Timeline

1877 – The Atlas was printed in Germany by Adolf Stieler The pages were printed in black only, then hand painted using watercolours

L’Atlante è stato stampato in Germania da Adolf Stieler Le pagine sono state stampate solo in nero, poi dipinto a mano con acquerelli

IMG_0001

1942 – The Atlas was signed, the handwriting is not clear but it appears to read ‘1942 General H

L’Atlante è stato firmato, la scrittura non è chiara ma sembra di leggere ‘1942 General H

Autograph inside Atlas

1944 18th June – Elba is declared liberated, Elba is an island off the coast of San Vincenzo (the approximate location in which the Atlas was found).  The Germans had a radar installed on Elba so the island needed to be taken by the allies. Allies also capture Assisi, Italy some 160 miles East of San Vincenzo, these actions preceded the discovery of the Atlas by the Italian family.

Elba è dichiarata liberata, l’Elba è un’isola al largo della costa di San Vincenzo (la posizione approssimativa in cui l’Atlante è stato trovato). I tedeschi avevano un radar installato all’Elba così l’isola doveva essere presa dagli alleati. Alleati anche catturare Assisi, Italia circa 160 miglia a est di San Vincenzo, queste azioni ha preceduto la scoperta dell’Atlante dalla famiglia italiana.

Signal Corps photo. Elba invaded! French troops wading ashore from landing craft in the invasion of the tiny island of Elba. White smoke billowing from stern of ship caused by smoke pot Elba, Italy. 17 June 1944

Signal Corps photo. Elba invaded! French troops wading ashore from landing craft in the invasion of the tiny island of Elba. White smoke billowing from stern of ship caused by smoke pot Elba, Italy. 17 June 1944

1944 24th June – the 2nd Battalion was ordered to attack and seize the town of Folloncia.

il 2 ° Battaglione fu ordinato di attaccare e cogliere la città di Folloncia.

Folloncia is a small, beautiful resort town on the west coast of Italy
along highway 1.On the morning of the 24th the battalion attacked
through the eastern outskirts of the city against fairly heavy enemy
resistance.  At first it appeared the Germans intended to make a
determined effort to hold the town however, after some intent fighting
the Gemans withdrew to the high ground north of the town. The battalion
continued the attack and drove the Germans off the high ground.  After a
couple of hours the Germans launched a determined counter attack with
tanks and Infantry.  By this time the battalion was fairly well dug in
and with tremendous  support from our mortars and the 460th repulsed the
counter attack.  The very effective artillery support was the result of
the artillery battalion forward observer, Lt Tommy Tompson who had taken
an exposed position in front of the front line to direct point blank fire
on the enemy tanks and advancing Infantry.  The battalion sustained few
casualties during the operation around Folloncia.

1944 25th June – Below is a section taken from Chapter II “ARRIVEDERCI ROMA”. This part of Chapter II describes the taking of Monte Peloso by “C” Company of the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment on June 25, 1944.

The author of this account was Captain Charles La Chaussee who was the commanding officer of “C” Company.

On June 24 the 1st Battalion moved by truck from the inland mountains to the west coast, about 30 miles north of Fallonica. We were on the extreme left of the 36th Infantry Division. The sea was a mile to our left. We were to advance to the north the next day along Highway 1 toward Suvereto.

Early in the morning of the 25th June Major Boyle assembled his commanders and staff on a hill overlooking our route of advance. To the north, Highway 1 crossed the dry bed of the Corina River and a mile beyond was dominated by a sugar loaf-shaped ominous-looking hill called Monte Peloso.

“The Krauts have been holding up the 143d on our right. We’re to attack north, clear that mountain, and continue on to Suvereto. Off on the coast to the west is a place called San Vincenzo. Free French Commandos captured the island of Elba a few days ago and are supposed to land at San Vincenzo today. If we take that hill it will relieve the pressure on their landing.”

“We’ll move out in a column of companies, B, C, Headquarters, and A.. We’ll follow that stream bed to the base of the hill and decide further action from there. C Company , I’ll probably send you around to the left to hit the mountain from that side.”

This was our first formal attack. Our operations to this point had been entirely advance-guard skirmishes. We moved out in column along the river bed, going beneath a bridge where the highway crossed. A very heavy concentration of American artillery began to plaster the mountain, lasting for twenty minutes. There was brush growing along the river bed and we had good concealment. B Company’s leading platoon began to receive rifle and “burp gun” (Schmeisser machine pistol) fire. The going was slow as they forced the German outposts back. Incongruously, a cuckoo began his call. Cuckoos were native to the area, and the bird may have been expressing his opinion of us. Or it may have been a preplanned signal used by the Germans.

