This week in the War, 15–21 May 1944: Poles capture ruins of Monte Cassino abbey
Sketch of the Monte Cassino battlefield drawn for the HQ of the 2nd Polish Corps [Public domain]
This week in the war, on 18 May 1944, the Polish 12th Podolski
Regiment assaulted and captured the ruins of the Benedictine abbey
at Monte Cassino. The Gustav line
, which had held up the Allies for months, had already been breached at many points in the southern sector.
Photograph that appeared in ‘Yank, the Army Weekly’ showing a monk guiding two soldiers over the ruins of Monte Cassino abbey [Public domain]
Fearing that his troops may be cut off from the rear, Kesselring ordered his his forces to withdraw. (The German parachutists were already withdrawing from Monte Cassino, itself.)
After a prolonged effort on the part of the Allies—including Americans, Australians, British, Canadians, Free French, Indians, New Zealanders, Poles, and South Africans—the road to Rome lay open.