Monte Cassino : Ten Armies in Hell, Hardback

Monte Cassino : Ten Armies in Hell Hardback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


The five-month Monte Cassino campaign in central Italy is one of the best-known European land battles of World War Two, alongside D-Day and Stalingrad.

It has a particular resonance now, because Cassino, with its multitude of participating armies - most notably the American 5th Army under the controversial General Mark Clark - was perhaps the campaign of the Second World War that most closely anticipates the coalition operations of today, with its ever-shifting cast of players stuck in inhospitable, mountainous terrain, pursuing an objective set by unknowing politicians in distant capitals, where victory is difficult to define.

Monte Cassino was characterised by the destruction of its world famous Abbey: in retrospect, considered an unjustifiable act of cultural vandalism by the allies.

The audit trail of decision-making to destroy an icon as well known then as the Eiffel Tower or Lincoln Memorial, is a chilling reminder that similar decisions are still being made in Iraq and Afghanistan and indeed Libya.

To this day, reversing normal prejudice, German troops are welcome in the abbey, having rescued its treasures from allied destruction in February 1944. Cassino was an unusual campaign for World War II in that its outcome was not reliant on sweeping movements or the use of tanks or aircraft - but by old-fashioned boots in the mud, whether capturing the town of Cassino after months of grinding urban warfare (a Stalingrad in miniature) or scrambling up the steep mountain to seize the heights and the religious complex on top of Monte Cassino.

Monte Cassino Abbey was painstakingly rebuilt after the war (its baroque chapel remains incomplete) and is now a World Heritage site.

An hour south of Rome, it is visited each year by up to one million tourists and pilgrims from around the world.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 400 pages, Illustrations, maps
  • Publisher: Cornerstone
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9781848093584



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This is the second book I have read dedicated to Cassino and one of several on the combined Cassino/Anzio campaign. The book brings an unique perspective to the battle by focusing on how the the various Armies were successful or not successful. Of particular interest was the success of the French under Juin and the Polish Corps that finally took Monte Cassino. Caddick-Adams is much friendlier to British General Harold Alexander than most historians. There is also a nice focus on the 8th Army's breakthrough up the Liri Valley. We know that Churchill liked Alexander, but the author considers him to have similar skills to Eisenhower as a diplomat general. The author also goes easy on American General Mark Clark's decision to take Rome and deliberately disobey orders by not cutting off the retreating German 10th Army. Caddick-Adams notes that there was no guarantee of trapping the 10th Army which seems to be a spurious argument for disobeying orders.<br/><br/>Interesting Facts<br/>Nearly 15,000 mules were used during the campaign as they proved the only reliable means of bringing supplies up and the injured and dead down from the mountains.<br/><br/>The Germans would mount a revolving Panther turret, called a Pantherturm, to a concrete bunker in the Gustav line. One killed 17 Allied tanks in 3 days, the Pantherturm leader actually becoming a "tank ace." <br/><br/>Because of such a lack of food in Naples, it is estimated that 42,000 women out of 150,000 engaged in regular or part-time prostitution.<br/>

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