Chapter 16: Final Preparation

(BARBERINO-PISA, pp. 49-50)


On 9 March 1945 the Regiment moved back to the BARBERINO area for intensive training. It was an ideal location for the offensive warfare practice that the 351st was adopting, for it was no secret that the final big push was due to start soon. Complete recreational facilities were stalled so that the men could temper their vigorous training with a varied assortment of sports, and occasional passes were allowed the men so that at the conclusion of this period the infantrymen of the 351st regiment were at top form and their morale was superb.


By convoy the regiment moved to the PISA-LEGHORN area on 6 April 1945 for five days of amphibious training. The ARNO RIVER was used as a model for rehearsing the anticipated crossing of the PO RIVER. The men became familiar with LCV's, Dukws, assault boats and landing barges, and soon they were referring to these new instruments of modern warfare as ducks, alligators, buffaloes, and many other familiar nick-names. With this specialized training the regiment prepared for its return to the front filled with cool confidence in their ability to meet the enemy and overpower him.


Confident that they were ready to complete any mission assigned to them, the doughboys of the 351st Infantry moved to a bivouac area near PIETRAMALA on 11 April. Here, in II Corps reserve, the men listened to the crushing bombardments and Barrages that preceded the jump-off toward the Po Valley. While the 349th and 350th regiments assaulted Furcoli and Monterumici, our men moved up to TRASASSO, where they gave their equipment the final check and waited for the word to move into the line.


On 18 April the Regiment received orders to entruck and move to VERGATO, a rubbled town in the IV Corps zone. Ordered to move north along Highway 64 through MARZABOTTO toward SASSO BOLOGNESE, the battalions encountered enemy small arms fire in the form of snipers and scattered machine gunners. Striking into the hilly country to the left of the highway the Second and Third Battalions made rapid progress toward the last high ground barring the way to the Po Valley. Company L coordinated with elements of the 6th South African Armored Division to take a strongly defended ridge line in the vicinity of LAGUNE and open the route to MOUNT CAPRA. Although the 85th Division on the left flank of the regiment originally had a headstart, the 351st lnfantry soon out distanced them and had the usual open flank.

From: 351st Infantry Regimental Information and Education Office (1945). History of the 351st Regiment, World War II.