|A TYPICAL SOUVENIR ITALY 1944 / 1945|
The Story of the Powder River / Let'er Buck, 91st Inf Div, August 1917 - January 1945
Before going on with this booklet, a next short intermezzo on Pin-Up girls.....
More use of Pin-Ups on US official documents!
As described in the previous part, John brought home three different official documents from the US - Army that show, for those times, very daring pictures.
The U.S. Army also placed pin-ups on the front of map update documents during WWII. This in an attempt to assure that the person in command of a unit, but also the common GI (according to the remark: "For general distribution. NOT for staff use only") would use the latest available maps.
John saved two examples of this type.
One shows a girl named Thelma on the front. The second document carries a beauty named Yvonne:
The importance of the use of the latest maps was explained on the back of the documents:
Of special interest is the small print:
As said, the sheets have the symbol of the Engineer Corps at the top above the pin-up. Some of the text on the front and back of the documents is:
"Red figures indicate the latest map editions"
"The engineers supply maps with contours. Demand the latest edition. You owe it to your troops - see your division or corps engineer".
(Technical info courtesy of Herbert A. Friedman).
The back of the document depicts the latest map series and reminds the men that any of the several hundred maps listed and marked in red are available in a new edition from the Engineers.
This was enough on Pin Up Girls. I hope you enjoyed it!
|Picture. Axis leaflet from the SS leaflet campaign for Italy "S|dstern" (southern star).|
The small star in the codenumber was always used by the propagandists of Southern Star.
As you see, the Germans did also use Pin Ups.
This leaflet was picked up by John. As it was badly damaged by shellfire,
I show my own copy of the same leaflet.
(coll. Burridge / Moonen)
The enemy fell back rapidly to their next defensive position at Loiano, with the 91st swiftly following their retreat. On 5 October, under a rolling barrage the 362nd Infantry captured the town and M. Bastia, the peak which dominates it. On either side of the position the whole line surged forward.
But at this point the terrain and the weather combined to slow the advance considerably. The enemy exploited both these advantages shrewdly. The hilly, open countryside from Loiano to Livergnano is cut by spurs running generally in a north-south direction which command the ravines and draws. For the enemy the terrain afforded unlimited opportunities for delaying positions and elastic defense. For the men of the 91st attacking north the mountains and valleys would normally have been difficult to fight over, but made slippery and muddy by the fall rains, it challenged their endurance and courage. Fog blanketed the valleys and enemy positions were discovered only by accident. Firefights flared in fog-isolated areas across the entire front.
On the left of Highway 65, the 362nd Infantry fought slowly forward, taking M. Castellari by scaling it with rope ladders on the dark, foggy night of 9 October, and occupying La Guarda. On the right, the 361st Infantry captured Trebbo and pushed under the escarpment at Prato di Magnano. Company I making its way carefully through the fog succeeded in moving behind enemy positions and cutting the highway at La Fortuna, 2,000 yards behind the enemy lines. In the foggy darkness many small parties of enemy were trapped moving down the highway, and either killed or captured.
The Division had come to the most formidable natural barrier between the Santerno and the Po, a rocky escarpment rising at some points over 1,800 feet high. In places, especially in the upper half of the cliff, it is a perpendicular rock wall. From the rock rim the enemy commanded every approach from the south. Rising above the rim was a lateral series of hills: 544 and 603, dominating Highway 65; 504, 481, 592, and 487. Each one was a prepared strong point from which the high plateau lying behind the rock rim could be covered with machine gun and mortar fire. As the Division faced this escarpment it was considerably in advance of its adjacent units, exposed on the right to fire from S. Maria di Zena and M. delle Formiche and on the left to fire directed from M. Adone.
Only two breaks in the wall existed by which the plateau could be reached. One lay just north of Bigallo and the other was a cut at Livergnano through which Highway 65 runs. Accordingly the 2nd Battalion, 361st Infantry was ordered to move east to the cut north of Bigallo, make its way over this escarpment and then move westward to seize in succession Hills 592, 504 and 481. On the left, the 1st Battalion was ordered to attack Livergnano and neutralize its twin sentinels, Hills 544 and 603.
The fighting of the next few days was the most grinding and heartbreaking the 91st Division has ever known. On the right the 2nd Battalion started up the cut north of Bigallo. There was no trail at this point, but it was possible by sheer scaling and climbing to reach the plateau. Riflemen slung their rifles over their shoulders and hung and crawled with their fingers and toes." The machine gunners disassembled their weapons and each squad member carried parts in his pockets or pack. At one point on the way, Companies E and C had to cross a narrow ledge which the enemy had zeroed in. Only by running a few men across at a time did the companies clear the obstacle and make their way forward.
