|A nice antidote to the intensity of Salute!|
A much anticipated trip to Tuscany brought some unexpected but very enjoyable hobby related activity. Mrs H had booked us into a hotel near Mugello, north of Florence. It lies on a road between the now under-restoration home castle of the Medicis and the famous high pass at Futa where the Gothic Line was cracked by the Americans in 1944.
|The largest German War Cemetery in Italy|
Having seen the sign for the German War Cemetery on the way in we decided to take a trip over the pass and visit. The road is extremely dramatic with endless hair-pin bends climbing ever upwards for about twenty five minutes and 3,000 feet.
|The Memorial is at the apex of the pass.|
|Looking west. The same dramatic perspective existed at every compass point - the vastness of the cemetery is obvious here.|
|From the ramparts of the Memorial which is somewhat like a medieval tower. The graves stretch off in every direction.|
|Looking south towards Florence|
On reaching the summit of the pass the view all round indicates the significance of any route that could be taken through such mountainous country. Futa was apparently defended by three German divisions supported by emplaced Panther turrets, Tobruks, pillboxes, a continuous 5km anti-tank ditch, mines and machine gun positions.
|Divisional markers in the Vault 98th ID & 44th Hoch und Deutschmeister|
|6th Mountain (Gerbirgs) Div, 278th ID and 94th ID|
|A Ukrainian Wehrmacht Division, 26th Pz and 334th ID (Afrika Korps)|
|1st Airborne (Fallschirmjaeger) Division|
|114th Jaeger and 90th PzG Divisions|
|29th PzG Division|
|65th ID, 305th ID and the 162 (Turkish) ID|
It was eventually taken by a diversionary attack under a rolling barrage and a flanking manoeuvre through another pass.
Atop Futa Pass is the largest German Military Cemetery in Italy with over 30,000 interred soldiers not just from the battles on the Gothic Line but other campaigns too.
|Gwen sitting in the peace and calm of this very sad place.|
At the summit is a dramatic stone monument beneath which 397 soldiers are buried. A vault with the divisional markers of participating formations is also part of the monument.
Nice site here talking through the campaign
On a Spring day 74 years on it is not possible to imagine the carnage but the spot is dramatic and the endless rows of flat memorial markers in the understated style traditional in German cemeteries gives the place a very special quality. Being that we two were the only humans around the place made it even more unusual.
|Base camp at La Maschere, it too has some history being built in the 15/16th Centuries|