On August 23, 1944 the 340th Bombardment Group was given yet another bridge to bomb. For the 'Bridge Busters' of the 340th this was in many ways just another routine bombing raid. However, there were characteristics of the raid that were far from routine, in fact the origins of the order to go to the Settimo bridge have been shrouded in mystery for many decades.
The raid was a devastating blow to the village as can well be imagined. The bridges that were targeted by the American B-25 Mitchell bombers were located in the center of the town.
It was unclear to the unfortunate inhabitants of the village as to why they were targeted. Tucked away in the upper northwest corner of Italy they did not lie on any of the main supply routes for the German army. The only industry was a steel plant, but it was located at some distance from the village and miles from the Settimo Road Bridge. On the day of the attack the headquarters of the German area commander and the Italian Republican Guard were both hit. Nevertheless, only nine enemy soldiers were killed. The 'troop concentrations' could not have been a reason for dispatching 18 bombers to take them out.
The effect of the bombing was shock and horror, followed by sorrow and grieving. It quickly devolved to bitterness and recriminations. Everyone in the village sought to discover the circumstances that had caused this calamity.
In 2007 Roger Juglair published an entire book studying this one air raid. The book was in Italian and called, Ponte San Martino: Martirio di un paese valdostano [Ponte San Martino: The Martyrdom of a village in the Aosta Valley].
Now there is a condensed version of this fascinating book available in English on the Internet. Stop by and take a look at this privileged view of a bombing raid as seen from both sides of the bomb-line.