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Minister Honours NZers Who Fought At Cassino

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Fuseworks Media
Minister Honours NZers Who Fought At Cassino

Minister of Veterans' Affairs Judith Collins today paid tribute to the New Zealand troops who fought at the third battle of Monte Cassino, which began 67 years ago today.

The battle of Monte Cassino was fought in Italy between the Allies, including troops from New Zealand, and the Germans over several months in 1944.

At Monte Cassino, the Germans held a strategic advantage over the Allies. They were positioned in the Monte Cassino monastery high above the Allied position. In February, the Germans were subjected to a prolonged aerial bombardment which reduced the town to rubble, but did not wipe out the German defences.

The third battle of Monte Cassino began on 15 March. The New Zealand infantry and supporting tanks were involved in the fierce fighting until 26 March, during which time the New Zealand Division suffered nearly 1400 casualties, including 343 soldiers who were killed in action.

"This was one of the most intense, difficult and costly battles that New Zealand troops were involved in during the Second World War," Ms Collins said.

"For four days and nights the New Zealanders faced a deadly barrage of shells and sniper fire. Against dug-in and determined opponents, they showed incredible courage and tenacity.

"Today we honour those who fought in this terrible battle, and remember those who did not return. Their courage and sacrifice were the building blocks of an Allied victory in the war which allows our nation to enjoy peace and freedom today."

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