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Dated: Dec 7,  2017

Rest Camps
R&R Centers and Replacement Depots
Used by 5th Army

  The soldier could not handle the continued stress of living at the front lines under the constant shelling and danger.  Some statistics say that a soldier can not spend more than 30-days in combat at the front lines without loosing his fighting abilities.
  The rest camps allowed the soldier to refresh his mind as well as his body.  This also provided time for the unit to re-organize and re-train in order to be more effective.  The rest centers provided the Allies an advantage in combat that was not available to the Germans.

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 5th Army Rest Center in Rome
 Foro Mussolini or Mussolini's Forum or Foro Italico

 Caserta Center - Allied HeadQuarters and stop for many soldiers
 Montecatini Rest Center - outside of Florence

 Florence Rest Center - Tourist sites for soldiers on leave.
"Dairy Farm" Replacement Depot - near Naples
7 Gagliano Winter Quarters - North of Florence
8  Quotes from Soldiers

5th Army Rest Center in Rome

Souvenir Booklet

<=  Souvenir Album with photos of Rome
  printed on nice glossy paper.

Card stock cover with good quality photo paper.
Size:  6  X 9-1/2 inch

  Meal Pass for Rome dated July 29, 1944

Mess Pass

Guide Book to Rome

A Guide Booklet to Rome

History and photos of Rome.
Fold-out Map of the city.
Useful Italian words and phrases.
Newsprint paper
Size:  4-3/4  X 6-3/4 inch                                                          

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Foro Mussolini   -  Mussolini Forum

  Located on the north side of Rome, just north of the Tiber River.  This site was a facility dedicated to the ideals of the Fascists regime and Mussolini's rise to power.  The grounds were covered with statues and murals and paintings that depicted not just his military strength but progress in the areas of agriculture and industrialization.
  In modern times it is called Foro Italico and was the site of a summer Olympic games.

     View of Front Gate of the Rest Center
          Front Gate
Recent photo of Obelisk
 Modern photo of Obelisk
Obelisk inscribed "Mussolini Dux" is 17m high without the base, and 36m high with the base and the point.  Blocks surround the piazza that commorates the Fall of Ethiopia and other events during Mussolini's reign.

Aerial photo of the Rest Center taken during WW2
The Rest Center complex was located across the Tiber River from Rome.  One stadium is encircled by marble statues.   Note the Obelisk located at the end of the bridge.
Aerial View

    Statues surrounding one of the Arenas.
    Paintings on the walls of the Pool
Foro Mussolini - Statues
Foro Mussolini - Paintings on the walls of the Pool
Used by permission of  Professor Moore, UTA.

More Photos of the Piazza at Foro Mussolini
Mural of Soliders giving the Fascist salute to Il Duce, Our Leader.
Piazza - Mural of Soldiers

Piazza - Mural of Airplanes and Troops.  Ancient Roman blessing the flag of the modern soldier.

Piazza - Mural of AirPlanes and Desert Troops

Photos used by permission of James Hull     

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Caserta Center

Caserta became the location of HeadQuarters of the Allied Forces from 1944 to 1946.  Construction of the palace was started in 1752 for the Bourbon King Charles VII of Naples, who resigned to become King of Spain.  When finished in 1780, the palace had 1,200 rooms, 24 state apartments and a royal theater.      
As the Allies advanced north of Naples, the city was captured by the British 56th Infantry Regiment on 3 October 1943.  
Caserta was the scene of the signing of the German surrender on 29 April, 1945.

Royal Palace at Caserta
Allied troops parade in front of the Royal Place in Caserta on Commemoration Day.

Photo from an Army brochure published on 1946 anniversary of its liberation.
The Palace was used for scenes in two Star Wars movies and Mission Impossible III.

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 Montecatini Rest Center

   Montecatini Terme is located in Tuscany, 20 miles northwest of Florence. It is situated on the Austostrada that connects Florence to Pisa, just west of Pistoia.  Today the highway is A11.  Before the war it was the location of a spa.  
  A veteran of the 85th Division described his time there as a place with a USO Club or Red Cross Club that included music, dancing and some Italian gals, maybe a few Red Cross girls - coffee, etc.

Soldiers on Leave at Montecatini
American soldiers enjoying the shops at Montecatini.
The GI's are wearing the short "Ike" jacket with all their ribbons and patches.

