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Monte Cassino: The Soldier's Story -

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(generated from captions) and temperatures from 0 to 21. After that - some showers on Tuesday, fine on Wednesday, but more showers after that. our top stories tonight - Before we go, a brief recap of Opposition claims the Federal Government has rejected in detention for long periods asylum seeker children will be held to process them offshore. under the Government's new policy others around the world And Canberra Christians have joined to celebrate Easter Sunday. the day with a candlelit vigil In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI marked at the Vatican. And that's the news for now. goodnight. Thanks for your company, International Pty Ltd Captioning and Subtitling Closed Captions provided by This program is not subtitled and one German, arrive in Italy. MAN: Two army units, one British face to face They are to fight each other and most controversial battles in one of the biggest of the Second World War. to get away from there. We were all glad the same anymore after that. The whole division was never the best thing in life - our youth. TRANSLATION: We were robbed of That's what we lost.

GUNFIRE of that fight, These are some of the true stories told by the men of both sides this extraordinary 5-month conflict. who took part in GRIM MUSIC Described as "an act of insanity", the Battle of Monte Cassino. it became known as BREATHING ECHOES in the Allies' favour, By 1944, the war has begun to turn and Germany is now on the defensive. south of Rome, In the town of Cassino, enjoy a drink of schnapps, German paratroopers unaware of what's about to hit them. in reinforced cellars They're holed up that crosses Italy. as part of the gigantic Gustav Line For over two months,

this defensive line. the Allies have been unable to break Now, they're to resort to on the Germans in the town. a massive air attack It's a desperate move.

the aeroplanes. TRANSLATION: We could see like a chain, They came nicely lined up one squadron after the other, glinting in the sunlight. and you could see the bombs falling. You could see the bomb hatches open, GRIM MUSIC drop 1,000 tonnes of bombs on Cassino For over three hours, Allied bombers and the German paratroopers inside - for every soldier. around 5 tonnes of explosive EXPLOSIONS RESOUND (Man speaks in German) TRANSLATION: We sat in the cellar. a deathly silence. Funnily enough, there was Nobody said a word. that the roof wouldn't collapse We thought hopefully and about what would happen after. We knew that, of course, for an attack to follow. this was the preparation SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC EXPLOSIONS RESOUND the town to a mass of craters, In reality, the bombing reduced the German paratroopers to defend. making it easier for the Allies But this was not the first time bomb their way to Rome. had attempted to they'd initiated Only four weeks earlier, of the whole war. one of the most controversial acts GRIM MUSIC was the town of Cassino The battlefield and the hills that tower above it.

the bombing of the town, A month before the focus of the conflict - one hill had become that dominates the area. Monte Cassino, the 1,700ft mountain

by the mountain The Allies had become fixated that crowns the summit. and the Benedictine monastery the foremost monastery in Europe... This imposing complex was in a very difficult position. ..but it found itself the main road to Rome. It also overlooked Surrounded by a network and machine-gun nests, of minefields, bunkers in the German Gustav Line, this was the most crucial point

100 miles across Italy. extending through the mountains

German defences, Frustrated by the strength of these a simple, but devastating, solution. the Allies have resorted to They are to completely destroy it. the heavily fortified monastery They believe may be being used by German troops. It isn't. This is the start of Allied leadership in the war. of probably the worst point over 250 bombers unload For four hours, of bombs one of the biggest concentration a single target. ever to be dropped on of the monastery. I watched the bombing It was very impressive the overused word 'awesome'. and, I think, justified It really was. EXPLOSIONS RESOUND

But, like the bombing in the town, is a spectacular disaster. the destruction of the monastery the ruins, German troops quickly occupy is turned into a fortress. and the monastery

