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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy


page 582

THE war in Italy did not stand still after the fall of Rome. The Germans had made a long withdrawal towards their next important barricade across the peninsula. This was known as the Gothic line and ran from Massa, on the Gulf of Genoa, passing north of Florence, to Pesaro on the Adriatic coast. It was the Allied intention to hasten the enemy's withdrawal as much as possible and to deliver an attack on the Gothic line before he had opportunity to complete its defences. A series of strongly defended intermediate positions south of Florence had first to be overcome.

To assist in attaining this objective 2 NZ Division was required by 13 Corps, and this brought to an end the pleasant respite from active operations. Moving secretly at night, the Division travelled 250 miles northwards through the outskirts of Rome and on to a concentration area just south of Lake Trasimene. On the night of 8–9 July the first convoys left Arce, and three nights later 6 Brigade was once more in the line, 15 miles north of the lake, ready to attack the mountain heights overlooking the approaches to Arezzo.

In daylight on 13 July the first advance was made by 6 Brigade against this heavily wooded arc of peaks and Monte Castiglion Maggio and Monte Cavadenti were captured, and on the nights of 14–15 July and 15–16 July stronger opposition was overcome to take Monte Lignano and Monte Camurcina. The enemy was cleared out of Arezzo, and the Division went into reserve for a few days. On a front of more than 40 miles Eighth Army then advanced across the wooded hills of Tuscany.