Rome to the Arno

After the liberation of Rome, the 100th joined the 442nd in Civitavecchia on June 11 1944. The 100th effectively became the 442nd’s 1st battalion, but was allowed to keep their own unit designation. After only a few days rest, the regiment pushed north from Rome to the Arno river

Battle of Belvedere

On 26 June the 3 Battalions of the 442nd RCT went into battle together at Belvedere, just north of Suvereto. The by now battle-hardened men of the 100th shared their wisdom with their recently arrived unit members. Nevertheless, the newbies were about to find out that the only way you learn certain things is in battle…

Rome to Arno - Belvedere map

Initially, they met little resistance on the advance from their bivouac, until reaching the valley in front of Belvedere.

The 2nd and 3rd Battalions attacked abreast, with the 100th held in reserve. Heavy fire halted the approach. F Company took the brunt of the artillery fire, pinned down in an exposed wheat field.

Pulled into the frontline, the 100th’s mission was to circle the elevated German positions in order to clear the hilltop town of enemy presence, opening up the Suvereto-Sassetta road in the process. They drove through a gap between the two assaulting battalions and seized the high ground to the east and north of town.

The unexpected attack on their exposed flank as well to their rear pushed the Germans from their positions. They started heading for their escape routes. Unfortunately for them, they were unaware of the trap that had been set. A and C companies were waiting for them at either end while B company kept up the assault.

Once the entire SS battalion was eliminated, the 100th turned west towards the Suvereto-Sassetta road, waiting for the 2nd and 3rd Battalions to fall in with them. The next day, the 100th and 3rd took Sassetta with the help of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion.

For their actions during the advance from Rome to the Arno at Belvedere, the 100th received their first Presidential Unit Citation.

Rome to the Arno - Belvedere plaque
Memorial plaque in the town square at Belvedere

Hill 140 – “Little Cassino”

After the capture of both Belvedere and Sassetta, all 3 battalions crossed the Cecina river on July 1. The objective was the junction between the Riparbella and Volterra roads at the foot of a hill mass. The 100th and 2nd Battalions secured the junction with the support of the 522nd and Cannon Company.

The river crossing put the 100th/442nd at the foot of a hill mass they would end up inching through at great cost. On July 3, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions moved against the German defences on Hill 140, the main stumbling block. It became apparent that the battle for Livorno would be fought in these hills rather than anywhere near the port itself.

Nicknamed Little Cassino, the fiercely defended hill and ridge running westwards off it towards the sea, was held only by a single German battalion. However, they had a perfect vantage point to direct artillery. At the same time, cover provided by interlocking fire succeeded in eliminating machine gun squads in L and G Companies.

For 2 days, little gains were made. The fortifications built by the notorious Todt Battery seemed immune to artillery shelling. It wasn’t until July 5 that the 3rd Battalion managed to overrun an enemy position sheltered by caves. In the early hours of the following day, the 2nd Battalion also captured their section to the right of the 3rd.

Battle for Castellina Marittima

Rome to the Arno

The following day, the battle for Castellina Marittima started with the 100th now relieving the 2nd. They cut the Castellina road (current day SP13) and cleared the town itself. The regiment continued north abreast of the main road which past Castellina continues closer to the foot of the hills, alongside open fields rather than elevated through wooded surroundings.

On July 10, the 2nd now in turn relieved the 3rd, joining the 100th at the next jump-off point. The objective was to clear the tiny town of Pieve di San Luce, but the advance came to a grinding halt when they took heavy fire from Pastina. While the 2nd dug into the valley to hold steady against the artillery assault, the 100th swiftly moved to the high ground to clear Pastina, a goal achieved after a 2-day battle and with the help of the 522nd FAB.

Over the following days, they swept past more of the small towns on the road system surrounding Livorno: Orciano, Lorenzana, Luciana Fauglia and Collesalvetti. The 100th eventually turned west into Livorno, while the 2nd and 3rd ended up in the outskirts of Pisa. They had made it from Rome to the Arno.

All three battalions enjoyed some R&R from late July into August. By late August, they found themselves just west of Florence. Frequent raids across the Arno river were executed, both to gather information on enemy positions as well as to divert German attention from major troop movements along other parts of the front.

Soon, the drive against the Gothic Line would start. However, the 100th/442nd would find themselves back in France before the start of this major offensive.


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