By T.R. Fehrenbach
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Rome, indeed! Rome was only important to the Pope—and then only as a symbol, he brooded. His tanned, blunt face, with its thrusting chin and straight nose, grew grim. In this day, cities, symbols, meant nothing in war. Wars were won by movement, encirclement, the smashing of whole armies in the field. Cities, even capitals, meant very little to the outcome. The Wehrmacht must not be spread thin, trying to hold every useless centimeter of ground—ach, that was how the French and British had lost in ‘40, trying to protect places, sacred French soil, while whole armies went down the armored German maw.
I am a lamb being led to slaughter. I should be entitled to at least one bleat. Lucas stood up. He looked at Mark Clark’s long, lean, schoolmasterish form. Clark was looking serious, as usual. Maybe it wouldn’t do any good, but he’d have his say, anyway. God, he felt tired. . “General, the target date is too soon. It gives me no time for rehearsal. This is a terribly complicated maneuver, putting a whole corps ashore behind enemy lines. I need more training time. In the 3rd Division, the turnover of infantry lieutenants has been 115 percent.
They said General Keyes had ordered the 143rd to resume its attack at once—but the 143rd was not moving very fast. Not after what it had taken all night. And as Willie learned later, when the 143rd finally went across the river again, it met the Panzer Grenadiers head on. Both lead battalions were hurled back across the Rapido, and the supporting battalion never got more than a handful of men across at any time. The 143rd reeled back, forced to retire from action. But with night, 3rd Battalion of the 141st, with 2nd Battalion now accompanying them, attacked across the river again, to reach their comrades on the west side.