Chapter 8: Northward Through the Vineyards

(ARNO RIVER, pp 32-33)


As they had done at SANTA MARIA INFANTE, the doughboys of the 351st Infantry Regiment smashed a gap in the German defense line at LAIATICO and opened the way for another lightning spearhead drive to the ARNO RIVER. Without pausing to heal the wounds suffered in the preceding five days of savage fighting, the regiment jumped off on the morning of 14 July to take MONTEVECCHIO, PECCIOLI, and the high ground in the vicinity of POGGIO DEL PRATELLO. MONTE FOSCOLI fell on 17 July after heavy fighting against the German 90th Panzer Grenadier Division, and by morning our forward troops had scored a definite breakthrough. Heavy artillery fire was placed on the withdrawing enemy, inflicting terrible casualties. Company E stormed and captured COLLEOLI after heavy fighting while Company I got so far our in front that it was cut off for twenty-four hours. Brave men died fighting for these scenic hills and towns, for German snipers and artillery were continuously active.


On 18 July 1944 the spirited attack continued with the Third Battalion taking the town of SAN BARTOLOMEO, thence northeast to the high ground north of MONTOPOLI, which overlooked the ARNO valley. The Second Battalion proceeded in the vicinity of SAN BARBARA and then northeast to high ground commanding the valley. It was with great satisfaction and pride that Colonel Champeny reported to the Division Commander

that that part of the division objective within the 351st Infantry's sector had been taken and secured by 1300 hours 18 July. All company kitchens and supply rooms were brought forward on 20 July, enabling the troops to have hot meals for the first time since the start of the campaign.


From its positions overlooking the river valley, the 351st Infantry probed ahead for several days with both daylight and night patrols. On 22 Joly the Second Battalion fought its way into PONTE DE EVOLI, while Company L attacked ANGELICA and SAN ROMANO on a broad front. The first town fell quickly; but in SAN ROMANO the Third Battalion

2nd Battalion scout in action near Ponte de Evoli.

found one of the most savage local actions it bad ever experienced. Isolated in a house, one squad of infantrymen held on for three days with no food or water while German assault units patrolled the streets. In the final attack on 25 July 1944 the regiment lost

one of its finest officers, Captain Allan R. Vail, and many equally heroic fighting men in a nineteen minute artillery barrage as intense as any yet endured. With the stronghold

of SAN ROMANO captured, the Third Battalion moved up to the railroad embankment and vigorously patrolled the river. These static front operations were in progress when the 351st Infantry was relieved by the 362nd Infantry of the 91st Division.


Relief was completed the night of 27-28 July 1944 and the troops moved to a bivouac area near MONTOGNOSO in Volterra Province for rest, recreation, and training. The fighting during the month of July had been some of the bitterest yet engaged in by the regiment, and casualties had been heavier than in the drive to Rome. Many an old-timer had gone West or bad been wounded too seriously to return to combat, but the spirit they imparted to the new-comers lived on to carry the banner of the 351st Infantry through the terrible days to come.

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