This summary of the SPOKANE and SEWANEE missions is presented as a single mission report since the build up of field deployment of this operation integrated the two missions under the command of Major Lorbeer, the commanding officer of SPOKANE.
With the first supply drop the OGs began to equip
and train the partisans in the proper use of demolitions and weapons,
including the 50 caliber machine gun and bazooka.
The Cancono facility along with the hydro-electric plant in nearby Isolaccia were reputed to be the largest electrical power facilities providing electricity to Milano and other northern cities. In Isolaccia the enemy maintained a garrison of about 30 fascist soldiers and about six Germans. Sniper fire from that garrison had wounded several partisans. In order to deny them control of the Isolaccia plant, all available OGs and about 100 partisans raided the garrison. Of weapons used by the OG/partisan teams, the bazookas were most effective, knocking off the roof of the garrison. The enemy retreated to the cellar where they used machine guns to hold off the attack until nightfall; when in darkness they slipped away. They abandoned their weapons and left four casualties
Allied Headquarters’ thinking at that time
was that the Germans might attempt a last ditch stand by withdrawing
German forces in Italy to an area they could fortify as an Alpine redoubt;
with a line anchored on the western end at the Stelvio pass. Therefore,
one of the main OG concerns was to focus on the Stelvio pass and the
Bormio garrison at the foot of route 38 leading to the pass. The other
concern was the area east of Edolo along Route 42
On the night of March 30th seven OGs and fifty partigiani raided the Stelvio construction dump. With demolition squads they blocked the road to the north and south of the dump and cut telephone communication lines between the dump and the German garrisons.
The main body of the raiding party overwhelmed the small German garrison guarding the construction dump and the electric cable car line that fed the material to Stelvio. Using demolition charges they destroyed machinery of the cable car system as well as any material that the Germans might have been able to use, including 500 rolls of barbed wire and tons of steel plate.
Also during the period mid-March to mid-April there was almost daily exchange of fire between mixed partisan-OG units and enemy troops on the Stelvio pass. While the distances from one side of the pass to the other made for less than effective exchange of fire, it was later learned from one of the German commanders that two of their troops had been killed and four wounded; which had caused some desertions of some among the fascist units.
The last week of April, a combined force of partigiani and OGs entered Bormio where the fascists surrendered immediately. The German commander refused to surrendered but made agreement to keep his garrison sealed up in a block of houses under partisan guard who were obviously a superior force. The next day the German commander from Stelvio came to Bormio under a white flag. Major Lorbeer invited the commander to lunch at which time he agreed to surrender. Two days later the Bormio garrison of approximately 300 men on the Stelvio, plus all of their arms and equipment were surrendered. That was three days before the end of hostilities in Italy.
During this same period the OG/partisan operations
east of Edolo along route 42 were engaged in operations to thwart the
German mining of that road west of the Tonale pass.
As it became more clear that the Germans
were being routed on all fronts, the OG mission became oriented to an
anti-scorch posture awaiting Allied troop arrival, which occurred on
22 May - the day OGs returned to Siena base.
prepared by Caesar Civitella, a veteran of SEWANEE, from a report written
by Arnold Lorbeer for a book published by the SOCIETA E ISTITUZIONI.
The book was prepared for a n OG/ Italian reunion that was held in Venice,
Italy on 17-18 October 1994.