The imagination and painstaking workmanship which have gone into the design
of German fortifications in Italy have been stressed in previous issues of
the Intelligence Bulletin. The following illustrations and text indicate
what a thorough and resourceful enemy the Allied forces in Italy have had to
combat. (Even the fortifications which were constructed by Italian Army engineers
reflect German influence.) Whether the enemy fortifications have been hasty or
deliberate, nearly all have been planned to take every advantage of the terrain
and to insure maximum effectiveness for the fire power to be employed.
An important, but little-discussed, aspect of the German defense has been the
enemy's shrewd use of natural camouflage to blend fortifications with the
surrounding terrain. Without neglecting the important factor of texture, the
Germans have paid a great deal of attention to color, as well. They have
capitalized especially on the presence of so much white and yellow-white in
the Italian landscape. These colors, incidentally, characterize most of the
houses, farm buildings, roads, and rocky stretches in the countries bordering
In an effort to block the routes to Naples, between the slope of Mt. Vesuvius
and the sea, the enemy constructed pillboxes and casemates to dominate the main
highway, the two railway lines, and the automobile highway (Autostrada). This
circular pillbox, covering a road intersection at Camaldoli di Torre, represents
a type of fortification widely used by the enemy. It has a subterranean entrance.
At Villa Literno six pillboxes and two casemates guarded a railway overpass. Each
ramp leading up to the overpass was protected by a pillbox and a casemate. Here, a
pillbox is seen in the foreground and a casemate in the background.
This pillbox was built to cover a road bend in Baia, south of Rome. The
blocks with which it is faced blend with the wall of the house behind it.
Adjoining a restaurant in Baia, a casemate was built to resemble an extension
of the restaurant building. The casemate has four ports close to the ground, and
was well situated to deliver antitank-gun fire. A detail of one end of the dummy
restaurant is shown here. A portion of the outer wall has been removed to show
the wall of the actual casemate.
The firing ports of this pillbox, which commands a narrow road between Baia Harbor
and Lake Fusaro, are protected by overhead ledges. Grass, wildflowers, and other
vegetation have been cultivated on the roof of the pillbox to provide natural camouflage.
On Mt. Rotondo, northeast of Cassino, the Germans prepared a concentration of at
least 25 machine-gun positions in a strategic area dominating a highway running
through an exposed valley. These positions were dug in the rocky hillside, were
well concealed with scrub growth, and, at 200 feet, were hard to distinguish with
the naked eye.
Figure 4. The positions on Mt. Rotondo were constructed with such care, and were
protected so strongly, that few were knocked out, although the area took a heavy
pounding. First, the Germans cut a rough compartment out of the soft rock, or, in
some instances, excavated an oval pit in a stretch of rocky earth. Heavy wooden
sills were used to frame the edges of the hole, and then two layers of heavy
timber (usually railway ties) were crisscrossed to roof the excavation. On top
of this the Germans placed a layer of rocks and concrete, and then a layer of
loose rocks. Tar paper was spread over the whole to provide waterproofing. Finally, a
camouflage topping of small rocks and olive branches was added. Four or five wooden
steps, heavily buttressed with sandbags, led down into the position. Most of
the positions had only one firing port, well protected by sandbags and camouflaged
This is a machine-gun position with most of its camouflage removed. Heavy
fighting and shelling took place in this area. Later, the positions served
as very useful shelters for Allied troops.
Two covered German machine-gun positions, undamaged even after the heavy
shelling which took place on Mt. Rotondo, appear in this photograph. That
they are so hard to detect (one is at the lower left, the other at the upper
right) is evidence of the success with which the camouflage blends with the
South of Mignano, two circular antiaircraft-gun positions, each with an
adjoining ammunition pit, were carefully built up with sandbags, stakes,
and woven branches. Each contained two ammunition bays, revetted and roofed
with boards and sandbags. This is one of the two positions.
This detail of one of the antiaircraft-gun positions south of Mignano shows the
ammunition bays and the interior wall.
Two antitank ditches ran within a few feet of the position shown in the two
preceding photographs. Underground personnel shelters had been dug deep in
the slope of the ditch, and small auxiliary entrances to these dugouts had
been prepared near the gun positions for hasty use in an emergency. One of
these auxiliary entrances is shown here.