GRIM MUSIC (Man speaks in German) was at its end. TRANSLATION: I felt the world all the more determined. I think the destruction made us We now felt we had to defend here we ever thought previously. more than soften up the positions Both bombings were meant to to make them easier to attack. Both did the opposite. have little idea of the terrain, It seems as if the Allied commanders

of the German defences. or the strength monastery or attack it from the rear Previous attempts to go around the had failed. they're going to try Now, short of new ideas, German position head on. to take the most strongly defended GRIM MUSIC the town of Cassino Allied forces in Italy have bombed and the monastery above. to break the German defences there They've been trying for over two months and move north towards Rome, have proved too strong. but the German positions fresh troops. Now, both sides have sent in TENSE MUSIC that will make the next attack Among the multinational force is the 1st/4th Essex Battalion. They were real steadfast comrades. and helped one another. They all kept together They were very, very good pals. one of those chaps, it hit you. And when you lost EXPLOSIONS RESOUND LOW-LEVEL CONVERSATION Dying for a cuppa. Comfortable over there, eh, Sarge? SHELL WHISTLES EXPLOSION Unlike many other fighting units, most of the men of the Essex battalion had signed up well before the war began. Well, they were a remarkable lot of chaps. They were all volunteers.

They were largely Eastenders, from London. Five-star all the way, eh? There was B Company - they were called swedes, swede bashers. They were rural people and fishermen and longshoreman. There was tremendous comradeship. GRIM MUSIC Having served together for at least five years, the Essex battalion, now settled in rock shelters near the town,

had become one of the most seasoned fighting units in the British army, but they had never been in such a difficult position as this before. We kept on hearing about this place called Cassino. We thought, "Ooh, little village. Never heard of it," you know.

And we thought, "Oh, we should soon take that." When we saw what was in front of us, we thought that would be a hopeless task. Facing them in the ruins and in the hills were some of the toughest and most respected fighting men in the German army. Widely regarded as Germany's elite corps, the paratroopers had taken over the job of holding the Gustav Line at all costs. (Man speaks in German)

TRANSLATION: When I came to the paras, I saw what sort of men they were. They didn't give way.

They didn't waver. Where they were put, they stood. They had an incredible attitude - cold-blooded. TRANSLATION: I would have been drafted anyway, so I volunteered for the paratroopers. I didn't want to end up in a unit with married people or older people where they say, "You do the shooting, I'll go and get the food." The paratroopers were all volunteers,

and you were proud to wear the paratroopers' badge. EXPLOSIONS RESOUND

TRANSLATION: Before I joined the paratroopers, I sat in a train with two infantry soldiers who had fought in Russia. One of them said to me, "You want to join the paratroopers? "Have you already killed your father and your mother?" (Laughs) This is what people thought about the paratroopers. REFLECTIVE MUSIC Early 1944 is a crucial time in the war for both sides. Germany has lost North Africa, and the campaign against Russia is collapsing. The US has joined the war in Europe, and the Allies are planning the attack in France that will soon be known as 'D-day'. Meanwhile, Churchill has persuaded a reluctant America to take part in an attack up through Italy, what he described as "the soft underbelly of Europe". It's anything but, and the Americans now believe they've been duped by the British into a hellish sideshow. As Italy surrendered, Germany quickly occupied and reinforced the country against the Allies,

and the Gustav Line is proving to be their most effective defensive position - the line the Allies cannot cross. Both sides know that a much bigger Allied attack is brewing in northern Europe, and the outcome of this battle could have far-reaching consequences. Hitler hoped that a successful defence in Italy would mean that the Allies would think twice about D-day. For the Allies, this is the biggest combined attack they've mounted so far, and their greatest test. GRIM MUSIC The German command structure was simple. Their task - to hold the line. In contrast, the Allies had a complex multinational chain of command, with over a dozen different nations involved and much disagreement.

