Book Review – Monte Cassino

From the Images of War series from Pen & Sword Books

By Jeffrey Plowman

The sub-title of this book makes it more interesting than that; Armoured forces in the battle for the Gustav Line.

Yet another excellent book in the Pen & Sword Publishing Images of War series, filled with photos, many of which I hadn’t seen before. Those interested will know all about the Monte Cassino battle, where German paratroopers (among others) held up the Allied advance north towards Rome for a long time and at a very high cost for all involved.

A LOT of the battle was fought by infantry on both sides, where the allied forces were supported by heavy aerial bombardments and artillery.

Less known are the armored battles that took place and the armored units and their equipment active in those battles.

This book does an excellent job at showing more of that, often in vivid photographs of the action itself, but also in pictures taken during preparations and in between fights.

Having visited the area and the monastery myself a few years ago, I can understand the troubles the armour (and the infantry) had for operating there. The hill the monastery is on is quite steep and even today the road up is not very wide. Back then it was a dusty trail with deep ditches on the side. Ditches that could also be found along the roads in the valley leading up to Cassino.

One of the most amazing – and saddest – pictures is the one showing the town of Cassino from an aerial picture. Not a small town….. and looking much as it is today. But after the battles there were only a few buildings left standing, and the monastery was a mound of rubble too.

All of that has been rebuilt today, but seeing the pictures of the enormous destruction is very sobering.

Although Monte Cassino is in the title, the book covers more than that. After the three battles concentrating on taking Cassino the allied decided on attacking the Gustav Line on a broad front. This was Operation Diadem and is covered in the last Chapters of the book.

Like all of the books in this series the photos provide some excellent ideas and examples for scale model builders and dioramas of that area and time. Highly recommended!

Monte Cassino: Amoured Forces in the Battle for the Gustav Line (Paperback).
Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives
By Jeffrey Plowman
Series: Images of War
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 165|
ISBN: 9781526718938
Published: 13th November 201

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