The sacrifices made at the Battle of Monte Cassino should never be forgotten, according to a Polish Second World War veteran who has written a memoir of his experiences of the crucial Allied victory.
Melksham resident Valek Jaworski served as a lancer in the Polish Army during the battle, which saw Allied troops overturn a key Nazi stronghold on their road to liberate Rome.
Over 123 days troops from Poland, the USA, France, the UK and Commonweath fought to break through the German defences beneath the historic Monte Cassino Abbey, finally succeeding on May 18, 1944.
Mr Jaworski was just 16 at the time, and has written an account of his experience from the point of view of Benito, a nine-week-old puppy taken in by the Polish troops.
He said: “It’s not just about me, but about the regiment and the Polish air force and army.
“We took Benito on after his mother was killed by a mine, but when the battle ended we had to leave him there.
“He wasn’t on his own because there were engineers coming to remove the mines. They took over the places where we stayed, and after the war I had a letter from them saying he had grown up.”
Last Sunday, Prince Harry visited the Polish memorial at Monte Cassino to mark the 70th anniversary of the battle’s end.
Copies of Mr Jaworski’s memoir, which include photographs of his time in Italy and detailed accounts of the battle put together over four years of research, have been passed on to his two children and 10 grandchildren. It has also been donated to the Sikorski Museum at the Polish Institute in London.
He said: “A week after we took the abbey King George VI came to visit us to say thank you, and I took part in that presentation, so it’s nice to know the royals are still marking it.
“I am very pleased we did what we did, because of my grandchildren. If we hadn’t won the war I would never have got married or had them.
“This is what the fighting was all about; a future for our children and our grandchildren.
“I think people should remember those that are still there on the hills; a quarter of a million men died in that battle, and lots are buried there.
“I think they should know that we did our best to get that evil out of Europe.”