Liberation of San Giorgio


Today, 25th April, is celebrated as Liberation Day in Italy. San Giorgio’s liberation happened in August 1944.

San Giorgio lies between the Cesano and Metauro Rivers. On the 9th of August 1944 the Polish army began a two day battle which allowed the allies to each the Cesano valley. The German army withdrew to the mountain ridge between the Cesano and Metauro rivers.
The night between the 17th and 18th of august an offensive was launched by the Allies in order to take this defensive line and to weaken the German forces before the attack on the Gothic line. The plan had as its object the unhinging of the enemy’s defence in the Mondolfo/San Costanzo/ Cerasa/ Montemaggiore zone.
The battle lasted three days and led to the expulsion of various German defensive positions (Montecucco, San Giorgio di Pesaro, Piagge) and the conquest (22nd August) of the Metauro valley from Montemaggiore to Fossombrone.
The liberation of San Giorgio: Monday, 21 August 1944
(these paragraphs are taken from: I Paesi dell’Unione Roveresca nella Buffera della Guerra, 1939-1945, by Silvano Bracci, p.124-127)


In San Giorgio and outlying areas numerous German forces continued to resist. In his diary for the 20 August Don Paolucci (parish priest of San Giorgio) recalls how frenzied both Nazis and the population of the town were becoming. “Many German soldiers arrived in the town. Ten of them occupied the cellar of the parish house, armed with machine guns. The German artillery battery left the town. From one moment to the next we were waiting for the fight in the town. Great commotion.” From the priest’s house, that overlooks the town walls, the German soldiers were able to observe the street that runs under the wall and the valley which extends south east of the town. The Polish troops were firing grenades to drive out the enemy and so causing great damage to the civilian houses. The parish priest’s records that “from 1.00pm to 10.00pm there was intense and truly infernal shelling of the town and surrounding areas. The two churches badly damaged. No longer counting damaged houses. Another 2 dead and some wounded.” The 2 very young victims were Gina Sabatini, 18 and Adriana Signoracci, 4. Angela Flamma recalls: “Sunday 20 August was a terrible day. The allies, knowing that there were many Germans in the town, placed themselves in the hills at “the Sacramento” (to the south of the town) from where they had a panoramic view of the town centre and they began to target it with cannon shot. They say that between that day and the Monday they fired 5000 shells.”

Dawn, Monday 21st August. Don Paolucci’s diary: “The intense and fearful shelling of the town, particularly the walled town, continues. Another 3 dead. At 9.00am the news spreads that the allies (Polish) are about 1 kilometre away. Great agitation among the Germans who are preparing to defend the town with machine guns.”

Angela Flamma: “The evening before, the Germans wanted to take the horses that they had in the large wood store in the basement of our house. My mother Galliana, from the refuge under the “Bucci house”, had to go with them, blindly keeping close to the walls and touching the tails and flanks of the horses as it was dangerous even to light a match. Then some of the soldiers left. Before withdrawing and in order to slow down the arrival of the Americans, the Germans had mined the crossroads on the main road. The morning of the 21st August in the basement of Giusepppe Bucci, where many of us had taken refuge, a German soldier, armed with a machine gun, entered the room and this caused panic. The school mistress Rina Tamburini Bucci, more with gestures than words, encouraged him to find an escape route towards the “Church of the Crucifixion” which is in open country north of the town. From him and from others we had news of the arrival of the Polish troops.

Terzina Bartolucci Federici: “The Germans had by now left the area around our houses in the road from San Giorgio to Spicello. We noticed a stranger near-by who was walking and looking around: he was a Pole in civilian dress and unarmed. He had been sent ahead to scout the land. We told him that the Germans were no longer there and we brought him in and prepared him some food, but he wanted us to eat it first.

Again from the Diary of Don Paolucci: “At 12.00 the Poles are at crossroads. Strong and intense cannon fire from the Germans against this area” (note:in fact it was the Polish artillery that were firing from the East, trying to advance from the Adriatic/Mondolfo line).

Maria Droghini: “The allied bombardments had begun again against the German positions present in the town and surrounding areas. In the refuge where we were, under the house of Quinto Saudelli in front of the church of Santo Spirito, a male member of the Bellucci family arrived to find out where the Sartini family were. My mother offered to accompany him to the Castle and I, aged 11, crying and with a doll held tight to my chest, started to follow them up the steps, stopping in the middle of the street when I saw my mother and the man throw themselves to the ground near the wall at every sound of an explosion.

