34th Infantry “Red Bull” Division Marker, Monte Pantano
The marker is located on top “Knob 2” of Monte Pantano consisting of a cross and plaque the plaque remembers the 34th Division 168th Regiment (and located above a plaque remembering the German 305thInfantry Division).Marker
The memorial consists of a cross and a 2-part plaque. The cross is made of pieces of scrapnel found on the peak. The plaque includes a remembrance of the 34th Division and their opponents, the 305th German Infantry Division. Monte Pantano was located along the German Bernhardt line – a defensive live anchored to their Gustav line (referred to as the Winter Line by the Allies).
Background on the battle:
From the 34th Division Association:
Pantano, Italy -- November 29 to December 3, 1943 - In September 1943 the Allies invaded the southern Italian mainland at Salerno. Strategic planners had believed that the Germans would then withdraw north, toward the Alps. But the Germans did not withdraw, and in what became known as the Battle of the Winter Line, the Allies began their long fight up the Italian peninsula. Iowa's 168th Infantry landed at Salerno some three weeks after the initial invasion. Part of the 34th Infantry Division (Red Bull) from Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota, and the first U.S. Army division to arrive in Europe, the 168th Infantry was already a veteran of the North African campaigns. In Italy, the regiment went into action almost immediately, and on November 28, 1943, the 1st Battalion was directed to seize Mount Pantano, a large mountain whose four knobs gave it a square shape. Situated in a draw between the four knobs, was a full battalion of German defenders. Taking the first knob from the surprised Germans, Company A repulsed an almost immediate counter attack in hand-to-hand fighting. The rest of the battalion arrived and for the next five days the men were under constant attack. Company A's commander, although wounded three times, led a bayonet charge against a German breakthrough; Company B stopped seven German assault waves; grenade duels raged all around the perimeter. When their ammunition was exhausted, the Americans hurled rocks and C-ration cans at the Germans. Because pack mules could only travel one-third of the way up the steep and rain-soaked slopes, supply was a critical problem. For two days there was nothing to drink but rainwater. To evacuate a casualty meant four to six hours on foot down the steep trail, under mortar fire, which forced the battalion surgeon to treat casualties on the actual firing line. Despite the constant attacks, severe casualties, cold weather and lack of ammunition and food, the 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry held its position for five days until it was relieved. For its gallantry, the unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. This was not the last Italian hillside the 168th and its sister regiments would take from the Germans: the 34th Infantry Division spent the rest of the war in Italy, and is credited with more actual days in combat than any other U.S. Army division. Today, the "Red Bull" Division is still active, consisting of units from the Minnesota and Iowa Army National Guard.
The Official US Army History reports:
During its six-day test of mental and physical endurance on the mountain the 168th Infantry had lost all its battalion commanders, together with 33 other officers and 386 men killed or wounded. It had expended 6,800 rounds of 81-mm mortar ammunition, 3,000 hand grenades, 7,500 rounds of 75-mm ammunition, and 400,000 rounds for rifle and machine gun. Corporal Zannie M. Reynolds, voluntarily exposing himself in order to return hostile fire, had first one rifle and then a second shot from his hands by enemy machine guns. With a third he fired for several minutes and then threw hand grenades at the advancing Germans until the attack was broken up. He was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery.
The text is in English:
34th INFANTRY DIVISION
168th INFANTRY REGIMENT
November 29th- December 4th 1943
For such is the path of heroes
A terrain where on the brave would go
Like a mountain pass narrow and rugged
Far removed from the peaceful valley below
The Committee for the Recognition of US Actions on Monte Pantano