On 19 May 2024, over 100 UK Armed Forces personnel participated in a ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Cassino, Italy, to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino, according to a press release.

The event, attended by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh, included a service of remembrance, prayers, and wreath laying, with national anthems performed by the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) Band.

Soldiers from the Royal Tank Regiment, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, and the HAC formed the Guard of Honour and Colour Party.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff, emphasised the importance of such anniversaries. He was quoted in a press release as saying: “Standing in the tranquil shadow of the great Monastery today, it is difficult to imagine the savagery of the fighting that echoed around the Liri Valley in the late winter and early spring of 1944. We remember the courage of those who paid the ultimate price to secure Allied victory.”

The ceremony highlighted the multinational effort in the battle, involving British, Canadian, New Zealand, Indian, Polish, French, Italian, and American troops. Captain Nicholas Warren-Miller, whose grandfather fought at Monte Cassino, expressed the personal significance of the event. He was quoted in a press release as saying: “To honour his memory and that of his friends is a great privilege.”

The four battles of Monte Cassino, fought between January and May 1944, were crucial in breaking through the German Winter Line, allowing the Allies to advance towards Rome. The battles resulted in significant casualties, with the Allies suffering around 55,000 and the Germans approximately 20,000.

Veteran Jack Hearn, who served with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, paid tribute to his fallen comrades. He was quoted in a press release as saying: “I’m here today in this special place, to pay tribute to my fellow soldiers and friends with whom I fought. Thousands lost their lives in Italy and many who returned home were never the same.”

As part of the 80th-anniversary commemorations, a ‘living flame’ was introduced at the Cassino War Cemetery. This flame, part of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s ‘Legacy of Liberation 80’ campaign, will travel to Normandy for D-Day and continue its journey through Europe.

Trooper Daisy Crichton, who carried the Torch of Commemoration, reflected on the event. She was quoted in a press release as saying: “It’s really good for me to connect with the family history as my grandfather fought here. It has been emotional to be here on the anniversary.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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sjb1968
sjb1968 (@guest_820266)
17 days ago

I visited less than a month ago and to see first hand how exposed the men were trying to take that hill top makes you feel very humble. My great uncle was a desert rat who then served in the Italian campaign. He retraced his Italian service with his family back in the 1960’s because it so traumatised him.
Jimmy was a big man but a gentle soul who did not volunteer to tell his story like many others.
A proper hero from a generation that made great sacrifices for us all.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_820302)
16 days ago
Reply to  sjb1968

I fully agree and share that sentiment. As a post-WW2 soldier, it grieves me to an extent that the names of those who lost their lives in military operations since then are generally not added to war memorials.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster (@guest_820350)
16 days ago

Visited Cassino and Anzio on arranged tours when I was based at NATO in Naples. A real eye opener for anyone who visits. We also did Remembrance there. In one corner of a cemetery amongst lots of commonwealth India Regiment graves in an unknown Naval Rating. No idea how he got there. The German Army also get to parade. The German defenders where led by a staunch Roman Catholic officer. He arranged for the monastery treasures to be removed to safety prior to the battles. His actions in doing this is remembered by the local community as well. Also worth visiting… Read more »

geoff
geoff (@guest_820354)
16 days ago

It’s illuminating how former enemies have become close friends from such conflicts. I think of an image I saw once of a Greek Cypriot receiving a cool drink from his Turkish counterpart through a fence on the dividing line in Cyprus and of course the other well documented instances of temporary truces such as the Christmas day warmth displayed between German and Brit in that famous encounter. Most humans of all races and creeds are similar in what they want from life-family, work some leisure and some meaning for their time on this planet. Hatred has to be manufactured from… Read more »

Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner (@guest_820382)
16 days ago
Reply to  geoff

From Conversations I have had with both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, all London born, both sides tend to put the English born conscripts on the frontier, probably as a way of reducing tension, as they tend to chat across the lines.

geoff
geoff (@guest_820424)
16 days ago
Reply to  Ian Skinner

Thanks for info Ian-interesting. The other one I remember from those troubled times in the 1960’s is a cartoon of a British soldier just hurriedly finishing some graffiti on a Nicosia wall that read “Brits go home! “

Jez
Jez (@guest_820358)
16 days ago

I have just returned from Cassino, where I had the Honour to attend not only the Official Ceremony above, but also the Service to mark the 80th Anniversary of the ‘Amazon Bridge’ on Monday the 13th May at the Bridging Site and a Service of Remembrance held by the Monte Cassino Society at Cassino Cemetery on the 18th. This was all part of a Battlefield Tour arranged by the Monte Cassino Society (https://themontecassinosociety.co.uk) and Frank de Planta (http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk). Walking the ground around (and above) Cassino town, little you will read fully brings home the scale of terrain over which the… Read more »