Adriana Vitali, a 9 year old girl, witnessed the shelling of Littoria (nowadays Latina), by American and British planes and ships moored in Anzio and Nettuno during the battle of Anzio beachhead in 1944. Her family, and the entire population of Littoria, was ordered by the Germans to evacuate the combat area.

In 1944 the Italian Adriana Vitali lived in Littoria (now Latina). During the Battle of Anzio (22 January – 5 June 1944), Littoria, placed between the Cassino front and the Anzio Beachhead, was bombarded by Allied planes and shelled by American and British ships moored at Anzio and Nettuno. Adriana witnessed the blaring sirens, the destructions caused by the bombardments and the run towards air-raid shelters.

Her father, while looking for food in the countryside, ran into a downed American pilot who was hiding his parachute. The two decided to help each other: Adriana’s father obtained the parachute in exchange for his civilian clothes. He also advised the pilot how to reach the Allied troops.

On 1 April 1944 the Germans ordered the inhabitants of Littoria to leave town immediately. Adriana’s father arranged for a horse-drawn carriage and a young republican Fascist soldier guided the family towards the German defensive zone. There they saw the Allied airplanes destroying Littoria’s houses. The soldier left to go back to town, but only a few moments later they saw the young man blown up by a land mine.

The Vitali family stayed in Norma, about 20 km from Littoria, for six months. Then they went back to Littoria, where they found their house severely damaged. A few months later, on 4 October 1944, Adriana celebrated her First Communion. She still remembers the British soldiers who offered her candies and the beautiful dress she wore that day, made from the silk of the American parachute.

Adriana Vitali