Segment 6


Charles Coolidge talks more about Monte Cassino. He recalls the weather was cold and rainy. Coolidge also explains that he feels like had they gone with what General Walker wanted to do instead of Mark Clark which would have saved the losses from the Rapido River and could have taken them to the top of the mountain they would have had the Germans right where they wanted them. Instead the Germans had time to arrange their troops and build a defense. He notes the 36th Division did lose men at Cassino too though and that they did have to get across the river with a rope. They would tie a rope around a GI and let him swim across and tie the rope off on something else. to guide them across. The water was going fast in the narrow river and you could easily get swept away. That night the shellfire was bad and Coolidge had a wool knit cap on top of his head and the shrapnel hit the ground near his face and sizzled in the water on the ground after it hit his cap. Another night on one of the mountains he recalled that they started climbing the mountain at about four thirty at night. As they climbed the mountain it started to get dark but they kept climbing. They met no resistance and kept climbing the mountain. Early in the morning Coolidge said to another sergeant that they would have to do something soon before daylight comes. They called back to the Regimental Headquarters to get further orders. The Regimental Headquarters told them to get off the mountain the best way that they could and it was every man for himself. Coolidge had a fifty-one pound tripod over his shoulder and when he heard it was every man for himself he tossed the tripod over the mountain and with it went his helmet which is why he did not have it later when the shrapnel hit his jeep cap. Coolidge recalls that in Rome they had no resistance coming into town. It was so early in the morning that nobody was there to greet them and all was quiet as they got into town. They lay down on the streets of Rome and blocked it off. Those that could sleep did so. When daylight came they started checking houses and got into a house with a lady wanting to know if he was a German. He continued into combat without wearing a helmet and did so because he could not hear with a helmet on like he could when he was not wearing one.


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