The deadlock for San Pietro, key to
the Liri Valley, was broken by a coordinated Divisional attack.
|From three sides Division troops, after securing
Mt. Maggiore and Mt. Sammucro, were closing in. As the attack opened at midday of December
15, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 143rd, continued to hammer in through the olive groves and
terraces on Sammucro's slopes. Sixteen tanks of Company A, 753rd, moved down the narrow
winding road from Venafro with the mission of breaking into San Pietro. The 141st Infantry
struck frontally over the open flatland of the valley. The 142nd waited under cover on
Maggiore's side ready to move on Mt. Lungo after dark.
THE GERMAN WINTER LINE stretched across Mignano Gap, with key
defenses on Mt. Camino-Maggiore, Mt. Lungo, San Pietro and Mt. Sammucro. Each of the
mountain fastnesses had to be painfully reduced before San Pietro fell. Then the Germans
dropped back to the line of the Rapido and Cassino. Click
on the map to view a larger image.
All fifth Army artillery within
range was directed against San Pietro and the surrounding area. The 141st advanced 400
yards until halted under the weight of fierce enemy fire. For a third time 2nd and 3rd
Battalions, 143rd, were stopped after gaining 100 yards. Of the tanks, three reached the
outskirts of the town, two of these were destroyed and one was missing. Five others were
lost behind enemy lines. Five hit enemy mines. Only four returned.
SAN PIETRO'S patron saint, having withstood the seige, looks sadly
upon war's ruin.
||After dark Companies E and L, 143rd, finally
succeeded in penetrating enemy positions before San Pietro, but were forced to retire. On
Mt. Lungo, however, the Germans were surprised and routed by the night attack of the
142nd. When this kingpin fell the Germans throughout the San Pietro area made preparations
He counterattacked to
cover his withdrawal. Our own artillery in defense was brought to within 100 yards of the
front lines. When, after five hours, indications of the enemy intent were clear, patrols
went out to make contact.
San Pietro was ours for the taking.
|The 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 143rd, less than a
rifle company in strength, trudged past San Pietro to consolidate gains, and re-establish
contact with the enemy, taking up positions five kilometers beyond.
After the battle, the 143rd alone required 1100
On Christmas Eve the men of Lt. Col. J. Trimble
Brown's 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, attacked westward from the top of Sammucro,
together with men of the Special Service Force, to clear the western slopes.
FRANK DUNCAN'S DRAWING OF SHELL-TORN SAN PIETRO SHOWS ARMY MEDICAL
AID STATION AND CIVILIAN WASH.