Bombing of Cassino painting

Bombing of Cassino painting

Bombing of Cassino Monastery and town by Peter McIntyre, New Zealand's official war artist in the Mediterranean during the Second World War, depicts a scene during the Battle of Cassino, part of the Italian Campaign. McIntyre was attached to the 2nd New Zealand Division during the war, and his work helped define the New Zealand soldier's experience in Crete, North Africa and Italy

From mid January 1944, the New Zealand Corps readied itself for an attack on Cassino  a strong point on the Germans' defensive Gustav Line, and a major obstacle on the route to Rome. Worried that the Benedictine monastery on the hill above Cassino would be used as a lookout by the Germans, the Corps' commander Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Freyberg ordered its destruction. On the morning of 15 February 1944, 255 aircraft dropped a total of 576 tons of high explosive on or near the monastery.

Painted in May 1944, months after the event, the perspective of McIntyre's painting gives a sense of the magnitude of the bombings. The monastery is positioned on the top of the hill, obscured by black smoke. In the centre of the painting is Castle Hill. Below them are the ruins of the town of Cassino, shattered by weeks of artillery bombardment. One month later, on 15 March, the town itself was destroyed by another major aerial bombardment. 

Discover more works from the official war art collection on Archives New Zealand's War Art Online site.

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