Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45

Italy Volume 2 – From Cassino to Trieste

by Robin Kay

Historical Publications Branch

Department of Internal Affairs

Wellington, New Zealand


The authors of the volumes in this series of histories prepared under the supervision of the War History Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs have been given full access to official documents. They and the Editor-in-Chief are responsible for the statements made and the views expressed by them.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1: The Battle for Rome

The Armies Regroup – The Apennine Position – The Destruction of the Gustav Line – The Capture of Cassino – The Breaking of the Hitler Line – The Fall of Rome

Chapter 2: The Road to Avezzano

The Division Begins to Advance – The Pursuit to Sora – Balsorano – Avezzano

Chapter 3: The Pursuit North of Rome

After the Fall of Rome – The Division at Arce – Monte Lignano

Chapter 4: The Advance to Florence

A Change in Plan – The Pesa Valley – The Pian dei Cerri Hills – San Michele – La Romola – Breaking the Paula Line – Down to the Arno

Chapter 5: The Gothic Line

A Strategic Blunder? – On the Banks of the Arno – Morale – The Rimini Corridor – The Capture of Rimini

Chapter 6: Into the Plain

The Romagna – From the Fiumicino to the Pisciatello – From the Pisciatello to the Savio – The Division in Reserve

Chapter 7: The Drive to the Senio

From the Savio to the Lamone – The Capture of Faenza – The Halt at the Senio

Chapter 8: The Winter Line

The Offensive Abandoned – Offensive Defence – Eighth Army Regroups – The Division Gets Ready

Chapter 9: The Spring Offensive

The Plan – The Senio Stopbank – The Assault on the Senio Line – Gate-crashing the Santerno Line

Chapter 10: The Westward Thrust

The Sillaro River and Medicina – The Account Squared with the Parachutists – A Chance to Jump the Idice

Chapter 11: The Race to Trieste

From the Idice to the Reno River – Crossing the River Po – Crossing the Adige River – Through the Venetian Line – Along Route 14

Chapter 12: The End of the War

The Occupation of Trieste – Confrontation with the Yugoslavs – An Agreement is Reached – The Division Retires – Disbandment of 2 NZEF – Conclusion


