Monday, March 29, 2021

A Postscript to the Chapter on Anzio

You can stay in the house that was the 509th CP during the Battle of Anzio.
(click on any image for a larger version.)

509th CP during Anzio
For the most part, I’m not a big fan of social media. But sometimes it’s a bit of a miracle. Still, years after “The Boldest Plan is the Best: The Combat History of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion During WWII” was released, I am contacted by veterans, families, and others. It's a thrill and an honor. I must admit that it is especially exciting to be contacted by someone living in a country other than the United States where the Geronimos fought.

Map courtesy of
Mike Reuter
The other day I received a message from Diego Cancelli, an architect who lives in Aprilia, Italy, just a few miles outside of Anzio. Diego owns and operates Il casale di Giulia, a working farm and B & B. The stone farmhouse just happens to have been the 509th Battalion command post during the battle. He has pictures to prove it. Moreover, I have the image of a map that was provided by 509th veteran Mike Reuter that shows unit positions in the Anzio beachhead as of January 30, 1944. Sure enough, you can match up the unit symbol on the map with Google Maps. The 509th headquarters symbol is located on the Via Carano between Crocetta and Carano. That’s exactly where you’ll find Il casale di Giulia on Google Maps. You can even get a feel for the terrain by checking out Google Street View.

Il casale di Giulia before
Diego has located the hill that B company occupied forward of the MLR before they were overrun. The help that Diego required was being able to prove that the house his wife’s family owns and restored was one of the houses that were the object of “Raid Nibble.” Readers of “The Boldest Plan” know the details of the raid. The objective houses were simply referred to as House #5 and House #6 in the battalion’s war diary. No grid coordinates are offered so one must assume there is a map overlay. The problem we have, often repeated, is the lack of records in the archives for this unit. The Geronimos were attached to the 3rd Infantry Division, and during the battle; they had at different times the 7th Infantry Regiment and the 30th Infantry Regiment to their right. Perhaps there is a map overlay in the archives of these units?

After rennovation
There just were not that many houses in the area during the battle, so the odds are excellent that the house in question (that is now occupied by the family’s grandmother) is House #6 referred to in the 509th war diary narrative concerning Raid Nibble. Especially considering the war relics that have been found on both properties. Diego has been practicing some applied history and has amassed quite a collection as the included pictures show. He has found dog tags and returned them to the families of American soldiers. He has found several helmets both American and German. One of the German helmets was found along with the skeleton of the soldier who wore it; found during the restoration of House #6.
Aerial view showing B/509th
position on forward hill.

Diego shared quite a few pictures with me, and I’ve included some of them for you to see as well. The next time I’m in the archives at NARA or AHEC I plan to look in the records of the 3rd ID for that missing overlay. In the meantime, I’m planning a trip after covid to visit Anzio, Il casale di Giulia, and other sites where the Geronimos fought. Ever thought about it?


"House #6" today


Collection of military vehicles


Shells from WWII found
on the properties.


509th uniform in the 
reception area of the B&B


Dog tags found and returned
to their owners and families.


Cabinet full of battlefield
relics found on the property.


War relics found on the properties.


War relics found on the properties.


War relics found on the properties.


War relics found on the properties.


War relics found on the properties.


German helmets found around "House #6"

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