Italian OG page  

  Italian OG Missions:
  5th Army Detach.  
  Bathtub II  
  Fourth Group  
  OP 2  
  Polar 1  
  Polar 2  
  OP 1(aka Seneca)  
  Chicago I  
  Chicago II  
  Ginny I  
Balkis I
  Balkis II  
  Ginny II  
  Walla Walla  
  5th Army Detach.  

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.

To harass German garrisons; disrupt enemy communications; gather and transmit intelligence; and establish liaison, supply, arm and train partisan units in the Tyrolean Alps north of Edolo, roughly between Valtellina and Val Camonica.

On 4 March 1945 Major Lorbeer and two other the SPOKANE OGs left Rosignana Airfield in a B-24 aircraft to select and parachute to a drop zone (DZ) in northern Italy. Coordinates for two possible sites had been provided by OSS agents based in Switzerland. After fly-over examination of both sites, they parachuted into a long snow covered valley in which the town of Livigno was located at the center. High mountains around the valley, high winds and air pockets made it necessary to jump from above 2500 feet. However, the landings were easy in soft snow. And they found the valley was strongly held by partisans. The Livigno DZ which was code named BEET was subsequently used for numerous personnel and equipment drops, including a total of 35 OGs. Tragically, three OGs and nine members of the U.S.Army Air Corps were killed in an airplane crash during one of the drops. ( One of the OGs was a member of the SANTEE mission, which was also using BEET at that time, and two were members 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.
At the same time, mixed OG and partisan groups moved out operationally to collect intelligence. Much of the initial information was obtained from Italian engineers who were manning the hydro-electric installations in the area. And within two weeks of arrival, the OGs and partisans occupied the Cancano hydro-electric plant with the cooperative Italian engineers.

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
where it was discovered that the Germans were mining the road.

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.
The OGs instructed the partisans on how to remove the mines and and were able to keep the bridges from being destroyed.

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.


Summary 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.


The OGs of SPOKANE/SEWANEE mission, and the dates of their landing were:

Major Arnold Lorbeer 4/3/45
Sgt. Ernest Paris 4/3/45
T/5 Joseph P. Seliquini 4/3/45
1st Lt. William F. Viviani 21/3/45
T/5 Raymond Armandi 21/3/45
T/3 Joseph S. Genco 21/3/45
S/Sgt. Michael Sproveri 21/3/45
S/Sgt. Bernard Morelli 21/3/45
T/Sgt. William Formeca 4/4/45
T/5 Anthony J. Bologna 4/4/45
T/5 Joseph DiSanto 4/4/45
T/4 Louis F. Bruno 4/4/45
T/5 Sidney S. Wertheimer 4/4/45
T/5 Fred Riveglia 3/4/45
T5 Anthony Rocco (Killed in plane crash) 13/4/45 *
T/5 Anthony Fantauzzo (Killed in plane crash) 13/4/45 *

1st Lt. Leonard L. Rinaldi 13/4/45
S/Sgt. Armand A. Terraciano 13/4/45
T/3 Joseph A. Paiano 13/4/45
Sgt. Caesar J. Civitella 13/4/45
T/4 Nicholas J. Tomasello 13/4/45
T/5 Henry Sonagere 13/4/45
T/5 Daniel Maserolle 13/4/45

* All American bodies were retrieved from the crash and initially buried in a cemetery in Livigno.





contact us