September — November 1943
On the 3rd September, 1943 the Allies invaded the Italian mainland, the invasion coinciding with an armistice made with the Italians who then re-entered the war on the Allied side. Allied objectives were to draw German troops from the Russian front and more particularly from France, where an offensive was planned for the following year. Progress through southern Italy was rapid despite stiff resistance, but by the end of October, the Allies were facing the German winter defensive position known as the Gustav Line, which stretched from the river Garigliano in the west to the Sangro in the east. By the 4th November, the Allied force that had fought its way up the Adriatic coast was preparing to attack the Sangro river positions. A bridgehead had been established by the 24th and by nightfall on the 30th November the whole ridge overlooking the river was in Allied hands.

2125522 Sapper Thomas Read
2120691 Sapper William Moxon

Corps of Royal Engineers
2nd Platoon, 256 Field Coy, 78th (Battleaxe) Division, 5th Corps, 8th Army
Killed in Action at the River Sangro — 7th November 1943

Place: Vasto/Casalbordino, Adriatic sector, Italy
256 Field Coy Royal Engineers, 2nd Platoon detachment with mine detectors to meet 55 Recce Regiment at Sinello Ford 6.00 am.

At 6.00 am on the morning of the 7th November, 1943, the RE detachment, which included Sappers Read and Moxon set off with men from ‘C’ Squadron, 56 Recce Regiment to clear a path through a minefield the Germans had laid at the side of a road they had blown up, creating a huge crater making it impossible for vehicles to use, thus halting the British advance in that sector.

Being covered by ‘C’ Squadron troopers, the sappers began the slow progress of clearing a path through the minefield. A path was cleared at a cost of 4 casualties. The recce party came under German heavy machine gun fire covering the road and minefield. The recce party took what cover they could find, returning fire immediately at the German position, eventually silencing the machine guns, forcing the Germans to retire and capturing one machine gun.

The recce party suffered 4 casualties; one trooper killed and wounded, two sappers killed - Sappers Tommy Read and William Moxon. The sappers were killed during the initial burst of German machine gun fire - They had jumped in to a trench to take cover and were both killed instantly by a booby-trapped mine in the trench. The ‘C’ Squadron trooper and the two RE Sappers were buried near to where they fell and remained in their isolated graves until being moved to the Sangro River War Cemetery in 1944 where the two Sappers now lay next to each other.

The above events is a summary from the War Diaries of 256 Field Coy RE and 55 Recce Rgt held at The National Archives, Kew, England, which I consulted in 1998 - Ronnie Cusworth.

Commune of Torino di Sangro, Province of Chieti, Abruzzo Region
The site of the cemetery was selected by the 5th Corps of 8th Army and into it were brought the graves of men who had died in the fierce fighting on the Adriatic sector of the front in November-December 1943.
The original grave marker when the Sangro River War Cemetery was created
The cemetery today

A Royal British Legion Pilgrimage To War Graves
Anzio - Cassino -
Minturno - Salerno - Sangro
Commonwealth War Cemeteries


May Cusworth, widow of Tommy — Visiting his grave for the first time
My mother had an inscription put on the bottom of Tommy's stone:
“I will always miss your lovely smile”

May & Ronnie Cusworth

Litherland & Ford Digital © Ronnie Cusworth 2002-2007