Now, it was the turn of the New Zealanders to lead the next offensive, together with Indian and British troops. The plan is for the New Zealanders to attack the town, and an Indian brigade, led by the 1st/4th Essex,

to move up to the castle overlooking it. From there, they would start their assault on the mountain - first to Hangman's Hill, then on to the monastery. TENSE MUSIC The task of attacking the ruined monastery head on up the steep mountainside filled some of the men with dread. We were told what was going to happen, and I remember Major Beasley saying it's going to be a frontal attack. Well, I just remember laughing at that and saying, "Frontal attack?!" And I thought he was joking. GUNFIRE AND EXPLOSIONS RESOUND He said, "Nobody would be stupid enough to make a frontal attack. "That's where we will surprise the enemy." GRIM MUSIC Despite many misgivings, the plan goes ahead. The Essex battalion clambers up the steep, craggy slope towards their start point at the castle. But they're also under enemy fire, and the climb becomes deadly. We were going up side of that Castle Hill, and pitch-black, and there'd be shelling and machine-gunning,

and it was going on. Slipping and sliding. Oh, it was horrendous, it was really horrendous. EXPLOSIONS RESOUND, GRIM MUSIC The New Zealand engineers, they'd put tapes for us to follow. Because of the shelling the tapes got blasted apart, and you followed a tape and then you suddenly come to nothing,

and you didn't know where the other end was, so you didn't know whether you were still facing in the same direction. It was nothing to lose, man, just through falling down over the rocks.

It happened time and time again. Men disappeared in the total dark. It was so sheer down over the side. EXPLOSIONS RESOUND, GRIM MUSIC I went up on my own to the castle to assure the New Zealanders that we were, indeed, coming and to make sure I could find how we were going to get into this place, because it wasn't a very sensible thing to arrive with your company straggled behind you and not quite know where the door is, you know. Almost six hours after they'd set off, the last of the Essex reached the castle, but it was a bad start as many had been lost on the climb. And the rest of the Indian brigade that were meant to follow the Essex fared even worse. Two companies have become hopelessly lost, a third is pinned down by German fire,

and a Gurkha company has simply disappeared into the dark. We got into the castle. There were, I think, half a dozen or so New Zealanders standing guard over about the same number of prisoners, and they said, "What's taken you so long, cobber?" (Laughs) We told them and they said, "Well, here's your castle. Don't lose it."

In the cold light of the next day, the effect of the bombing on the town is becoming all too clear. The New Zealand tanks have been slowed to a crawl

or stopped altogether by the craters. German paratroopers are defending every square inch of the ruined town, and the fighting is now ferocious, house to house, ruin to ruin. GRIM MUSIC CONTINUES (Klein speaks in German) TRANSLATION: When they attacked, you just used your machine guns, which you positioned on your hip, and then you stormed towards their positions or ran after them when they started to waver or tried to run back. It was a terrible business. The fighting in the town was extremely close. It wasn't uncommon for enemy troops to occupy the same ruined house, sometimes unaware of each other's presence. Prisoners were inevitable. (Klein speaks in German) TRANSLATION: The British were always astonished that we did not look different to them. This was the funniest thing about the whole situation. They said, "For heaven's sake, you've all got English faces." (Laughs) Of course. What were we supposed to look like? This was often the only time that men came face to face with their enemy. It exposed just how differently they saw their own situations. (Klein speaks in German) TRANSLATION: We had taken a British officer prisoner. On the next day, we talked about who would win the war. He was certain that the Allies were going to win, and this is when I said, "You're not going to get through our defences in France. "We are going to smash your ships to pieces - you'll see. "You're not even going to set one foot on land." Well, this is what I thought. In any case, he wanted to give me his address. He was somehow upset and almost offended when I did not accept it. Then I said, "What am I supposed to do with the address of an English prisoner "after we've won the war?"

After two days of fighting,

the Germans have now halted the attack on almost every front. They've worked out the Allies' plan. It's now increasingly clear that in this battle, one battered pile of stones is becoming more important than all the others. EXPLOSIONS RESOUND The Allies' weak point is the castle. It's the key to their attack on the closed door to Rome. SOMBRE MUSIC Almost the entire Allied attack is being funnelled through the castle, and if the Germans can take it back, then they will directly overlook the town

and hold the Allies' supply route. The attack on Monte Cassino will therefore be doomed. Despite their setbacks, the Allied commanders plan to renew the attack the next day. Surprisingly, one of the missing Indian companies had reappeared,

and some of the Gurkhas had made it through the night all the way to Hangman's Hill. That night, the four Essex companies holed up in and around the castle were ordered to move out and strengthen the attack.

