332nd INFANTRY REGIMENT
for duty on the
(in the words of General John J. Pershing & Colonel William Wallace)
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"(Diary) Paris, Tuesday, July 17, 1917. Dined on Friday with Thomas Nelson Page, our Ambassador to Italy, who praised Italian armies and wants us to send them troops.
"The suggestion from Ambassador Page that we send a few divisions to aid the Italians indicated that they were about to enter the lists with the other Allies to contend for an allotment of American reinforcements. The Ambassador seemed disappointed to find me strongly opposed to the use of our troops anywhere except on the Western Front and as components of our own army." — General Pershing 1
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for Italy Never Built !
Intended to Honor U.S. 332nd Infantry Reg't
and other Americans on duty in WWI Italy
Authorized & Funded in 1920s by
American Battle Monuments Commission
Cancelled due to Complicated Political Situations
Descendants of Ohio Doughboys & Other Americans who Served in Italy
Encouraged to Help Revive Project
Remembering the men of the U.S. 332nd Infantry and commemorating their service and sacrifice on the Italian Front in World War I are the key objectives of the United States 332nd Infantry Regiment WWI Centennial Committee. It is equally important to honor all Americans, women and men, military and civilian, who served and sacrificed in WWI Italy, as well.
"... Congress established the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) in 1923, which took over care of American national cemeteries in Europe from the War Department. One of the duties of the commission was to build monuments in the national cemeteries. The ABMC constructed chapels and monuments in the national cemeteries at Brookwood in England, Flanders Field in Belgium, the Somme, Oise-Aisne, Aisne-Marne, Suresnes, Meuse-Argonne, and St. Miheil, all in France. But the ABMC also built monuments at Andenarde and Kemmel in Belgium and Bellicourt, Cantigny, Tours, Brest, Chateau-Thierry, Sommepy, Montfaucon, Souilly, Montsec, and Chaumont in France where the American Expeditionary Force had important wartime roles. Some monuments, such as one in Rome, Italy, the ABMC planned but never built." 1
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August 13, 1918
Pozzi, Valeggio sul Mincio, Italy
Described in the words of those who where there
Thirteen lost its unsavory reputation when, on August 13, 1918, the entire 332nd Regiment arose early and marched to a point 1 km. east of Valeggio on the Mincio River. On August 14, camp was completely and carefully pitched. The change from the stuffy and ofttimes crowded conditions prevalent in the villages to an open air camp was welcome; and from now on till their departure from Valeggio this camp and its surroundings brought much pleasure to the men of the 332nd. The spot was picturesque.
Just a little distance to the north the Custoza hills arose, and on their crest could be seen the monument which commemorates the battles of 185^ and 1866 between Austria and Italy, while beyond Custoza the Alps stood in bold relief, occasionally dotted, even in the hottest weather, by snow-covered peaks.
Valeggio itself, one kilometer west, lay around the base of the north side of a hill, rising sheerly 400 ft. from the plain, on the camp side, and dropping abruptly 500 ft. to the Mincio River on the west. An historic looking and age-beaten and medieval castle stood on the summit of the hill, dominating the region for twenty miles in every direction. West of the hill the crystal clear Mincio, taking its water from Lago de Garda, flowed swiftly on its way to the Po. An old Roman bridge spanned the Mincio, a fitting companion for the ruined castle high above. Many successive days the Amex troops marched through Valeggio. and up the hill, then down the other side past the bridge, across the Mincio to a level valley covered with mulberry and grape vine where realistic combat work was executed. To the east and south of the Valeggio camp site extended an almost unbroken level ; 12 kms. to the east was Villafranca ; 40 kms. to the south was Mantova (Mantua) ; Lago di Garda was 10 kms. northeast.
A heavy drill schedule began at once. Shade could be found nowhere; the sun's burning rays could not be avoided. The nights spent in the open tents under a boundless sky, glistening with bright stars, amply compensated for the scorching noonday heat.
Wallace, William, Walter C. Hart, and George W. Conelly. Ohio Doughboys in Italy. Pleasantville, N.J.: Penhallow Press, Inc., 1921. Print. Pages 7-8
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To assist us in our training, Colonel Wallace requested and received from the Italians, the 23rd Assault Bn, of the Ardite, Italy’s finest shock troops, and at their head was Major Alligretti. These Ardite were so tough that it was rumored that many of them had come from Italian penitentiaries. In addition to their rifles and grenades, they all had a dagger strapped to their belts and in the handle was a needle like instrument for the purpose, so it was said, to gouge out the eyes of the captured enemy. This battalion had their own small band and I can see them yet, early in the morning running to the training field at double time, the band playing all the while.
