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The Battle for Monte Cassino - 70th Anniversary

(This programme replaces the advertised 'St Peters on Willis' which will be broadcast on June 1st.)

On the 18 May 1944, the battle for Monte Cassino was finally won when the Polish 2nd Corps dislodged the Germans from the mountain and the monastery. Janice Corbishley’s uncle Trevor Corbishley and Cheryl Coleman's father Snow Coleman were among the New Zealand force which joined the battle months earlier. Like so many other men returning to New Zealand following active service in the Second World War, Trevor Corbishley talked little with his family about what he had seen and experienced.

Cassino pan

Exhausted tank crews after 3 days fighting at Cassino railway station.    Remains of Cassino Railway station. (photos Jim Furness, 19th Armoured Battalion)

‘Any conversations we had, he was always jovial, he made jokes about things, he was quite a joker,’ says Janice, a mosaic artist based in Napier.

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Cassino town after the allied bombing of March 1944.         View of the town in 2012 taken from Monte Cassino. 

For Cheryl Coleman, whose father Snow Coleman served with the 19th New Zealand Armoured Regiment, the experience was similar.

Cassino Snow Coleman far right and crew before Cassino Battle

Snow Coleman (far right) and crew before the battle for Cassino.

The Battle for Monte Cassino, which both men fought in, was actually a series of four battles, in which the Allies tried to break through the German lines to seize Rome in 1944. New Zealand’s losses were horrendous, with over 300 killed and a further 1200 wounded.

Commonwealth War Cemetery at Cassino Kay de Lautour

Commonwealth War Cemetery at Cassino with the monastery in the background (courtesy Kay de Lautour)

And while both Trevor Corbishley and Snow Coleman came home, it’s not until after their respective deaths that their stories are being told by Janice and Cheryl. And it’s those stories that have motivated both women to collaborate on a unique artistic commemoration.

CassinoTrigger by mosaic artist Janice Corbishley

'Trigger' by mosaic artist Janice Corbishley, currently on display at the Legato exhibition in Cassino. (courtesy Janice Corbishley)

Over 100 artworks by 37 New Zealanders, including a piece by Janice, are currently on display at the Legato exhibition in Cassino. Spectrum marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle.

Close up detail of Trigger by mosaic artist Janice Corbishley

'Trigger' in detail.

View more pictures in our Monte Cassino gallery.