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PostBrazilian Expeditionary Force and Italy Campaign (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 01/21/14 1:22 pm)
Since I know very little about the subject, I ask Eugenio Battaglia to address a question regarding his posting of 21 January. He wrote about the Allied retaking of Monte Cassino: "The Germans entered the Abbey only after its destruction and turned it into a defensive strongpoint, later taken by Polish soldiers." When I was a young boy in Brazil my grandfather had some Life magazine inch-thick books about WWII. I remember reading how the Brazilian Expeditionary Force was instrumental (at least it participated heavily with troops) in retaking the Monte. How accurate is this report?
JE comments: David Fleischer sent a post on the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB) on 11 September 2012. He included some suggestions for further reading:
Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB) in WWII
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
01/22/14 3:52 AM)
Answering Tor Guimaraes's post of 21 January and according to the information that I have, the "Força Expedicionaria Brasileira F.E.B" of 25,334 men and 111 nurses started arriving in Italy only in July 1944, too late for Montecassino, and was assigned to the 5th Army of General Mark Clark on the East side of the Italian Peninsula. The Brazilians distinguished themselves in the capture of the small town of Montese (Emilia) on 14 April 1945. It was a long difficult battle also remembered as the "Montecassino of the North."
The losses of the FEB, including deaths, injured and missing were almost 10%.
The relations with the local civilians were good, perhaps the best (together with the Poles) among the Allies and absolutely contrary to the blood- and flesh-thirsty criminals of Juin. The town of Montrese has dedicated to them a museum, two monuments, a square and a road.
The fallen soldiers have been transferred to the National monument to the fallen soldiers in Rio de Janeiro.
The insignia of the FEB was "a cobra fumou," a cobra with a smoking pipe in its mouth, just to acknowledge the skepticism of the Brazilians who used to say: it is easier to see a smoking cobra than the FEB going to war.
But let me return to one of the better pages of the Wermacht (and one of the worst of the Allies). Colonel Julius Schlegel, commander of the services department of the Panzer division Goering, realized that even though the Germans had declared that they were not inside the Abbey of Montecassino, this old treasure was in danger. So he convinced his commanding general Conrath and with more difficulty the old abbot monsignor Gregorio Diamare to transfer all the most valuable treasures of the Abbey to various monasteries in Rome.
To supervise the transfer for the Repubblica Sociale Italiana, Luigi Romersa was present.
The Germans supplied 120 trucks that moved 70,000 books, 1200 documents, many paintings and thousands of other objects of immeasurable value. As usual, Radio London informed by its spies declared that the Germans were stealing the treasures of Montecassino.
Nothing was lost and not one German dared to steal anything.
JE comments: Interesting. Schlegel is in that select group of Wehrmacht officers who managed to preserve, not destroy, Humanity's cultural patrimony. Most notable of these would be General von Choltitz, who claimed to have disobeyed Hitler's order to destroy Paris.