Between 20 - 29 June 1944 two British Infantry Divisions, the 78th and the 4th, fought a hard battle against 1 Fallschirmjager-Division and 334 Infanterie-Division in the territory which lies between Lake Trasimeno to the east and the two lakes of Chiusi and Montepulciano to the west. The last resting place of the men who fell was one of three war cemeteries - Assisi, Bolsena or Orvieto. Most of 78 Division's casualties were taken to Orvieto, whilst Bolsena was the cemetery chosen for those who had died in hospital in Orvieto itself. The men from 4 Division and a few from 78 Division were brought to Assisi. To the west of Lake Chiusi 6 South African Armoured Division engaged the HermanGöring Panzer-Division, and whilst most of its casualties were taken to Bolsena a few were laid to rest in Assisi too.
The places underlined on the map are those where the temporary battlefield cemeteries were located. In addition the map shows the location of four cemeteries, at MOIANO, PO BANDINO, OSSAIA and BADIACCIA, where men who had died in the Advanced Dressing Stations or Casualty Clearing Stations located in those places, or who had been brought back to those cemeteries from the front, had been interred. The MAP REFERENCES for these temporary cemeteries are as follows:-
The battle on the Trasimene Line was opened on 20 June 1944 by 78 British Infantry Division, which deployed in two places along the front. 36 Brigade (8 Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 5 Buffs and 6 Royal West Kent Regiment) was to take Vaiano and 11 Brigade (2 Lancashire Fusiliers, 1 East Surrey Regiment and 5 Northamptonshire Regiment) was to launch the attack on Sanfatucchio. 8 Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and two supporting tanks from the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry managed to advance beyond Villastrada but were thrown back from Vaiano, and on 23 June 36 Brigade was replaced by 4 British Infantry Division and 12 Canadian Armored (Three Rivers) Regiment. 2 Lancashire Fusiliers hung on to the foothold they had gained at Sanfatucchio until on 21 June 2 London Irish Rifles (38 'Irish' Brigade), supported by 11 Canadian Armored Regiment (Ontario Regiment), relieved them. 36 Brigade went into action again on 25 June along the western shore of Lake Trasimeno and suffered further casualties there. 11 Brigade advanced further inland covering the eastern flank of 4 Division.
SINGLE BURIALS Two men belonging to the 2 London Irish Rifles were buried singly on the edge of the village of Sanfatucchio, Rifleman Cyril SHARPE near the cemetery at San Felice (412889) and Rifleman William COSTER at Zucconami (412899), whilst a third man, Rifleman Frederick Arthur JONES was buried in the cemetery itself (405895). All three were killed on 21 June. Three other single burials took place near to the village of Villastrada on 20 June, one on the approach to the village and two during the attack on the next village, Vaiano. Edmund George BRAND, 6 Royal West Kent Regiment, was buried to the west of the hamlet of Cimbano at 364859, Private George Stanley ARMSTRONG, 8 Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, to the north of the village at 377872, and close by at 372866 Trooper Patrick George COTTRELL of the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry. The following day, when 5 Buffs were sent in to battle, Private William George KERLEY was killed on the approach to Villastrada and buried at Cantagallina (379855). South African Major D. W. MAREE, 40 Squadron South African Air Force, who was killed on 10 July, was buried at Banditella to the north of Castiglione del Lago.
Other men were buried in pairs, such as Private Bernard BROPHY and Private Jack PRITCHARD, both of 6 Royal West Kent Regiment, who fell on 26 June near to a farmhouse known as Podere La Cascina 1° at 400937.
SMALL GROUPS Elsewhere small groups of men were also buried at or close to where they fell. Five men from the 1/6 East Surrey Regiment were interred to the east of the village of Casamaggiore at 354923. Private Leonard Ernest BLACKMAN, Private Phillip John FLEET and Lance/Corporal Edward Albert LAMPTON were killed on 27 June and Captain Ronald Alfred GRIGG and Colour/Sergeant George Duncan INCH on the 29th, the latter two when the jeep in which they were taking rations forward to the leading companies hit a mine. Similarly, less than a kilometre away near the hamlet of Frattavecchia, three men from 2 Lancashire Fusiliers were buried at 372924 on 28 June - Fusilier Colin JOHNSTON, Fusilier George WARREN and Lance/Corporal Harry ECCLESTON.
