Visiting a war cemetery isn’t a fun occasion.

But it can be moving and a cause for reflection – and, as such, these cemeteries are usually a worthwhile destination for travellers.

This is certainly the case with the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery, on the western outskirts of Cassino, Italy.

Located in Frosinone Province, about 139 kilometres or 86 miles south-east of Rome, the cemetery is a burial place of hundreds of Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, British, Indian, Gurkha and South African casualties of World War II.

The Cassino cemetery also contains a memorial to commemorate more than 4,000 Commonwealth servicemen who took part in the Italian campaign and whose graves are not known.[1][2]

Cassino was the scene of some the fiercest fighting of the Italian campaign of the Second World War and most of those buried in the cemetery died in various local battles, from January to May 1944.

One soldier memorialized on the cenotaph is Yeshwant Ghadge (1921–1944), who served in the 5th Mahratta Light Infantry in the British Indian Army. For gallantry, Ghadge was awarded the Victoria Cross.

There are other cemeteries in the area for American and Polish troops.


Operations in and around Cassino included the bombing of Monte Cassino, a historic hilltop abbey founded in AD 529 by Benedict of Nursia.

More than 11-hundred tons of high explosives and incendiary bombs were dropped on the great abbey on February 15, 1944, reducing the entire top of Monte Cassino to a smoking mass of rubble.

In keeping with its beautiful Italian surrounds, the Cassino cemetery was flawless condition when we visited, with manicured lawn and headstones well maintained.

Like all such sites, it is an important part of our heritage, yet a sobering reminder of the human toll of our conflicts. We are pleased that we visited.

Main photograph courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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