Fold3: Military records online

Fold3 Blog

The official blog of Fold3

The Liberation of Rome: June 5, 1944

Ciao Rome! On June 5, 1944, the city of Rome was liberated. The people of Rome flooded the streets to welcome Allied troops with cheers, flowers, wine and kisses. Shops closed, and jubilant crowds celebrated. The liberation of Rome was not only important strategically, but culturally as well. In addition to the extensive network of airfields, rail lines, and roads, Rome was a treasure trove of culture, antiquities and artifacts.

Fold3 Image - Curious Yanks examine one of the many enemy tanks knocked out on the roads to Rome, Italy. These Mark IV tanks were thrown into the battle of Rome to stem the relentless Allied ground offensive and serial pounding by the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces. In the background is a wrecked Nazi duck, a big jeep that can ride water.
Liberation day was especially meaningful for 26-year-old Hubbert Guthrie, an American soldier living in Memphis when he was drafted. Plans to liberate Rome started with a surprise amphibious attack on the city of Anzio, just 37-miles away. Guthrie boarded a boat bound for Anzio the morning of January 22, 1944. His flotilla was led by a minesweeping boat circling ahead. It hit a mine and exploded, resulting in casualties. As Guthrie’s boat approached the floating wreckage, he spotted a tattered 48-star American flag floating in the water. He scooped it up, wrung it out and saved it. Though oil-stained and torn, he brought it home as a souvenir. “A lot of men died under that flag, every man on that little ship,” he said. “Old Glory had a hard life, she did.”

Guthrie was one of 36,000 troops that descended on Anzio that first day. The goal was to outflank German troops, draw them away from the Gustav line, (a German defense line running across central Italy) and open up the way to Rome. They hoped for a quick defeat, but the battle of Anzio turned in to 4-month stalemate. The Allies didn’t have enough manpower to push forward and the Germans weren’t able to push the invaders back. After months of steady pressure, the Germans retreated. The battle of Anzio resulted in the loss of 7,000 Allied troops.

Guthrie was wounded at Anzio and spent 10 days in the hospital. “It seems like everything I went into was a slaughter. I don’t know how I missed being killed but I did,” Guthrie said. When the first American tanks finally rolled into Rome on June 5th, they found it largely undamaged. The liberation was seen as a huge military and cultural victory.

Hubbert Guthrie never returned to Europe after WWII. He was interviewed when he was 80-years-old by a Nashville newspaper, The Tennessean, “I never wanted to go back. I left everything over there that I wanted to – part of my soul,” Guthrie said. Along with many other WWII veterans, Hubbert Guthrie has since passed away.

You can learn more about the Liberation of Rome and the Battle of Anzio. Did you have an ancestor that participated? Search for their records now and share their story with us.

56 Comments

  1. My Dad was with the 85th Division that drove on Rome. Even though other units arrived at the outskirts of the city first, it was the 88th and 85th Infantry Division that were the first to enter the city along the Via Tuscolana and through the gate Porta Furba. While they held the bridges on the Tiber River, the big brass paraded into the city on the 5th of June.

  2. My cousin Niki von Mach was in the Wehrmacht and an Italian soldier wanted to shoot him but he surrendered to an American and became a POW. He later became a general in NATO and one of founders representing Germany of the European Common Market. He was also knighted by the king in Brussels for restoring the Protestant Royal chapel. He died a few years ago. We were all very proud of him. He had a lot of relatives in the USA.

  3. 1. Anzio turned into such a mess because the commanding general repeated a mistake which blew one of the Gallipoli landings in WW I, consolidating supplies and lingering on the beach before pushing inland to the high ground overlooking the beach. Had Truscott pushed the first troops inland about three or four miles, he would have denied the Germans observation posts to shell the beachhead and to detect buildups and stop attacks before they go underway.
    2. Rome was not supposed to fall. Gen Mark Clark was supposed to turn East across the peninsula and trap the Germans retreating from the south. Instead, he went for Rome and glory, allowing the Germans to escape and regroup, extending the war in Italy by almost a year. And for all his chase for glory, Clark’s achievement was eclipsed by the Normandy landings within 24 hours.

    • Kind of throwing cold water on the whole thing, aren’t you, James? But for me, it was re-reading what I heard my whole boyhood, growing up. My dad was there, as an artilleryman in the 1st Armored Division. He always swore they got almost to the edge of Rome on the first day, but were called back to the beach head. He made the same argument about Mark Clark, too. So: for whatever it’s worth, one Kentucky farm boy turned Field Artillery Staff Sergeant, at least, confirms your opinion in every detail.

