Cornuda, now and then

The times of Cornuda’s liberation, 30 April 1945, are immortalized by some picture, kept in the Town Library of Cornuda, and by the Combat Film “The battle of Cornuda”. I added some pictures of Cornuda snapped on April 2005 in comparison with 1945.

The colour pictures shows different actual points of view of Cornuda following the route of the American advance on 30 April 1945.

The picture shows exactly, in the via 30 aprile 1945 street, an access in Villa Bettis, recognizable in the movie: some American GIs advance toward the town center.

This photo was taken in front of my house in via 30 aprile 1945 street. In the movie ”The battle of Cornuda” several American Sherman tanks can be seen shooting toward the town center with their main and secondary weapons. One can see the house on the right in the photo, actually hidden by a hedge. On the left one can see the contour of hill covered with cultivations where actually there are several buildings.

The photo shows the entrance of the actual Villa Gallina. In the Combat film are recognizable a  towed gun and a German Kubelwagen (German’s equivalent of an American jeep) that are burning. In the movie the rim of a spare wheel can be distinguished on the Kubelwagen’s bonnet. Also, the American troops advancing can be seen.

Via 30 April 1945 street, already in Piazza Marconi direction: on the right a house that has been hit by an American shot, fired from a tank.

Piazza Marconi square with a fountain on the left over the cross with the actual Via Zanini Street, (at right), Munari park, the church and the bell tower.

Luciano D’Andrea kindly provided these two pictures, showing a detail of Piazza Marconi: on the door at a residence entrance a bullet shot hole is visible.

An M-4 Sherman Tank, probably from the 752nd Tank Battalion, advances along the streets of Cornuda.

A German soldier lies on the ground, while American soldiers of the 88th division advance in town, supported by Sherman tanks, after overcoming the main town crossroad. On the background the bell tower and the archpriest church can be seen and on the left the wall that delimited villa Munari, actually Munari Park, is visible.

This is the original version of the picture, kept at the National Archives (NARA) in Washington D.C., kindly granted by Bob Holt.

A document that I recently collected is the official description of the preceding photo, written by the photographer Mulcahy, 196th signal and photo company, kept at the National Archives. It gives confirmation of the units shown in the picture and involved in the liberation of Cornuda, the 88th infantry division and the 752nd tank battalion.
This document has been provided by Bob Holt  and, togheter with other items, allowed to find out which Allied units had first entered in Cornuda.
Probably during the shot of this photo the fights in the afternoon of the 30 April were already decreased.

The two preceding photos show Cornuda shot by a similar perspective used in the old photograph. The balcony upwards at left and the floor and part of the sidewalk is intact.

I consider this photo the must representative of that moment. A column of german prisoners is escorted by american GI toward the main crossroad of the town, the column will continue its march along Via 30 Aprile toward Bassano.
At right two men are communicating a strong satisfaction for the finally reached freedom. The German soldiers don’t seem particularly demoralized, it seems that on the face of some of them there is a nodded smile, they perhaps feel relief for the end of the fight, at least they are alive and they won’t put to risk their life anymore.
The two American soldiers have a tired look instead, sad or worried. The war ended for the captured Germans and for the victorious partisan while their future is uncertain. Veterans know that it is easy to deceive themselves that “the war is going to end”, just to be left down by the prolonging of the war adn they know it is possible to die even at the last minute of the last day of war.
The partisans are already home, the germans are not so far away from their families, while thousand of kilometres and the ocean separate the Americans from their life left in the United States of America.

View of the main crossroad of Cornuda. Caffè Commercio, in front of which a column of German prisoners is marching, and the Bar Stella d’Oro, over the crossroad, are actually still there in Cornuda as shown in the new photos. At the back Piazza Marconi square.

This photo has been taken from the same position of the preceding shot. Many engineer and maintenance armored vehicles parked along the road. The area with trees in the background is Villa Munari, today transformed in Munari Park, looking nearly the same as in the past.

Italian partisan and American soldiers guard a group of German prisoners. Many lightly armored vehicles M-20, a variation of the M-8 Greyhound and supplied to the recognition detachment, can be seen. One of these vehicles will participate in the fightings in Cornuda during the night between 30 April and 1 May.

A military medic on a jeep, distinguished by the red cross on the helmet. The face is not clearly viewable but he could be Klaus Huebner, the medic of the 3rd battalion, 349th regiment, 88th division, witness of the fights in Cornuda and author of an important textbook of the Italian campaign.

Images from the photographic file in the Town Library, kindly granted by the Municipal District of Cornuda – Culture Councillorship.

made by Davide Bedin, 2018 - davide.bedin@gmail.com