Previous posts in this discussion:
Post"First Bomb and Then Look for the Enemy"--the Allied Way (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 06/12/23 4:23 am)
Our esteemed editor commented in response to Patrick Mears:
"The world owes a debt to those military leaders who put patrimony above military expediency, although there is also a moral dilemma--the possibility that sparing a work of art may come at the price of sacrificing additional lives."
The comment is wise and true. However, we may also say that the Allies were following the policy: "First bomb then ask if the enemy was present."
Let's see some examples:
The Aleutian island of Kiska was occupied by the Japanese on 6 June 1942 and on 15 June August, the US forces landed but prior to the landing, the island was bombed for about 20 days despite the fact that the Japanese had left the island on 28 July. Notwithstanding the absence of the enemy, the Allies lost 313 men due to friendly fire, mines, and accidents.
The battle of Montecassino lasted from January to May 1944. In mid-January the Allies reached the foot of the 543-meter mountain, upon which stood the ancient abbey. In the abbey there were no Germans, only monks and civilians. This fact was well known, as the German High Command had informed everyone in December 1943 that the abbey and the immediate surrounding was a neutral zone.
On 15 February the Allies, facing a standoff both there and at Anzio, bombed the abbey which was completely destroyed, but thanks to the German commander all the artworks and books had already been transferred to the Vatican.
The bombing was self-defeating, as the rubble became a good defensive line for the Germans (and some Italians) who held the position until 18 May when the Polish soldiers conquered the mount. The Allied forces also included a regiment of Italian collaborators.
Moreover, there was a high percentage of Allies killed by chaotic friendly fire.
At San Sepolcro, Capt. Anthony Clarke refused to fire on the small town from which the Germans had already retreated. He was wise but the High Command was a bunch of fools.
Warsaw was obliterated because twice it started an insurrection. The first was on 19 April 1943 with the ZOB (Jewish Organization of Combat) and the ZZW (Military Jewish Association) resisting for almost one month. The second insurrection was organized by Armia Krajowa on 1 August 1944 and lasted 63 days: The Germans were so impressed by the valor of the Poles that they considered them regular soldiers to whom they offered to chance to fight against the Soviets. Some accepted but others were taken prisoner, including the commander Tadeusz Komorowski, the famous Commander Bor then in exile in London, author of a great book History of Secret Army. Funny, the battle was carried out by Polish commanders all around, as the German Commander was von dem Bach-Zelewski, the commander of the Russian SS was Kaminski, and the Soviet spectator on the other side of the river was Rokossowski.
The fascist NSZ (Narodowe Siby Zbrojne--Armed National Forces) at that time had stopped its fight against the Germans concentrating against the Soviets, absorbing some of the AK, and continuing until 1951.
A final note: the 300 young RSI fascist snipers in Florence were all killed either in the fight or after being taken prisoner when they ran out of ammunition, which may be considered a war crime.
In the Vietnam war, US Marine Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock achieved 93 confirmed kills and was decorated with the Silver Star, Purple Heart, and other decorations.
JE comments: Snipers have always been uniquely despised by their captors, and the standard treatment was execution when they were caught with no ammunition left. Note to snipers: keep a few rounds in reserve in case you're taken prisoner.
Let's return to Montecassino: we have a direct disagreement between Eugenio Battaglia and David Duggan. So were there Germans at the abbey, or not? And how would the Allies have known either way?
The big news today from Italy: Berlusconi is dead at the age of 86. He was Italy's Trump before Trump dreamed of entering politics. Eugenio and other Italy-watchers, your thoughts?