    • you’re right James. Alot of good men died because of the decision to consolidate on the beachhead rather than take the high ground first. Gen Mark Clark should have been court marshaled for disobeying orders. It’s not great info, but the truth. Anyway, we won it and it’s history.

  4. My father bill britz served with 45 th infantry division in Anzio and liberated Rome. He told me many times that Anzio was hell and Rome espst peters was beautiful . He is still alive , turning 93 June 27 th

    • Happy Birthday Mr.Bill Britz Sr. And a huge Thank You for your service and sacrifice from the bottom of my RED WHITE and BLUE HEART God Bless You !!

    • Please tell your father that I respect him and thank him for his service. My Uncle Woodrow spent the last six months in a German prison camp. He died a few years ago. He didn’t talk about the war much when the war was over. My mom was his sister and she said he was never the same when he came home.

    • My Dad Mike Dilworth served with the 45th. Landed at Anzio and was in Rome. He was wounded in France with the 45th.

  5. Well said Tom Hiter. “Kind of throwing cold water on the whole thing, aren’t you, James?”

  6. My dad was in the Army from 43-45. He never talked about his service days so maybe they were bad memories.l tried to find out information from the veterans but they talked about a fire in St Louis distributing records.All they could give me was his discharge from the regional hospital at San Fransisco airport on nov.9,1945.
    I would appreciate any information or help finding anything out! My dad’s name was Howie W.Ploof.My email is kris78tarry81@gmail.com
    Thank you! He returned safely to Lacrosse,Wisconsin,married and had 9children.
    He died of a heart attach on Nov.22,1971.

    • The National Archives at the University of Maryland holds Unit Histories for the US Army for WW II. I spent a day in the stacks reviewing the 344th Engineering General Service Regiment in which my dad served.

    • Dear Cathy: I am a Viet Nam Vet, I am on VA dissabilitey, and the red tap is bad, I was also told about the fire in ST Louis, most of it is bull shit, yes their was a fire but most of the records were NOT destroyed to the point of total distruction, and most of the records were at the time all on micro -fish. You need to ask them directily for his 201 file, and or his [dd form 214, his discharge papers] they have them, they try to cover up their boo bo if that dosent work then call the VA in W DC, and have them look into it, don’t let them bull shit you.

    • “None of the records that were destroyed in the fire had duplicate copies made, nor had they been copied to microfilm. No index of these records was made prior to the fire, and millions of records were on loan to the Veterans Administration at the time of the fire. This made it difficult to precisely determine which records were lost.”

      re:
      https://www.archives.gov/personnel-records-center/fire-1973

    • A copy of every serviceman’s discharge papers was sent to the county courthouse or veterans service office in the city and state that was listed as the veteran’s home and/or forwarding address which he gave at time of discharge.

  7. My father was in the 88th Division. He always complained how he fought to the Gates of Rome, but never got to enter Rome. He was ordered around it and headed north. Took him 40 years to get back Rome.

    • Brian if your father’s name was Thomas P. Hefferman his name is included in the list of the 349th Infantry Regiment of the 88th Division as receiving a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. The list is on page 306 of “The Blue Devils in Italy A History of the 88th Infantry Division in World War II” by John P. Delaney. There is also another book about the 88th titled “Draftee Division The 88th Infantry Division in World War II” by John Sloan Brown. Both books are available through Amazon,com.
      My Dad was an MP in the 88th stationed in Gorizia in northeast Italy as part of the Occupation Force.

  8. My dad was an Army Air Corp inelligence Captain riding in the jeep with General Mark Allen Clark. I have the photo if anyone wants to see. The photo Shows arriving in Rome. I may have more photos since my dad had a camera there too. This photo was used in news reals in movie theaters back in the day.

  9. My uncle was in Bari, Italy working in the hospital when the harbor that was full of ships was bombed. The destruction was worse than Pearl Harbor.

  10. My wife’s father Edwin Joseph Vanek was in the 88th Division, A913FA, He told her that he marched into Rome on June 4 1944, He served in North Africa and Italy, battles fought include: Monte Cassino, Rome, Arno, North Appennines and Po Valley.

    • Alfred,

      My father also served in the same places, but I don’t know what division. He served as an MP. Since he has passed, I can not get more info, but I know he fell in love with the country of Italy, North Africa not so much!

