The Polish War Cemetery at Monte Cassino

W

ork on the construction of the cemetery began in 1944, shortly after the end of hostilities, and was finished in 1946. The official consecration, however, took place on 1 September 1945 during a multi-faith celebration conducted according to the rites of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Jewish faiths, and was attended by representatives of the Polish Government-in-Exile and of Allied Command.

Located on a flat area of what was then known as "Death Valley", between the monastery and Hill 593, the Polish war cemetery is the final resting place of 1,072 Polish soldiers who died during the Battle of Monte Cassino. Chaplain General Józef Gawlina, participant in the Monte Cassino assault, was buried here on 8 April 1965, and the ashes of Gen. Władysław Anders, Commander of the 2nd Polish Corps, were brought from London, where he had lived in exile, and were interred here on 18 May 1970; the ashes of the General's wife, Renata Anders, were also laid to rest here on 21 May 2011.

 

 

 

 

Designed by architects Wacław Hryniewicz and Jerzy Skolimowski, the cemetery was built by soldiers of the 2nd Polish Corps, with the aid of Italian monumental masons, under the supervision of Tadeusz Muszyński. The sculptures are the work of architect and sculptor, Michał Paszyn, and include: the eternal flame torch, the bronze eagles on the upper altar, the laurel wreath and the White Eagle bas-relief overlooking the cemetery. An Italian – Professor Cambelotti – is the author of the two hussar eagles, symbols of the two arms of the 2nd Corps, mounted on pediments at the gate to the cemetery.
In order to construct the cemetery, the ground – pock-marked by bomb craters – had to be levelled and 20,000 cubic metres of earth physically moved. Retaining walls, some of which reached as much as 5 metres in height, had to be constructed, and some 12,000 rocks were excavated and dressed.
Restoration work to the cemetery was carried out for the first time in 1962 on the initiative of the Polish émigré community.
Today, the cemetery is under the care of the Council for the Protection of Memorial Sites of Struggle and Martyrdom (Rada Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa).

1 september 1945
Consecration of cemetery
 
 
 
historia-mc-mini
"PASSER-BY, TELL POLAND THAT WE FELL TRUE TO HER SERVICE"