The Essex men prepared to leave the castle and begin the attack on the hills above. How they were gonna get troops from Hangman's Hill to attack the monastery was the problem.

To attack them from Hangman's Hill, in my opinion, was gonna be a disaster. EXPLOSIONS RESOUND It was clear that for the Allies, everything depended on this one moment. But this was also the moment that the Germans were about to launch their counterattack. DISTANT GUNFIRE (Speaks in German) TRANSLATION: I think before the attack on Castle Hill, we all had something to eat, and everybody was given another bottle of schnapps. We didn't drink the entire bottle, but we had a good gulp, and the effect was that you felt a bit happier afterwards. It's like the saying, "A real hero is a drunk or an idiot." SOMBRE MUSIC Now, the first of the Essex companies are moving up towards Hangman's Hill and the monastery beyond. At the same time, paratroopers are carefully moving down the same slope to attack the castle. Neither is expecting to find the other in their path. We made our way forward to Hangman's Hill. I think we'd only gone about half an hour, and we heard voices. VOICES CHATTER INDISTINCTLY (Valentin speaks in German) TRANSLATION: It was a strange feeling, because we had to be as silent as possible

because on the other side of this ravine there was an Indian brigade, and if we made too much noise

we would have come under fire from them, and that would not have been good for us or for our mission, because that would have revealed that reinforcements were coming to the area. GRIM MUSIC Somebody fired, and that showed up the numbers that were coming down from Monastery Hill. We're firing, then I remember my rifle being jammed after about three rounds, and it jammed - I couldn't use it. And I thought, "I'll have to make my way somewhere else." It's still pitch-black, and as I came this grenade came over.

SOMBRE MUSIC That put paid to me. That's my finish with the 4th Essex.

The Allies had started a new attack on German defences at Monte Cassino in Italy.

But just as the Essex battalion led the move up the mountain, they were hit by a strong counterattack. Now the paratroopers fight on towards the castle, occupied by the rest of the Essex men. About half a dozen chaps came running back down the hill

and told us that the Germans were on their way to attack us. Pretty shortly afterwards,

considerable fire swept the area from various directions.

TRANSLATION: I was a machine-gunner, and I had my second gunner with me, who carried the ammunition, and we ran and fired. GUNFIRE (Frettlow speaks in German) We only heard machine guns and shooting and, of course, you could also hear screams and shouting, not just machine-gun fire. As the German counterattack continues towards the castle, many wounded are left behind in enemy territory. SOMBRE MUSIC Dawn started breaking. My left arm was in tatters, really, my leg and chin, and I was losing blood and feeling a bit faint. And I see the troops come down and make their way towards the castle. And I thought I daren't move. The best way is to act as a dead body.

It seemed to me ages that I was laying there, but I knew I had to have immediate treatment. I saw two German stretcher-bearers come along and asked for help. (Moans) The German stretcher-bearer tied a tourniquet in the arm and a splint on the leg and put a bandage round my chin. He done a good job.

GRIM MUSIC GUNFIRE At seven o'clock the paratroopers attack again, but this time the Indian brigade headquarters on the next hill is ready. The Germans run straight into a wall of machine-gun fire. MACHINE-GUN FIRE RATTLES

GRIM MUSIC TRANSLATION: A comrade of mine had his belly torn open by grenade fragments.

There was nothing to be done. We knew the only thing was for him to have morphine injections. We covered the wound with his jumpsuit and tightened his belt, because we could not bandage it up. He wanted to shoot himself, but his pistol did not work. It had also been hit by a grenade fragment. Otherwise, he would have shot himself. He tried to. Such things are not nice, but they happened, alas. It was war, and in war everything is possible. GRIM MUSIC, DISTANT GUNFIRE The attack subsides. The area around the castle is now littered with dead. But the men inside remain under siege. The German snipers were very, very good, and there was one who got a beeline through a crack in the wall, and he didn't miss many shots. He fired at one of the Bren gunners. He killed him.

