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Battle of Monte Scalari

The 4th British Infantry Division . . . fighting its way through Tuscany towards Florence, had reached the foothills of the Chianti Mountains where German Panzer Grenadiers were entrenched by late July 1944.

From Monte Scalari the Germans rained down heavy artillery fire on the British troops. The mountain peak had to be taken. The task was given to 12th Brigade, consisting of the Royal Fusiliers, the Royal West Kents and the Black Watch. The way to the mountain top was through thick vegetation strewn with rocks and mines. An attempt was made to bring up two tanks to help the infantry while the Bofors guns of the 91st Light/Anti-Tank Regiment knocked out the key German observation points.

The Royal West Kents made several attempts on the Monte Scalari summit but were driven back with heavy casualties. The Royal Fusiliers attacked a German position on Bosco di Fuoco Ridge but the Germans set fire to the forest and the Fusiliers withdrew. Divisional Commander General Dudley Ward ordered the Black Watch to take Monte Scalari at any cost. The 6th Black Watch were a former territorial battalion, a family unit, who had just lost their commanding officer, Col. Peter Madden, and the officer in charge of the attack was the Lord Douglas Gordon. Support came from Churchill tanks of the 142nd RAC.

The weary Scots who had had no food or water for 24 hours, drove the Germans off the summit. The German Grenadiers came charging up the mountain in one last charge, but the Black Watch held them and on August the 1st the way to Florence was opened up. Two days later Florence was liberated. The people of Tuscany have always appreciated the part the 4th British Division played in their liberation, and there are monuments to the men of the Black Watch and 4th Division at Sant Andrea, in Monte San Sevino and in Greve in Chianti.

Losses suffered by the Division were more than 60 per cent.

(John Clarke, Monte Cassino Veterans’ Association, writing in the Daily Mail on 9th October, 2002)

Battle of Monte Scalari

The 4th British Infantry Division . . . fighting its way through Tuscany towards Florence, had reached the foothills of the Chianti Mountains where German Panzer Grenadiers were entrenched by late July 1944.