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This book, published by Our Roots Trust, is now available for purchase on Amazon Kindle. A note about the author and the contents are provided here to introduce the book to the visitor to the ORT site.

FOOTPRINTS ON MONTE CASSINO


A note about the Author and the Book

1_Monte_Cassino,_with_moon...._Copy_REDUCEDI was born in 1939 in what was then Poland, and is now Belarus. I grew up a happy boy in India, oblivious of the carnage of WW2, and came to the UK in 1947 for the family to be reunited with my father.


 My father served in the General Anders Army, Polish 2nd Corps, 5th Kresowa Infantry Division and took part in the battle for Monte Cassino. He didn’t come out of it unscathed, but he came out whole and alive. He didn’t talk much about it, or perhaps I was too preoccupied with my own life to hear. Unfortunately, he died at the age of 66 - much too soon for me to put my arm around his shoulders, and ask and listen; and Monte Cassino lay dormant in my heart and mind until now.


 At the age of 73, I accepted the challenge to walk the trails on the battlefield of Monte Cassino – I did it to raise funds for Our Roots Trust charity, and I felt I owed it to my father.


At the end of April 2012 the Italian spring was beginning to turn into an early summer, the sun was strong but the heat still quite bearable. I did the “Polish tourist trails” and, after five days, went home quite pleased that, somehow, I coped. But to my surprise, Monte Cassino had grabbed my heart and mind; and the moment I arrived back home I knew I had to go back – urgently.

 

So I set out for the second time in the last few days of June. Now, the sun was absolutely cruel, temperature in the upper thirties, heat - unbearable. But there was no turning back – I had to walk all the paths our fathers had walked in those memorable days of May 1944, and to do it alone lost in deathly silence and in the beautiful but sometimes cruel Nature. I had to sweat the Monte Cassino “bug” out of my heart and mind. But after five days on the Massive, I suddenly realised I was nearing utter heat exhaustion and collapse; I had no other choice but to take the next plane home. And still the “bug’ held, it would not relent, my obligation was not yet met.


So I set out for the third time, in late October, and this time, Nature was good to me, welcoming… 25th October was an absolutely perfect day for walking the Inferno Trail. The next and following days the air was thick with wetness, washed down with short, sharp showers, but how perfect for experiencing the ruins of San Pietro, walking the Big Bowl, and dipping into  the “void”.


For me, Monte Cassino turned out to be a unique and unforgettable experience, for even now it haunts me and draws me to it; and I know I will have to return one day to plumb the depth of the Big Bowl, to pay my homage to the “Lord of Cassino” and to follow the footprints left by the Irish and the French…


I have personally experienced none of what men have suffered in battle, but what I have read about the battles on the Italian front, and heard, and seen on this journey has left an indelible impression on me; it followed me with every step. My story reflects the scenarios conjured in my mind of the mental anguish, inhumanity, and the glory on the battlefield as I walked the trails left by the men who took part in this bloody battle. Naturally, the Poles are perhaps closest to my heart, but men from many other nations fought equally bravely and gave their lives for the freedom of others - the Americans, men from Britain and its Commonwealth and Empire, the French and men from its Colonies… so many.


I will be happy to share my experience with you. The 44 photographs in the book provide testimony to what Man can do to Man.


This book is the first of my stories on the theme “In The Footsteps Of Our Fathers” to be published in support of the Charity “Our Roots Trust” of which I am a founder member. It is now available in the e-book format on Amazon, and will be published in print in February 2014.


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Contents

 Preface and Acknowledgements. 3

1. And the bell tolls. 5

2. Yet they did; they went…... 9

3. “For Your Freedom and Ours”. 16

4. And it happened. 28

5. And the dead admonish to…... 34

6. A “rather pretty grand chateau from the Rhine Valley”. 44

7. The Road to Hell 50

8. On the bloody doorstep. 59

9. “Green on Green”. 68

10. Epilogue. 73

Abbreviations, Sources and Works Cited. 76

Appendix. 77

Bibliography. 78

Illustrations. 79

 



 

Copyright Jaroslaw Kubica © 2009

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