Another man then came forward as a volunteer and said he'd take over. GRIM MUSIC CONTINUES And he too was shot. So, then there was a third man...

..who was, I should think, a countryman. He said he would man this position. And then he very, very gently moved across without moving his rifle, which would otherwise glitter, sometimes, if the light was like that. And he waited for the other sniper he was looking at to make the false move. MUSIC BUILDS MACHINE-GUN FIRE We don't know for sure, but after he'd fired the sniper never fired through anymore, so we can only assume that he got the sniper. He got the Military Medal for that. LOW-LEVEL CONVERSATION The Allies need to regain control of the area in front of the castle if the attack is to continue. The commanders send orders for the remaining men inside to move out and help. The men on the ground see the situation very differently. I felt this was a mistake because the castle was, without any doubt, the most important piece of ground in the battle at that time. So, I got on to battalion headquarters and put forward my views on this,

and they accepted that was the right thing to do. Major Beckett decided that he would use all the troops that were left

to make a strong ploy. SOMBRE MUSIC Later in the morning another attack is made on the castle, but now with little chance of success. The German assaults seem increasingly suicidal. Out of the 200 men who began the counterattack, only 40 now remain. TRANSLATION: We came as far as the lower hairpin bend, and there we encountered heavy fire from the ruins of the castle and realised that we could not reach the castle with so few men. The Essex are also in a bad state. Major Beckett is now the only officer left in the castle. One of our soldiers had been wounded outside the castle,

and I went out with a Red Cross flag. Nobody attempted to shoot me. When we got this chap back into the castle I stood up and, I suppose, somewhat theatrically, saluted the people up the hill, because that's, I suppose, a form of thankyou. GRIM MUSIC One of my memories is hearing chaps screaming and crying in agony outside of that castle, and no-one could get to 'em. That was...not a nice thing. The three attacks had caused an incredible body count. Now, in the middle of battle, two Germans are spotted

approaching the castle with a Red Cross flag. The two sides are to meet face to face. GRIM MUSIC Firing died down, and there was a bloody great German come up smoking a cigar, waving a flag. He come running up to the courtyard. "We want a truce to bury our dead," and so forth. He was a big chap and he had a cigar case. I can't remember whether he offered me one or not, but I certainly didn't accept it because I very seldom smoked cigars. They got so many wounded outside their own positions that they wanted to collect them in. Major Beckett, he got through to Italian headquarters. It was no more of a surprise than all the other surprises we'd had. Um... (Clears throat) It was not something I'd experienced before, but there were certainly a lot of bodies to be moved. SOMBRE MUSIC An armistice is arranged, and after days of intense and bloody warfare, a peace descends in the area around the castle. TRANSLATION: It took a while to get used to, without grenades and explosions. This was a real surprise, because we hadn't had that for days. We'd had uninterrupted firing, and the bangs were part of that. And it didn't matter what you was picking up, whether German, Indian, New Zealand or English, whatever - didn't matter. If it was a wounded person,

they picked them up and brought them back into the castle, and the Germans went back and they done the same in their own area. The Germans were very good. They were out there trying to get the casualties out same as we were. One jerry helped me a lot. He helped me... he could speak English, and he helped me put my stretcher up and we got them back inside the castle. TRANSLATION: Some of the stretcher-bearers were weak too. Sometimes they had to carry wounded over rocks and steep descents all roped up. They stopped where we were, put down the stretchers, and we exchanged cigarettes. MELANCHOLY MUSIC Cigarette? Cigarette. (Continues in German) TRANSLATION: I think that the war in the south

against the English and the American units was, I would say, not really hate. He was the enemy. Everyone had to do their duty. He was on his side of the front, we were on our side, and I think the suffering was the same. MELANCHOLY MUSIC CONTINUES Oi. Cigarette?

Danke. Thanks.

(Valentin continues in German) TRANSLATION: Because of the very strange situation in this part of the battlefield, we had, somehow, the feeling that they were like comrades,

because they went through the same things. Part of the whole curious experience of being in combat was you could have an intimate relationship with your enemies under certain circumstances, and at another time you could quite cheerfully shoot them. It was a conundrum, because the human side kept coming through. GRIM MUSIC After a half-hour, it just stopped. There was a shell went over -

I think it was one of our 25-pounders, 'cause it started off again and we're back to square one till the end of it.

