini CanaL
I landed at the Anzio beachhead May 21. On my way to Anzio, I was lying in my bunk with my shoes on when Calvin Bean came by and took them off. He said, "Ed, you had better rest your feet because you don't know when you will get to take your combat boots off again". His brother had been killed in Africa and he joined the army at 16 years of age.
While we were coming into the harbor, I was on top of the ship as a lookout and I could see German shells hitting in the water where we were going to land. Something stopped the shells from coming and we landed without any trouble.
We left our area at night May 24, 1944, and walked all night towards the front as all those artillery pieces were firing. We stopped the next morning and dug in on the side of a hill and stayed there until the morning of the 26th of May. We then moved towards Cisterna cleaning out houses as we went. We would throw a hand grenade in the house and then go through the door shooting. One day a soldier tried to throw a hand grenade in an upstairs window and he missed the window. You talk about a bunch of soldiers "hauling ass. . ". I took about ten steps and hit the ground and just as I did, I heard a piece of shrapnel go buzzing over my head. We captured a few Germans in this wrap up operation.
We went past Cisterna up Highway 7 a few miles and dug in for the night. We had relieved an engineering outfit and we were looking at Velletri. Velletri was the stronghold point to keep us from going to Rome and we could see our artillery shells falling on Velletri.
Saturday morning May 27, 1944 started out like the other days at Anzio except for one thing. We were moving up through a potato patch when "all hell broke loose". Mortar and artillery shells started falling among us and small fire arms fire bullets were flying over and around us. I hit the ground and when they would let up for a minute I would try to dig me a hole with my helmet. When they would start shelling us again, I would put on my helmet and dirt would go down my shirt collar but that didn't bother me.
At that time in my life, I was the most frightened that I had ever been. During the first barrage I heard my old buddy Joseph Stallone crying out for his mother and I just knew he was dying. He was hit but not as seriously as he thought. During the next barrage I heard him calling the Germans all kind of names and I knew that he was okay.
I saw my first dead soldiers that day and they were two men that I knew in the first platoon. I can't describe how I felt when I saw them that day. On this day, I realized I was in war and people were trying to kill me. After this first battle I felt like my chances of going home were very slim. One thing you do in combat is you do a lot of praying and reading the Bible when you get a chance.
Just about dusk on May 30, 1944, the 36th Engineering Regiment crawled over to our holes and relieved us and we had to crawl about 200 yards to a terrace that would let us get up and walk. We then rode trucks via Cori to the right flank of 141st Infantry Regiment and here we dismounted from the trucks and started walking. Little did we know that we were going to bypass Velletri and get in behind the German lines. We walked all night and ended up in a valley the next morning and had started to dig in when they said we were moving again.
We walked up Monte Artemisio and marched straight across what had once been the floor of the ancient crater to capture Monte Cavo and Rocca di Papa, the two highest points in the Alban Hills. We dug foxholes that night and half of us had to stay awake. So we would sleep an hour and then be on guard an hour. That night was the first time I heard the Nebelwerfer and it would make the darner noise you ever heard. It was demoralizing as you could hear it all over the valley and mountains.
From June 1 to June 4 we fought our way from Monte Artemisio to Rocca di Papa, the last mountain overlooking highway 7 and Rome.
As we disembarked from the LSI, I descended the steps and the slippery gangway, I lost my camera. There were many pictures taken around Venafro and San Pietro near Cassino. At the beachhead I was assigned as 2nd Battalion S-2 (Intelligence) primarily because of my relative fluency with the German language. The fact became important. We made tentative of attacks to expand the beachhead on the first week but we did not succeed and we were forced to go back on defensive positions to Mussolini Canal.
On continuing preparation for defense two boys from Headquarters Company were wounded by artillery fire in the back of a house where I and 11 men had set up a rear defensive line Command Post. It was an extremely noisy night, with a large exchange of artillery fire rounds landing in close to vicinity of the Battalion Command Post. Also in late evening a flak wagon pulled up and started chattering in our direction. The machine gun bullets reached Battalion Command Post and bounced off the house.
Enemy fire coming into area of Command Post was constant all morning. The Germans were using mortars artillery and tank destroyers. Wire communications were knocked out and every time a jeep went by to repair it, it would be fired on.
Sometimes we were using forwards houses to observe German movements, sometimes we had to leave these houses and move to the rear houses when the Germans advanced towards our direction. We needed some prisoners to investigate so we hoped to capture some isolated German soldier.
Sometimes we were using forwards houses to observe German movements, sometimes we had to leave these houses and move to the rear houses when the Germans advanced towards our direction. We needed some prisoners to investigate so we hoped to capture some isolated German soldier.
