During the campaign in Italy, Sergio Pivetta was a cadet in the Alpine troops of the Royal Italian Army. During the Battle of Cassino in 1944, his battalion displayed bravery in their attempt to conquer the strategic Monte Marrone. After the war, Pivetta received the honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
On 8 September 1943, when the Allied invasion of Italy started, Sergio Pivetta was a 21 year old cadet in the Italian Royal Army. He volunteered in the Alpine Piemonte Battalion, a unit of Italy’s First Motorized Group, included in the U.S. 5th Army. With this battalion he took part in the Italian campaign. Piveta was moved by his sense of military honour and his desire to hasten the liberation of Northern Italy, where he was born.
During the Battle of Monte Cassino in March 1944, his battalion reached the top of Monte Marrone (1,770 m), just east of Cassino, in an attempt to break through the German Gustav Line. But they had no succes. Monte Marrone was considered ‘inexpugnable’ by the Allies and ‘unassailable’ by the Germans. For their brave action the Battalion Piemonte was awarded the Silver Medal of Military Valor.
After the war, Pivetta made a successful civilian career as a university teacher in Physical Education and Sports and wrote several books and articles. He also was an active member of associations of veterans of the Italian Royal Army. In 1975 Pivetta published ‘Tutto per l’Italia’, a diary about his war experiences from 1942-1945. He employed the royalties that he received for this book to finance the monument erected on the peak of Monte Marrone, a six meters high cross, surmounted by an eagle. In 1995 Sergio Pivetta received the honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
The abbey of Monte Cassino was founded in the 6th century by St. Benedict. During the Second World War it formed a key part of the German Gustav Line. On 15 February 1944 the abbey was bombed by the Allies who wrongly believed that it was being used as a German observation post.
The Polish Military Field of Honour at Monte Cassino holds the graves of 1,052 soldiers of the 2nd Polish Army Corps who died in the Battle of Monte Cassino, fought from 17 January until 18 May 1944. The cemetery also holds the grave of the Polish commander General Anders who died in London in 1970.
The War Cemetery in Cassino lies 139 km south-east of Rome. It contains the graves of 4,271 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War. The Cassino Memorial stands within the cemetery and commemorates over 4,000 Commonwealth servicemen who took part
The Allied campaign of Monte Cassino was fought in four phases between January and May 1944. The town of Cassino was a key stronghold on the Gustav Line, the German defence line in Central Italy designed to prevent Allied advance towards Rome. The Allies suffered about 55,000 casualties, the Germans 20,000.