Posted 25 June 2012 - 06:37 PM
Finally, I have this from him (Pete speaks Italian extremely well and it is his translation). The memorial commemorates General Cascino.
From Cascino, Ciancio, Conti: eroici condottieri siciliani, Litterio Villari, date and publication details unknown
"Antonino Cascino was born in Piazza Armerina, Sicily, in 1862, the second of eleven children. After completing his military training in the north of Italy, he became an educator in various military schools, and published many articles on the subjects of ballistics and artillery.
He was promoted to colonel in April 1915, and soon took up command of artillery fighting in the Alpine area of Cadore. He was promoted to brigade general in April 1916, and was then involved with command of infantry instead of artillery. He took charge of a formation named ‘Avellino’, consisting of two infantry regiments, which was soon involved in combatting the Austrians in the area of Gorizia. Cascino’s troops succeeded in taking possession of the city of Gorizia, but had to suffer many counter-attacks which resulted in heavy losses in the succeeding period.
The following spring, Cascino’s forces were transferred to the area around Zagora, where their task was to attack the heavily defended mountains of Kuk and Vodice. It was during this period that Cascino issued, among many other communications to inspire his troops, the famous exhortation to his brigade to become an avalanche, but one that ‘miraculously climbs from the valley to the heights’. This famous statement is referred to in one of the inscriptions in the monument in Piazza Armerina: ‘Siate la valanga che sale’, ‘be the avalanche that climbs the hill.’
The action began on May 12, 1917, with the Italian troops under heavy bombardment and having to traverse difficult and well-defended terrain. Cascino himself received a wound in the right arm on the fifth day of the battle, but remained at his post. His regiments were engaged in a long and finally successful struggle to take control of the Vodice. Cascino’s exceptional rapport with his troops was, according to Villari, shown in a spontaneous celebration after the battle in which the soldiers carried him shoulder high, calling out ‘Viva Cascino, viva l’Italia, viva l’Avellino!’
Cascino was then put in command of a division, which by his insistence included the Avellino brigade, to attempt in August 1917 to conquer Monte Santo, a heavily armed Austrian position which had inflicted much damage on the Italian lines. Monte Santo was taken on August 24. A memorable occasion during this battle was the day when the celebrated conductor Arturo Toscanini, a friend and admirer of Cascino, directed the divisional band while the advancing soldiers sang the national anthem.
Battle was suspended on August 31, and Cascino moved his command post to a cave within 300 metres of the Austrian line, to observe the enemy positions and to remain close to his troops. On September 15, during one of his regular reconnaissance tours, Cascino was wounded by shrapnel in the right leg, and was for a time unable to receive proper medical attention. Finally able to reach divisional medical headquarters, and receiving treatment, he continued to work for further days on study of the enemy positions. His wound became infected and he was transferred to a hospital. He died of his wounds on September 29.
Cascino was awarded the gold medal of Valor Militare. After the war, his body was taken from Gorizia and was placed in the Pantheon in Palermo, capital of Sicily."