Itri During The Second World War
During World War II Itri found itself under German occupation, situated on the edge of the fortified Gustav Line. The Via Appia and the road connecting Itri with Campodimele were important German supply lines. The Germans raided the local buildings and homes, terrorising the inhabitants and seizing their treasured possessions and farm animals. On the Sunday of the 12th December 1943 the town of Itri was subjected to numerous raids of aerial bombing. Many people found refuge sheltering in a mill owned by the Mancini family. Unfortunately the mill took a direct hit and consequently sixty Itrani lives were lost.
Many people were now forced to abandon what was left of their homes and flee to the surrounding hills and countryside to hide from the enemy and avoid German reprisals. The townsfolk lived in old barns, ruined farmhouses or caves, wherever they could find some meagre shelter from the cold of winter. Food supplies were very scarce and people went hungry.
Much of Itri was destroyed during the aerial and naval bombardments by the Allies and numerous lives were lost. The bombing was particularly intense on the days of the days between the 13th and 17th of May 1944 as the Allies gave an enormous push to break through the German Gustav line. Itri was finally liberated on the 19 May 1944 by American troops of the 88th Infantry Division, known as the Blue Devils. However by this time the beautiful historic town was virtually reduced to ruins. Before they left the Germans had taken the time to destroy the Viadottto Pontone 25 ponti between Formia and Itri, the local bridges, roads, railways and telephone lines.
In total Itri had endured 56 aerial and 14 naval bombardments.
The town of Itri has been awarded the Medaglia di Bronzo al Valor Civile. The inscription reads:
“Colpita da numerosi bombardamenti aerei e da dure rappresaglie nemiche, sopportava con animo fiero ed imapvido le immani distruzioni di molti suoi figli”.
(Struck by numerous air raids and harsh reprisals by the enemy, endured with a proud and fearless spirit the enormous destruction of many of its sons”)
The Bronze War Memorial in Piazza G. Marconi.
A Memorial to Domenico de Spagnolis who was a Second Lieutenant of the I-Arditi Parachute Battalion.
He was decorated with a Bronze Medal for military valour and two crosses of war. He later served as a mayor of Itri.