Thursday, May 19, 2016
Alphonse Juin, a fine and courteous gentleman
Alphonse Pierre Juin (1888 –1967) was a Marshal of France. His great skills were exhibited during the Italian campaign as commander of the French Expeditionary Corps. His expertise in mountain warfare was crucial in breaking the Gustav Line, which had held up the Allied advance for six months.
Juin declared to his Goumiers (Moroccan soldiers in French service) before the battle: “For 50 hours you will be the absolute masters of what you will find beyond the enemy. Nobody will punish you for what you do, nobody will ask what you will get up to.”
After the fall of Monte Cassino on the night of May 19, 1944 the Free French forces turned loose the Goumiers upon the local population. Over 60,000 women were raped as the spoils of war. They were as old as 86 and as young as 11.
In his diary, Major General John P. Lucas, commander of the US VI Corps, noted that Juin "turned out to be not only a splendid soldier but a fine and courteous gentleman as well."