of the sentiment among the American people for the old
and culturally rich cities of Europe and for the religious
shrines so numerous in Italy, certain cities were spared
from air bombardment.
Florence, Siena, and Pisa were serving German supply
systems and military purposes. But for fear that some
precious building, art treasure, or religious monument
dear to the Christian tradition might be destroyed,
these cities for the most part were spared.
the Allies landed on the Italian mainland and as the
tempo of the fighting increased north of Naples during
the winter, it became apparent that some measures would
have to be taken to deny the Germans the use of such
valuable supply links and storage facilities as the
great marshaling yards of Rome. So, in March, our groups
were sent against the Tiburtina, Littono, San Lorenzo,
and Ostiense marshaling yards.
close to the heart of Rome were these yards that we
had to make a bomb run which skirted Vatican City. For
a time the Colosseum and the great white monument to
Vittono Emanuele II were actually under the cross hairs
of my bombsight.
we broke from our target and the flak fell off to the
right, I called out over the interphone to Captain Ackerman
the historical buildings below.
this succession of raids all four yards were so completely
wrecked as to be useless longer to the Germans, and
more than a thousand units of rolling stock choking
the yards and packed with war material were destroyed.
Yet we did not hit any other part of the city and we
left untouched every cultural and religious monument!
when Rome had fallen, technicians examining the yards
were amazed at the accuracy of bombing which wrecked
every single object in the yards, twisted the huge gun
barrels in the freight cars, and yet did not touch houses
lining the slopes above.
finally it was determined that an attack on the Monte
Cassino Abbey was unavoidable because of military exigencies,
all types of bomber aircraft were sent against the abbey
and it was completely destroyed.
our groups of Marauders were sent against the heart
of Siena, cultural and historical center famous for
its fine examples of 13th- and 14th-century Italian
the source and center of the Renaissance, had never
been attacked by Allied bombers. Smaller than Rome,
and more compact, the beautiful city along the Arno
presented targets that seemed impossible to attack without
causing irreparable damage to things long precious to
the case of Florence, the military nature of the target
seemed less actual and more remote. Florence was hundreds
of miles from the fighting, hundreds of miles from Allied
soldiers struggling before Cassino. It was hard to see
how bombing the city would save American lives.
Florence was serving the German military purpose far
more than the abbey above Cassino. Shells that killed
Allied soldiers behind the broken walls of the Continental
Hotel in Cassino and on the bomb- and shell-pocked slopes
above the town were routed daily through Florence.
night freight cars filled with shells creaked heavily
through the blacked-out marshaling yards of the famous
and beautiful city. Far to the north of Cassino, the
other city, so ancient and lovely, so outwardly innocent,
was actually an instrument of war. (Continued)