Red poppies on Monte Cassino
Instead of dew, drank Polish blood.
As the soldier crushed them in falling,
For the anger was more potent than death.
Years will pass and ages will roll,
But traces of bygone days will stay,
And the poppies on Monte Cassino
Will be redder having quaffed Polish blood.


The lyrics of the song were created over night from May 17-18, 1944, a day before the Polish flag was stuck on the ruins of the Monte Cassino Abbey. The mountain was an important part of the fortification on the Gustav Line, which ran across the narrowest part of the Italian Peninsula and was heavily fortified.

For five months, the Allies couldn’t win the mountain and break the Gustav Line. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers had lost their lives trying. British historian Matthew Parker wrote: “Monte Cassino Battle – the biggest land battle in Europe – was the hardest and bloodiest fight between Western allies and German Wermacht.”

After the Monte Cassino Battle, General Harold Alexander, ground forces commander of the 15 Army Group thanked the Polish II Corps for the victory: “Soldiers of the Polish II Corps! If I could choose any soldiers in the world I would like to lead you, Poles.”

Today Cassino is a picturesque town with a rebuilt abbey towering over it.

Commemorating Polish II Corps and the Monte Cassino Battle

Every year the town celebrates the anniversary of the bloody Monte Cassino Battle. Italians, Americans, French, British, Hindu, Gurhkas, New Zealanders, Poles, Canadians and South Africans took part in the battle. But it was especially important for Poles to avenge the occupation of their country. The celebrations are not very different from other similar events around the world. There are shows and reconstruction groups, unveiling of monuments (this year it was the monument of General Anders – the commander of the Polish Second Corps), and placing flowers on graves of the fallen shoulders.