Once on top of the escarpment near Casole, Companies E and C were fired on and the companies deployed to engage the enemy. While the fight was ill progress the enemy infiltrated around the flanks under cover of darkness, foliage and terrain features, and the companies found themselves located at the bottom of a "tilted saucer" with high ground completely surrounding them and the enemy occupying positions all along this high ground. To assist the push on the right General Livesay ordered the 363rd Infantry committed on the right. Slowly the Regiment fought its way forward, cleaning out pockets of resistance before Bigallo and at Ca Parma and Ca Parisi. During the night of 11 - 12 October, the 1st Battalion scaled the escarpment and reinforced the two companies virtually isolated on the rock rim.
While the infantry fought savagely on the ground, the artillery and the air support blasted enemy strong points. The artillery fired 8,400 rounds of all types, most of them in an arc about Livergnano. This artillery power was augmented by position firing by tank destroyers. These blasted the caves and houses of Livergnano and machine gun and mortar emplacements. In the air medium bombers attacked bridges and supply dumps, while fighter bombers flew 250 sorties against troop concentrations and gun areas.
For the attack at 0600, 13 October the artillery laid down a tremendous concentration of 2,120 rounds in 16 minutes. There was better progress all across the Division front during the day, and it became clear that the enemy had at last begun to withdraw under the steady pounding they had received from the bombers, the artillery, and the infantry. Gradually the whole line fell back. Hills 603 and 544 were taken and Livergnano occupied, despite the continued shelling. The 2nd Battalion slowly fought its way northwest, cleaning out the positions along the rim of the escarpment. It rejoined the rest of the 361st Infantry on Highway 65 north of Livergnano. The 363rd Infantry fanned out from the east cut and occupied the right sector of the Division front.
Thus at the end of the day, the lines had been straightened and the flanks secured. With Casolina on the left, Querceta on the right and Hill 603 in the center in the Division's hands, the enemy line, referred to by many of the captured prisoners as the Caesar Line, had been overrun and the escarpment had been conquered. Enemy casualties had been heavy, and many prisoners had been taken--225 on 12-13 October.
Thus the 91st Division's first four months of combat during World War II came to a close. During that time it had fought from Rome to Livergnano. From the Gustav Line to the Caesar Line. It captured Chianni, Pontedera, Leghorn, Pisa, Monticelli, M. Calvi, M. Beni, M. Freddi, M. Oggioli, Monghidoro, Loiano, Livergnano. It broke through the Gothic Line, the Berta Line and the Caesar Line. Three times it was the first unit of Fifth Army to achieve the Army objective - on 18 July at Leghorn, on 23 July at Pisa, and on 17 September at Monticelli.
But these are only the names the public knows. These are the places the spotlight has caught. But there are hundreds of houses, crossroads, hills and draws where the men of the 91st fought and died to make the capture of more famous places possible. There are miles of road the Engineers swept for mines, scores of streams they bridged or by-passed so the Division could move forward. There are miles of roads, dusty or muddy, frozen hard or running with water over which the service forces brought food and ammunition to the support of the drive. And sometimes there were no roads, and men and mules carried supplies over narrow precipitous trails. Over the same trails and roads the litter bearers evacuated the wounded swiftly and skillfully. Behind these names lies the courage, determination and combat wisdom of each individual infantryman and each individual artillery man. Again and again the story repeats itself: the artillery blasted a path for the infantry, drove the enemy into his holes the infantry followed up to dig the dazed and shaken enemy from the holes. Behind these names lies the skill, the planning, the labor and the courage of every man in the Division.
Under the command of General Livesay, the 91st Division has made a name for itself as one of the great fighting outfits of the Army. It is feared and respected by the enemy, praised and admired by its allies. It has been a spearhead in every campaign it has taken part in. The 91st Division is a team, a great fighting team, of which every man in the Division is a part. It's a great fighting Division: it has made history and it will make history until the peace is won.
So far this booklet.
The 91st Division would continue to fight in Italy for another 6 months. It took part in the Po Valley Campaign (April 1945). But that is for the next booklet to describe:
THE STORY OF THE
Po Valley Campaign
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Propaganda leaflets of the second World War
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