Campodimele During World War II
During WWII Campodimele had the misfortune of being located directly on the German GUSTAV Line. It was also strategically positioned and along the road connecting Itri and Pico that was an important communications and supply. During the Second World War the locals suffered greatly under the German occupation. 700 of the local people were deported and many fled the village and hid in the mountains. The area was also subjected to nine months of shelling and bombardment by the Allies, which destroyed the Monastery of Sant’Onofrio.
The Moroccan Goumiers of the French Expeditionary Corps
When the Allied Forces finally succeeded in taking Montecassino, the French Expeditionary Corps, who were skilled in mountain warfare, were chosen to outflank the Germans by climbing over the seemingly impassable terrain of the Aurunci Mountains. The knife wielding Moroccan Goumiers were well known for their ferocious fighting tactics. In encouragement, prior to the assault in May 1944, it is alleged that the French commander, General Juin, told his Moroccan troops: “For fifty hours you will be the absolute masters of what you will find behind the enemy. Nobody will punish you for what you will do, nobody will ask you what you get up to.”
Outside the town hall there is a plaque commemorating these tragic events and a bronze in high-relief representing a woman with child being threatened by a soldier of the Moroccan French Expeditionary Corps. and below,
Bronze plaque with the epigraph “To the women / of the Aurunci Mountains Ausoni and Lepini / victims / of the French Shipping Corps / 1944 / Campodimele 2008.”
The Book and Film La Ciociara or Two Women
The author Alberto Moravio spent time in Campodimele during this period, and took inspiration from these tragic times to write his novel La Ciociara. In 1960 a film version was released, entitled La Ciociara or Two Women. This was directed by Vittore De Sica and starred Sophia Lauren, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
“Piccolo comune situato sulla Linea Gustav, durante l’ultimo conflitto mondiale si trovò al centro degli opposti schieramenti, subendo ogni sorta di violenza da parte delle truppe tedesche e marocchine nonché devastanti bombardamenti da parte dell’esercito alleato, che causarono la morte di numerosi cittadini, la quasi totale distruzione dell’abitato e ingenti danni al patrimonio zootecnico e agrario. Nobile esempio di spririto di sacrificio ed elette virtù civiche. Campodimele (Lt), 1943-1945.“
“Small municipality located on the Gustav Line, during the last world war, it was at the center of the opposing camps, suffering all sorts of violence from the German and Moroccan troops as well as devastating shelling by the Allied army, which caused the death of many citizens , the almost total destruction of the inhabited area and extensive damage to the livestock and agricultural heritage. Noble example of a sacrifice and elected civic virtues. Campodimele (Lt), 1943-1945.”
Following the war many of the people of Campodimele decided to emigrate to start a new life and try to leave the bad memories behind. There had been a former wave of emigration in the early 1900’s. They travelled as far as Britain, Brazil and Canada. In Toronto there is a strong community of people who originated from Campodimele. The Campodimele Social Club was formed in that city.