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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Battle Situation and Regrouping

Battle Situation and Regrouping

When the attack by NZ Corps on Cassino ended, the road to Rome through the Liri valley was still barred. Nevertheless, there had been substantial gains. A firm bridgehead had been established over the Rapido River, nine-tenths of the town of Cassino captured, and a foothold gained on Monastery Hill, where Castle Hill was firmly held. Then, too, pressure on the Anzio beach-head had been relieved.

In preparation for a renewed offensive against the Gustav line the Allied armies in Italy began a major regrouping. Eighth Army, to which 2 NZ Division now reverted, and with which it was to remain during the rest of the Italian campaign, became responsible for some four-fifths of the front across the peninsula of Italy and began to concentrate its greatest strength on the sector from and including Cassino to the Liri River. The sector south-west of the Liri to the west coast, and the Anzio beach-head, were the responsibilities of Fifth Army.

During the first two weeks of April the sorely-tried infantry brigades of 2 NZ Division were withdrawn from Cassino, the holding of which had been no easy task, to take over from 2 Polish Corps the scarcely less arduous task of defending a part of the line across the Apennine Mountains. While 6 Infantry Brigade took over the Monte Croce sector, 5 Infantry Brigade rested at Isernia, but 4 Armoured Brigade remained in the Cassino sector in the meantime. Command of the new mountain sector was formally assumed by 2 NZ Division on 15 April. There were British, Canadian, South African, and Italian units under its command.

Reliefs and changes in disposition were numerous. Eventually 2 Independent Paratroop Brigade took over the northern sub-sector on 20 April from 6 Brigade, which went to a rest area, and 5 Brigade next day replaced 28 British Infantry Brigade in the Terelle, or southern, sub-sector. Later again 6 Brigade took over the Terelle area and was there on 11 May when the final attack on the Gustav line was begun. Fifth Brigade took over again before the advance began on 25 May.

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