The Polish military field of honor has been placed on the slopes between Point 445 and the abbey on the mountain of Monte Cassino. On this cemetery 1052 soldiers have been buried. The 2nd Polish Army Corps of Lieutenant General Wladyslaw Anders played an important part in the final attack on the German defenses in May 1944. Finally, on May the 18th, a platoon of the 1st Squadron of the 12th Regiment of the Podolski Lancers succeeded to enter the ruins of the abbey where they achieved hoisting the Polish flag around 10.20 AM.
The Polish field of honor and the monument on top of hill 593 have been unveiled on September 1st, 1945, the 6th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland. The lay out of the cemetery as you can observe it today, is in the shape of an amphitheatre with an altar and was completed in 1963. At the entrance of the graveyard two gateposts have been placed with the following inscription:
"We Polish soldiers
For our freedom and yours
Have given our souls to God
Our bodies to the soil of Italy
And our hearts to Poland."
The religious dedication of the buried soldiers is to be distinguished by the headstones. There are three kinds, the catholic and the orthodox differ by the shape of the crosses whereas the Jewish have a headstone in the shape of the Star of David.
Lieutenant General Wladyslaw Anders survived the war and died on the 12th of May, 1970, in London. In accordance with his last wishes, he was buried on the Polish Military Field of Honor of Monte Cassino, together with the soldiers that had died under his command.
High above the, nowadays again afforested, slopes behind the war cemetery, you will see point 593, Monte Calvario.
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- Text: Kees Jan Koster
- Photos: Jeroen Koppes (1-2) & Kees Jan Koster (3-5)