“We’re in Rome,” was the June 5, 1944 lead headline in The Stars And Stripes, our armed forces daily newspaper. The front page was filled with Rome liberation stories.
Stars and Stripes staff writer Sgt. Jack Raymond’s headline was “Delirious Crowds Stop Tanks Jerry Couldn’t.”
“Rome, June 4 – The mighty armored columns of the last Armored Division which all day had pressed forward along Highway 7 and smashed every delaying attempt by the Jerries (Nazi Army) was finally stopped in the streets of Rome by a jubilant-crazy populace.”
“Tanks that had weathered enemy artillery, Mark VIs and self-propelled guns were forced to halt on Via Appia for fear of endangering the lives of the civilians who swarmed about them, shouting, screaming, weeping, laughing-delirious with excitement.”
“It was 19:30 hours (7:30 p.m.). A woman shouted in English, ‘We have been waiting all day.’ A soldier responded: ‘We’ve waited longer.’”
“Within two blocks inside the city the first tank commanded by Lieutenant Henry Schoberth, Versailles, Kentucky, was just a mountain mass of human arms, legs, and bodies. Children and old men and even an old lady at least 65 years old clambered aboard, oblivious to the danger of grinding tank track.”
“The inevitable bambini (children) showed up demanding caramelli (caramel candy). Young girls kissed every soldier they could lay their hands on.”
TheBoot.it website was my source for The Stars and Stripes, June 4, 1944 article. The same website covered June 4, 2004, the 60th anniversary of Rome’s liberation and President Bush’s visit.
Sgt. Raymond’s words played in the theatre of your mind to experience the Romans’ complete joy of being liberated on June 4. Their emotions were similar to every community in the States on Aug. 14, 1945, when President Truman announced on the radio the Japanese had surrendered — absolute joy!
Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.