After an hour the column halted, and Major Boyle called company commanders forward. The brush was thin at his location and the mountain was much closer, perhaps a half-mile away. B Company had reached the base of the mountain and to the right. We could hear scattered small-arms fire from the vicinity of the 143d.

The company commanders had just reached the Battalion Commander’s location when an 81mm mortar shell landed nearby. We had been sighted by German observers on the mountain. We scattered fast. I ran to the right, took cover in a wagon rut, and heard three more mortar shells “chunk” as they left the tube. I knew at this range I had about 30 seconds before the shells arrived, and looked desperately for better cover. Another rut a few yards away seemed deeper, and I crawled into it just before the shells hit in a triangular pattern on three sides. The fragments whined like tuning forks as they went overhead. One of the shells had landed squarely on the first rut I had occupied. After a brief time, I ran back to the command group, and found that it had scattered. Major Boyle had been hit and was being evacuated, and the other company commanders were returning to their units. Major Bowlby, the executive officer, was at the rear of the column. I decided to go ahead and take the mountain from the west as Boyle had indicated at the morning briefing.

I retraced my route back to the head of C Company and led it very cautiously to the west in the shelter of a low ridge. When assembled there, I crept to the top of the ridge and looked over the ground.

We were six or seven hundred yards from the mountain. A string of tall steel power line towers led diagonally to the hill; halfway there a farmer was plowing a field, in complete disregard of the war around him. I called in Lt. Marks, the Second Platoon Leader, and told him to take his platoon forward along the power line to the base of the mountain. “Get as far as you can. I’m going to put down artillery to cover us. I’ll move the company to the left and come in from that side. When you see us start up the hill, join in.”

The attached artillery forward observer and the Battalion 81mm mortar platoon leader were nearby, and I asked them how long it would take to put down fire on the mountain. The artilleryman said it would be at least a half hour, and mortarman said ten minutes. Time was getting critical; it would be dark in a little more than an hour. The last thing I wanted was for darkness to find the battalion strung out all over the landscape and the objective untaken. I pointed out to the mortar platoon leader a low stone wall running along the base of the mountain and told him to put a ten minute concentration of smoke on it. In the meantime, the 2nd platoon reported that they had reached the base of the mountain.

The mortar concentration landed along the wall with quiet “crumps” exactly as I had asked for it and created a wall of rising smoke. This was the moment, if ever. We were all in good physical condition and we raced across the six hundred yards of open ground at top speed, first platoon on the right and third on the left. We reached the base of the mountain and loped up over the stone wall. Beyond it was a terraced hillside and we went up ledge by ledge, as though climbing a giant staircase. Smoke was thick from an olive grove that had been set afire by the mortar shells. As we reached the western crest of the hill we swung the platoons around to face east, down the ridge. We had arrived on the German flank undetected and were in position to roll them up like a rug.

A German machine gun opened up thirty yards to our front, sending up a shower of chips from a nearby woodpile. I hollered, “Fix Bayonets”, but most couldn’t hear me. We moved forward at a fast trot and the machine gun drove us to cover again. Sergeant John Miller ran ahead and gained ten yards. I fired my submachine gun to cover him, and immediately drew a return burst from the machine gun. I waited for Miller to throw a grenade, but heard no explosion.

Marks’ second platoon had now come in on the right of the first, and one of his men, Private Carl Salmon, spotted the machine gun and crawled toward it. When he was fifty feet away the machine gunners began to turn the gun toward him, but Salmon emptied two rifle clips into the bushes being shaken by the gun’s muzzle blast. The gun was silenced and the entire company moved forward at a run, firing from the hip. We ran past the machine gun, where there were two Germans dead and a third wounded. Far ahead, on a wooded portion of the ridge, a file of seven or eight Germans, was pulling back. I fired my submachine gun again, but they were well out of range. We reached the far end of the ridge and paused to take stock.

There were no Germans in sight and we were not receiving any fire. Nervous over a possibility of a counter attack, I swung the platoons around to face north again. I called for reports on casualties and ammunition, and radioed battalion that we were on the objective.

Company A and the Battalion command group arrived just before dark. Major Bowlby divided the objective between Companies C and A. He proceeded to dress me down for not keeping him informed and for using 81mm mortar ammunition. I remained silent and took my licking like a dutiful plebe. Of course, we should have kept him posted, but I felt justified in having gone ahead without orders and in using the 81mm mortar ammunition. What were we carrying it around for – the next war?

As darkness came on we settled in for the night. While the troopers scratched “wistful foxholes” among the rocks, the company command group… myself, the First Sergeant, the Executive, and a radio operator… occupied a six by six pit, the former home of the mortar that had given us trouble that afternoon. The dead were laid out nearby… three Germans (the wounded officer had died) and the Italian farmer who had been plowing his field. All four had died for their principles. We had just one casualty, a messenger who had been killed by mortar fire while making his way to the rear. No one had sent him on the trip and apparently he had been killed while looking for safety.