      Diane

    • My cousin George Constantikes was in North Africa, an engineer, and went into Southern Italy. I don’t know much more because I was young college kid at the time and pay much attention to those things. He has died . I am 93.
      Always glad to learn what I missed

  11. Dad was a Corpman (hospital ship) on D Day, Never knew he was there til they showed the films for the 50th Anniversary. Also at Monte Cassino, where he was offered a Commission to climb the mountain to save where the British under Gen Montgomery were getting slaughtered. Dad’s comment “show me ONE corpsman that has returned to accept that Commission. Gen Clark. vetoed the idea and refused to allow any more American medics go up the mountain.

    On a better note Dad served from 1942-1945 (Europe and Pacific) basic training Ft Ogelthope Ga, Medic and Pharmacy Tech @ Ft Sam Houston Texas. 29 years later I took the same training @ Ft Sam and actually lived in one of the barracks that he had lived in. I was fortunate and remained @ ft Sam for the entire 3 years of my tour.

  12. Many of the returning soldiers had copies of their military paperwork, discharge DD214 etc. recorded @ their local courthouse after the war. You might check there for your fathers records

    • A copy of every serviceman’s discharge papers was sent to the county courthouse or veterans service office in the city and state that was listed as the veteran’s home and/or forwarding address which he gave at time of discharge.

  13. My dad, Cyril (Sid) Krotzer, was in the First Special Service Force (later tagged the Devil’s Brigade in the 1969 movie). During that period, he was in North Africa to Italy, Monte Cassino, etc., at Anzio, and then on to Rome, which he remembered most fondly.His commanding officer was then-Colonel, later General, Fredericks.

    Kim, I would love to see your pictures. My own favorite is of my dad looking back at the Anzio beachhead as they moved out toward Rome. It has appeared on/in numerous books and manuals, and even as an avatar for a reenactment group in Britain.

    • My dad, Fred Morton was also in the FSSF. He was Army Ranger, 4th btn first, but incorporated into the FSSF after Cisterna. He didn’t talk much about it. I have learned a lot through research over the past 2 years though. I have a bracelet of his that lists Anzio and Rome, among other places.

  14. My uncle, William J. Nimal, was an air combat radio operator for the 5th Fighter squadron in Africa, North Apennines, Po Valley, Rhineland and Rome-Arno districts. He left the continental U.S. on January 14, 1943 and arrived in Africa on the 26th. He was also stationed in Phiippeville, Algeria (now called Skikda). He was discharged on August 25, 1945 at Ft. Dix, New Jersey.

    • Where was your uncle trained as a radio operator.

      Was is Scott Field or Chanute Field by chance. Thx.

      My father Ssgt Foxy Wolferd was a radio instructor at those two locations in Illinois during the war.

  15. My father, Fred Muntzner, was killed at Anzio on 4/18/44. He was in the 45th.
    I attended Anzio conventions through out the years.The men that fought there
    said that Anzio was a diversion for Normandy. Some of the men made it to Rome and were told to come back; not to try to get off the beach. When they were told in May to break out, they did. A soldier named Jim Luzzi had a monument created in memory of the battle. He had great difficulty in getting it placed in New York. I was there the day that it was put on the West Street Highway in NYC. The mayor of Anzio came in for the celebration. Jim couldn’t find any place that would accept it.
    Finally, Jim got it into a park in Staten Island. I was told that when the soldiers went to visit Rome years later, the people would follow behind them and throw flowers..

  16. My uncle, Lt. Walter Raleigh Brown, Jr., died 16 March 1944. His tombstone says “1st Lieut. 350 INF 88 INF Div.” I have a letter written to his father by Lt. H.O. MacDonnell in which he told the story behind his being MIA. Lt. Brown went out in the dead of night to find one of his men who had been wounded. He had said that it was important to him that his men knew they could rely on him if they got in trouble. After the war, his body was found and returned for burial in Grandfield, Oklahoma. The favorite story is that, as a classical pianist (his mother would never let him play anything but classical pieces), he became known as “Boogie Brown” because the first thing his group would do once a town was liberated was to find a piano and he would play “non-classical” music for his men.

