B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group


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


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Italian Partisans Fight Germans and Fascists


Somewhere in the park, a quarter of a mile away, a machine gun rattled briefly and then was quiet. Just beyond me, across the little open square where the jeeps and British cars were parked, the officers and men of the Allied Military Government and the Intelligence Control Unit were coming and going through a hotel doorway.


Florentinfine Antifascists Engage Fascist Snipers in a Fratricidal Vendetta - action like this occurred near the author's hotel


With them were occasional Italian members of the armed Partisans, wearing bright colored armbands and feathers in their caps, and sometimes bright-colored scarves. They were fighting the Germans and the Fascists in the outskirts of the city and often in the city itself. The night before, a Fascist soldier had been killed by the Partisans only 200 yards from the hotel.

Seeing my companion, Capt. Leonard S. Ackerman, coming out of the hotel doorway, I got up to walk over to him. We had been flying together for a year and had come up to Florence to see the bomb damage in the marshaling yards of the city and to inspect what had been one of the greatest examples of precision bombing in the war.

"It's hot this time of day," I told him.

"It certainly is. I'd hate to have to run around the streets much if it's hot like this."

"What did they say inside?"

"The same story: there are still snipers in the Campo di Marte yards. The Germans even have machine guns in all the yards. I guess I'll have to wait."

We walked over to the cement ledge again and looked down on the three dead civilians in the boat.

"Poor guys," Captain Ackerman said. "What a lousy kind of war that is."

"A civilian was talking to me about the bombing," I told him. "My friend said it was really a beautiful job. He didn't know how we kept within the target area at Campo di Marte where the yards are so narrow. I guess they don't feel too bad."

"I wish we could get in to see it. I'd like to look it over for myself."

"Maybe tomorrow. Maybe our gang will clean them out today or tonight."

We were leaning over the ledge now, looking at the sluggish Arno filled with flotsam from the demolitions upstream. Below us, to the west, inching across the water break from one side of the river to another, was a long, patient line of civilians carrying net bags filled with tomatoes and cabbages and fruit. Below the ladder on our side of the river they were bunched waiting to climb up. There were six bridges across the Arno, and the Germans had blown up all but the Ponte Vecchio.

"You should have seen it with the bridges," I said. "They were as beautiful as any bridges in the world, all six taken together like that. But now look at them." (Continued)

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