Early morning, 19 March 1944. Tanks manned by New Zealanders, Indians and Americans launch a daring attack along a narrow mountain track on German positions north of Monte Cassino. So began one of the most audacious Allied attempts to break through the Gustav Line and advance on Rome – and it almost succeeded. Yet the extraordinary story has seldom been told, and it has never been told before in the vivid detail Jeffrey Plowman brings to this new account. Using operational orders, combat reports, unit diaries, post-battle photos from private and public archives and the graphic personal accounts of those who took part, he describes the construction of Cavendish Road and the course of the entire operation that followed. The planning for the attack and the men involved are described in a gripping and clear-sighted way, as is the attack itself – its initial rapid success and its ultimate failure. Eighty years later Jeffrey Plowman reveals exactly what happened and shows how and why this bold thrust against the German strongpoints at Monte Cassino, which could have turned the course of the battle, ended in retreat. His book also features a visitor’s guide that covers the length of Cavendish Road from the village of Caira to Massa Albaneta, linking each spot with the events described in the narrative.
TANK ATTACK AT MONTE CASSINO The Cavenish Road Operation 1944
The action to take tanks up the mountain rarely gets a mention in most books about the battles for Monte Cassino. When you read this book you will understand why. In conception it was a brilliant idea and had it been properly directed could have been an important event towards hurrying the end of the fight. The lower echelons fought with skill, tenacity, ingenuity and bravery trying to make something of the attack. Poor cooperation, co-ordination and communication between senior officers brought about a failure which cost a lot of lives and tanks. Tanks sent in without artillery and infantry is Ney at Waterloo and the senior officers broke their own pre-set conditions to do just that.