Monte Cassino (The Beast Regiment)Chapter by chapter - Book covers - Other languages - Quotes
Introduction to Monte Cassino (The Beast Regiment)
This is the Sven Hassel book which comes closest to the violent comic-book image of the book-cover pictures and write-ups. It also seems to be the most widely-read going by comments on the guestbook and mailing-list. In America it's known as 'The Beast Regiment' which is a pretty cool title. There's lots of fighting against U.S. troops who are usually portrayed as useless, inexperienced infantry or Marines who are just as violent and ruthless as 27th Panzer themselves.
The great chapter here is probably 'Killer Patrol' with the long wait out in no-man's-land. There's a few funny bits here and there (Porta and Tiny act as drivers to General Burgdorf) but some of the situations which are usually top-class Sven trademarks don't work so well (Sven's drunken leave in Rome drags on a bit without Porta and Tiny to liven things up).
Monte Cassino (The Beast Regiment) chapter by chapter:
1. The Leathernecks Land
Meal of roast starling, marrow-balls, tomato ketchup and fresh parsley. Start of Anzio bombardment before landings. Description of shell-shock and treatment. Description of landings and defence. U.S. Marines land. Unorthodox weapons and uniforms. Marines shoot surrendering Germans. Section retreat then dig in with their Panthers. Barcelona starts talking about killing the Pope. Tiny tries some of his famous Biblical history. American attack starts. Talk of U.S.-Japanese soldiers, Moroccans and Gurkhas. Talk of tricks used by the Americans (underwater bridges built by partisans to cross rivers).
2. Panzer Attack
Talk of rest time in Milan. Reconnaisance with Lt Frick. Confrontation with Alpine Regiment colonel. Introduction to Major Michael Braun the ex-Marine. Description of preparation of Panthers. Start of attack on Americans. Battle. Meeting with Americans and chat. American staff-sergeant gives details of plans... the realises what he has done and shoots himself. Continued advance (very unusual!!) Tank gets stuck in mud. Preparations for attack on column of American tanks. Usual chatter while waiting (superstitions etc). Surprise attack goes ahead. American tank regiment destroyed.
3. Major Michael Braun
Fatigue. Section issued with Tigers. Hauptfeldwebel Hoffman starts picking on everyone. History of Major Mike.
4. Porta's Gambling Den
Deportation of Jews from Rome. Comments about lack of protest from the Vatican. Trenching and mine-laying. Porta sets up a gambling den in an abandoned villa. Stalin the cat sits on a red cushion in a parrot's cage. First mention of 'Oberfeldwebel Wolf'. Wolf wins a load of money and manages to take it away safely despite Tiny's best efforts. Stahlshmidt tries to join in on a game but is knocked out by Tiny who helps himself to his gold teeth while he's unconscious!! Hauptfeldwebel Hoffmann arrives to deal with the situation and is dismissed by Porta. First mention of Gregor Martin. Mention of the hated Hauptmann Meyer. A pig is dressed up in uniform (read the story). Enormous drinking session (barrel, 1/2 beer, 1/2 whisky, chianti, vodka, genever and Worcestershire sauce). Various mad Sven Hassel drinking events. Party stopped by the sound of tanks... they are German Tigers, but the section smell a rat.
5. Secret Mission
Introduction to Monte Cassino. Mystery mission begins. Section taken in SS trucks to Cassino. Porta tells the story of his time as a gardener in a nunnery. Section told to remove weapons before entering the monastery. Legionnaire argues the point. Explanation of goings-on at Monte Cassino.
6. SS-Untersturmfuhrer Julius Heide
Transport of religious relics from Cassino. Section dressed as SS. Heide deals with MPs. Unloading trucks. Fight starts up between Tiny and Heide.
7. Vatican Transport
Memories of fallen comrades. Plans to steal relics. MPs arrive at the monastery to stop the plundering. Jabo attack. Porta tries a bit of anti-aircraft fire. Tiny joins in with a searchlight. Another truck journey down the Via Appia. Drive into the Vatican. Tiny starts worrying about religious matters. The Old Man meets the Pope who gives him a ring. This starts another fight of course! Heide tries to keep the ring. Barcelona and Sven on guard duty when they see Death checking out the monastery.
8. Operation Dog-collar
Heide gives his views about the Jews and the Catholics. General Burgdorf, army head of personnel, arrives and asks for a driver. Porta and Tiny get the job! General Burgdorf meets with Kesselring and talks about Operation Dog-collar (in front of Porta and Tiny).
9. Major Mike's Private War
Porta uses bow and arrow to snipe at U.S. officers. Banter with American soldiers. Section, including Stahlschmidt, moves up to front-line positions. Movie projector with Pop-eye film makes Tiny laugh so much that he dislocates his jaw. Section runs gauntlet through 'death ravine'. Talk about death, war wounds etc. Hand-to-hand fighting with Japanese-Americans. Story of 10-year-old Italian spy with seeds in his pocket. Stories of reprisals etc. American tank attack. Major Mike Braun starts his private vendetta against his ex-comrades in the U.S. trenches. Heavy artillery battle ("More shells fell there in one day than during all the fighting for Verdun"). Close combat.
10. In Rome On Leave
Sven heads off on leave (aiming for Hamburg and, possibly, Copenhagen). Story of Porta's involvement with illegal groups. Sven sneaks off for drinks with two submariners, Carl and Otto. Lots of drinking and whoring adventures. MPs raid. Eventual visit to hospital. Fight with MPs. Set-up to make them look like drunkards. End of leave.
11. Killer Patrol
Visit to Palid Ida's brothel. Porta wins an eating competition. Story of other competition with an American negro corporal. Plans for special mission. Warnings about gold-teeth collecting. Talk about Finnish close-combat teacher. Crossing into no-man's land and long wait in front of American positions (very good this bit - probably best bit of book?) Memories of patrol in Finland. Strange comment about American soldier being called Robert - "Bob, like myself". Attack and gruesome close-combat in trenches. Section continue through until they are behind American lines. Cross underwater bridge. Old Man upset about American sergeant he has killed. Resting before attack on U.S. tanks. Lots of arguements and fighting. Section set up booby traps around the tank and petrol depot. Demolition of road bridge. Section play dice to decide who gets to switch the detonator. Play-off between Heide and Tiny. Tiny wins and blows the bridge... just as a truck full of explosives drives over it! Tiny decides to write to General Mark Clarke to complain about the truck not flying a red flag (just a little pennant). Fight between Gregor and Heide. Attack on British base to capture staff-officer. Tiny kills a black sergeant and cuts off his ear? Attack and escape with British prisoner. Death of Rudolph Kleber. Return through German lines.
12. Death Of The Monastry
Back at Monte Cassino. Massive bombing raid. Padre Emanuel and Heide have a fight. Rats go mad in the air raid. Porta decides to salvage the copper nose-cone from an unexploded bomb. Sherman tanks attack. Lots of close combat. Heide takes to sniping using night-sights and explosive bullets. He has a bust-up with Lieutenant Frick. Another massive air raid. Everyone pulls out of positions - except No 2 section of course. Retreat away from monastery. Bar is set up in the trenches. Porta blackmails the political officer.
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