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Cassino War Cemetery, Italy

Cassino remembered 70 years on

17 May 2014

His Royal Highness Prince Harry, together with veterans and dignitaries from many nations, will convene at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cassino War Cemetery and Memorial  on 18 and 19 May, to honour the sacrifices made by Commonwealth and Allied troops in Italy during the Second World War.

To enhance the information available to visitors to the cemetery, the CWGC has installed interactive Visitor Information Panels ahead of the anniversary. The panels at Cassino are among 500 to be installed at CWGC locations worldwide and feature information about the site of the cemetery and a QR (Quick Response) code.  When scanned with a smartphone, the QR Code provides access for further information including the personal stories of some of the casualties buried or commemorated there.

Among the stories revealed at Cassino are those of Second Lieutenant Eric Waters - the father of Pink Floyd musician Roger - who was killed while serving with the Royal Fusiliers in February 1944. Roger Waters was only five months old at the time of his father's death and recently visited the memorial that bears his father's name for the first time.

David Symons, the CWGC's Director of Mediterranean Area, said: "The Commonwealth War Graves Commission looks forward to welcoming His Royal Highness and returning veterans to Cassino. We appreciate what an emotional event this must be for the veterans and have ensured the cemetery and memorial, that commemorate many of their comrades, have been maintained to the highest possible standard."

Between January and May 1944, the Battles of Monte Cassino saw some of the fiercest fighting of the entire Second World War, as the Allies attempted to drive German forces from the town of Cassino and the heights which surround it.

The Allies lost over 50,000 men killed and wounded at Cassino, and more than 2,000 of the Commonwealth servicemen laid to rest here fell during these last efforts in May.

The capture of Monte Cassino opened the route to Rome, but German resistance would continue further north along the Gothic Line. Many of those who would fall in the battles to come are commemorated on the Cassino Memorial.

The site for Cassino War Cemetery was identified in January 1944 for use as a cemetery, but it was not until after the end of hostilities that it could be used. Today, it is the final resting place of nearly 4,300 Commonwealth servicemen, of whom some 300 remain unidentified. The majority fell in the first five months of 1944. At the heart of the cemetery is the Cassino Memorial, which commemorates by name some 4,000 Commonwealth servicemen who fought in Sicily and Italy and who have no known grave. Both the cemetery and memorial were designed by Louis de Soissons, who lost a son in action in 1941.