Christmas battle

Christmas battle


The Christmas battle on December 26, 1944

Vittorio Lino BIONDI



The Battle of Sommocolonia, starts at 00:00 on 26 December ’44.

It is the starting signal of the only important and “desperate” offensive operation, called “WINTERGEWITTER” – Temporal winter. The forces of the Axis have conceived in Albinea (RE), the first of December and is organized and conducted at the end of the 2nd World War on the Italian front, the western sector, subsector Serchio Valley.

In reality, the military operation is identified as best “Offensive Christmas” in Media Valle, especially for the Allies.

Gli autori sono:  il gen. Mario Carloni, Comandante la Divisione   “Monterosa” e il gen. Otto Fretter Pico  Comandante la “148° Divisione Tedesca” e diretto superiore di Carloni.
The authors are: Gen. Mario Carloni, the Division Commander “Monterosa” and Gen.Otto Fretter Pico Commander of the “148th Division of Germany” and direct superior of Carloni.

The transaction was originally more ambitious.

The offensive had as objectives also the Tyrrhenian coast and the entire Valley of the Serchio, but the German command, in view of the now chronic shortage of resources and the fact that actually in Berlin would not have approved more effort that withdrew resources from the front Europe, scaled back the same in view of the actual availability of aircraft (virtually nothing) and artillery needed to ensure the temporary superiority.

Berlin knew nothing of the plan.

Reworked in a more modest plan, December 16 began preparing.




Strategic: make a large attack in the Tyrrhenian sector, identified as weakness of the Allied, the strategic aim of inflicting a defeat on the enemy of great resonance, capable of a deep echo policy; have the ability to exploit a wide propaganda of success, as engaging enemy troops color, tying the allied forces, making them run by other sectors (to the east) to that threat, prevent the continuation of the transfer of allied forces from allied front in that of southern France on Aug. 15, 1944 (Operation Anvril / Dragoon).

Tactical: give greater depth to the defensive line, that kind in the sub-Serchio right, is too compressed; disrupt the organization of the American artillery and supplies; recover valuable material, documents and prisoners.


December 1944; the “position of strength” of the Axis troops (Gothic Line or Green Line) is a tactical alignment, partially fortified, that the Serchio Valley starts from the Pania della Croce, passing between the villages of Sassi, Eglio, Molazzana, Castelvecchio , rises the Hill of Monte San Quirico, Monte Ceneri, Blade, Mount Madonna della Stella, Monte Aviary, for obliquare along the crest of the watershed, Romecchio Monte, Monte Omo, Monte Rondinaio, to Abetone.

The Gothic Line (or Green line), also called Gotenstellung, was a “defensive line” built by the Germans in 1944, through the Organization Todt (military jobs with help of local civil militarized, 15,000 men) that stretched from Forte dei Marmi (River Versilia) passing through the Apennines, and ending in Rimini. Subsequently, it was realigned from Marina di Carrara in Ravenna.

It stretched for 320 km and had in places a depth of up to 30 km, sometimes fortified with minefields, barbed wire, anti-tank ditches and walls, sides of artillery and mortars, and machine guns emplacements.

In the Valley of Serchio near Borgo a Mozzano you can still see the massive wall tank through the valley at its narrowest point, Socciglia from the sports field of Diecimo, and some stations; actually there never fought; In fact, the Germans retreated even further north and chose to reinforce, being conducted along the alignment, Mount Pania, Vergemoli; Bridge Campia, Albian, Monte San Quirico, Lama, Aviary, and Romecchio Abetone;

The Gothic Line, the Allies held stationary for more than seven months, and will be “smashed” by the Allies (8 th Army UK) in the spring of ’45, at Bologna; his battles will result in over 75,000 deaths among 65,000 Germans and among the Allies. In the Tyrrhenian sector the Germans held their positions, alternating with the Republicans of Salò, until April of ’45 when the group ARMED surrender at Fornovo Taro (RE).


The cornerstone of Sommocolonia, small mountain village (710 m above sea level) on the Apennines north of Barga is then on the first defensive position allied with anti-personnel minefields that protect from direction North (area Lama), and from the forest of Mariola . Other minefields, or landmines are placed to defend the German positions.

The “no man’s land” strip not permanently occupied by any of the combatants, is a vast area that includes the towns of Albian and Castelvecchio; detached patrols occasionally attend these countries.

A small garrison is in Montebuono, another Renaio Bebbio Chisel. Allied troops are Catagnana, Nebbiana, Nebbianella.