    The 337th Infantry Regiment, 85th Infantry Division was sent to Montecatini on 13 March, 1945 for a 4-day
of rest and retraining before the Spring Offensive that ended the war.

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 Florence Rest Center

  Located in areas around the center of Florence, this Rest Center was generally off limits to the Americans.  Since the British took credit for liberating Florence, they were allowed to use it as their R&R base.

Soldier's Map of Florence Rest Center   

  Red Cross Fold-out Map & Brochure
  This Red Cross Brochure was given to the soldiers during their visit to Florence.  On the back of the map, the seven panels of the foldout has sketches of some of the attractions.  The colored Map have the tourists sites of Florence marked with numbered index.  For example, #30 is the famous domed church San Giovanni Duomo.

Letters denote locations for soldiers:
         A  Red Cross Apollo Theater
         B  5th Army Rest Camp, at R.R. Station
         C  Red Cross Regional Office
         D  Red Cross Enlisted Mens Bath House
         E  Red Cross Officers Club
         Large Circle Red Cross Enlisted Mens Club and Snack Bar

      (This is not the rest center known as Montecaniti Rest Area,
          which was to the northwest of Florence.)

Cover of Map

Cover of the Red Cross Map

The maps folds up into a pocket-size Brochure.  The other 7 panels on the reverse side of the Map have ink sketches of the tourist sites.

Size:  Folded  =   4-1/4  X 6-1/4 inches
         Unfolded=  12-1/4  X 16-1/2 inches
2 variations of map markings were printed.

        Florence University
          Florence University was set-up after the war ended to train soldiers
in a skill they would apply to their civilian job.
Photo from "Attack! Attack! Attack!" by Battery Press

A University Training Center was established at Florence in June 1945.  It offered 1-month courses in a number of subjects to 3,000 students. On-the-job training was carried out in every type of activity from laundries to automobile mechanic shops.  All units selected for inactivation carried on a program of education 4 hours per week.

My father was a colllege graduate in agriculture.  He said he taught classes to the soldiers but it is not known if he taught at the university in Florence or not.

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"Dairy Farm" - Volturno Redeployment Training Area

The "Dairy Farm" was a large state-run dairy plantation about 20 miles NorthEast of Naples that was a Fifth Army Replacement Depot Center from November(?) 1943 through the fall of 1944. It had belonged to Mussolini's son-in-law.  It was divided into two camps.
"Repple-Depple" was a GI term for Replacement Depot.  These were centers for replacement troops to arrive and get assigned to their units.  I've included in this list as many soldiers passed through this area and many say they spent their last days here before shipping out of Naples port to their homes.

Another rest center was Lido di Roma (The King's Forest) southeast of Rome, which was used as a rest and refitting area for Fifth Army units just out of combat. From there, the GI's could visit Rome and stay in any of the Fifth Army designated rest centers in the city.  85th Division
was located there in June 1944

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 Gagliano Winter Quarters  - Winter rest and re-training

After the Allies halted their advance in November 1944, the units were rotated off the line for some rest and re-training.  Sometimes this was down by regiments. The area north of the town of Gagliano (now called Galliano) wasn't very large in size and had very much in terms of accomodations.   However, it was far enough from the cold mountains and the German shelling to allow some much needed rest.  Usually a Division rotated the regiments through one at a time.  Several of the American infantry division spent some time at Gagliano.

A description from "History of the 85th Division in World War II".

"Galliano was a small town serviced by dirt roads which had now turned to slippery, sticky mud. Just outside of the main part of the town and a little way up the hillside were several large individual houses. They could not be called villas, but they were luxurious compared with the living accommodations afforded in town. Several of the houses had large stone barns which troops found suitable for a temporary residence. At least they were better than a pup tent or a pyramidal tent. Housing was inadequate, of course, and many of the men found themselves setting up in pyramidal tents. There wasn't much to Galliano but somehow, like many other places where the Division stopped for more than a week, it seemed like home. No doubt the contrast with the unbearable conditions endured during combat made Galliano more pleasant than it would otherwise have appeared. "

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Quotes about the GI's experience at Rest Camps

This letter was written at the rest camp at Caserta

   25 March 1944   “I've been to a rest camp for 2 days. Having fun. A beautiful spot that lives up to its name. There were movies to go to and showers to take. I have an entire new uniform to parade in. We had a G.I. band that played a few hours for us. There was talk that the Red Cross Ladies were to present each and every soldier here with doughnuts and, but for some reason they never showed up. After being washed and dressed up so pretty, we were lined up for a general to look see while he gave us a few choice words...”
  29 April 1944   “We slept in buildings, the mess hall was a huge room, there were showers and Red Cross rooms and more movies then a guy could care to see... it gave me a carefree feeling to walk up and down streets watching the people... so now it's over and I am back..”