As the truce came to an abrupt end, both sides withdrew to their previous positions and back to the gory business at hand. GRIM MUSIC Against all odds, over 300 Gurkhas and 70 Essex men had made it to Hangman's Hill, but their ability to attack the monastery is hanging in the balance. They've been cut off by the German counterattack,

and are now suffering badly from the effects of shellfire and a lack of food, water, and ammunition. Agonisingly, the men who are now only 250 metres from the monastery cannot attack until they receive new supplies. You only went out there with the minimum rations, expecting everything to come up, as they thought, everything would follow on. Well, it never followed on. So, during that week they were dropping parachute food for, obviously, the Indians and the Gurkhas and us, but you had to risk your life to get out and get it. SOMBRE MUSIC And then a lot of the time, you found that what you DID retrieve was chapattis for the Indians... (Chuckles) ..which wasn't our type of food. We see these things coming down, and we thought... Well, I did - I thought they were bombs coming down, but they were containers with the supplies of food in. But there was hardly any of them fell in the Gurkha positions.

They nearly all fell in the German positions. SOMBRE MUSIC, GUNFIRE (Valentin speaks in German) TRANSLATION: It was a very difficult situation, because we became very hungry and thirsty. And since our supplies were less than plentiful, there was much effort to locate parachutes that had drifted off target. And I would say that we captured

a large proportion of the things that were dropped. Sleep, you were very short of. One would sleep and one would stay awake, but it was jolly difficult, and sometimes when tragedies occurred, both of them had been dozing and they were awakened when a grenade landed in their hole and finished them both off, and that did happen. TRANSLATION: There was no question of sleep. We slept a few minutes at a time, and always with your finger on the trigger. The slightest noise, you woke up again. The tension was always there. GRIM MUSIC On 20 March, it was clear that the frontal attack on the monastery was over. And in the town below, little progress was being made against the paratroopers. For the Germans, the crisis was over. They had correctly worked out that the castle was the weak point in the Allied plain,

and although they'd sacrificed almost an entire battalion of paratroopers trying to take it, and not succeeded, they had stopped the Allied attack. Was I pleased to hear, in the end, after I spoke to Major Beckett on the fifth day... I was saying, "We're getting in a bit of a state up here," I said.

So he said, "Well, between you and I," he said, "we are pulling out tonight." GRIM MUSIC

What remained of the 1st/4th Essex battalion made their way back down Castle Hill, the same precarious route they had struggled up five days earlier. We handed over the castle intact. We never lost it, and so we had achieved our mission in that sense. And when the New Zealanders said, "Now you've got it - make sure you don't lose it," we could say, "Well, we haven't." GRIM MUSIC Each company had gone up the hill with around 65 men.

Some now returned with just a handful. Of the 400 men who had hidden for days in foxholes and bomb craters on Hangman's Hill, just over half made it back. German losses were almost as bad. SOMBRE MUSIC The Battle of Monte Cassino was starting to take a place alongside some of the most notorious battles of the First World War. (Speaks in German) TRANSLATION: Once, while I was crawling around on the ground, I found a book, a German book. I read the text and it said, "There are two forces in the world. "One is the spirit and the other one is the sword. "But never has the sword prevailed over the spirit." GRIM MUSIC And I wiped away the dust on the book cover, and it said, 'The Battle of the Somme'.

