June 7, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 4)

June 6, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 3) but quickly overshadowed by Overlord
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June 7, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 5)
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June 7, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 4)

The stunning beauty of Rome provided some R&R for Phil and the exhausted, sweat-and-blood-soaked, sore-footed infantrymen.[1]

There was a lot to see in Rome, and Phil and Ross took advantage of the respite from the war. An English-speaking monk offered to take them around the popular tourist sites for a couple of days.[1]


5 to 16 Jun 44, Phil’s 30th Infantry Regiment was garrisoned in the northern half of the city (Rome).

The Regiment’s task was to establish guard over all important installations, which might be sabotaged by disgruntled Fascists.

“Priority targets,” as they were called, included Tiber River bridges, aqueducts, electric-power installations, communications centers and the like.[2]


June 6 was D-Day in Normandy, but for Marne-men, who experienced four previous D-Days of their own, Normandy was just another invasion.

Their Rome interlude was brief. The time had come to stab at “the soft underbelly of Europe.”

To gird itself for the assault on southern France, the 3rd Infantry Division, along with the 36th and 45th Divisions, began to return to the familiar staging grounds at Naples.[3]


In the meantime, there was a lot to be seen in Rome.

The opinion among fighting men was unanimous that it had almost everything needed to qualify for a place among United States cities except United States citizens.

The quality and quantity of the women were especially impressive to the doughs who, for the previous four and one-half months, had seen nothing but mud, blood and death.

“They even got redheads!” was a common exclamation.[4]


The United States soldier has never had much trouble making friends among either civilians or women of any nationality, and Rome provided a heretofore-unparalleled opportunity to test that sanguine ability.

Men of Italian descent suddenly found themselves popular among their comrades beyond all explanation of personal charm; many soldiers, undyed deceivers that they were, discovered that an interpreter in the crowd is always a welcome asset.[5]


Along with the policing and relaxation was the resumption of a limited amount of training.

This consisted largely of close-order drill, calisthenics, organized athletics, and orientation lectures.

Although operations officers are notoriously never in doubt as to inrpovisation of training, it was not known immediately what the Division’s next active participation in the war would be.

Notable among the sights to be seen were, of course, St. Peter’s Cathedral (including mass audiences with Pope Pius XII), the Vatican, the Coliseum, Castel Sant’ Angelo, the ruins of the Roman Forum, Mussolini’s monument and balcony, Victor Emmanuels’s monument, any one of several Christian catacombs, and many of the lesser-known but no less beautiful, basilicas and churches throughout the city.

“A bearded, dust-grimed U. S. infantryman, holding his helmet in his hand, stepped inside the vast, vaulted coolness of St. Peter’s Cathedral at 3:15 this morning, only a few hours after Allied troops had entered Rome,” began one Stars and Stripes story.

“He stood looking straight ahead and then up and he gulped and blinked his eyes and said in a quiet, shaky voice, ‘I never thought there was a place in the world as wonderful as this. I didn’t know there was anything so beautiful.’

“He would not give his name, his organization or anything else. ‘I’m just here,’ he said, ‘and I know what I’m seeing is too big to talk about.’

And he walked out, down under the great high ceiling toward the tomb of St. Peter at the far end of the great entrance way.”[6]


[1] Larimore, At First Light, 114

[2] Prohme, 195

[3] 3rd Division History. www.3rdid.homestead.com/division_history.html

[4] Taggart, 189

[5] Taggart, 189-190.

[6] Taggart, 189-191

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