Battle of Monte Cassino 75th anniversary commemorated in Warsaw
The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino was commemorated in Warsaw on Sunday. The remembrance took place at the Monument to the Battle of Monte Cassino, located by the gates of the city's Krasińskich Gardens.
The Sunday commemorations included a roll call, a salvo of honour and the laying of wreaths at the monument. Earlier in the day the city also commemorated the anniversaries of the deaths of the pre-WWII Polish Chief of State Marshal Józef Piłsudski and WWII hero General Władysław Anders.
In a letter to those in attendance, the Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak underscored that the capture of the monastery at Monte Cassino was one of the most glorious pages in the history of the Polish military. "The soldiers storming the German stronghold showed unprecedented bravery, courage and persistence. In his call to attack, General Anders said that 'In these times the thoughts and hearts of the whole nation will be with us, we will be sustained by the spirits of our comrades in arms. May the lion live in your hearts,'" wrote the minister.
Also taking part in the commemoration was Senator and Plenipotentiary for International Dialogue in the rank of Secretary of State Anna Maria Anders. Anders is the daughter of General Władysław Anders and she admitted that the Monte Cassino anniversary is always a very personal and emotional time for her.
"I remember my father's last visit to Monte Cassino 50 years ago. Being here, I wonder if my father, who so dreamed of a free Poland, could have possibly expected that 50 years on, there is a free Poland. I am not only here as his daughter but also as a senator and secretary of state. I visited Monte Cassino many times and remember when there were no representatives of the Polish government in attendance, we were only there with veterans and emigre representatives. I am pleased that today veterans of the battle receive their due honours and that the commemorations (at Monte Cassino - PAP) will be attended by the presidents of Poland and Italy," said Anders.
The Battle of Monte Cassino, also known as the Battle for Rome, lasted from January 1 7till May 19, 1944 and comprised four battles between allied forces and the German army in the region around the monastery on the summit of Monte Cassino. The battle is considered one of the fiercest of World War II. As well as the Polish II Corps under the leadership of General Anders, American, British, New Zealanders, Indian and French troops all fought at Monte Cassino.
On May 18, 1944, after ferocious fighting, Polish troops of the II Corps took the summit of Monte Cassino and captured the monastery. In the fighting 923 Polish soldiers lost their lives, 2,931 were wounded and 345 were listed as missing in action. A few days after the victory at Monte Cassino, allied troops broke through the Gustav Line along its entire length. On 14 June 1944, American troops entered Rome.