British and South African soldiers show off a prize, a swastika Nazi flag, after finally conquering Monte Cassino, 18 May 1944. By May 1944 the historic Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino had been reduced to rubble. As part of Operation Diadem, the task of capturing it was given to Polish II Corps, but their attack on the night of May 11th/12th failed. The German positions in and around the ruins high on the mountain (atop which the soldiers above are standing on) were simply too strong. Further to the south, however, French troops managed to find a way through the Aurunci Mountains, which the German's believed are impassable, and could now overlook the Liri Valley, through which highway 6 ran to Rome. A second attack on Monte Cassini by the Poles, on May 17th, made some progress, but because of the French advance German troops were already withdrawing from the Gustav Line. The following morning the Polish flag was hoisted over the ruins of the abbey. The capture of Monte Cassino came at a high price. The Allies suffered around 55,000 casualties in the Monte Cassino campaign. German casualty figures are estimated at around 20,000 killed and wounded. Total Allied casualties, spanning the period of the four Cassino battles and the Anzio campaign with the subsequent capture of Rome on 5 June 1944, were over 105,000. This image is in beautiful and original Kodachrome, and was taken by Carl Mydans from LIFE magazine.