  6 November 1944    "The very first day of November 1944 we were relieved but could not move off our position that night. At dawn's light we rode in trucks in pouring rain for hours to Montecatini, a health resort. We were put up in a large building, enjoyed hot showers, clean uniforms and a hot meal which was our first since before Florence. Ten days were given to us. Slept a lot on cots, without shoes or outer clothing in a warm room under a dry blanket where everybody could sleep at the same time. Looked at the ancient Roman baths, read some books, saw some movies, ate when/if we pleased, meals prepared by someone other than our cooks, who were here to rest. Ten days passed in short order.”    

From the memoirs of George Avery, Co A, 84th Chemical Mortar Bn


“I arrived in Italy in April of 1944, the rainy season! Mud! We were hauled by 6x6 trucks from Caserta to the Replacement Depot, the dairy farm!  The streets were mud knee deep in the repple depple, no lights.  Then June came and the mud was dry!   I was assigned to L/141st infantry. So what was mud changed to dust Knee deep! Not any easier to march in than mud. All the roads were like that.” 

Paul D. Hinkle - Company L, 141st Infantry Regiment,  36th Division

  "On Thursday, 23 November 1944, Charlie Battery went to the new Fifth Army Rest Center at Montecatini to enjoy a well earned rest.  They returned to the Battalion bivouac area on the 28th.  On the same day Baker Battery left for Montecatini, followed by Able, Service and Headquarters on the 29th.  The new style Rest Center was a famous "Spa", patronized by wealthy Italians and tourists before the war.  The men were quartered in hotels, and except for a hike each morning, and two hours of section training each afternoon, they had free run of the town from three in the afternoon until ten o'clock at night.  There were bars, movies, USO shows, and baths - both of the G.I. and civilian variety, and the Battalion made the most of its opportunities. The end of November found the 328th still in the rest areas, and enjoying a very high morale."

Excerpt from Operational Report of 328 Field Artillery Battalion, 85th Infantry Division
Dated 16 December 1944.

   Foro Mussolini
  On the piazza near the Obelisk is a large block that has a dedication of the Foro Mussolini.  Surrounding the piazza are 20 blocks that are inscribed highlights of Mussolini's achievements under the Fascists regime.
Partial Inscription


May 9, 1936, Year 14 {dated from start of Mussolini's reign}
Il Duce proclaims the foundation of the empire. Officers, non-commissioned officers, soldiers of all the armed forces of the State in Africa and in Italy, Blackshirts of the revolution, Italian men and women in the fatherland and throughout the world, listen!
With the decisions that you will learn within a few moments, decisions acclaimed by the Fascist Grand Council, a great event is accomplished.  The fate of Ethiopia is sealed today, the ninth of May, in the fourteenth year of the Fascist era. 

Blocks bordering the Piazza with modern grafitti.
Memorial Block with grafitti

U.S. Troops leave a Ticking Time Bomb

    During World War II, soldiers from the 5th US Army set up camp at an exclusive hunting estate in Italy.  Sixty years later, forest pathologists are pointing to huge gaps of dead trees in the estate as the visible reminders of that brief stay.
    In a new study published in the April issue of Mycological Research, researchers at the University of California, Berckeley, and in Italy, have unlocked the mystery of how the destructive Heterobasidion annosum pathogen could have spread to the Presidential Estate of Castelporziano, which has been sealed off from the public for centuries.
   They were able to trace the origins of the pathogen back to eastern North America, where US troops departed for Europe during WW2.  The researchers say the pathogen likely hitched a ride in transport crates, pallets or other military equipment made from untreated lumber from infected trees.  It took decades for the pathogen to establish itself, but since symptoms were first noticed in the 1980's, the root fungus has wiped out large swaths of stone pine trees in the
Castelporziano estate less than 15 miles southwest of Rome
   UC Berkeley Press Release, dated 30 March 2004

Special Thanks to Professor Moore of University of Texas at Austin for permission for the use his photos. 
Special Thanks to James Hull for permission to use his photos of Foro Mussolini.


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