Under constant artillery and mortar fire from the strongly fortified German positions and with little natural cover for protection, the fighting was fierce and at times hand-to-hand. Indeed, sixteen bombs hit the Fifth Army compound at Presenzano 17 miles (27 km) from Monte Cassino and exploded only yards away from the trailer where Clark was doing paperwork at his desk.[41]. The Battle of Monte Cassino (also known as the Battle for Rome and the Battle for Cassino) was a costly series of four assaults by the Allies against the Winter Line in Italy held by Axis forces during the Italian Campaign of World War II. 4 Sardinia Artillery could not be used in direct support targeting point 593 because of the proximity and risk of shelling friendly troops. [6] The raid failed to achieve its objective, as German paratroopers then occupied the rubble and established excellent defensive positions amid the ruins. The monastery was subsequently rebuilt and reached the apex of its fame in the 11th century under the abbot Desiderius (abbot 1058–1087), who later became Pope Victor III. After a bombardment of 750 tons of 1,000-pound bombs with delayed action fuses,[51] starting at 08:30 and lasting three and a half hours, the New Zealanders advanced behind a creeping artillery barrage from 746 artillery pieces. I would not comply with the order without first talking to General Clark in person. January 2018 [58], The German defenders too had paid a heavy price. British 78th Infantry Division, which had arrived in late February and placed under the command of New Zealand Corps, would then cross the Rapido downstream of Cassino and start the push to Rome. After 3 April, he was not seen again. Some units which participated in the first part of the campaign were awarded the battle honour 'Cassino I'. Truscott later wrote in his memoirs that Clark "was fearful that the British were laying devious plans to be first into Rome",[70] a sentiment somewhat reinforced in Clark's own writings. The intelligence assessment of Allied prospects was therefore over-optimistic.[13]. In particular, armour could only move on paths laid with steel matting and it took eight days of bloody fighting across the waterlogged ground for 34th Division to push back General Franek's German 44th Infantry Division to establish a foothold in the mountains. Torrents of rain flooded bomb craters, turned rubble into a morass and blotted out communications, the radio sets being incapable of surviving the constant immersion. On February 15 the Allies bombed and demolished the Benedictine monastery, erroneously believing that the Germans had occupied and fortified it. Also during this time, the Polish song writer Feliks Konarski, who had taken part in the fighting there, wrote his anthem "Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino" ("The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino"). "[34], The bombing mission in the morning of 15 February 1944 involved 142 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers followed by 47 North American B-25 Mitchell and 40 Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers. By the next day they would have been astride the line of retreat and 10th Army, with all Kesselring's reserves committed to them, would have been trapped. It was Albert Kesselring, the German commander, who wanted to prevent the historical site from becoming a victim of war. During these early months of 1944, Cassino saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Italian campaign, the town itself and the dominating Monastery Hill proving the most stubborn obstacles encountered in the advance towards Rome. On 24 May, the Canadians had breached the line and 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division poured through the gap. On the 26th the order was put into effect. The original estimates that Rome would fall by October 1943 proved far too optimistic. Freyberg had informed his superiors that he believed, given the circumstances, there was no better than a 50 per cent chance of success for the offensive.[23].