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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Thrust Towards Florence

Thrust Towards Florence

When 2 NZ Division returned to the line on 21 July, it was employed with 6 South African Armoured Division in driving a narrow wedge along the general line of Route 2 north of Siena through to the Arno south-west of Florence. The Division relieved French Moroccan troops in the San Donato area north of Siena, page 584 between the Indians and South Africans, on the night of 21–22 July, with 5 Brigade in the line.

plans for medical support of military operation

Battle for Florence showing Medical Units and Lines of Evacuation

The approaches to Florence from the south and south-west were through a ring of hills, so that the roads and valleys were dominated by the high ground on either side. Stubborn resistance was offered by the enemy, who retired only under heavy pressure from one to another of a series of excellent defensive positions. His best troops, including 4 Parachute Division and 29 Panzer Grenadier Division, faced the New Zealanders. They were well supported by artillery, mortars, and the Germans' best armoured weapons, 60-ton Tiger tanks.

From the time of its entry into the line, 5 Brigade made steady progress despite counter-attacks, while solid support was given by tanks of the armoured regiments and by the Divisional Cavalry.

The advance, across 10 miles of most difficult country, broke the Olga line and brought the Division into contact with the Paula line, which the enemy prepared to defend to the north of the Pesa River. At night men on the hilltops could clearly see the lights of Florence only 10 miles away.