From Venice we took a drive to Argenta to find the Argenta Gap War Cemetery where fallen WWII commonwealth soldiers are buried. It was about 140kms away from Venice and took us about 1 hr 35 mins to reach it. Out straight on the A4 and then headed for A13 towards Bologna, after passing Padova – it was on to SS16 to Ravenna. Argenta lies between Ferrara and Ravenna. It is a little tricky to find the cemetery as it is surrounded by farm lands. But you will find a brown sign which you will see on the first left turn (coming from Ferrara on SS16) as you approach Argenta town. If you drive pass the COOP you need to backtrack , the road will now be on your right just after the COOP. Continue to follow the signs that points you to the Argenta Gap War cemetery. It lies peacefully between 2 farms.
The Argenta Gap War cemetery (625 burials) marks the final stages of the hard fighting in Italy in the spring of 1945 and contains amongst others, the graves of many of the Commandos engaged in the amphibious operations on the shores of the Comacchio lagoon early in 1945.
– from www.cwgc.org
Anders Lassen, enlisted into the British SAS and then later the SBS, originally from Denmark lies here. He was the recipient of the highest award the Victoria Cross medal for his bravery and leadership.
In Italy, on the night of 8th/9th April, 1945, Major Lassen was ordered to take out a patrol and raid the north shore of Lake Comacchio. His task was to cause casualties, capture prisoners and give the impression of a major landing. The patrol was challenged and came under machine-gun fire. Major Lassen himself attacked with grenades and silenced two enemy posts, capturing two prisoners and killing several Germans. The patrol had suffered casualties and was still under fire. Major Lassen moved forward and flung more grenades into a third enemy position, calling upon the enemy to surrender. He was then hit and mortally wounded, but whilst falling he flung a grenade, wounding more of the enemy and enabling his patrol to capture this last position. Finally, he refused to be evacuated lest he should impede the withdrawal and endanger further lives. His high sense of devotion to duty and the esteem in which he was held by the men he led, added to his own magnificent courage, enabled Major Lassen to carry out with complete success all the tasks he had been given.
– from the London Gazette in 4th Sept 1945
He died at the age of 24. There is a monument dedicated to Anders Lassen and 3 other soldiers from his squadron in Comacchio – about 15-20 mins drive from Argenta. It is on Via Marina, Comacchio. There are other WWII memorial sites in this town – one which we found was at Corso Garibaldi (Parco della Resistenza).
The Argenta Gap War cemetery is open throughout the day. There is a register inside the register box which you will see as you enter the cemetery. Inside – are all the names of the soldiers buried there and their position in the cemetery. For instance, Anders Lassen is located at plot 2 E 11. Should the gates be locked, the combination no is 1221. In addition there is also a guestbook one can sign and leave a comment if you wish.
Personally I feel it is a sense of duty of my generation and those after to continue to honour these fallen heroes who have enabled us to have our lifes as it is today. Wars do come and go and who knows if we may face another or a natural disaster that could just wipe out our existence as we know it. Irregardless, by honouring and remembering these soldiers will remind me of the horrifics of war (which unfortunately still goes on today – scattered around the world due to greed) and to avoid history repeating itself in this grand scale. Life is about balance and grounded on solid moral values – the good vs the wrong – values based on honesty, fairness, compassion and integrity. Isn’t that what we occasionally in our decisions are sometimes torn between? We can only strive to make the right choices and be aware of it.