Gary Lineker was moved to tears as he saw where his grandad treated wounded comrades beside a river flowing red with blood during a Second World War battle.
The BBC presenter, 58, went to Italy to explore Stanley Ebbs’ role in a campaign that included the 1944 Battle of Monte Cassino for a TV documentary.
Gary knew his grandad served in Italy with the Royal Army Medical Corps but reveals that Stanley never spoke to him about his experiences.
He said: “My grandad was one of the first people to get on the (Cassino) beach when they landed. He helped set up the camps and the medical aid sites.
“To discover how treacherous even the landing was – being shot, very similar to what it was like landing on the beaches in Normandy…everything that I discovered was educating and also sometimes very upsetting.”
Using Stanley’s unit’s war diary as a guide, Gary follows the campaign from the first landings at Salerno.
He meets veterans including William Earl, 104, who was also in the Royal Army Medical Corps.
As Gary learns how relentless the fighting was, he comes to understand why his grandfather never shared the harrowing memories.
Asked what made him tearful, Gary said: “We were filming about how they had to get across one of the rivers. I could work out exactly where my grandfather would have been in the ambulance medical aid tent, and that a few yards from where I was stood, absolutely harrowing scenes would have been happening. The river was literally running red with blood. Knowing that my grandad would have been just a few yards away really got me.”
He said he wanted Allied fighters in Italy to be recognised for taking Rome from the Nazis, a triumph overshadowed by D-Day the next day.
Gary added: “The campaign was incredibly grim. So many people lost their lives.”
*Gary Lineker: My Grandad’s War airs on Monday at 9pm on BBC One.
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