LARGE GROUPS In contrast the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry brought in three casualties from 28/29 June to Le Fontanelle to join the seven men who were killed near there on the 27th. 2 Bedford and Hertfordshire Regiment buried twelve men in an olive grove on the farm to the west of Il Civettaio, ten of whom had been killed there on the 28th and the two others during the advance to Petrignano on the 30th. 4 Recce Regiment buried the nine men killed between 24 and 26 June to the east of Lake Chiusi in a temporary cemetery at nearby Cimbano, and then brought in to the same place six of the seven men killed during the explosion of a German time bomb at Villa Paolozzi on 30 June. There is no concentration report form for the seventh man, Trooper Arthur ALLEN, hence he was transferred from an unknown burial place to Assisi.
Regiments which buried their men where they fell without concentrating them locally were the the 1/6 Surreys, already referred to, and the 2/4 Hampshire Regiment (18 men were buried in an olive grove at 348892 on Poggio Santa Maria to the north of Vaiano on 25 June and two others close by at 348898, one man in the village of Vaiano itself at 372876, three men at I Giorgi at 332956 on the 30th and six men at Le Stoppiacce at 326014 on 1 July). The same was true for 2 Somerset Light Infantry. Eight men who fell on 24 June in the second attack on Vaiano were buried near to their start line at Villastrada in a large temporary cemetery at 381864, whilst the five who lost their lives in the following days were interred at I Giorgi, Le Stoppiacce and Centoia (323018).
The two regiments belonging to the 1 Canadian Armored Brigade – 11 Ontario Regiment and 12 Three Rivers Regiment - had different policies. 11 Ontario Regiment tended to bury their men near to where they fell – three men in the Civil Cemetery at San Felice (Sanfatucchio), two in the nearby hamlet of Pescia (406915), and four at Centoia (323018), whereas 12 Three Rivers Regiment concentrated the seventeen men killed between Vaiano and Casamaggiore in the temporary cemetery at Villastrada, near to where the first two had been killed on 24 June when leading the renewed attack on Vaiano.
The thirteen men from 2 King's Liverpool Regiment were not interred where they fell. All were brought back to Villastrada apart from two who were buried at Po Bandino.
Most of the South Africans killed during the liberation of Chiusi are buried in Bolsena War Cemetery, but five are at Assisi. They include Privates H.P. POTGEITER, F.G. SCHULZE and P. ULLMAN, of the Imperial Light Horse/Kimberley Regiment, killed at Chiusi Scalo when their jeep hit a mine, and buried there at 358815.
The temporary cemetery in an olive grove at Poggio Santa Maria
MOIANO Medical facilities for men wounded on the western part of the Trasimene Line were established at Moiano, a village along the main road from Orvieto to Arezzo known as Route 71 by the advancing British and Commonwealth forces. From information currently available the facilities would appear to have consisted of a Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) typically situated behind the front lines just outside of the range of enemy artillery. Battlefield casualties came in from regimental aid posts or advanced dressing stations located in the combat zone, and those casualties who could not be adequately treated at Moiano were sent to Orvieto Civil Hospital.
The CCS was operational from 19 June until 4 July, by which time the front had progressed beyond Cortona. It would appear from the casualties buried at Moiano that some had come directly from the battlefield and had not perished in the casualty clearing station. Fourteen men from 2 Royal Fusiliers, whose War Diary indicates they were killed on either 30 June or 1 July during the battalion's advance along the Val di Chiana, came into that category.
