Travels of US Navy Sailors in WW2
By Stephen Sherman, April, 2010. Updated March 21, 2012.
The Mediterranean and Italy suffered a lot in WW2. When the USS Denebola traveled to Cagliari in 1944, much of the town had been bombed out, but the monuments, churches, and gardens still attracted the sailors on sightseeing trips. His memoirs, which we pick up here, reflect that.
Our next port of call was Cagliari, Sardinia. Here the language is Italian so "Boats" Doherty was once again the cock-of-the-walk. They broke him out to be official interpreter because spoke the lingo.
Cagliari was perhaps the most pathetic of all the places at which we called. Pathetic because, even to us the place was not militarily significant. The trouble was that the Germans were, or had been using it as a transfer area for supplies. For that reason nearly one hundred American bombers came over some months before we were there and in their effort to bomb the waterfront and harbor, for the most part missed both and rained bombs on the city. Thus it was that the city was covered with a fine white (plaster) dust.
In a short time our black shoes looked gray.
Numerous were the church domes that had been shattered, and resembled huge broken eggshells.
Cagliari, (CAWL-yar-ee) as I believe the Italians would say, was a city of people who were obviously tired and weary of it all, and yet seemed to bear no ill-will to we Americans.
It was here that we had our first exposure to the street urchins of Europe; Italy in particular. When they were not crying, "Hey, Joe, gimme money," or "Hey Joe, sella cigarretta?" they were pointing to bomb damage and repeating "Americano Bomba."
These were the same kids who, while wallowing in the filth of the harbor (between our fantail and the jetty) would fight each other tooth and nail for the Hershey bars that we attempted to scale from the ship to the jetty but usually missed and fell into the water. Often they would tear the candy to pieces until there was nothing left of it. They seemed to prize most highly, the Hershey bars and any form of soap. To look at them was to understand why.
|Giardini e Stazione Ferroviaria F.S. (gardens and train station)|
Visible in the background are the St. Pancras Tower and the Elephant Tower. These are part of the old city (called Castello, the castle) that lies on top of a hill. Most of its city walls are intact, and feature the two 13th century white lime-stone towers.
Prospetto Bastione San Remy
"Walked down these step on Aug. 18, 1944 with Haitline and a soldier named Cray. This structure was at that time in ruins, only one side of steps were passable."
Since the war, the Bastion has been rebuilt to its former glory.
vintage postcard of Il Duomo, see a photo of it below
The Cathedral of Santa Maria di Castello, dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption and Saint Cecilia, martyr, is Cagliari in Palace Square. Commonly called "Duomo" is the main church of Archdiocese of Cagliari, seat of the Archbishop Metropolitan of Cagliari, also houses the Parish of the historic castle .
|Anfiteatro Romano (Roman Amphitheatre)|
|Largo Carla Felice|
|Darsena e Giardino|
Monumento Caduti (Monument to the Fallen)
This looks like a Fascist-style monument, and may no longer be there. Nothing resembling this showed up on Google.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria was built by the Aragonese in 1324-1329 during the siege to the Castle in which the Pisan had taken shelter. It has a small Gothic portal in the façade and in the interior houses a wooden statue of the Madonna, which was thrown off by a Spanish ship and landed at the feet of the Bonaria hill.
|Instituti Superiori della R. Universita|
|Il Duomo altar|
family by roadside
I presume they were homeless, their home destroyed by bombing.
|panorama of Cagliari|
|more bomb damage|
|more bomb damage|
Memoirs and photographs of Milton W. Sherman (1919-2010). He served in the U.S. Navy during WW2, on board the USS Denebola, AD-12, when he was in mid-twenties. On board the Denebola, he sailed to Cagliari in late 1944, where he bought these old postcards from street vendors and the photos from the ship's photographer. You might enjoy reading a fuller version of his travels in the Denebola.