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Chapter 5: At The End of The Rainbow

ROME (pp. 20-23)

Together, the Second and Third Battalions pushed off to cut vital Highway 6 on the morning of 1 June 1944, destroying several enemy tanks and self-propelled guns en route. Roadblocks were established to protect the flanks of the regiment from the retreating Germans who were pushing toward Rome by vehicle and on foot to escape our crushing penetration. One of these blocks set up by a platoon of Company G under the command of Second Lieutenant Andrew Salynski in the village of SAN CASAREO had a field day, knocking out twenty-five German vehicles and killing all their occupants without a single casualty. Private Asa Farmer provided the main punch with his bazooka, or with seven rounds. he completely destroyed seven enemy trucks and half-tracks. Private Farmer never missed. Sometimes moving by truck or riding tanks, but most of the time on foot, the 351st Infantry struck for the Eternal City.

Riflemen alert for Jerry near Rome.

Across open, rolling wheat fields decked with beautiful blood-red poppies the regiment attacked. Those who took part will remember this advance by the formations maintained -- scouts out -- flank security -- and plenty of dispersion. Here, too, there were many instances of heroism in the ranks as our elated troops charged forward with complete confidence in their ability to destroy the enemy. Private Kotlarz, a fighting bazooka man of Company L, took time out between shots at a pill-box to grapple with a German and capture him with his own rifle. The regiment lost one of its finest officers in this drive when Lieutenant Trevelyn L. McClure, Regimental I & R Platoon Leader, met a hero's death in fighting for which he was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, posthumously. On the afternoon of 4 June the First Battalion, 351st Infantry broke into Rome at 19. 00 hours -- the first troops to enter the city. Our reception was tremendous. Thousands of cheering Romans lined the streets offering vino, throwing kisses and flowers, and clambering aboard the vehicles for the triumphal procession. In spite of occasional skirmishes with German snipers, these people thronged the streets and made it most difficult to advance, for our objective was to secure two bridges across the TIBER RIVER before they could be destroyed by the retreating enemy.

There was plenty of chow for GI's in Rome.

It was during the fight to liberate Capitol City that "Sally" the ex-American radio propaganda girl, announced in her daily broadcast that "the 88th Division fights like blood-thirsty cut-throats", tagging the 88th as the "Blue Devil Division". To the weary soldier packing a forty-five pound mortar baseplate (with a pretty signorina on each arm) through the streets of Rome, the order to drive forward most have seemed a bit unnecessary; but with their characteristic spirit the men of the 351st struck hard at enemy rearguard action north of the city. In conjunction with the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron and the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion, the Second and Third Battalions fought until 13 June with the Ellis Task Force in the vicinity of MONTEROSI. Then on the 13th of June the regiment was relieved and ordered into a bivouac area in the vicinity of ALBANO, twelve miles south of Rome for a well-earned and much needed rest.

Throughout the remainder of the month the 351st underwent a period, of training and re-equipment. There were passes to ROME and SORRENTO, parties and swimming in nearby LAKE ALBANO, and Colonel Champeny flew to Cairo on the 17th of June for a well-earned rest. This schedule continued unhampered after the regiment moved to a new bivouac area in the vicinity of TARQUINIA, where many new replacements arrived to fill up the ranks. The spirit of the men and officers of the 351st Infantry remained on high level, and training for expected future operations, together with past accomplishments engendered a feeling of confidence in our future engagements with the enemy.

On 6 July 1944 the Secretary of War, Mr. Henry L. Stimson made an official visit to the division accompanied by General Mark W. Clark, then commanding the Fifth Army. The 351st Infantry Regiment was designated as host and formed with battalions abreast on the TARQUINIA airfield to receive the Secretary of War. Mr. Stimson reviewed the regiment in an impressive ceremony and in a short address stated, "The people back home have followed your course on the road to Rome with pride and admiration". The 351st Infantry Regiment was destined to go forth again and wrest victory from the enemy.


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


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