And here is the story of Quinto Sartini: “Family and evacuees, we were all in the vegetable patch behind our house on the castle to see the aircraft. Certainly a Cicogna reconnaissance aircraft had seen the group of people. At that moment Valentino Bellucci arrived telling us that the shrapnel had killed a cow and telling us that he had heard from others that the Poles had arrived at the crossroads Immediately afterwards we began to hear shots nearby and we all ran inside the house which at that moment was filled with a hail of gun fire and then rubble began to fall everywhere until suddenly the roof fell in. A bomb had opened a hole in the corner which the façade of the parish church makes with the wall. From the parochial house the Germans were firing along the short decline of the castle and onto the street where the Poles were arriving. The Poles had reacted, firing dum-dum bullets from an armoured vehicle in the direction of the German fire and so our house at the side of the church was hit. Among the evacuees were the relatives of the Bellucci who lived near Monte Porzio. The 19 year old Agostino Bellucci had been wounded in the chest. We put him on the ground; he asked for water and we were offering it to him when he coughed up blood and he died. We turned towards his mother, Adele Valentini, 55, who was sat on the floor with her back to the wall, her eyes wide open, and she seemed petrified. We went to comfort her and she fell into our arms, dead. A piece of shrapnel had hit her in the back of the neck.

Again from the diary of Don Paolucci: “At 4.00pm the Poles reached the town hall. By 8.00pm the Germans had fled climbing down ropes from the south west side of the castle walls. Others are dead.

Anna Maria Troiani Faccnda: the German soldiers who were trapped in the castle got down on ropes from the house of Teofilo Rossi, the last house to the right on the castle walls.

More detailed is the record of Angela Flamma who tells how the German rearguard troops continued to fire allowing the majority of the soldiers to escape: “The Poles did not come beyond the Piazza in front of the town hall and the Infant schools because of the German rifle and machine gun fire. From a barred side window of Arnoldo Bissoni’s house, almost in front of the Spirito Santo church, 4 Germans were firing on the Poles as they tried to advance. And here we must insert a memory of Anna Maria Faccenda: “a certain Loris, a butcher from Fano was hit as he was walking beside a Polish soldier.” In order to destroy the German position the Poles began to shell the Bissoni house that went on fire.

The Polish War Diary records: Finally early in the morning of august 21st the 15th battalion entered San Giorgio after the withdrawal of the enemy and put two companies in the town.

Angela Flamma continues: “It was hell. Many were dead, among these a Rovinelli from Fano. We saw a cart pass carrying bodies. In front of the Bucci house, a Polish soldier died. We buried him at the bottom of the strip of our land on the west side of the school building that descends towards the ditch.

Gordino Belogi adds: Loris Rovinelli was a fireman from Fano who had come to be with his family at San Giorgio. He came out of Amedio Cornacchini’s house indicating to a Polish soldier that the Germans had fled, but one of the Germans, still positioned behind a tree, killed him instantly.

The list of civilian casualties that day, besides those already mentioned, included Montesi Nazzareno,55, from Fano. The boys, Manna Giulio Cesare and Manna Gabriele, 11 and 4 years old respectively, also from Fano. Nello Ciaramicoli from San Giorgio, 16, who had found an unexploded bomb in front of his house. Maria Magini, 37, wife of Celso Isabettini, hit by shrapnel while trying to go cross a road.

Maria Droghini describes the subsequent events of that day: “The worst moments past, we went home and began to tidy the hall area as we couldn’t get to the first floor because of the fallen roof. And Anna Maria Faccenda adds:”all the houses were damaged except 2 in the Castello i.e. the priest’s house and my relatives the Troianis’ house.

The blacksmith Exechiele Moretti and his sons had hid their horse behind the Spirito Santo Church in order to avoid its requisition. But the poor beast was hit by shrapnel and died, as Giuseppe Moretti and his wife recalls.

The Priest Paolucci closed the chronicle for that day with these words. “They say that the shells launched against the town in the last two days were between 4 and 5 thousand. The parish church was hit by no less than 10 grenades. Likewise the Spirito Santo Church.”

Anna Maria Faccenda: “the Germans put us in great danger, having placed a pile of bombs in the street between our house and that of the neighbour’s i.e. at the beginning of via Tortolino (near the Sprito Santo Church) from where they were moving them towards the bridge of Tortolino. I should add that at the beginning the German soldiers were respectful to the families with whom they lodged. However they became more and more nervous and intractable. In our house they brought through the window mattresses and blankets that they had taken form the family of the baker “Adolfo Belogi”. While withdrawing some had even taken away the bedlinen from the house.

In this very precarious situation, says Anna Maria Faccenda, the generosity of the Polish and American troops was providential. They distributed tinned food, sugar, clothes, shoes in exchange for fresh food. On the other side the local authorities who had amassed wheat in the Spirito Santo Church, hiding it from the Germans, were able to distribute a wheat/maize mixture – 2 quintals (200 kilograms) per person.

We recall that among the Polish soldiers who arrived at San Giorgio was Jan Sadlowski who soon after married Giuseppina Sartini from the town.

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