After our tour of the grounds of the Tobacco Factory, we moved South, following the route of the German counterattack columns to the "Burned Bridge."
|The effect of German and American shells on the Tobacco Factory. Heavy German resistance prevented the plannned link up of U.S. and British forces. In the middle of the two sectors, a gap formed. Most fortunate for the Allies, only our commanders knew that the center of the beachhead was undefended. Had the German Army known... the prospect is frightful. The 45th Infantry Division was sent in to fill the gap which centered around the Tobacco Factory. Dad's friend Bill Harr was with them, covering their action for Stars and Stripes. The 45th fought three vicious battles around the Tobacco Factory, advancing, being beaten back and advancing once again until suficient men and equipment were put ashore over the Salerno beaches to force the Germans to retreat to their next line of defense - the Volturno River.|
|The Burned Bridge looking North toward Persano and the Tobacco Factory. On 13 September, the counterattack was at its height. On the left flank of the American sector, 45th Infantry was pushed South, through the Tobacco Factory to positions near Highway 18. On the right flank, the 36th was mauled in heavy actions in the foothills of Monte Soprano. The Germans found a weak spot in our lines at Persano and exploited it by sending a Panzer column south toward the "Burned Bridge" which spanned the Calore River.|
|The Calore, here at the Burned Bridge, was just enough of an obstacle to armor and infantry to make a defense possible - but only if some unit could be found to cover the ford at the Burned Bridge.|
|Standing on the burned bridge, we face the road on which the 15 tanks of the Panzer column were advancing toward this position. If they couldn't be stopped here, no natural or man made obstacle lay between them and the beaches of Salerno. No infantry force was in the area to face them, but a short distance away, two American Field Artillery battalions were in position supporting the infantry.|
|The ridgeline just South of the Burned Bridge. Rapidly, the 158th and 189th Field Artillery Battaliions took up positions on this ridgeline to face the Panzer force. Every possible man was stripped from the gun crews and positioned along the ridge. Along with a few scattered infantrymen who showed up, the Division Band and clerks from the Headquarters Company were handed rifles and machine guns and instantly "transferred" to the Infantry. The Battalion's 37MM anti-tank guns were also emplaced on the ridge to make a stand against the advancing enemy tanks.|
|Our tour van is parked at the foot of the ridge where this hastily-gathered force held and saved the Salerno beachhead. Over 3,000 rounds at the rate of 8 rounds per minute blasted the enemy tanks and stopped every attack. The artillerymen held this ford as well as other critical positions on the line until nightfall when the enemy abandoned the attack.|