The family members of nurse John A. Todd who fell on Mt. Candia visit Ponzalla and Falciani

  • 8 April 2024
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Filippo Spadi

John Alton Todd was a nurse in the 338th Infantry Regiment, therefore a non-combatant, with the qualification of Technician Third Grade - serial number ASN 34204706. However, he had experienced the bloody battles of 1944 on the front line; and had experienced the attack on Monte Altuzzo. A medic from the 85th Infantry “Custer” Division at the Battle of the Yoke must have seen hell, but he made it out alive.

Fate wanted him to die a few days later, on September 25th, on Monte Canda, probably torn to pieces in the chest and one leg by splinters from a German mortar shell.

We found out thanks to the report that his family brought us today at the MuGot - Gothic Museum, visiting the sites of the battles in which their loved one participated. Then we accompanied them to visit the tomb of John A. Todd at the Falciani American Military Cemetery in Florence. They were touching moments.

Curryville, Gordon County, Georgia, USA. He died in Italy on 25 September 1944 in battle, on the field, helping his fellow soldiers under German mortar fire, at the age of 34. He left behind his wife, whom he married before going to war, and his 2-year-old son, John A. Todd jr.

So says his obituary which appeared in a Florida newspaper. He and his family lived in Center Hill, north of Miami, near Orlando and Tampa, where the Todd family had taken root. In a dry manner, the sad news was given to the community, recalling the affection of his loved ones: his wife Myrtle Irene McArthur Todd, his two-year-old son John A. jr., his father James William, his sister Ruby Jane and his brother . Even though not everyone lived in Center Hill, his was a large family, made up of 6 brothers and sisters, and 4 second siblings.

Tech. 3rd Gr. John A(lton) Todd, 34, 2424 NW 28th st., was killed Sept. 25 while in combat with his medical detachment in Italy. Attached to an artillery unit, Todd went overseas in December 1943, after more than a year's service in this country. Prior to service, he was employed by the Carley J. Smith Transfer. Co. He formally lived in Center Hill. Survivors include his wife and 2-year-old son, John Alton, jr., of the home address; his father J. W. Todd, Center Hill; a sister, Mrs. Ruby Pafford, and a brother, W. L. Todd, both of Miami.

Technician Third Grade

How was a health worker classified in the army specialist classification system? “Specialists” were granted the rank of non-commissioned officer, that is, enlisted men who performed jobs that required “specialized” training. Circular no. 5 of the War Department, dated 8 January 1942, provided for the roles of third degree technician, fourth degree technician and fifth degree technician. The corresponding Chevrons (ranks) were to receive an additional symbol, the letter “T” for Technician, according to Army Regulation 600-35, dated 4 September 1942.

Tec 3, Tec 4 and Tec 5 were to rank immediately below Sergeant Major, Sergeant and Corporal. Technicians thus became “non-commissioned officers” and received pay, allowances and privileges in the pay range specified by their title. Although the new Technicians were granted non-commissioned officer status, they were prohibited from exercising any tactical control in the field!

Among the wide range of medical “specialists” were: veterinary technicians, X-ray technicians, medical technicians, dental technicians, medical laboratory technicians, pharmacy technicians, surgical technicians, healthcare technicians, and equipment maintenance technicians.

The family were thrilled to visit today the places in the Apennines where John sacrificed his life. His tomb does him full honor.

State of service and decorations

Stato di servizio di John A. Todd

Those interested in war events on the Apennines can appreciate some geographical information that places the death of John A. Todd in the clashes around the Raticosa Pass which took place between 21 and 29 September 1944 when the Pass was liberated from the Nazis.

The Mount Canda, with its 1158m, is a hill in the Upper Tuscan-Romagnolo Apennines, forming part, with Monte Oggioli (1290 m) and Colle di Canda (901 m), of the Apennine pass called Passo della Raticosa, in the Municipality of Firenzuola , Province of Florence.

The death of soldier John A. Todd is probably linked to the patrols that had to clear the way from the presence of the German resistance centers on the hills around the current State Road 65 and Provincial Road 117, respectively in the direction of the towns of Loiano and Piancaldoli, along the line of advance of the 338th Infantry Regiment of '85th “Custer” Division.

Unfortunately, at the moment, we do not know any other details of the action and its circumstances in which Jpohn Alton Todd met his death on the battlefield on September 25, 1944.

John Todd is buried in Florence. Go and visit him too, now that you know a little more about his story.

Plot G / Row 12 / Severe 19

Florence American Cemetery
Via Cassia SN
50023 Tavarnuzze (Florence)

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