An email from one of the artists working towards the May 2014 exhibition prompted me to publish research links for others to read as well. These are all published below in good faith with no copyright breach intended.
Recommended background information and excellent images of the conditions the battles were fought in, the first twenty minutes of Jim Greenhough's excellent 2003 documentary produced for the 50th Commemorations is now available on YoutTube :
The story, and plight of the women in the region is told in the oscar-winning Sophia Loren film La Ciociara (English title Two Women), highly recommended viewing. Available (in segments) on Youtube, may also be full version available. Click on this link. for Part 1 of the movie.
The famous John Huston documentaryThe Battle of San Pietro (Infine) was named as one of the most important 100 films made in America last century.
The best research, however, will always be talking to those who were here, and those who were waiting at home. Artists who have made work for earlier Legato exhibitions have described their involvement, and their research, as "life-changing". Legato becomes a catalyst for conversations that have been waiting to happen.
Artists are reminded that the themes are peace and commemoration, and that works of any genre may be submitted for consideration. If you are interested in joining the 2014 artists exhibiting in Cassino please contact the organiser and curator, Kay de Lautour, at:
legato.exhibitions @ g mail . com (without the spaces)
To read more of the history of Legato and find other useful links please scroll down two posts (22 August) or click here to go directly to that link.
"They Were Only Boys: 1944-2010" by Kay de Lautour (Watercolour, 2010).
UXOs in Italy
“… my generation, we grew up knowing that the
war was finished just 10 - 15 years before, and we had to deal with danger -
like there were still mines around - there were the things that could be
dangerous for children so at school we were talking about these things, talking
about the war.” (Margherita Giampietri, Cassino, 2010).
after the war Allied engineers and civilians began the mammoth task of clearing
the hundreds of thousands of mines and other unexploded devices in the
buildings, towns and countryside where the front line had passed. Much of this clearing followed roads and
other communication lines, but did not always go deep or extend into the wider
parts of the battlefields.
of the problem is hard to imagine in peace time. Thousands of German mines had been used in
buildings and the fields, and when the town of Cassino was bombed an area of
approximately 400 x 1400 square metres received an estimated 1000 tons of
bombing. Historians have calculated that
for every German defender in the town, 4 tons of explosive was used.
and civilian workers were killed or maimed during the clear-up operations, as
were civilians who collected and attempted to defuse the weapons to sell for
scrap metal when their families were starving in post-war Italy. School children like Margherita were taught
about the dangers, and posters in classrooms carried powerful images that left
no doubt about the danger of picking up these objects. Little children, too young to understand, were
killed playing with live grenades found near their temporary homes.
seventy years have passed, and while every year more UXO (Unexploded
Ordinances) are collected and this dangerous legacy is reduced, many still
remain in the hillsides and buried at Cassino
and along the Gustav Line. The number of
accidents relating to these UXOs seems to be increasing, rather than
decreasing, if the regularity of such reports in newspapers is any guide.
many factors that could be contributing to this. As time goes on, these “pieces of metal”
found in the ground are becoming more unstable.
Many are being uncovered through erosion, or are much closer to the
surface than before. More land is being
brought back into production and the ordinances are being uncovered by
horticultural machinery or during excavations for roads, swimming pools and
concerning factor is the lack of knowledge about the danger. New generations are unaware of what can
happen and take risks when they find ordinances in their daily life. Adventure tourism, walking tours, camping
holidays, re-enactments and battlefield tours take locals and visitors on paths
that are not guaranteed to have been included in the initial clearance of
are seeking relics for themselves, or to exchange or sell via the internet,
some putting themselves at risk of physical harm. Italian law is quite clear about this; the
collection of dangerous objects is strictly illegal. For the casual explorer and hiker who is not
looking for them there is danger too.
following examples have been taken from the internet. It is not a complete list, and most are
sourced from online newspapers.
2005 An operation to remove a 250 lb
bomb that closed the centre of Formia and interrupted the railway services
between Rome and Naples cost 200,000 euros. Over 8000 people were evacuated and the
residents lived in fear for a week before the bomb was safely exploded in
September 2008 A 500lb bomb was
found at Salerno,
and 5000 people were evacuated. The UK
Daily Mail (Mail Online, 10 September 2008) reported that “The clear-out was ordered after workmen stumbled on the
500lb device during maintenance work. It
was even struck several times by a digger after the workman believed it to be a
stubborn boulder. Fortunately he was eventually stopped by a shocked colleague,
who recognised the object as a bomb.”
29 September 2009 Two youths
recognised an object in the VolturnoRiver as a bomb and
immediately notified the authorities, thus averting a potential tragedy.
14 March 2010 an
unexploded bomb containing 118 lbs of TNT was removed from Tiburtino, Rome, while 4000 people
waited to return to their homes.
2010 Rail services between Naples and Cassino were suspended while a bomb was removed between
Vairano and Cassino.
2010 Army expert bomb disposal unit
safely disarmed another 70kg bomb, this bringing the number of callouts to
approximately 200 since their recent deployment to this task in southern Italy.
September 2011 An unexploded bomb was
found in a suburban area in Cassino
and safely defused and removed by the bomb squad.
2012 A grenade that had become embedded
in a tree exploded and destroyed the fireplace when the wood was used in a
domestic fireplace in a village near Cassino. The shocked family members were unharmed
purely because of the fortuitous angle at which the wood had been placed on the
7 July 2012
Traffic was diverted near the Pontecorvo exit when an unexploded 30cm heavy
artillery projectile was noticed lying in the gutter at the side of the
autostrada. It is not known how it came
to be there.
2012 A fisherman noticed a bomb in the LiriRiver
near Sora and notified authorities. The
bomb disposal unit safely defused the bomb after securing the surrounding area.
2012 A 500lb bomb was discovered in Salerno during
construction work; 90 families were evacuated and offices and businesses closed
until the bomb was safely removed by the specialist Army bomb squad.
And so it
be done when you find what could be an unexploded ordinance, a dangerous legacy
from the battle? Don’t touch the object,
but call the authorities immediately. The danger is real, the problem has not
gone away. It is only the memories that have diminished with time.
Margherita Giampietri interviewed by Nicola
Blackmore at Legato, mostra per la pace
e commemorazione, Cassino, Italy, 2010. Article by Kay de Lautour (MCFRR).