Monte Cassino abbey, Italy.
During the Battle of Monte Cassino (January - May 1944) the Abbey made up one section of the 100 mile Gustav line, which was a defensive German line designed to hold the Allied attackers from advancing any further into Italy during World War Two. It stretched from coast to coast and the monastery was one of the key strongholds overlooking highway 6 and blocking the path to Rome. On February 15, 1944 the abbey was almost completely destroyed in a series of heavy American led air-raids. Although it has been argued that the Abbey was being used as a refuge from the battle by the women and children and was occupied by German troops only after the bombing, many reports from troops on the ground suggest that in fact Germans were occupying the monastery, and it was considered a key observational post by all those who were fighting in the field. The bombing served only to aid the Germans, as it reduced the monastery to a pile of ruins which provided excellent defensive cover. The Germans held the position until withdrawing on May 17, 1944, having repulsed four main offensives by the New Zealanders, British Indian regiment and Polish troops. Allied forces broke the line between 11 and 17 May and were finally able to take command of the ruins on May 18. The Abbey was rebuilt after the war; Pope Paul VI reconsecrated it in 1964.
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Monte cassino abbey
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