The Second Battle of Monte Cassino: The Uncoordinated Ground Attack

The destruction of the Abbey at Monte Cassino had very few positive effects for the Allies even though the conceited and back slapping “air power uber alles” enthusiasts of the various Allied bomber commands considered it a resounding success.
For Hitler however, the destruction of the abbey was a military and political bonanza. It didn’t kill many Germans but it did slaughter hundreds of monks, women, children and elderly for Goebbels to exploit. It made National Socialism look like the defender of culture and the Allies look barbarous. The inaccurate heavy bombers inflicted serious “friendly fire” casualties on the New Zealand Corps and forced the 4th Indian Division to withdraw from hard won ground. And finally it turned the monastery into a fortress so commanding, dominant and impregnable; it might as well have been sited and designed by Vauban himself.
To make matters worse, the “Air Admirals” in their arrogance refused to coordinate the attack with the 5th Army so the bombing was not promptly followed up by a ground attack. Freyberg was furious. After rudimentary preparations, the 4th Indian Division attacked in piecemeal on the 15th of February in a vain attempt to exploit the bombing’s effects. The Green Devils of the German 1st Parachute Division massacred them.
The Second Battle of Monte Cassino, which began with so much promise, was over just two days later, on the 17th.
The New Zealand Corps sat in the cold wintery rain for the next three weeks amidst flooded foxholes and knee deep mud waiting for another chance at the Germans.
Even worse, the abbey now bristled with the guns of elite German soldiers, who spent those three weeks digging deeper into the ruins.

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