06 April 2018

New Zealand Tank Crew at Cassino

Image size: 1074 x 1600 pixel. 442 KB
Date: Thursday, 18 May 1944
Place: Cassino, Frosinone, Italy
Photographer: George Frederick Kaye

New Zealand tankmen, possibly 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade personnel, in Cassino, Italy, on the day it fell to the 8th Army, 18 May 1944. The Brigade arrived in Italy on 5 October 1943, over a month after the initial invasion, landing at Taranto and were involved in the first actions to break through the Bernhardt Line on the Sangro front. In 1944 they were transferred to U.S. Fifth Army on the Italian western coast. The New Zealand Division was joined by the 4th Indian Division and the British 78th Division, and together with units of the U.S. 1st Armored Division formed the New Zealand Corps and was tasked with the capture of the town of Cassino, its skyline dominated by a 13th Century Monastery. During this period the 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade was tasked with supporting the infantry. Individual squadrons were employed in a fire support role, often being used as makeshift artillery. The 20th Armoured Regiment participated in a flanking attack, approaching the Monastery on a specially constructed road from behind. Surprise was achieved, but insufficient infantry reserves to press the initiative saw the German defenders regain the upper hand and the tanks fell back. In March tanks from the 19th Armoured Regiment entered the town proper to support members of the 28th Māori Battalion in the bitter house to house fighting, using their 75mm guns to dig the defenders out of strong points. The degree of rubble clogging the streets made progress slow and by the end of the month when relieved by the 20th Armoured Regiment the Shermans had reverted to the role of static fire support. This continued for the next two months, with the tanks able to provide little more than morale support to the infantry until the monastery finally fell to Polish forces on 19 May 1944.

Source :
National Library of New Zealand Ref: DA-05712-F

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