June 4, 1944

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Rome became the first Axis capitol to be captured by the Allies, when advance units of the 5th US Army entered the city limits.

On 4th June, a six-man patrol from the 3rd Platoon, 88th Reconnaissance Troop, entered Rome at 0730 hours on Highway 6. This patrol later was credited, officially, by Fifth Army as being the first Allied troop element to enter Rome. The 3rd Platoon had fought its way to within two miles of Rome. There it halted and the patrol was dispatched to reconnoiter the road ahead. Shortly before 0730 hours the lone jeep, moving forward cautiously, passed the “Roma” city limits sign and proceeded for about a kilometer and a half to a small railroad station from which point a Kraut machine gun opened up on the patrol. Sensing the immediate danger and because their orders called for it, the patrol retraced its route and Staff Sgt. John T. Reilley of Watervliet, N.Y., reported to his platoon leader that he’d been in Rome. Cpl. Cassie W. Kuemin of Detroit, Mich.; T-5 Roy T. Cutler of Moweaqua, Ill.; Pfc. John E. Cottrell of Rochester, N.Y.; Pfc. Matthew J. Fitzpatrick of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Pfc. Michael J. Regan of North Bellmore, Long Island, N.Y.; confirmed Reilley’s report and “da##ed the Kraut machine gun which had spoiled everything.”

Quoted from 88th Infantry Division history.

Meanwhile, off the coast of France, an immense fleet of ships was preparing for D-Day, the invasion of France, which was slated for the next day, June 5th. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower was forced to postpone the landing until June 6th. In the meantime, thousands upon thousands of troops sat on invasion vessels, seasick, scared, and wondering what the next few days would bring.

smokescreencargoship1950.jpgIn this Life magazine photograph a troop ship lays down a smokescreen for cover during the Allied invasion of Normandy, Operation Overlord.

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