The Winter Line Stories

Real-life accounts of the unheralded heros of the Italian Campaign of WWII

The Observers

Army Artillery Spotters Observing Enemy Activity from High Ground
Image from National Archives and is subject to copyright


As mentioned in the chapter about the Moths, a lot of forward observation beyond enemy lines were done by the diminutive Piper Cubs flying at low altitudes. Given the mountainous terrain of Italy where most of the significant battles were fought, artillery targets frequently required ground observation. The Germans set-up their defense lines from the higher grounds of Mt. SambĂșcaro around San Pietro Infine and Monte Cassino along the Winter Line. Observers worked alone or in pairs and would venture out and navigate the trailess mountains in the dark of night. Their recon missions could last as much as a week. The reward came when enemy encampments or troop movements were located and coordinates of same radioed back to the anxious Howitzer batteries. It took little time from the signal until the objective was obliterated. The last remaining action of the spotters was to verify the target was taken out.

This scanned page is taken directly form the original story. The entire transcript of the story along with commentary will be in the published version of "The Winter Line Stories"

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