Operational framework:


  • •Axis forces in attack :
  • •Group tactical combat -Kampfgruppe – (KG) “MITTENWALD” battalion “of high school alpine”, 51st Geb.Korps;
  • •Kampfgruppe Hochgreb.Jager 4th battalion of mountain
  • •Reinforcements for both “KG” to rates of Battalion. gunners Kesserling.
  • •Location: Lama, Monte Aviary, after an approach in two days of forced march at night, the base Abetone, St. Anna Pelago, Roots, Castiglione G., G. Castelnuovo, Fosciandora.


  • •Allied forces opposing:
  • •Sommocolonia: Defensive stronghold on 2 plt. Cp. F “Foxtrot” II^ Btg/366^ Rgt  e Cp. H “Hotel” II^ Btg/366^ Rgt with mortars, engine, Fire Observer e  1 plt. Btg self-patriots “ PIPPO”.
  • •Other defensive positions and outposts:
  • •Montebono, Bebbio, Scalpello, Pian Ceci : elements of 92 ^ Reconn. Group.

Catagnana, Ponte di Catagnana, Ronchino, plt. Cp “F” II^/336^.


Timeline of Events:


Day 23 begins the movement afoot night of German troops from the starting points of “Abetone” amounted to Fosciandora, Ceserana, Lupinaia and the morning of 26 in the area “BLADE” “Pradoscello” and “Monte Aviary”;


to 00:00 26 starts the movement for the attack; 3 German companies in line and a reserve of 4 ^ Hoch KG., A valid alpine battalion along with the battalion MITTENWAL high mountain school, which continues to the south.

At 05:00 the 3rd Company of the 4th Hoch frontally attacks the country; jumps on a minefield protective ally place shortly before the first cornerstone of Monticino, defended by the patriots of the XI ^ Zone; there are so many deaths among the Germans.

continuing fierce fighting in Sommocolonia with massive intervention of the US-Army Artillery, died here among others also the ten. J. FOX riding on whether its artillery fire in the vain hope of stopping the attackers. It will be decorated posthumously Dalò President Clinton with the highest honor the American value, the Medal of Hon.


At 1505 hours on 26, the Command of the US battalion II ^ / ^ 366 back … “only 17 men have come out Sommocolonia, lost 4 heavy machine guns and two mortars 81.


the next day there is a strong intervention of fighter P 47 “THUNDERBOLT” the twelfth ^ TAF- US AIR FORCE attacking and bombarding Sommocolonia and other countries in the Middle Valley and the Garfagnana, causing many casualties, especially among civilians; German troops meanwhile continue the chipping towards Barga Fornaci, Bridge all’Ania, which amounted to a few hours. Meanwhile two other columns of attack mixed Italo German (Alpine Division Monterosa and others) have limited attacked targets set further south (Fornaci, Gallicano) advancing very relatively.

December on 28 continues the American bombing of artillery; early in the morning German troops retreat neatly on the old entrenched positions.

he 8th Div. Indian moves to Barga, undisturbed.

On the night of Dec. 29 The vanguards of the 8th div. Indiana continue the forward movement and, accompanied by partisans of the XI ^, reoccupy Sommocolonia, displaced and destroyed and Renaio.

The December 30 The German troops attackers are moving towards the departure bases initial dell’Abetone. The face remains almost unchanged until 5 April of ’45. Strategic success is nonexistent, tactically very limited.



  • German forces:

Recorded estimated 46- 77 (Don Fredianelli).

  • Allied forces:

– 7 partisans;
– US 92^- 50/60 soldiers.

– dispersed: 30/35 US ARMY-  15/20 prisoners

  • civilians:                  7.


Total killed 130 people only Sommocolonia. (Estimated 150)


Damage suffered by the country:

  • • Destruction 70% country, entire band of 19 housing side Corsonna; acqueotto damage, power lines; ancient fortress demolition, destruction church San Frediano;
    • Large areas of cultivated and wooded impassable for mines and unexploded until 1950.
    The last plane unexploded bomb is found in 1985 in Rocca.


Documentary sources:

Sommocolonia la Battaglia di Natale (barganews)

Sommocolonia, 1944: la Battaglia di Natale che ritardò l’avanzata alleata

“La guerra a Barga” di Bruno SERENI, Ed. “Il giornale di Barga”  Barga 1968.

“LA LINEA GOTICA tra la Garfagnana e Massa Carrara”, vol I^. Ritter di Davide del Giudice e Riccardo Mori.

“VAL DI SERCHIO E VERSILIA LINEA GOTICA”. Fabrizio FEDERIGI. Supplemento di “VERSILIA OGGI” maggio 1979-  Querceta LU

“PER RICORDARE SOMMOCOLONIA”  edizioni “l’Ora di barga”


“LA GUERRA SULLA LINEA GOTICA OCCIDENTALE”. C. Fiaschi, ed. Lo Scarabeo Bologna 1999