The Gustav Line had held, for now, but the biggest battle was still to come. after I spoke to Major Beckett on the fifth day... For four months the Allies have tried, but failed, to smash the German defences at Monte Cassino. Now, they're to try again. SONG: # Besame Besame mucho... # The German paratroopers wait patiently for the next attack. (Klein speaks in German) TRANSLATION: We were always hoping for secret weapons, and we knew that we needed time and had to win time. This was agreed by everyone - we needed time. As all other fronts were failing, the defence of Monte Cassino

had now gained huge psychological significance for the Germans. 'BESAME MUCHO' CONTINUES (Klein speaks in German) TRANSLATION: We had a gramophone, but we had only two songs. One of the songs was called 'Besame Mucho'. We would continuously wind the gramophone up and play the record again and again. # Besame mucho... # Once, right at the beginning, we received heavy artillery because of the music, but it hardly damaged our quarters. Afterwards, we took the gramophone with us in the basement

and used it there. I think by then, even the enemy enjoyed the music. 'BESAME MUCHO' CONTINUES FAINTLY

May 11, 1944. The regular shelling has almost stopped, and an eerie silence has fallen over the valley and the hill of Monte Cassino. (Speaks in German) TRANSLATION: Everything was quiet. There was no artillery, no fire, nothing at all. You knew that something was about to happen.

You could practically feel it. The four exhausted German divisions defending the Gustav Line are completely unaware of the 13 divisions that have now been secretly built up against them. GRIM MUSIC (Speaks in German) TRANSLATION: Then suddenly, at 11pm, it was as if someone had put on all the lights. Everything was bright and we could see all the mountains towards Naples. By the morning, Allied and German troops were now engaged in a battle 23 miles wide. But, as before, the area around the monastery at Monte Cassino is the scene of the toughest fight.

After three days of fighting, 1,500 paratroopers are still holding the ground around the monastery against tens of thousands of Polish troops. But during the evening of May 16, it becomes clear to the German command that Allied successes elsewhere on the line mean the monastery will soon be surrounded. The order is given for the paratroopers to withdraw. (Speaks in German) TRANSLATION: "There can't be. We can't withdraw. "Withdrawal? That's a sign of weakness. "We have to stand here against the enemy." A withdrawal? That was like a lost battle. Despite the paratroopers' reluctance, the monastery is abandoned. 4,000 Poles have become casualties in their bid to take Monte Cassino, but when the attackers reach the summit, they find only wounded men. (Frettlow speaks in German) TRANSLATION: We didn't know at first who entered the monastery. All of them had the same uniforms. When they entered, we figured out that they were Poles and, naturally, we were not too pleased about that. We thought that they may want to take revenge on us. However, we talked with them and they treated us quite well. GRIM MUSIC Rome is liberated. The Gustav Line is broken and the Battle of Monte Cassino is over. But it now seems a hollow victory. The American 5th Army has defied orders to cut off the retreating Germans

and, instead, sent troops into the undefended streets of Rome, fearing that the British might get there first. Mistrust in the coalition is still rife, and only one day after these pictures were taken, the Allies landed in Normandy. SOMBRE MUSIC The eventual success at Monte Cassino was completely overshadowed by D-day. The terrible campaign in Italy was almost forgotten. We went back in late May after the Poles had taken it.

We were offered whoever wanted to go back to Hangman's Hill to find your own comrades, because no-one knew, no-one knew who was killed, whether they'd been taken prisoner. I mean, on both sides, the Germans OR us. No-one knew who was what. I think we had to cut lots for it, 'cause they couldn't take too many. But I went back up over there again onto Hangman's Hill, and they were there, lying there, rotting away still. That's what I sort of always think - poor men, rotting away. It's terrible. SOMBRE MUSIC The Battle of Monte Cassino was one of the worst of the war. At times, losses were similar in scale to the battles of Stalingrad and the First World War. Lessons must have been learnt from the mistakes made here,

but it was at a high cost. TRANSLATION: If you ARE going to attack, you have to approach it differently, not simply running into the mountain. Even a handful of men could defend these positions. And when there were paratroopers - soldiers with experience in hand-to-hand fighting in the mountains - then it was impossible to break through. We never understood their strategy. It was simply insane. MELANCHOLY MUSIC We must have lost more than... ..three-quarters of the company, really, by the end. TRANSLATION: The Battle of Cassino changed me. We went through things that, in the normal way, no human being can go through or has to go through, thank God, and you can't just cast off something like that, like taking off clothes or changing a shirt. It stays with you, somehow. You went back to the little place where you started from.