  17. My father, Paul deWitt, marched into Rome with the 45th Infantry Division on 4 June 1944, the day before his 33rd birthday. Dad was a 1st Lt. assigned to C-Company of the 157th Infantry Regiment during Operation Shingle and Operation Buffalo. I have a letter he penned to his sister on 20 May 1944, three days prior to the breakout from Anzio, but it wasn’t postmarked until 5 August. Part of it reads as follows: “This is being written by candlelight underground. These foxholes give remarkable protection from artillery shells and when ‘Potato Joe’ flew over from Rome last night and dropped a sackful of personnel bombs on our positions we were mighty grateful we had holes to go into with overhead protection. I am sharing a hole with my platoon sergeant and two other non coms. Our hole is roofed over with 12” of dirt and although our hole had a direct hit on it we were O.K. Personnel bombs make only a 2” x 6” hole in the ground, but spray shrapnel for a hundred yards. Some of the men left their helmets and rifles out of their holes and we are now trying to get new equipment. From now on they will keep everything in their holes with them. The Krauts are bombing us again so I’ll have to cut this letter short – hard to concentrate with bombs and flak flying around.”

    Dad escaped physical injury during his two major battle engagements but was traumatized by the loss of many of the young men under his command. In July 1944 he was deemed medically unfit for further combat and was reassigned to a freight dispatch company in Naples, returning home in November 1945. He suffered from PTSD the rest of his life and died at age 97.

  18. My uncle Christy “Tim” Rippel served under Mark Clark as an airplane mechanic an serviced the planes that bombed the Romanian oil fields. He enter Rome and hated it. To the day he died, he would never ever eat olives, having seen how they were made!

  19. Can you do an article on the 156th Avn Co in Vietnam? Dad flew w them. Just want some history

  20. My Grandpa (dad’s father), Mathew Joseph Plewa was in Africa and Italy. I couldn’t get anything but a last pay stub when I tried to get info but my Uncle recently found, in papers he has from his parents, my Grandpa’s Enlisted Record and Report of Separation Honorable Discharge. It said he was in 1379th AAFBU for organization. Then says for military occupational specialty and number, truck driver, light 345. Battles and campaigns, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno. Says he was a Corporal when he left. I have departure dates and arrival. So it looks like it was back in the US 14 Jun 1945. It lists 3 different medals as well. I don’t know anything about his time there and never thought to ask him when he was alive. I have no idea if he would have answered either though. I don’t know much about who he was with or what he did or anything else aside from the little I have from the paper found. I’ve tried to do searches on him and my other Grandfather, Samuel Allen Burns. I was able to get copies that didn’t burn in the fire for Samuel Burns but he was some place else and I don’t have anything saying where. Just he was part of Company B, 276th Engineer Combat Battalion. So assume that was a completely different part of Europe during the war.

  21. Thank you James Horn for this information, I never knew this about Gen. Mark Clark. Maybe if he had done what he was supposed to do, My Father would have survived the War. My Father was killed in Loinano, Italy October 24, 1944.

  22. My uncle Fred S. Nanny was in the 88th and was 39 years old as his platoon in the 88th entered Rome. His buds called him “Grandpa” due to his age. I never found out how he managed to be there at his age but he was. The only story he ever told was that he was always being put up for promotion as the LTs and platoon Sgts. doing the recon before any advancement were shot by snipers on a regular basis. He always refused the promotion and survived the war. I have his Bronze Star and photo in uniform. He was a fun guy to have as an uncle but he died in 1952 o when I was 7 or 8 in 1953.

  23. My father, Kenneth F. Nelson of the 376th PFAB, 82nd Airborne was at Anzio and at Rome. Can’t forget that the paratroopers were there, even though they didn’t all jump to get there!

  24. After reading the June 5th date, I got my dad’s battalion daily reports to confirm that as 752 Tank Bn. Co.C commander he took his remaining tanks and a few from Co. A into Rome accompanied by some infantry on 041830B. (don’t know what the “B” means) Later when they ran out of fuel in the center of Rome, he got all of his men into homes for the night. Received fuel from Anzio about 050330B when the rest of his tanks caught up after refueling. Headed North and while in heavy combat North of Rome the word came over the radio that the “War was on” due to D-day on the 6th. His Battalion history also indicates he took the first tanks into Rome and Mark Clark did parade-in on the 5th.

    • Wm Darby, Are your William O Darby’s son? If so, my father was Ranger 4th btn,HQ. He loved your dad.

