About the Society

The Monte Cassino Society is dedicated to furthering an interest in the experiences of those from all Allied nations who took part in the Italian Campaign of World War II.

Our aims are to collect, document and preserve information about the veterans’ experiences and to encourage access to the accounts, memoirs, recollections and associated information about the campaign, in the hope that those experiences are remembered by future generations.

The Society was formed in 2005 by three daughters of veterans of the Italian Campaign and the Battles of Cassino: Rosalind Galloway, daughter of David Galloway who served in 2nd Battalion Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders; Judith Coote, whose father Gerald Soady served with 91st Light Anti Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery; and Suzanne Turk, daughter of William Turk who served with B Squadron 51st Battalion Royal Tank Regiment. The Society’s original Treasurer was Stan Pearson whose father, Sergeant John Pearson who served in 6th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, is buried in Cassino War Cemetery.

Nearly 20 years later, the Society continues to follow its original aims, although with very few veterans of the campaign still alive, our membership now consists mostly of their descendants and many others with an interest in the Italian Campaign. Our Hon Secretary is Lesley Teasdale, daughter of the late Robert Randall who served in 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles. The Newsletter is produced by Helen James, daughter of the late James Frape who served in 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment Royal Artillery, and our current Treasurer is Diane Soady, daughter-in-law of the late Gerald Soady who served in 91st Light Anti Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery.

When the Society was first formed, there were many veterans of the Italian Campaign still alive among our members, who were able to visit Cassino to attend the Commemoration events held there in May every year, and especially the five-year Anniversaries (65th in 2009, 70th in 2014 & 75th in 2019), and the Society supported them in these pilgrimages. While Remembrance is important, the passing of that generation means that more recent and younger members are also focused on learning more about the history of the Italian Campaign, and in 2024 our week’s visit to Cassino for the 80th Anniversary Commemorations included a comprehensive four day battlefield tour led by a well-known battlefield historian.

On 26th May 2012 the Society-funded Monte Cassino memorial was unveiled at a Service of Dedication in the Mediterranean Campaign sector of the National Memorial Arboretum near Litchfield, Staffordshire, and became the focus for our annual Service of Remembrance held in mid-May to commemorate the Battles for Cassino and the whole of the Italian Campaign.

In recent years, this has been partnered by a Memorial service held in Blackhall St Columba’s Church in Edinburgh, by the Reverend Fergus Cook. Our link with Blackhall St Columba’s was forged after the discovery by Fergus of the Monte Cassino Cross in the church archives. This simple wooden cross was used during the actual campaign by a previous minister who at the time was an Army Chaplain, and he brought the cross home with him when fighting ceased. Realising its significance, Fergus contacted us, and has been a great ally of the Society ever since, with the cross becoming the centrepiece of the Memorial services he holds in May and on Remembrance Sunday. In May 2023 the service, attended by several representatives of other nations involved in the conflict, included the dedication of a Memorial bench donated by the Society and installed near the War Memorial in the church grounds.

The Monte Cassino Society is always well-represented at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, when members meet to join the march past on Remembrance Sunday, while members throughout the country attend their local Remembrance services on our behalf.

We welcome new members. If you would like to know more about the Society, can contribute an account, memoir or recollection, or know a son, daughter or relative who feels, as we do, that the experiences of those who took part in the Italian Campaign should never be forgotten, we would like to hear from you. Please contact us by e-mail. You can reach us at info@montecassinosociety.co.uk .

We hope you will find the website interesting and that you will consider becoming a member.

Helen James, 2024