Chapter 9: Sweating out the Gothic Line

(MONTOGNOSO-SCARPERIA, p. 34)


Near MONTOGNOSO the battle hardened men and officers of the regiment spent the month of August and the first week of September training for resumption of the offensive. News of the brilliant victories in France and Holland led to much speculation about when the war would end and whether or not the 351st would fight again-and many a lire changed billfolds on this score. Most soldiers visited ROME and sent home postcards of the Vatican, and the officers enjoyed the Albergo Excelsior; then in its heyday. In camp there were U.S.O. shows and athletics after training hours. None will forget the dryland river crossing problems and the long dusty marches under a blazing August son. But the men worked hard and trained hard, for across the ARNO waited the German 14th Army, putting the finishing touches on the Gothic Line.


Rumors of the resumption of large-scale offensive operations were confirmed beyond a doubt on 9 September when the 351st moved by track to a bivouac area near GALLUZZO, several miles southeast of FLORENCE. Here Brigadier General Paul W. Kendall, new Commanding General of the 88th Division, reviewed the regiment and awarded a Distinguished Service Cross to First Sergeant Paul M. Eddy of Company F for his extraordinary heroism in combat in July. General Kendall then stated, "Six of the seven Distinguished Service Crosses in the 88th Division have been presented to members of this regiment" -- an indisputable testimonial to the fighting record of the 351st. In conclusion, Colonel Champeny addressed his officers and men, reiterating the brave achievements for which all are justly entitled to be proud.


While the 351st trained and waited near FLORENCE, the 85th, 91st, and 34th Divisions hammered --away at the Gothic Line at FUTA and GIOGI PASSES, and the Eighth Army forced its way past Rimini. Headlines featured the "breaking of the Gothic Line", and there was tall talk of crossing the Po River in the near future; On 20 September 1944, men of the 351st moved to SCARPERIA, where they took a final shot of tetanus serum and gave their equipment the final check. The next evening the regiment moved on foot through GIOGO pass with the heavy smell of death permeating the misty darkness, while 240 millimeter guns hurled shells at the enemy. Morning found the 351st on the slopes of Mount FRENA, three kilometers southeast of FIRENZUOLA. Once again the Spearhead Regiment was at the threshold of battle.

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