June 5, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 1)

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June 5, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 1)

On June 5th, 1944 the city of Rome was liberated by the allied armies in Italy.[1]

However, the very next day, Operation “Overlord” overshadowed this achievement and the liberation of Rome faded into history as just another accomplishment of World War II.

Units from the U.S. 30th Infantry, until August 8th, would garrison and continue patrols to the north of Rome until they were relieved and moved back to Naples.[1]


Columns of weary GIs shuffled through the city. Some carried small Italian tricolors. Others sported flowers in their helmet nets or rifle barrels.

The famous journalist, Eric Sevaride, watched throngs of Italian sob with joy as they tossed blossoms at the tramping soldiers and cheered them to the echo.

“I felt wonderfully good, generous, and important,” he wrote. “I was a representative of strength, decency, and success.”[2]


A message to the Combined Chiefs in Washington and London formally announced, “the allies are in Rome.” How long it had taken to proclaim those five words; how much heartbreak had been required to make it so.[3]


The 3rd Division began a short tour of garrison duty in Rome, which seemed fantastic after more than a year in the field.

Men slept in buildings or in model camps, got their clothes laundered, and mounted guard over the cultural treasures and key military locations in the Eternal City.[4]


At 1:30 A.M. on Monday, June 5, both the U.S. flag and a Union Jack were raised on staffs above Piazza Venezia.

A banner draped the Pantheon: WELCOME TO THE LIBERATORS.

Shrieking crowds ransacked the flower stalls below the Spanish Steps to garland those liberators or to pelt them with the roses and irises. …

Romans stormed the Regina Coeliprison to fling open the cells.

“Brothers,” someone called into the cellar gloom, “come out.” [5]


The entire 3rd Division was relieved from the line by the afternoon of the 5th, after having taken the longest route to Rome.[6]


[1] Sgt. James Dunigan III. History of the U.S. 30th Infantry Regiment. http://www.6thcorpscombatengineers.com/engforum/index.php?showtopic=7169

[2] Atkinson, The Day of Battle, 573

[3] Ibid

[4] “Third Overseas Two Years.” The Third Division Front Line. October 25, 1944. Vol 1, No. 1, page 6.

[5] Atkinson, The Day of Battle, 572.

[6] Taggart, 185.

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