The enemy force had been a platoon from the 29th SS Panzergrenadier Division (Commander March 1944 – September 1944: SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff). This was a new identification, and an important one. The Germans were now committing some of their best troops to stiffen resistance.

Soon after dark the enemy began shelling the hill with artillery from beyond Suvereto, and several men from Company A were hit. A large haystack 50 feet from our hole caught fire and burned briskly all night. The Germans seemed to be using it as an aiming point. We gave some thought to putting the fire out, but decided that might make matters worse and the shelling continued sporadically until dawn.

At about four in the morning …”false dawn”… the field telephone rang, and Honest John Dugan answered it. He said, “They say that Daddy is here.”

“What to hell is that supposed to mean”? I asked.

Honest John didn’t know either. But with a little more conversation, he deciphered the message.

“It means were being relieved .” He said.

At daylight kakhi figures began to move up the hillside from the rear. They were short rugged looking types, and to our surprise, were Japanese. This was the 442d “Nisie” Japanese American Combat Team in its first commitment to action. Their Company Commander checked in with me.

” Where is your machine gun section?”, he said.

“Well”, I explained, “We have one in each rifle squad, so they’re all along the line.”

“How about the Company CP?”

“Right here.”

“Company OP?”

“Same right here.” I was beginning to feel very amateurish; apparently rifle companies were supposed to have both a command post and an observation post. Since we were just a few feet from the rifle line I had felt that one location was good enough.

When the 442d was in place we filtered back off the hillside, formed in column, and moved to the rear. Although we were unaware of it at the time this was was our last action in Italy. The 442d continued the attack that day, gaining Suvereto and beyond with severe causalities, one of them being the company commander who relieved me.

As far as I know the French Commandos never did land at San Vincenzo.

The day after our relief by the 442d a truck convoy delivered the battalion to a dusty open field fringed by wooded hills. As we unloaded from the trucks and filed across the field we were met by Captain Bill Young, the Operation Officer. “We’ll lay out pup tents in Company streets,” he said. “Officer s’ tents will be over there , mess area over there.”

I stared at the hot, unshaded plain and asked, “Why not move into the hills, where we’ll have some shade?”

“Because this is the way the battalion commander wants it”, he replied.

“Well the hell with it.” I said. “I’m not going to put these troops out here.” and led the company out of the plain and up into the hill range. Here we organized in platoon clusters, where men pitched tents or not, as they desired. Most spread out under bushes and trees. I found the ruins of a shepherd’s hut, covered part of it with a poncho, and settled down.

For a week this was our way of life–Company “C” relaxing in the shade, and the rest of the battalion broiling in the July sun. This did not endear us to the rest of the battalion, but the issue was not forced.

We were in IV Corps reserve, and to be ready for attachment to Task Force Ramey, an armored battle group; but no commitment orders came. After a few weeks, we entrucked for a further movement back to Rome, where we prepared for the airborne invasion of SouthernFrance.

 Summer 1944 – “the only unit of the Waffen SS in Italy was 16th SS Panzergrenadier-Division (Commander – SS-Gruppenführer Max Simon 3 Oct 1943 – 24 Oct 1944). It went online in San Vincenzo and always fought with the right wing in contact with the Tyrrhenian Sea. His unit closer to our territory was passing fast in Santa Croce.

The US 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division – rooted Germans out of Belvedere, San Vincenzo, Cecina, Rosignano, Leghorn, and Pisa, among others.

1944 26th June – On 26 June began fighting in the area Suvereto Belvedere (West of San Vincenzo). The SS Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion 16th and the Second Battalion of the SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 35th defended against the troops of the 34th U.S. Infantry Division, which met for the first time here since the liberation of Rome stiff resistance. In early July 1944, the fighting around the town of Cecina shifted to southeast of Livorno.

1944 27th June – US 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, 34th Infantry Division (Red Bulls) rooted the 16th SS Panzergrenadier-Division out of San Vincenzo

June 27, 1944 The 1st Bn (133rd Infantry). had a brief but sharp engagement at San Vincenzo and the Regiment continued its advance.  Il 1 ° Bn (133 Fanteria). ha avuto un breve ma acuto impegno a San Vincenzo e il Reggimento ha proseguito la sua avanzata.

The Italian family returned to their town centre apartment which had been commandeered by the Germans & used as a command post & discovered THE ATLAS which had been left behind after a hasty retreat.

