Hopkinton Military History: Italian Campaign of World War II

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In keeping with a continuing examination of Hopkinton veterans' contribution to military history, those who attended the recent Vets Breakfast reviewed the Italian Campaign of World War II. Several soldiers from Hopkinton were in the heat of that battle.

The Italian Campaign began in mid-1943, with the invasion of Sicily. For 2 years, until V-E Day, the allies engaged the German enemy north-westerly up the Apennine spine of Italy, costing hundreds of thousands of casualties on each side. American casualties at Anzio alone were 59 thousand. Forces of the US 5th Army under LtGen Mark W. Clark led the main allied offensive during the campaign. The 5th comprised 5 American divisions and 3 British divisions.

From Hopkinton, Raymond J. Fair, Jr., was an original member of Battery A, 985th Field Artillery Battalion. The unit continually shelled the enemy with 150 mm "Long Tom" guns from the western Italian shore near Anzio to the mountainous Monte Cassino. Breaking through the Gustav Line was largely due to the efforts of the 985th.

John "Chuck" Hunt was assigned to the 61st MP Company, and served as a guard for general Clark. In Hopkinton Chuck was easily recognized by his height, estimated at 6' 4" or 5". General Clark was equally tall, creating an imposing duo. The selectivity of Chuck's assignment can be appreciated knowing about his commander. Clark was never a colonel; he was promoted directly to brigadier general. Clark was the youngest major general in the US Army, and the youngest lieutenant general.

Guy DeStefano was assigned to a howitzer unit, and Frank Tedeschi to an artillery unit during the campaign. Few details are known.

In 1944, soon after LtGen Clark opted to move into Rome, a controversial decision some say, the allied battle plans changed considerably. D-Day was 6 June 1944!

The Hopkinton veterans who were among the discussion group are shown in front of a photo collage comprising LtGen Clark, Chuck Hunt, Ray Fair, Jr., Frank Tedeschi, and the ruins of Monte Cassino. The veterans are (L to R): Hank Allessio, Ed O'Leary, Ron Remillard, Bruce Smith, Unk., Russ Greve, Ed Mongiat, Eric Sonnett, and Bob Santucci.