It is not easy to interpret the Concentration Report Forms for Moiano as they contain three differing Map References. Fifteen casualties were interred in grid square 3881 - ten South Africans (most of whom belonged to the Royal Natal Carbineers and were killed on 28 June), five men from 22 Field Regiment Royal Artillery and one belonging to 6 Royal West Kent Regiment – and hence they could have been buried at either of the other two precisely recorded points – at 384828, where thirty men killed between 26 June and 1 July were buried, or at 384826, a small cemetery where only four men were interred or at another point entirely. One of them, Edward Gordon HINTON, Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, was injured when his tank was knocked out at Villastrada on 20 June but died on the 25th. Another trooper injured in the same incident, Trooper George Frederick SPREADBURY, who died on 27 June, was interred at 384828. Eyewitness accounts of this incident and others can be read in 'The Trasimene Line. June July 1944' by Janet Kinrade Dethick, available on line from the publisher, Fondazione Ranieri di Sorbello, Perugia, www.fondazioneranieri.org
THE ADVANCE ALONG THE VAL DI CHIANA 30 JUNE - 16 JULY
After the fall of Chiusi on 26 June 6 South African Armoured Division moved northwards along the western fringe of the Val di Chiana, through Montepulciano, Torrita di Siena and Sinalunga before moving further west into the Chianti hills. 4 British infantry Division moved up the centre, passing from Pozzuolo to Valiano, Farneta and Foiano della Chiana, whilst the eastern flank fell to 6 British Armoured Division and 2 New Zealand Division. Three important temporary cemeteries were set up - at Po Bandino near Chiusi, at Ossaia near Cortona and at the north western corner of Lake Trasimeno between Badiaccia and Ferretto. There are very few single or small group burials in this area. One, at Ferretto at 356006, was that of Major Charles B. LAWRENCE-ARCHER, 57 Field Regiment Royal Artillery. It is not known why South African artilleryman Bombardier D. A DENYSSEN, who died on 4 July and was buried temporarily near to Lucignano (141125), was brought in to Assisi rather than into the nearer war cemetery of Foiano della Chiana.
PO BANDINO Thirty-six men were buried at 348815, all of whom had lost their lives during the advance along the Val di Chiana towards Arezzo during the period 1-17 July. Six were from 6 South African Armoured Division, ten were infantrymen from 4 Britih Infantry Division and five came from the two Canadian Armored Regiments supporting their advance – 11 Ontario Regiment (2) and 14 Ontario Regiment (3). There were also several men from 6 British Armoured Division and two from the Royal Army Medical Corps. After the fall of Arezzo on 16 July it appears that the cemetery ceased to function.
OSSAIA The Concentration Report Forms show that cemetery at Ossaia (380074) contained the graves of twenty-six men of whom just under a half were from 2 New Zealand Division. This was not a battlefield cemetery, even though 78 Division had passed through on 2 July when moving up to enter Cortona on the 3rd, but was the temporary resting place of men who had died in the Casualty Clearing Station, or Field Hospital as it was called by the local priest, don Vincenzo Ginocchetti. He wrote
'A large field hospital was set up in tents in the grounds of the Villa Cariagi where it remained for some time. Two hundred metres away from the village, in a small cemetery, thirty British soldiers and one German were buried.'
One of these casualties, Lieutenant William Lionel EDWARDS, Gloucester Regiment and 2 Royal Fusiliers, had been brought in from the front line north of Valiano, whereas his men had been taken south to Moiano and Po Bandino. The other four men to whom the priest refers are probably among those for whom there is no concentration report form.
BADIACCIA Thirty-six men were buried to the west of nearby Badiaccia, 380002, between 19 July and 13 September, presumably all coming from a Casualty Clearing Station, given that by 19 July the front had advanced beyond Arezzo. Amongst the casualties were 5 New Zealanders, two South Africans, and three Canadians (including an airman). There were only seven infantrymen, the other casualties belonging to different reconnaissance regiments, to the Royal Artillery, the Royal Engineers, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and various units of the Royal Army Service Corps.