La famiglia italiana è tornato al loro appartamento centro che era stata requisita dai tedeschi e utilizzato come un posto di comando e scoperto L’ATLANTE che era stato lasciato alle spalle dopo una ritirata.

1944 3rd July – Siena, 75 miles East & North of San Vincenzo falls to Algerian troops of the French forces.

1944 19th July – American forces take Leghorn, Livorno, 39 miles North of San Vincenzo.

1944 4th August – Florence 85 miles North East of San Vincenzo is liberated by the Allies, particularly British and South African troops; before exiting, however, the Germans under General Kesselring destroy some historic bridges and historically valuable buildings.

1944 25th August – by now the Allies had pushed past San Vincenzo on the Mediterranean coast towards Pisa & the Gothic Line 

1944 September – Brazilian troops arrived in the Italian city of Massarosa North of Pisa & San Vincenzo.

1944 25th October – Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, Supreme Commander of German Forces in Italy (Army Group C) On 25 October 1944, his car collided with an artillery piece coming out of a side road. Rumours said that the Field Marshal was okay but the gun had to be scrapped. Kesselring suffered serious head and facial injuries he was in hospital for three months & his command in Italy was taken over by General Heinrich Von Vietinghoff.

1945 23rd FebruaryOperation Sunrise initiated & progressed with the help of Waffen-SS General Karl Wolff

1945 23rd MarchGeneral Heinrich Von Vietinghoff succeeded Kesselring as Supreme Commander in Italy on 23rd March 1945.

1945 29th AprilInstrument of surrender On 29 April signed at Caserta two officers (Lieutenant Colonel Hans Lothar von Schweinitz and SS-Sturmbannführer Eugen Wenner) the surrender to the British Field Marshal Harold R. Alexander (1891-1969), the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in the Mediterranean. They were commissioned by General Heinrich von Vietinghoff-Scheel (1887-1952) and Karl Wolff (1900-1984), Supreme SS and Police Leader in Italy, SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Waffen-SS.

1945 2nd MayGeneral Heinrich Von Vietinghoff surrendered on 2nd May 1945 & remained a prisoner of war until 1946.

1958 – the Atlas was gifted to a group of young Englishmen holidaying in San Vincenzo, Italy that summer by a family that they stayed with. Jack, Jock, Ron & Gee, Jack & Gee (George) are cousins; the group drove to San Vincenzo & back to London in an old Austin Ascot. The atlas also contained an Italian 4 page A5 leaflet containing information about Stieler’s Atlas in Italian (which I will translate a some point).

l’Atlante era dotato di un gruppo di giovani inglesi in vacanza a San Vincenzo, Italia quell’estate da una famiglia che si fermarono presso. Jack, Jock, Ron & Gee, Jack & Gee (George) sono cugini; il gruppo guidato a San Vincenzo e torna a Londra in un vecchio Austin Ascot. L’atlante contiene anche un 4 pagina A5 opuscolo italiano contenente informazioni su Atlas di Stieler

1990 – Gee (George) Byatt presented the Atlas to Jack Field on his 60th birthday as a memory of their younger days enclosing a post card with a ditty & a picture showing the car that they made the journey to San Vincenzo in Italy.

Gee (George) Byatt presentato l’Atlante di Jack Field sul suo 60 ° compleanno come un ricordo dei loro giorni più giovani che racchiude una cartolina con una canzoncina e una foto che mostra l’auto che hanno fatto il viaggio a San Vincenzo in Italia.

This picture shows three of the four young Englishmen who were presented with the Atlas in San Vincenzo 1958. George (Gee) Byatt, Jock or Ron? & Jack Field

This picture shows three of the four young Englishmen who were presented with the Atlas in San Vincenzo 1958. George (Gee) Byatt, Jock or Ron? & Jack Field

2003The History Channel produced a short film entitled A ‘Small Piece of History’ in which Jack Field explains how he acquired the Atlas.

The History Channel ha prodotto un cortometraggio dal titolo Un ‘piccolo pezzo di storia’ in cui Jack campo spiega come ha acquisito l’Atlante

The present – The Atlas remains to this day with Jack Field living in Northamptonshire, England

L’Atlante ancora oggi con Jack campo vivono in Northamptonshire, England

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2 thoughts on “Timeline

  1. michaelin4lunch says:

    My father (Jack Field) recently recalled that the lady the young men stayed with in San Vincenco was a midwife while the husband worked from home making battery terminals on the kitchen gas stove for Fiat. He recalled that the family vehicle was an old ex military Austin 10 with a canvas cover. My father confirmed that the Atlas was recovered from San Vincenzo, not another nearby town.

    • michaelin4lunch says:

      Making battery terminals: I guess the guy was melting down lead in a pot on the gas stove then possibly ladling the molten lead into small moulds.

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