You'd get there and look round - I had to come out. It was a bad time. MELANCHOLY MUSIC

After we got back there and sorted ourselves out and collected up as many people as you could, and realised just how many casualties you'd had... ..we were all glad to get away from there. MUSIC SWELLS Closed Captions provided by Captioning and Subtitling International Pty Ltd

This program is not subtitled This program is captioned live.

Good evening. Joe O'Brien with ABC News. The Federal Opposition claims

the Government's new policy on asylum seekers will lead to children being held in detention centres for long periods.

Sparked by Indonesian anger

over the granting of temporary protection visas to 42 Papuans, in future, all asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by sea will be sent to offshore centres, while their claims are processed. Under John Howard's proposal,

children in detention can happen again. We can see indefinite detention back, case-managemental health care can be out the window, the oversight of the Ombudsman finishes. But a spokesman for the Immigration Minister says asylum seekers who are moved to offshore facilities at Nauru are only required to be inside the centre at night. In Hobart, Risdon Prison inmates have taken control of part of the jail. Just after 10:00 this morning, a prisoner overpowered a guard and stole some keys. The Government says the guard escaped unhurt but 28 inmates from the division took control of an accommodation unit. The Director of Corrective Services says those men are confined to one area and the rest of Risdon is locked down. Officials say there's been no violence and there are no hostages. Pope Benedict XVI ushered in Easter Sunday with a candlelight vigil at the Vatican. Celebrating his first Easter as pontiff, he called on catholics to end violence and corruption. Pope Benedict said the resurrection of Jesus still carries a message of hope to Christians. Pilgrims also took part in an Easter vigil at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which is built above a cave believed to have been the birthplace of Jesus. There's been an increase in violence in Iraq, with a series of bombings in the capital. In the latest incident four people died and seven injured when a car bomb exploded near a mosque in Baghdad. Earlier, four people were killed when a car bomb went off near a restaurant used by Iraqi police. The attacks are part of a wave of bombings against Shi'ite targets in Baghdad.

Two former US national security experts have warned

that military action against Iran could be more damaging to the US than the current struggle in Iraq. Richard Clarke and Steven Simon,

who coordinated counter-terrorism policy in the Clinton and Bush administrations,

say any bombing campaign will lead to Iran using its terrorist network to strike targets inside the United States. Police in Brisbane are investigating claims chocolate Easter eggs laced with drugs caused the death of a man at a rave party overnight.

Ambulance officers were called to the rave at the Brisbane Showgrounds early this morning after a 25-year-old man collapsed. They treated him at the scene, but he died in hospital a short time later. Witnesses say they saw the man convulsing after eating Easter eggs. Someone was giving out these dodgy looking Easter eggs... And some guy actually overdosed, yeah, overdosed ..and he was like getting resuscitated and everything in one of the side rooms. Police later seized a bag of Easter eggs. They say the chocolates are yet to be tested, but do not appear to have been tampered with. You may not know the name, but she was the author of one of the silver screen's best-loved characters. The British writer, Dame Muriel Spark, has died in Italy. She was 88. Muriel Spark penned more than 20 novels including 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'. "Dedicated to books." That's how Dame Muriel Spark once described her life. She wrote poetry, biographies and more than 20 novels the most famous of which was memorably adapted for the screen. I fell deeply in love with you in the last year of the war but he fell on Flander's Field -

Helen McFee, are you thinking of doing a day's washing? No, Ms Brodie.

You have your sleeves rolled up. Roll them down at once. I won't have to do with girls who roll up the sleeves of their blouses. Like so much of Dame Muriel's work, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' was short, subversive and sardonic.

Although Dame Muriel was born in Edinborough she spent most of her life living in Italy, after becoming a Catholic. Dame Muriel continued to write every day, always in long-hand and never using a pen anyone else had touched. Now, the weather in the capital cities tomorrow - Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra - fine. Melbourne - increasing cloud and wind. Hobart - mostly sunny. Adelaide, Perth and Darwin - rain developing. That's all from the ABC newsroom this evening. Have a great night.