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Original description, from [here](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_ruined_monastery_at_Cassino,_Italy,_19_May_1944._NA15141.jpg):
>*The ruined monastery at Cassino, Italy, 19 May 1944.* Ruined shell of the [Monte Cassino Monastery](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino) a day after it was captured by the 2nd Polish Corps troops. Photograph shows the only surviving wall of the Abbey after the bombardment in February 1944.
About the battle:
>The **Battle of Monte Cassino** (also known as the **Battle for Rome** and the **Battle for Cassino**) was a costly series of four assaults by the [Allies](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allies_of_World_War_II) against the [Winter Line](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_Line) in [Italy](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italy) held by [Axis](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axis_powers) forces during the [Italian Campaign](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Campaign_(World_War_II)) of [World War II](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II). The intention was a [breakthrough](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakthrough_(military)) to [Rome](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome). > >At the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans holding the Rapido-Gari, Liri and Garigliano valleys and some of the surrounding peaks and ridges. Together, these features formed the [Gustav Line](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_Line). [Monte Cassino](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Cassino), a historic hilltop abbey founded in [AD](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini) 529 by [Benedict of Nursia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedict_of_Nursia), dominated the nearby town of [Cassino](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassino) and the entrances to the Liri and Rapido valleys. Lying in a protected historic zone, it had been left unoccupied by the Germans, although they manned some positions set into the steep slopes below the abbey’s walls.
The destruction of the abbey:
>Major General [Francis Tuker](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Tuker), whose 4th Indian Division would have the task of attacking Monastery Hill, had made his own appreciation of the situation. In the absence of detailed intelligence at Fifth Army HQ, he had found a book dated 1879 in a Naples bookshop giving details of the construction of the abbey. In his memorandum to Freyberg he concluded that regardless of whether the monastery was currently occupied by the Germans, it should be demolished to prevent its effective occupation. He also pointed out that with 150 foot (45 m) high walls made of masonry at least 10 feet (3 m) thick, there was no practical means for field engineers to deal with the place and that bombing with [“blockbuster” bombs](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockbuster_bomb) would be the only solution since 1,000 pound bombs would be “next to useless”.[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino#cite_note-30) Tuker said he could not be induced to attack unless “the garrison was reduced to helpless lunacy by sheer unending pounding for days and nights by air and artillery”.[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino#cite_note-31) > >On 11 February 1944, the acting commander of 4th Indian Division, Brigadier [Harry Dimoline](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Kenneth_Dimoline), requested a bombing raid. Tuker reiterated again his case from a hospital bed in Caserta, where he was suffering a severe attack of a recurrent [tropical fever](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_fever). Freyberg transmitted his request on 12 February. The request, however, was greatly expanded by air force planners and probably supported by Ira Eaker and Jacob Devers, who sought to use the opportunity to showcase the abilities of U.S. Army air power to support ground operations.[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino#cite_note-32) Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark of Fifth Army and his chief of staff Major General [Alfred Gruenther](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Gruenther) remained unconvinced of the “military necessity”. When handing over the U.S. II Corps position to the New Zealand Corps, Brigadier General J.A. Butler, deputy commander of U.S. 34th Division, had said “I don’t know, but I don’t believe the enemy is in the convent. All the fire has been from the slopes of the hill below the wall”.[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino#cite_note-33) Finally Clark, “who did not want the monastery bombed”,[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino#cite_note-34) pinned down the Commander-in-Chief [Allied Armies in Italy](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_Armies_in_Italy), General Sir [Harold Alexander](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Alexander), to take the responsibility: “I said, ‘You give me a direct order and we’ll do it,’ and he did.”[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino#cite_note-35) > >The bombing mission in the morning of 15 February 1944 involved 142 [Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_B-17_Flying_Fortress) heavy bombers followed by 47 [North American B-25 Mitchell](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_B-25_Mitchell) and 40 [Martin B-26 Marauder](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_B-26_Marauder) medium bombers. In all they dropped 1,150 tons of high explosives and incendiary bombs on the abbey, reducing the entire top of Monte Cassino to a smoking mass of rubble. Between bomb runs, the II Corps artillery pounded the mountain.[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino#cite_note-36) Many Allied soldiers and war correspondents cheered as they observed the spectacle. Eaker and Devers watched; Juin was heard to remark “… no, they’ll never get anywhere this way.”[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino#cite_note-37) Clark and Gruenther refused to be on the scene and stayed at their headquarters. That same afternoon and the next day an aggressive follow-up of artillery and a raid by 59 fighter bombers wreaked further destruction. The German positions on Point 593 above and behind the monastery were untouched.[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino#cite_note-38) > >Damningly, the air raid had not been coordinated with ground commands and an immediate infantry follow-up failed to materialize. Its timing had been driven by the Air Force regarding it as a separate operation, considering the weather and requirements on other fronts and theaters without reference to ground forces. Many of the troops had only taken over their positions from U.S. II Corps two days previously and besides the difficulties in the mountains, preparations in the valley had also been held up by difficulties in supplying the newly installed troops with sufficient material for a full-scale assault because of incessantly foul weather, flooding and waterlogged ground. As a result, Indian troops on the Snake’s Head were taken by surprise,[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino#cite_note-39) while the New Zealand Corps was two days away from being ready to launch their main assault.