The Battle of Tavoleto – 30th August to 4th September, 1944.

The Battle of Tavoleto – 30th August to 4th September, 1944.

Following the invasion of Italy in 1943, Allied forces, including 2nd/7th Gurkha Rifles (2/7GR) of the 4th Indian Division, advanced north. Italy’s often mountainous terrain provided the German defenders with ample opportunity to slow down allied movement, as the German Field Marshal Kesselring sought to create a nigh-impregnable wall of defences in Southern Italy known as the ‘The Gothic Line’. 

The small Italian village of Tavoleto formed an important part of this defence, as its position, high on a mountain-top, with good observation points for all the surrounding area, allowed accurate and devastating artillery fire to be called down on any enemy forces. The task of capturing Tavoleto fell to 7th Gurkha Rifles. As with so many encounters in the Italian Campaign, the Gurkhas’ skill for taking steep and strongly held positions was felt to be required.

2nd/7th Gurkha Rifles arrived in the area of Tavoleto on August 30th, but initial attacks were pinned down by accurate enemy fire and so little headway was made. On the night of 2nd September 1944, 2/7GR (supported by the Cameron Highlanders) again launched their attack. A and C Companies of the Battalion faced fierce resistance from German troops, machine guns and mortars. Both suffered heavy casualties, however C Company managed to storm the town whilst A Company cut off a German retreat. The remainder of the battle involved brutal fighting, as Gurkha troops fought to clear Tavoleto house-by-house and street-by-street, including facing a German counter-attack on the morning of September 4th. Both Companies managed to hold the town until reinforced with tank support later that day, securing Tavoleto for the Allies.

On 30th August 2018 the Brigade of Gurkhas celebrated the formation of Gurkha Company (Tavoleto), named after this battle, in a formation parade at Warminster.

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