A two-part documentary.
New Zealand veterans return to Italy where they fought 50 years ago.
The monastery bastion of Monte Cassino was the key to the German line -
the town of Cassino and the surrounding region were the scene of some of the most bitter fighting New Zealanders experienced in World War II.
In a two-part Spectrum documentary producer Jack Perkins travels with the old soldiers on their pilgrimage.
Part 1: The Māori Battalion marching song is sung by young Māori soldiers who have travelled with the 82 returning veterans. Many also had an ancestor who served at Cassino. Corporal Phillip Pakinga explains his grandfather was killed at Cassino and he will be looking for his grave, the first of his family to visit it.
A veteran says he had to put fear behind him in order to return. A veteran of the 21st Battalion says the land was solid rock, so foxholes could not be dug. He says he is looking forward to meeting former enemy German veterans, as is a former Polish officer who is also interviewed.
Alf Voss, who was an intelligence officer for the 21st Battalion recalls action at the Sangro River and the problem of fighting with civilians still living in the area. He explains how the New Zealanders protected the village of Arielli and saved many civilian lives.
An unidentified man talks about how his unit was living in the same ruined building as German troops. He recounts the death of a hardline Nazi officer.
Jim Moodie spent two years in a Sherman tank in Italy. He recalls being billetted with Italian families, who were very poor, with cattle living in the next room in winter.
At the rebuilt abbey of Monte Cassino they meet a former German parachute soldier who fought against Jim Moodie's tank unit, Karl Newedel of the 1st Parachute Regiment. He explains the monastery was never occupied until it had been bombed by the Allies - then the ruins were taken over by the Germans. He and Jim reminisce about the action of March 19 from both sides.
At a Cassino hotel, patrons sing for the New Zealanders who reply with a haka.
Part 2: At Commonwealth War Cemetery on the outskirts of Cassino township, 464 New Zealand headstones are the focus of the 82 veterans commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Cassino.
An unidentified member of the Māori Battalion talks about their action at the Cassino Railway station and how he realises now they never had any hope of scaling the mountain to reach the monastery.
An unnamed Māori woman of Maniapoto and Te Arawa descent from Mourea, the sister of Ros Rogers (65200), talks about her feelings at finding his grave. He was her oldest brother. Her younger brother Paul Rogers died at Alamein and she went to the pilgrimage there two years ago. (She appears in Spectrum 777 also. )
Actuality of women lamenting and the tangi at Māori Battalion graves. A woman speaks about the many Māori boys buried there, but says she is also weeping for all the dead New Zealanders. Wikitoria Wright from Ngāti Porou and a descendant of Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu V.C. is interviewed. She says she would like to see the dead repatriated to New Zealand.
A former New Zealand Army nurse Nora "Huckleberry" Finn talks about nursing the injured men from Cassino. It was so cold they had to operate on patients with the patients full-dressed. Conditions were very primitive. She talks about her feelings at visiting the cemetery.
A former German who now lives in Yorkshire is interviewed. He says the New Zealanders have been the most friendly towards German veterans.
A woman talks about her father's grave. He was G.K. Masters, an Australian who served with the NZDF. She hopes to find out about the circumstances of his death.
A Polish veteran is interviewed. His unit took Monte Cassino on May 12th after a terrible action on May 8th, in which only 36 out of 900 men survived.
A woman speaks at the grave of her brother C.L. Andrews, who was with the New Zealand Engineers. She says after 50 years her feelings are still raw. Two men talk about their feelings on coming back to Cassino - one from the Māori Battalion (probably Bunty Preece) says it has been 'bloody painful'. They both say they would join the peace movement if another war broke out. The other man was in the 23rd Battalion. Both say they would not have come but for their sons who encouraged them to come.
A German parachute division veteran "Rudolf" and a New Zealander "Bob", recall a truce in the fighting at Cassino, to get the wounded out. Rudolf who was only 18 at the time, met New Zealander Dr Alex Borrie then and kept in contact with him. Dr Borrie was not able to make the pilgrimage but told Bob to come and meet up with Rudolf. They both comment on their feelings towards each other after 50 years and ask why mankind never seems to learn from war.