Appendix 1: Casualties in 2 NZ Division in Italy

Appendix 2: Casualties in 2 NZEF, 1939–46

Appendix 3: 2 NZ Division Order of Battle as at 11 May 1944

Appendix 4: 2 NZ Division Order of Battle as at 9 April 1945

Appendix 5: 2 NZ Division Principal Appointments as at 1 April 1945

Appendix 6: Allied Armies in Italy Order of Battle as at 11 May 1944

Appendix 7: Fifteenth Army Group Order of Battle as at 9 April 1945

Appendix 8: German Army Group C Order of Battle as at 11 May 1944

Appendix 9: German Army Group C Order of Battle as at 9 April 1945





New Zealanders rest beside their gear in Trieste, May 1945: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – The snow-clad Monte Cairo towers above the monastery and town of Cassino: British official – Looking north to the Apennines from the junction of the Liri and Rapido valleys: US Army – Acquafondata: NZ Army (G. R. Bull) – A hairpin bend on the Inferno Track: NZ Army (G. R. Bull) – An aerial view of the roads to Terelle and Atina: Mediterranean Allied Photographic Reconnaissance Wing – Guns bombarding the Gustav Line: Indian Public Relations Service – Hove Dump before it was shelled by the Germans: NZ Army (G. R. Bull) – The ruins of the monastery: G. Aarons, staff photographer, ‘Yank’, newspaper – The devastation of Cassino: – Tanks of 19 Armoured Regiment and British infantry, enter Cassino, 18 May 1944: D. Kerr – Italian refugees return to their homes: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – In conference at Headquarters 5 Brigade: an American military attaché, Brigadier K. L. Stewart, Brigadier C. E. Weir, Colonel R. C. Queree, General Freyberg and Brigadier G. B. Parkinson: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – General Freyberg and the Prime Minister, Mr Peter Fraser, at Headquarters 5 Infantry Brigade near Sora: NZ Army (G. R. Bull) – Looking towards Sora from Vicalvi: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – In the Upper Liri valley beyond Sora: A. M. Miller – New Zealand signalmen near Castiglione: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – New Zealand infantrymen return to their transport after driving the Germans off the high ground around Monte Lignano: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – The first Tiger tank knocked out by New Zealand tanks: A. M. Gourdie – Headquarters 23 Battalion occupies a palatial villa during the advance to Florence: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – A New Zealand 25-pounder gun crossing the Pesa River: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – A New Zealand ‘tank buster’ (M10) passing through San Casciano: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – The Pian dei Cerri hills: Mediterranean Allied Photographic Reconnaissance Wing – The front of the church in San Michele: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Tiger tank captured intact by 22 Battalion at La Romola: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – A medium gun of the Royal Artillery in support of the New Zealand Division during the advance to Florence: British official – Colonel B. Barrington is introduced to King George VI during the King’s visit to the New Zealand sector south of Florence: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Florence: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – One of 20 Armoured Regiment’s tanks which accompanied the first New Zealanders into Florence: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Italian partisans greet Allied troops as they enter a Florence suburb south of the Arno: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – General Freyberg with Mr Churchill and General Alexander shortly after the capture of Florence: NZ Army (W. A. Brodie) – An assortment of headgear: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – The Gothic Line in September 1944: J. C. Montgomery – The coastal plain south-east of Rimini: A. M. Miller – One of the first tanks to enter Rimini: Canadian Army – A German gun emplacement on the Adriatic coast at Viserba: British official – Refugees making their way along the beach near Viserba: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Artificial moonlight on the Adriatic front: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – The Bailey bridge over the Scolo Rigossa: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Extricating a vehicle from the mud near Gambettola: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Crossing the Lamone River into Faenza: British official – Germans from 90 Panzer Grenadier Division captured in the vicinity of Faenza: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – An ark bridge: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Men of 28 (Maori) Battalion going into position near the Senio River: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Evacuating civilians from the battlefront: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – A mortar crew in action close to the Senio stopbank: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – On the eastern stopbank of the Senio River: M. F. Kennedy – New Zealanders playing ‘two-up’: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Infantry move forward for the assault crossing of the Senio: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Enemy troops surrender to New Zealanders who have crossed the Senio River: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – German guns abandoned among the havoc caused by the Desert Air Force: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Italians greet the New Zealanders as they pass through Barbiano: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – 9 Infantry Brigade ready to go into action for the first time: R. T. Little – Germans captured by the New Zealanders near Massa Lombarda: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – The enemy’s side of the stopbank of the Gaiana River: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – German transport bombed and abandoned south of the Po River: R. Costello – A 10-barrelled Nebelwerfer: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Artillery crossing the New Zealand Engineers’ folding-boat equipment bridge on the Po River: British official – The pontoon ferry on the Adige River: D. A. Tomkies – Partisans with a captured German truck: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – German prisoners: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – 9 Brigade enters Monfalcone: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – General Freyberg confers at Monfalcone with a corps commander of the Fourth Yugoslav Army: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) –: Following 536 – Beyond the castle on the Miramare peninsula lies the city of Trieste: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – The New Zealand Division enters Trieste: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – General Freyberg, General McCreery, and Brigadier Gentry at Headquarters 9 Brigade: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – New Zealand tank men fraternise with a Yugoslav tank crew: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – New Zealanders shoot off flares to celebrate the end of the war with Germany: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Officers of 22 Battalion and their guests at a dance: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – New Zealand skiers at the alpine leave centre in the Dolomites: NZ Army (J. Short) – On leave in Venice: NZ Army (J. Short) – In front of the cathedral in Florence: NZ Army (G. F. Kaye) – Passing the time at Advanced Base while awaiting repatriation: NZ Army (C. J. Hayden) – The Maori choir singing a hymn during the memorial service in Crete: NZ Army (J. Murphy) – Veterans of the battle in Crete entertained at Galatas: NZ Army (J. Murphy) – About to depart from Advanced Base on the first stage of the voyage to New Zealand: NZ Army (C. J. Hayden) – Jayforce parade before leaving Italy for the Far East: NZ Army (J. Murphy) – The home-coming. The Dominion Monarch carrying the Maori Battalion arrives in Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs

List of Maps

Italy – The Apennine Mountain sector, April 1944 – The Advance to Rome, 11 May–4 June 1944 – The Advance to Florence, 14 July–4 August 1944 – San Casciano to Florence, 27 July–4 August 1944 – The Romagna – Advance to the Fiumicino River, 22–28 September 1944 – From the Fiumicino to the Pisciatello, 11–17 October 1944 – Eighth Army Boundaries and Plan for Operation BUCKLAND – From the Sillaro to the Idice River, 15–20 April 1945 – Fifteenth Army Group, 9 April–2 May 1945 – From Budrio to Trieste, 21 April–2 May 1945 – In text – The Italian front, February 1944 – Dispositions, 11 May 1944 – The Cassino sector – The Liri Valley – The Advance to Sora, 26–31 May 1944 – Sora to Avezzano, 1–10 June 1944 – Arce to Lake Trasimene – Lake Trasimene to Arezzo – 6 Brigade’s attack, 14–16 July 1944 – 5 Brigade’s advance, 22–27 July 1944 – The Pian dei Cerri Hills – The Empoli sector, 10–13 August 1944 – Plans for Attack on the Gothic Line – The Advance to Rimini – 6 New Zealand Infantry Brigade and 11 Canadian Infantry Brigade, night 5–6 October 1944 – The Front, 8 October 1944 – 5 Infantry Brigade, night 10–11 October 1944 – Advance to the Savio – Dispositions, 27 November 1944 – Dispositions, morning 2 December 1944 – Plan for Offensive, December 1944 – Dispositions, 12 December 1944 – 5 Brigade, 14–15 December 1944 – Dispositions, 17 December 1944 – The Italian front, 31 December 1944 – 6 Infantry Brigade, 31 January 1945 – German Defences south of the River Po – Dispositions, 15 February 1945 – The Italian front, 9 April 1945 – 5 Corps’ Plan to cross the Senio River – 5 Corps’ Plans – Dispositions, 9 April 1945 – Situation, 10 April 1945 – Situation, 10–11 April 1945 – Situation, 11 April 1945 – Situation, 12 April 1945 – Situation, night 12–13 April 1945 – Advance to the Sillaro River, 12–14 April 1945 – Situation, 14 April 1945 – Situation, 19 April 1945 – Situation, 20 April 1945 – From the Idice to the River Po, 21–24 April 1945 – From the Po to Padua, 25–29 April 1945 – 9 Brigade’s advance, 29 April 1945 – From the Piave River to Trieste, 30 April–2 May 1945 – Situation, 4 May 1945

The occupations given in the biographical footnotes are those on enlistment. The ranks are those held on discharge or at the date of death.