  25. My father, Landon Chilcutt, was a member of the 504th PIR, one of “Those Devils in Baggy Pants”. He was wounded at Anzio. He participated in “Operation Market Garden”

  26. My dad was William Samuel Becker trained as Rifleman and heavy Mortar served in Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy Adrienne Rhineland Southern and Northern France honored with the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Numerous awards in European Theatre, Africa, Middle Eastern Service two Bronze Medals, and Distinguished Unit Badge. He was in the 346th Engineers General Service Regiment Ninth Infantry Division.
    I wish I could read anything about him or his regiment and division or find someone who could have known him.

  27. My Father’s childhood friend and cousin William “Billy” Koontz was wounded and later died of injuries sustained from stepping on a land mine at Anzio. He was an intelligence runner. Billy’s brother Junior, stationed in England and a member of a B17 crew, was later sent home prior to completing his required missions. I think he had 18 or so. I remember my father telling me that Billy told him the war would be over before my Dad would get there. My Father, James W Ghrist Sr, ended up in the Ruhr Valley campaign as a Staff Sargent in the Army, 86th Infantry Division, received a Bronze Star and didn’t lose any of his men. Big Jim had quite a few stories, but was deeply saddened about Billy’s loss. This post is for his memory. I would like to ask how one finds out under what circumstances did my Dad receive his Bronze Star. He never would say.

  28. I’m new to this and I am working on my family tree and I have been trying to do so for my father.
    Am I receiving this for a specific reason or did it go out to everyone who joined the top level? Any information you guys can throw my way would be useful. I’m working on two sides and I don’t know how to pinpoint specific information.

  29. My father was in Bari the night of the attack. He was part of the advance team (arrived from North Africa on Nov 28, 1943 in Bari) to set up communications with the 914th Signal Company. Other than his personal diary and his discharge papers, I can find no information the 914th Signal Company. Some have suggested the records were destroyed while others say that group was British. I know they were part of the communication and supply unit for General Montgomery, but still can’t find anything. Prior to Bari, Joseph T. Clinton was in Tunis, Tripoli, Alexandria, Ceylon and New Zealand. Anyone with any details. please contact me. Daddy was overseas from 1943 till the end of the war.

  30. I am looking for information regarding the death of my grandmother’s brother. His military gravestone application says 337 INF 85 INF DIV Company K. He was KIA on May 28, 1944 in Italy. My grandmother could never talk about him without crying and so I never heard much.
    I don’t even know what battle or campaign he was killed in. His name was Orville Dunning and he would have been 30 years old when he died. I have just begun my search, so any information would be helpful.

    • Denise — At least let us know his middle name (or initial) Do you know where he is buried?

    • Orville William Dunning. He has a military grave stone in Decatur, Nebraska. I do not know if his body is actually there.
      I forgot to mention the patch on his left arm was “CD” for Custer Division.

  31. My father was Charles BROECKER, served in Tunisia, Sicily and Anzio (Beachhead) where he served to 634th FA Battalion. After 4 months in Gustav line, he entered in Rome 5 june 1944. His unity was the headquater Battery of battalion of Field Artillery of Medium howitzer 155 s. The Captain was Paul Pope.
    August 15th he landed in the south of France where one year after the end of the war he visited the village of Le Plan (where he stayed 3 days during the war) and where he has met my mother… and some years after got married with her…. and I live here in the south of France. My father died here July 30 1962.
    He was from Ironwood, Michigan and Kenosha Wisconsin. (Excuse me for my bad american langage). Anne.

  32. My father was a Chief Petty Officer on the minesweeper YMS-62 at the Anzio landing. His ship was behind the minesweeper that exploded. He said it disintegrated and there were no survivors for them to rescue. After the liberation of Rome, he visited the Vatican and brought back a white mother-of-pearl rosary for his mother in Dallas. She gave it to me for my First Communion in 1956. When I visited the Vatican in 2015 with my grandchildren, I brought it with me. My Dad had said he had it blessed at an audience with Pope Pius XII. I was at the public audience of Pope Francis and had it blessed again – so it has been blessed by 2 Popes some 72 years apart. Our visit to Rome was under much better circumstances than my Dad. The circle of life.
    He had also mentioned that his ship was in Naples harbor when Vesuvius had it’s last major eruption in 1944. Our tour guide in Naples mentioned that so many American soldiers talked over the years about the eruption when they visited. But sadly, those accounts have faded over the years as our soldiers and sailors have passed on. The greatest generation.

  33. Where was your uncle trained as a radio operator.

    Was is Scott Field or Chanute Field by chance. Thx.

    My father Ssgt Foxy Wolferd was a radio instructor at those two locations in Illinois during the war.