Story, Austin P. HISTORY OF THE 332nd U.S. INFANTRY IN WORLD WAR I , in typescript, unpub., ca. 1965 Page 4
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Capitano Ludovico Lommi of the XXIII Reparto d'assalto (Bersaglieri-Arditi) recounts his fond memories of his time spent with the 332nd Infantry during the summer of 1918 in Diario di guerra di un bersagliere:
Col 332° Reggimento americano di fanteria
[ With the American 332nd Infantry Regiment ]
The [Italian XXIII Assault] battalion is headquartered at Quaderni [a villiage in the Provence of Verona between Villafranca and Valeggio], was called upom by [Italy’s] Commando Supremo to train the American 332nd Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel Wallace, a famous veteran of the Cuban campaign, that is encamped in Valeggio. Every morning, in turn, two of our companies went, with the band in the lead, to the Hill of Olives on the Mincio to carry out a training exercise, with much shooting and a lot of maneuvering, on the superb training field that was set up by Austrian prisoners in accordance with our guidelines. The demonstration was to assist the American soldiers, who lined up astonished and attentive, in a spacious walkway around the field. When our presentation was over the Arditi departed, leaving a team that promptly makes a "clean field" so that there remain no unexploded bombs. Major Allegretti, through interpreters, explained the tactical theme to the American officers and, with further explanations, identified every detail during the course of exercise. Finally, the American troops were asked to put into practice what they saw. But it all comes down to just a modest advance, under the hypothetical enemy’s barbed wire, a bit of gunfire and the launch of a few bombs. Of course, we laugh at the excessive prudence of our good allies.
Good comrades, after all, these Americans! They have a very high notion of our worth, and it makes for a lot of good; my Arditi never fail to get cigarettes and even money. During instruction they are quite capable of challenging death to move closer to the bomb explosion, to intentionally incur a minor injury .... a scratch, somewhere a splinter, since they had previously observed that it was usual that some five Lire bills were given as an act of consolation to each of the men who were truly accidentally slightly injured.
In this regard, one day I discovered one of my [soldier’s] .... deliberate heroic act! A daredevil, having been unable to get a genuine splinter, slightly wounded himself with the tip of his knife and jammed into the wound a piece of metal he picked up on the field. I would have been misled, and naively given him a coin and praise, if I had not been tipped off by a chorus of thunderous laughter by some Bersaglieri who had seen the deception. Things from the other world come to us with these good children!
Every evening, when the trumpet signals the end of the day, my Arditi, handsome in their striking uniforms, go on foot towards Valeggio and to the picturesque array of American tents, large and aligned.
In the evening, someone who has quaffed abundantly to the new brotherhood, falls into the clutches of a patrol and goes to sober up in the slammer.
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Un banchetto al 332°
[ A banquet to 332nd ]
One evening I was invited by Colonel Wallace, along with Dr. Sandrone and Chaplain Ribaldo, to dinner at their Camp at Valeggio. Only the chaplain, who had a few weeks ago bought an Italian-English conversation manual, knew a few phrases; Sandrone and I, more than the good-bye ritual did not known how to utter much English. There was a very cordial presentation and reception: we sat outside, where many smoked big cigars, exchanging pleasantries thanks to the interpreters of the contingent. After a while, we set off to the mess hall that was located in a beautiful and huge tent decorated with Allied flags. We sat among our American colleagues and I, disappointed at not being able to exchange a word with them, at least allowed myself the illusion of being able to think ....... in Italian with dinner. The many glasses were filled with different liquids and I immediately felt embarrassed by the serious problem of which I begin with? And what are these delicacies that are brought to me before the soup? And these sauces?
Sandrone, who was nearby, looked curiously at everything and said, "What is this stuff? Oh Jesus, I don’t understand! I will watch the others!”
Ribaudo understood and translated Sandrone’s problems to the Americans; everyone laughed and then Sandrone, as if he could make himself understood, beginning in his happy Venetian dialect, nurtured and embellished with hilarious quips brought on by new embarrassments with unexpected culinary matters of the menu .... and especially supported by frequently repeated libations with each new toast and every new topic. Those many soups, sauces, foods, more or less tasty, that at first triggered our confusion, we soon decided to follow in our own way the needs and instincts of the palate; we dove headlong into the food.
Sandrone, after a certain number of tubes .... (as he cheerfully called his capacious glasses) he was in perfect agreement with the American Major doctor; exchanged extravagant expressions of mutual affection and esteem, in Venetian dialect and English, to our great hilarity!
The two doctors raised their glasses to the health of their homelands, of the armies of the Allies, of their colleagues, of the beautiful women and once the glasses were suddenly emptied, here are the two sons of Aesculapius cheerfully hugging and kissing, shedding tears of tenderness and swearing eternal friendship.
Late in the evening, our commander’s buggy took us back to Quaderni.
The next day, with colleagues at the mess, there was nothing to talk about but the beautiful evening spent at the American camp. Sandrone made everyone laugh like crazy telling of his embarrassment at the table, with all those exotically composed and aromatic dishes. He concluded: “Guys, the doctor major wants me to marry his daughter, who also has a lot of money; poor man, was a bit drunk. He did not understand anything anymore”.
Instead, our big delightful Sandrone was very drunk.
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