Battle of Monte Castello
Battle of Monte Castello Part of World War II Date 25 November 1944 - 22 February 1945 Location Monte Castello, Italy Result Allied victory Belligerents Brazil
Germany Commanders and leaders Mascarenhas de Moraes Eccard Freiherr von Gablenz Strength 1st Expeditionary Infantry Division(Brazil)
Divisionary Artillery (Brazil)
10th Mountain Division (United States)
232nd Grenadier Division. 9,000 German soldiers Casualties and losses 443 (Brazil) +1500 (Germany)
The Battle of Monte Castello (also called Operation Encore) was an engagement which took place from 25 November 1944 to 22 February 1945 during the Italian campaign. It was fought between the Allied forces advancing into northern Italy and dug-in German defenders. The battle marked the Brazilian Expeditionary Force's entry into the land war in Europe. Starting in November of 1944, fierce combat dragged on for three months, ending on 22 February 1945. Six Allied attacks were mounted against the German forces, four of which were strategic failures. Both sides sustained large numbers of casualties due to several factors, including the extremely low temperatures.
Situated 61.3 km southwest of Bologna (ai monument caduta brasiliani) via Località Abetaia (SP623), near Abetaia. Coordinates 44.221799, 10.954227, to 977m altitude
In November of 1944, the 1st Expeditionary Division Brazilian Army (DIE) deviated from the battle front Serchio River, where he had been fighting for at least two months ahead of the Rhine, on the Apennine Mountains. General Mascarenhas de Moraes, Had assembled his forward headquarters in the town of Porretta Terme, whose area was surrounded by mountains under control of the Germans, this perimeter had a radius of approximately 15 km. The German positions were considered privileged Brazilians and subjected to constant surveillance, hindering any movement. Gave estimates that winter promised to be rigorous, and the intense cold, the rain turned the roads, as hollow by Allied bombers in real seas of mud.
General Mark Clark, Commander of Allied Forces in Italy, wanted to direct his march with the 4th Corps towards Bologna, before the first snows begin to fall. However, the location of Castello Hill was extremely important from a strategic perspective, and dominated by the Germans gave full control over the region.
The Italian front was under the responsibility of the Group-of-hosts "C", under the command of Generaloberst Heinrich von Vietinghoff. To him were subordinate three German armies: 10, 14 and "Army of Liguria," the latter defending the border with France. The 14th was composed by the 14th Panzer Corps and the 51st Corps Mountain. Within the 51 Corps was 232 Grenadier Division (Infantry), General Eccard von Gablenz, a veteran of Stalingrad. The 232 th was activated June 22 of 1944 and was formed by veterans who were wounded convalescents on the Russian front and was classified as "Static Division." It consisted of three infantry regiments (1043 °, 1044 ° and 1045 °), each with only two battalions, plus a battalion of marines (reconnaissance battalion) and an artillery regiment with four groups, and smaller units. This training totaled about 9,000 men. The age of the troops ranged between 17 and 40 years and younger and able soldiers were concentrated in the battalion of marines. During the final battle, it was reinforced by the 4th Battalion Mountain (Mittenwald), which was kept in reserve. The veterans who defended this position did not have the same enthusiasm as the war began, but were still willing to fulfill his duty.
It would then be responsible for the Brazilians to win the most combative sectors of the entire Apennine front. But there was one problem: the 1st DIE was a troop still inexperienced enough to face a fight of that magnitude. But as Clark's goal was to win Bologna before Christmas, the way would be to learn in practice, or in combat.
Accordingly, on November 24, the Reconnaissance Squadron and the 3rd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment of the 1st DIE joined the Task Force 45 U.S. for first foray to Mt Castle.
On the second day of attacks, it appeared that the operation would be successful: U.S. troops reached the crest of Castle Hill after conquering the neighboring Monte Belvedere.
However, in a powerful counteroffensive, the men of the 232nd Infantry Division Germanic, responsible for defending the castle and Monte Della Torraca, Regained the lost positions, forcing the Brazilian and American soldiers to abandon their positions already won - with the exception of Mount Belvedere. On November 29, it was planned 2nd attack on the hill. This counter-offensive the attacking formation would be almost entirely the work of the 1st DIE - with three battalions - with only the support of three platoons of American tanks. However, an unexpected fact occurred on the eve of the attack would undermine plans: on the night of the 28th, the Germans had made counter-attack on Mount Belvedere, taking the Americans' position and leaving uncovered the left flank of the allies.
DIE initially thought of postponing the attack, but troops had occupied their positions and thus the strategy has been maintained. At 7 o'clock a new attempt was made.
The weather, proved extremely severe: rain and overcast skies prevented the support of the Air Force and mud practically precluded the participation of tanks. The grouping of General Zenobio Costa at first got a good head start, but the German counter-attack was violent. German soldiers of 1,043 th, 1044 th and 1045 th Infantry Regiments blocked the advances of the soldiers. By late afternoon, the two battalions Brazilians back to square one.
On December 5, Gen. Mascarenhas receives an order from the 4th Corps: "It would DIE to capture and hold the summit of Monte Della Torraca - Monte Belvedere." That is, after two unsuccessful attempts, the Castle Hill was still the main goal of the next offensive in Brazil, which had been postponed for a week.
But on December 12, 1944, the transaction was effected, which date would be remembered for the FEB as the most violent faced by Brazilian troops in the theater of operations in Italy.
With the same weather conditions before the onslaught, the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 1st Infantry Regiment did initially miracles. There was initially some positions won, but the heavy German artillery fire, made their losses. Again the attempted conquest proved fruitless, and worse, causing 150 casualties, and 20 Brazilian soldiers had been killed. The lesson served to reinforce the conviction that Mascarenhas Monte Castle of the Germans would only be taken if the entire division was used in the attack - and not just a few battalions, as he had ordered the 5th Army.
Only on February 19, 1945, after the winter improves the command of the 5th Army determined the beginning of a new afensiva to conquer the mountain. Such an offensive would use the allied troops, including the 1st DIE, an offensive that would lead the troops into the Po Valley to the border with France.
The Final Attack
The final attack, dubbed Operation Encore, would use the Brazilians to win the Mount and the consequent expulsion of the Germans. This time the tactics used would be the same as those devised by Mascarenhas de Moraes in November. On February 20 the troops of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force were in battle position, with its three regiments ready to depart for Castelo. Advancing to the left of the Brazilians was the elite American 10th Mountain Division, which had the responsibility of taking Monte della Torraca and so protecting the most vulnerable flank of the sector.
The attack began at 6 am, the Battalion Uzeda followed by the right, the Battalion Franklin toward the front and Monte Battalion Sizeno Sarmento waiting in the privileged positions they had achieved during the night, the time to join the other two battalions. As outlined in the Encore, the Brazilians were to reach the top of Castle Hill to 18 hours at most - one hour after the Monte della Torraca be won for the 10th Mountain Division, an event scheduled for 17 hours. The 4th Corps was confident that the Castle would not be taken before Della Torraca also was.
However, at 17.30, when the first Battalion of the 1st Regiment Franklin conquered the summit of Monte Castelo, the Americans had not won the German resistance. Only would the night, when the pracinhas have long had completed their mission, and began to take a position in the trenches and bunkers newly conquered. Much of the success of the offensive was credited to the Division of Artillery, commanded by General Cordeiro de Farias that between 16h and 17h on 22, made a perfect barrage against the summit of Monte Castelo, allowing the movement of Brazilian troops.
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