Sheffielder Geoffrey Winters’ memories help to mark 75th anniversary of war in Italy at Monte Cassino
A Sheffield man who fought in the Battle of Monte Cassino has contributed to a special online archive to mark its 75th anniversary.
Sheffielder Geoffrey Winters saw action in Italy and Germany as an officer with the First Battalion the York and Lancaster regiment.
Now 96 years old, Geoffrey recorded his story for the archive, Voices of Liberation.
He recalled: “Being in the infantry as young officer was a very dangerous occupation and wasn’t a matter of skill... you were either lucky or unlucky and I clearly was very lucky because I wasn’t wounded or killed.
“Once you are within shellfire range of the enemy, your life is at risk, and you live with that, you don’t think about it. I’ve never regarded myself as brave, just very ordinary. But I have to say this…
“If you’re lying flat on the ground or lying in a shallow trench, and you’re being shelled for three or four hours, with the bombs and shells dropping all round you, you can’t be happy, you can certainly be apprehensive. What you’ve not got to be is fearful.”
Although it was one of the toughest campaigns of the Second World War, the Allied victory was almost immediately overshadowed by the landings in Normandy just two weeks later. Disparagingly referred to at the time as D-Day dodgers, the servicemen and women of the Italian campaign saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission looks after Cassino War Cemetery, the final resting place of more than 4,200 Commonwealth servicemen who lost their lives, and war graves in cemeteries across Italy.
A special ceremony was held there by the British Embassy in Rome on May 16 to mark the 75th anniversary.
The CWGC has created Voices of Liberation, a global project which seeks to capture veterans’ and the public’s reflections on the war and CWGC sites of remembrance. Website: liberation.cwgc.org/voices-of-liberation