The struggle for Cassino was one of New Zealand's most brutal and costly battles during World War II. New Zealand troops, alongside British and Polish allies, succeeded in their efforts to take the Italian province on May 16th 1944.

Wellington woman Genevieve Le Gall's Grandfather Albert "Hoot" Gibson was 21 when he became a member of the 4th Field Artillery Regiment of New Zealand during the Italian campaign.

When Le Gall got married she decided to take her honeymoon in the Italian province of Cassino because she knew it's where her grandfather had been. After spending some time researching where to stay she stumbled across a hotel owner who makes wine from grapes cultivated on the former battlefield, so she knew it was where she had to stay.

"We went over there and it turns out there was just a wealth of souvenirs and information about the battle of Cassino in this hotel, we also got to go up to the monastery on top of Monte Cassino where a lot of the battle took place," she said.

Advertisement
Piece of shrapnel from the battlefield in Cassino gifted to Genevieve Le Gall. Photo / Supplied
Piece of shrapnel from the battlefield in Cassino gifted to Genevieve Le Gall. Photo / Supplied

One night Genevieve and her husband were chatting with the hotel owner, she mentioned her grandfather was in the war and the man had an idea.

"He sort of stopped and said hang on a second I've got something I want to give you, and he went away and brought back this piece of shrapnel about 2cm long and what had happened was that he had found it when he was out dealing with the grapes for his wine and he decided that was something he wanted us to take home with us as a souvenir of our time there." The shrapnel was from the Cassino battlefields.

"For me, it represents things coming full circle, I handed that gift on to my father because he was very close with his father and it's something that we treasure as a reminder of him and his sacrifices during the war for our country," Le Gall said.

Genevieve is encouraging everyone to take a moment to reflect on the war during the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Cassino today.

"I think it's really important that we remember what our ancestors did for us and it's been really special for me to talk about this connection and to pay homage to my grandfather who fought for our country."

A national commemorative service to mark the occasion is taking place in Wellington's Pukeahu National War Memorial Park at 11am today.