June 5, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 2)

June 5, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 1)
June 5, 2024
“Ask Dr. Walt” in Today’s Christian Living “What are the pros and cons of coconut oil?”
June 6, 2024
Show all

June 5, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 2)

Across the now liberated capital of Italy, the Eternal City, Rome, the celebration continued through Monday afternoon, June 5, 1944.[1]

The San Carlo restaurant offer GIs “the very finest cuts of horse meat.”

An Army doctor wrote home of “beautiful girls wearing lipstick, silk stockings, and, for a change, also shoes. Many people weep.”

At the Hotel Majestic, a porter greeted a Life magazine reporter with a Fascist salute, then apologized. “A habit of twenty years,” he exclaimed.

One soldier awoke next to an Italian prostitute who wished him good morning auf deutsch.

“Today I had my haircut in room and drank gin and vermouth in the Excelsior,” a British signaler wrote his family. “The Italians all said, ‘We are so happy to see you here at last. Why did it take you so long?’ and the answer could only be, ‘Because so many of us died to set you free.'”

Exhausted soldiers wrapped themselves and blankets and dozed on the hoods of their half-tracks or in stone-dry fountains. “They slept on the street, on the sidewalks, on the Spanish Steps,” the curator of the Keats-Shelley house reported.

Some felt deflated. “We prowl through Rome like ghosts, finding no satisfaction in anything we see our do,” wrote Audie Murphy. “I feel like a man reprieved from death; and there is no joy in me.”

Yet others found redemption in the city they had unchained, a gleaming symbol of the civilized values for which they fought.

“Every block is interesting, beautiful, enchanting,” 3rd Division officer George Revell wrote to Evelyn. “The very city fills the heart with reverence.”

At 5 P.M. on Monday (June 6), 100,000 Italians jammed St. Peter’s Square. Bells peeled. Priests offered tours of the Vatican to GIs in exchange for American cigarettes.

Pius XII appeared on his apartment balcony in brilliant white robes, then later met with reporters as flashbulbs exploded and photographer shouted, “Hold it, Pope. Attaboy!”

The holy father advised Roman girls to “behave and dress properly and win the respect of the soldiers by your virtue.”

A papal secretary added with a shrug, “It’s just another changing of the guard.”[2]


[1] Atkinson, The Day of Battle, 575.

[2] Ibid, 575-576.

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.