On February 4th, I was made 1st Lt.
We left the front line on March 23rd.
After regrouping and getting more replacements and new supplies, we were getting ready for the invasion of Anzio. We had about 10 days of rest when we boarded on an LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) ship in Naples and headed for Anzio beachhead, and on the 22nd January, 1944 at 2:00 a.m. the first troops landed on Anzio beach.
We made our landing about mid-morning, this time on dry ground. Our positions were changing frequently, the enemy would push us back, then we would counter attack and regain some of our position but not enough to make up for our losses, like playing three steps back and two steps forward.
February was a bad month, the German were throwing everything they could find at us and as we were retreating. Our casualties were mounting up, especially for the front line troops. After a short rest of one day, on the night of the 16th February we moved to the front lines again with the rifle company, which we were supporting, and dug in along the Albano road, which leads straight to the city of Anzio. This road had banks on the side facing the enemy about 3 feet above the road. We were to hold that line at all costs.
Before we made the landing in Anzio we had a good company commander, who led his troops, but he was wounded about a month or so before Anzio, so we got a replacement Captain, but he would not lead his troops. He remained behind under whatever protection from fire that he could find. Shortly after day break in the morning of the 18th February, 1944, things were happening so fast and everything was in such a big turmoil that it was all we could do to keep our heads down low to prevent being hit from shrapnel and at the same time try to defend ourselves while looking for an escape route. We could not make contact with the other gun squad or anyone else, we had no way of communication. The fire power was so heavy that we could not even run across the road to an open field. The ground was very flat with no trees or buildings to hide behind.
When all of a sudden out of nowhere five German soldiers took us by surprise, coming from the rear with bayonets on their rifles and inches from our back shouting "Reust hans in der luft". As soon as I stood up a German soldier, like lighting, jumped in the foxhole and grabbed my 45 automatic, he wasn't taking any chances. Unbeknown to us the other machine gun squad had already been captured. There were enemy troops behind us and in front of us.
Then what we saw a few minutes later, was just like out of the history book of World War I. About 200 hundred yards in front of us, heavily armed German soldiers under cover of artillery and mortar barrages were coming in droves and I mean droves. About twelve or fifteen waves of German soldiers were charging forward across the open fields shouting and yelling and with bayonets drawn on their rifles. I learned later that the Germans had broken through the British lines to our left and swept around behind us. It never entered my mind that I would be taken as a prisoner of war, wounded yes, but a prisoner, never.
We were being marched back along a dirt road that was strewn with dead bodies on both sides of the road, and many more bodies throughout the battle fields. They were mostly Germans, but there were also many Americans. It was not a pretty sight. Valentino Vojash was with me, and we kept in touch while in POW and after we got back in United States of America.
I remember moving toward Rome in a half-track, a vehicle that was half tracker and half truck. Just behind was another vehicle carrying members of the press. Suddenly, we came under fire. I turned to the press vehicle and said: "See you guys are in hurry and don't know what's going on".
We were always under fire since January 22nd to May 25th and I was wounded on February 19th.
I was a member of a machine gun squad in the Sixth Armored Infantry, Company C, 1st Armored Division. While disembarking at Anzio from LST's we were attacked by Stukas dive bombers. My squad was on top near the bow. We manned our 30-and 50 caliber guns and fired at the Stukas. One Stuka dived down and dropped its bombs. As we watched it fall toward our deck, we were ready for it to hit us but, thankfully, it missed the bow and hit the water without any damage.
We than moved up to the front line in Campoleone and Padiglione woods. We dug in our half-tracks and dug out trench holes large enough for four men. We placed trees and dirt over them, thus we had good underground shelters. These were our living conditions until the breakout in May 23rd.
In the early morning of February 19th, 1944 a task force including my unit attacked and advanced toward Padiglione Tower. After a time, we were shelled by an 88 air burst. In my platoon, it left eight wounded and four dead. I was wounded in my right leg but not seriously. I was able to walk to our aid station and then they took me to hospital where I spent a week or so. After treatment I returned immediately to my Company area in the Padiglione wood.
In this rest area there were also many homeless who established a sort of small village. Our troops treated them well, and paid them for doing our laundry and mending. I spoke Italian so very often I was used as an interpreter for my company and my comrades.
Finally, on May 23rd, the breakout began. We in the 151 Armored Division were most mobile and attacked Cisterna and Campoleone railroad area. On June 3rd, I captured three Germans in a cellar while I was advancing into a sector held by the Nazis and stepped into a house for protection, when enemy shells started falling. I saw a Gelman mortar set up by a trap door leading to the cellar. I heard somebody moving around in the basement and, after checking to make sure my rifle was loaded, yelled down the steps. Three German soldiers came out with their hands in the air. I turned them over to a guard.
