March 7, 1944 – Rest Camp on Anzio

“At First Light” just released in soft cover
March 7, 2024
March 8, 1944 – Trenchfoot and the smell of death at Anzio
March 8, 2024
Show all

March 7, 1944 – Rest Camp on Anzio

80 years ago today, my Father got the good news that he and his men were heading for a few days of R&R at at a rest camp. Little did he know that 8 years later, on this day, his first child would be born. As I celebrate my 72nd birthday today, I find myself wishing I could celebrate with him!

Brig. Gen. Johh W. “Iron Mike” O’Daniel, the new Division Commander, well aware of the enemy impotency at this time, ordered that all front-line men be given a two-day rest beginning March 8, and they rest camp under the supervision of Maj. Robert E. Mitchell, Division Special Service Officer, was set up and a clump of woods about five miles south of the “hot” zone.

The rest period was also devoted to unit reorganization. Infantry units took advantage of the opportunity to rest a company at a time.[1]

The camp was not in a quiet zone by any means but the men were given new uniforms to wear (and no forms to fill out), they had hot showers, they went to the movies (even during blackout hours), they had barber service (including shaves) and, most important of all, they had two nights of on interrupted sleep, for many the first in seven weeks.[2]

Although the usual lull that follows all storms prevailed, there was no let-down in patrolling, consolidation of position and the laying of harassing and interdictory fires.[3]

For the first time in its combat experience in this work, the Division had been required to hold a defensive sector after seizing an objective and the assignment was made doubly difficult by the tremendous importance which the enemy attached to the destruction of our beachhead.[4]

Even in the wake of his setback, the enemy continued to move his outposts near our lines. Our combat patrols, always active, seldom failed to find resistance somewhere.

It was on March 8 when … the 30th Infantry captured the pilot of an enemy plane that crashed in its sector the same day.[5]

Many attempts to probe our defenses and infiltrate our positions added to the population of the PW cage, where interrogators obtained much information during the somewhat quiet days that mark the month of March.[6]

[1] Taggart, 139.

[2] Taggart, 139.

[3] Taggart, 139.

[4] Taggart, 139.

[5] Taggart, 139.

[6] Taggart, 139.

In case you haven’t read or listened to Dad’s book, you can learn more or order it here.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2024.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.