B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group


Return to Florence
by Benjamin C. McCartney, 443rd Bomb Squadron


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An Admirer of Florence, the Author (Right) Maps a Raid with his Pilot, Capt. Leonard S. Ackerman (Left)

I was sitting on the cement ledge that runs along the north side of the Arno River in Florence watching some Italian civilians loading the smashed bodies of three of their fellows into a boat moored twenty feet below me. As the three had been trying to cross the broken and twisted rubble of the blown-up bridge, one of them had lifted a wire and set off a German mine.

The day before, I had seen five civilians killed climbing over the rubble at the south end of the ancient and famous Ponte Vecchio, where the Germans had blown up the houses to block the bridge and had then planted mines in the rubble.

All over the city there were mines and booby traps. The British sappers were clearing these up; yet little groups of careless civilians were being blown up almost hourly.

In the hills south of the city a battery of British guns thundered and expostulated at some target in the other hills, far north of the city, where the Germans were. It was almost midday, and the city lay inert under the heat as if poleaxed. (Continued)

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