On June 4th our division tank and armored infantry led the way into and liberated Rome. It was a wonderful feeling with the public cheering and greeting us as we entered the city. We were then assigned to guard all the bridges of the Tiber River in our sector.
I was a signalman on Landing Ship Tank numbered 351 on the invasion at Anzio. The date was January 22nd, 1944. We were part of a decoy group. We continued north along the coast of Italy. That part of the convoy that included my ship was in sight of the mainland until we passed Anzio. This maneuver was to make the Germans think that the landing was to take place at Rome about twenty-five miles north of Anzio.
Anzio's sister town was called Nettuno. These twin towns were noted for their beaches and extravagant buildings and homes. These were the resort towns of Italy. (This area was similar to the Miami Beach section of Florida.)
We carried British Commandos on our ship, as part of a decoy operation and we passed Anzio about dusk and when it became dark we turned around and headed back to Anzio. Our particular group landed on the northern most part of the landing beach. A man took a small rubber boat almost up to the end of the jetty. He signaled the convoy using a covered, protected light. He informed us that the Germans were partying.
Then back to Naples and again to Anzio/Nettuno. The opening of the entrance into the Anzio harbor was very narrow, probably wide enough for two or three LST's. We were one of the two ships unloading at this narrow opening. The German artillery spotted for the railroad guns realized that if they could sink the two LST's in the entrance it would block the entrance and it would be very difficult to unload any future LST's directly onto the wharf.
The unloading off shore was extremely slow. The railroad guns began firing at us, one shell landed about 100 feet from us. This explosion made many holes on our bulkhead but fortunately no one was injured.
I still have a shell fragment from this explosion. We accelerated the unloading of our moving cargo and completed the loading of some casualties. They were on their way to Naples for additional treatment. We backed out of this precarious position and headed out in the harbor. The LST next to us quickly followed us out.
I left the States in August 1943 and landed in Oran, N. Africa on September 13, 1943.
I was shipped to Naples, Italy on December 7, 1943 and joined the 6723 Truck Group on January 7, 1944. On January 22nd we landed at the Anzio.
I made numerous trips by LST between Naples and Anzio, under fire, supplying the beachhead. I joined the 56th Quartermaster Truck Battalion on June 30th and supplied main battle lines until the end of the Italian Campaign.
We arrived at Anzio on March 20th, 1944 when daylight broke revealing the ships anchored off the headlands of Anzio. South of Nettuno the charred hulks of a freighter and lesser ship were beached not far from the airstrip and the Evacuation Hospital where we were directed. After we disembarked we went as rapidly as possible to our truck and out to the Evacuation Hospital area.
In a couple of days the engineers had completed about all the hospital and all wards were quite safely dug in from shelling we had one at about 3:30 in the afternoon of the 29th. Several of our planes were knocked down and great excitement crammed into about five minutes. Also our surgery, that was under one tent, was set in a dugout to provide, more protection from enemy shelling then they would have offered if they had been entirely above the surface.
On April 2nd, at night, there was a continuous shelling with several landing near. Two went in our motor pool. These were the conditions we were working and in middle April. Of the four Evacuation hospitals six nurses bad been killed and over 300 wounded. The medical corps had not been safe even there. On June 4, 1944 when troops occupied Rome we all felt much secure, and also fortunate in looking back through all our shelling.
In the 15th Evacuation Hospital at ward number 11 a patient said: "Nurse it's a beautiful day, isn't it?" It was 2 a.m. and all other patients were asleep. Poor chap had lost both his eyes, awakened and thought it was morning. The nurse told him what time it was and asked if he couldn't go back to sleep. "Oh, I'm sorry, hope I didn't awaken any of the boys", he said and sighed and kept quiet.
I was born in the State of Connecticut, USA in 1919. Received Bachelor of Science Degree and 2nd Lt. ROTC commission in U.S. Army in 1940 from the University of Connecticut.
I was assigned to Headquarters of 6th Corps and participated in Salerno and then Anzio landing. While in Anzio I was serving with General Lucas Headquarters, first settled by an Italian artillery barrack and then moved to a safer place, in a wine cellar. Underground cellars were used for shelters for bombardments.
When General Truscott took command of 6th Corps, he promoted me to Major. I followed General Truscott also in the landing South of France and I retired as Regimental Major.
I was sent with a group of men to the small port of Pozzuoli near Naples where we boarded a Landing Ship Tank. I had been assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division fighting on the Anzio/Nettuno beachhead. I had never heard of the 3rd Division or the battle going on at Anzio/Nettuno.
