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Dated:  August  24, 2010

Part 3

 The Po Valley and Alps

Photos from the Italian Front - the final days.

    These photos were taken after the 85th Division entered the Po Valley adn the war was almost over.  Within 19 days the 5th Army had crossed the Po River and chased the retreating Germans into the Alps.  By this time, the Allied advance was moving fast, however the change in scenery of the rich Po Valley and the grandiose mountains must have been a temptation to bring out the camera.  Most of these photos were taken by my father.

   For a description of the fighting and confusion during this time,  see  Capture of ImolaLiberation of Vicenza
   Another page that is in draft form is Bridging the Po Valley.

  Return to:  Photos- Main Menu       Sgt Cole & Buddies     Winter in the Apennines     

    Click on an image to enlarge.

Sgt Cole in Verona
Sgt. N.F. Cole
 "In Po Valley near Alps. At Verona, Italy." 
Verona - artillery damage

"I did this with my own little artillery two days ago. This is Verona Italy." 


Another photo of damage in Verona. Man appears to be wearing a suite & tie. 


"This truck & Bic's was knocked out in Verona. May 2, 1945." 

Road into the Alps

German equipment on side of road in Alps. The German war machine was now using horse- drawn wagons. 

Lunch in the Alps

"Eating my last meal in combat in Italy, May 2, 1945. Behind me lie 2 US soldiers dead. Shot from the top of Mt. The war ended today at 4."

Surrender Negotiations

Photo of a German officer in overcoat talking with Americans, possibly about terms of surrender.

Celebrating the end of the War

"This is me, a Jerry helmet, Flag, & a chicken on my head. Two days after the war ended, May 10, 1945. Near Bulleno, Italy."
(see HELMET below) 

     The last photo shows Sgt Cole with a few of the relics he collected. He had taken several photos of him wearing this German helmet.  Here he has added a Nazi flag.  Sgt. Cole made it home with a German Police helmet and a small, single-sided Nazi flag---probably exact items shown in this photo.  His flag was actually a "banner" because it was printed only on one side.  It was the kind that was hung from a balcony or window.
     The chicken? Well, I guess it was one that was liberated and invited to the Victory Dinner celebration.  Like I said before, the censors limited you as to what subjects you could photograph.  I guess a photo of a GI with a chicken on his head was no security risk.

   Several of these above photos were printed with permission in the book "Dieci giorni di guerra" (10 Days of War) by Luca Valente, published by Cierre edizioni 2006.

    Explanation of photo quality.  Even though these photos were taken with a captured German camera using 120mm film, the photos were developed only in 2.5 inch size; i.e., the prints were same size as the negative.  These scanned images were made from those 50-year old prints as the negatives were lost or damaged

The German Helmet -  Photo is yours truly wearing the same helmet shown in photo above with the chicken on it. 

This photo was taken probably in 1957.  I'm  wearing all my Dad's ribbons and medals and I was flying the souvenir Nazi flag above my tent.  Wonder what the neighbors thought?

                    (No, that is NOT a real gun.)

Verona, Italy, 26 April 1945 -  An American M-4 Sherman tank of the 13th Armored
Battalion, 1st Armored Division, rolls down a street in Verona, Italy, shortly after the
shattered city was liberated from German occupation.  Part of the 1st Armored Division
was attached to the 10th Mountain Division, 5th U.S. Army,  while the rest of
the 1st Armored Division drove towards Milan (see photo below).
Official U.S. Army photograph.  Photo # SC-270876.

A photo of the 91st Cavalry Recon Squadron driving through the gutted railroad depot in Verona.
The jeep in front has a machine gun mounted on it and the front bumper is marked  5A 91R.
Tanks follow in the background.  Sign in background reads "WEHRMACHT" (Army).

 Photo is a Signal Corps photo from the dust jacket of "19 Days" by Battery Press.

Milan, Italy, 26 April 1945 -  Further west of Verona, lead elements of the 1st Armored
Division drives past the Duomo Cathedral in Milan while drawing out a crowd of gogglers.
There are many similar photos taken at this same time near the Cathedral.
Some photos include views of partisans celebrating their liberation.
Note, the black VW car (front RT) has a rifle propped behind the bumper.

Return to Photos from Italy top menu.

For a description of the fighting and confusion during this time, see  Capture of ImolaLiberation of Vicenza .

Return to 328th Field Artillery or 85th Division, Custermen.

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