On board the LST were men returning to the Anzio front following their release from hospitals or rest camps. A more dejected group would be hard to image. I When I asked one or two of them what it was like at Anzio, they shook their heads, and were very reluctant to talk about it. One man said it was an absolute hell, the worst place, you could image.
After our arrival at the port of Anzio we were taken by truck to 15th Infantry Headquarters, and that night we were sent out to companies. I was assigned as a replacement to "I" Company and was made Assistant Squad Leader, or Platoon Sergeant. I was 19 years old. I welcomed the adventure and excitement, but didn't want to die. I had strong feeling about I duty, honor, and country, but I couldn't help wondering how I would react under fire for the first time. The Army calls it yours; "Baptism of Fire", and warns it can be terrifying.
The commanders as well as the foot soldiers were worried about the attack, and studied various strategies that might give us an advantage. One of the many ideas of our Division Commander, General John O'Daniel, would involve me. His idea was to transport special assault teams forward on low sleds pulled along the ground by medium tanks. The teams were to become known as Battle Sled Teams.
The day we broke out of the Anzio/Nettuno beachhead, May 23, 1944, was one of the worst single days of fighting any U.S. Army division endured. Nine hundred and ninety five 3rd Division men were killed or wounded in a very short time. The next day another 625 men met the same fate. About an hour after the attack started, a radio message called us to battle. We laid on our stomachs, head down, in our sleds, and moved onto the road and toward the front. Then we went into an open field and the tanks turned right and stopped. The squad leader yelled to get out and move forward. We had stopped in a flat field of volunteer grain, probably wheat.
As I climbed out of the sled, I kept very low silhouette, as bursts of German machine gun bullets were chopping into the stalks of wheat only inches above my head. After I passed a mine field I scrambled down into a ditch. Just after arrived at the ditch I saw for the first time a man killed in battle. In the ditch a lieutenant said we must do something, and asked me to look over the edge of the ditch towards the Germans to see what I could see. I returned to the lieutenant and reported about the flame thrower and the broken trees, piles of rubble, broken buildings, and barren landscape in front of us.
The lieutenant gathered his team and planned an attack. I had the Browning Automatic Rifleman (BAR man) from my squad following me. Some of the men were killed by the Germans who were firing at us. About 20 feet in front of me was a zig-zag trench. A dead German soldier was stretched out, face down, just behind the trench. We took an empty house and then we moved to a nearby trench. This trench made a tum every 10 to 15 feet. As I turned the corner of the trench, I found the next 10 feet empty. I moved cautiously forward, and found the trench made a 90 degree turn to the right. As I turned the comer, I saw a German rifleman firing to his front towards the anti-tank ditch. I fired a burst from my Tommy-gun into his back. I had just killed my first enemy soldier.
The First Special Service Force that landed at Anzio was considerably different than the Force that had landed at Naples some two months earlier. A small number of lighter casualties had returned, and replacements had joined. By noon on February 1st, the Force was unloaded and had moved to a staging area. We were to take over the line from the mouth of the Mussolini Canal to bridge number 5.
I had been wounded at Mount La Defensa and now at Anzio my assignment was in Headquarters 2nd Regiment. We would have been patrolling and raiding in and behind German's lines every night, knocking German outpost, destroying houses used as observation points, and generally pushing the enemy line back.
Let me tell you a story at 6th Corps headquarters. Between assignments. some second regiment raiders became bored and restless. A persistent rumor concerned a Nettuno wine cellar, fully stocked and guarded by MP's for the use of rear brass. About midnight one night during this period Sergeant Burham awoke to a call on the company phone. It was General Truscott who wanted to speak to Captain Langly.
When the captain answer the phone General Truscott told him that he had thee men by the headquarters, and that he was going to send them back for company punishment because they could have been killed by my sentries. Captain Langly asked General Truscott what happened, and he said that they had sneaked up and disarmed the guards, threatened to cut their throats if they would have given an alarm, left a man to guard them. Then the two sergeants broke into his Command Post and discovered him and his chief of staff. He nearly killed them himself but when they had saluted and stammered something about a wine cellar, he believed them. Langly couldn't believe it but he said thanks to General Truscott and then hung up the phone shaking his head.
I was inducted into the United States Army on January 6, 1942. I had basic training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia. In May 1942, I joined the 1st Armored Division at Ft. Dix. There I was assigned to Regiment HQ. Co. 6th Armored Infantry Regiment.
On May 31, 1942 I departed for Ireland, from there I was in Scotland, in England and then in Oran in North Africa. After the North Africa conflict was over, I went to Naples and from Naples to Anzio till the breakout for Rome.