Allied invasion of Italy

Allied invasion of Italy

Overview
{{Redirect|Operation Avalanche}} {{Campaignbox Italy}} The '''Allied invasion of Italy''' was the [[Allies of World War II|Allied]] landing on mainland Italy on September 3, 1943, by General [[Harold Alexander]]'s [[15th Army Group]] (comprising Lieutenant General [[Mark Wayne Clark|Mark Clark]]'s [[Fifth United States Army|U.S. Fifth Army]] and General [[Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein|Bernard Montgomery's]] [[British Eighth Army]]) during the [[Second World War]].
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{{Redirect|Operation Avalanche}} {{Campaignbox Italy}} The '''Allied invasion of Italy''' was the [[Allies of World War II|Allied]] landing on mainland Italy on September 3, 1943, by General [[Harold Alexander]]'s [[15th Army Group]] (comprising Lieutenant General [[Mark Wayne Clark|Mark Clark]]'s [[Fifth United States Army|U.S. Fifth Army]] and General [[Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein|Bernard Montgomery's]] [[British Eighth Army]]) during the [[Second World War]]. The operation followed the successful [[Allied invasion of Sicily|invasion of Sicily]] during the [[Italian Campaign (World War II)|Italian Campaign]]. The main invasion force landed around [[Salerno]] on the western coast in '''Operation ''Avalanche''''', while two supporting operations took place in [[Calabria]] ('''[[Operation Baytown|Operation ''Baytown'']]''') and [[Taranto]] ('''[[Operation Slapstick|Operation ''Slapstick'']]'''). ===Allied strategy=== Following the defeat of the [[Axis powers of World War II|Axis Powers]] in [[North African Campaign|North Africa]], there was disagreement between the Allies as to what the next step should be. [[Winston Churchill]] in particular wanted to invade Italy, which in November 1942 he called "the soft underbelly of the axis" (and General Mark Clark later called "one tough gut"). Popular support in Italy for the war was declining, and he believed an invasion would remove Italy, and thus the influence of axis forces in the [[Mediterranean Sea]], opening it to Allied traffic. This would very materially reduce the amount of scarce shipping capacity needed to supply Allied forces in the Middle East and [[Far East]] at a time when the disposal of Allied shipping capacity was in crisis and increase British and American supplies to the [[Soviet Union]]. In addition, it would tie down [[Nazi Germany|German]] forces, keeping them away from the Russian front. Stalin had been pressing to open a "second front" in Europe, which would weaken the Wehrmacht's invasion of Russia. However, General [[George Marshall]] and much of the American staff wanted to avoid operations that might delay an invasion of Europe, discussed and planned as early as 1942, which finally materialized as ''Operation Overlord''. When it became clear that no invasion could be undertaken in 1943, it was agreed to invade Sicily, with no commitment made to any follow-up operations. However, both Roosevelt and Churchill accepted the necessity of Allied armies continuing to engage the Axis in the period after a successful campaign in Sicily and before the start of one in north-west Europe;Molony, p. 186.The discussion continued through the [[Washington Conference]] in May but it was not until late July, after the course of the Sicily campaign had become clear and the fall of Mussolini, that the Joint Chiefs of Staff instructed Eisenhower to go ahead at the earliest possible date. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters [[AFHQ]] were operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the [[Mediterranean Theater of Operations|Mediterranean theatre]], and it was they who planned and commanded the invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland. The [[Allied invasion of Sicily]] in July 1943, codenamed ''Operation Husky'', was highly successful, although many of the Axis forces managed to avoid capture and escape to the mainland. To the Axis, this was viewed as a success. More importantly in late July a ''[[coup]]'' deposed [[Benito Mussolini]] as head of the Italian government, which then began approaching the Allies to make peace. It was believed a quick invasion of Italy might hasten an Italian surrender and produce quick military victories over the German troops that could be trapped fighting in a hostile country. However, Italian (and more so German) resistance proved relatively strong, and fighting in Italy continued even after the [[Battle of Berlin|fall of Berlin]]. In addition, the invasion left the Allies in a position of supplying food and supplies to conquered territory, a burden which would otherwise have fallen on Germany. As well, Italy occupied by a hostile German army would have created additional problems for the German Commander-in-Chief [[Albert Kesselring]]. ===Plan=== [[Image:Invasionofitaly1943.jpg|thumb|right|300px|Map of the Invasion of Italy.]] [[File:SalernoDDayPlans1943.jpg|thumb|right|300px|Salerno D-Day plan]] {{See|Allied Invasion of Italy Order of Battle}} Prior to Sicily, Allied plans envisioned crossing the [[Strait of Messina]], a limited invasion in the "instep" area ([[Taranto]]), and advancing up the toe of Italy, anticipating a defense by both German and Italian forces. The overthrow of [[Benito Mussolini]] and the ''Fascisti'' made a more ambitious plan feasible, and the Allies decided to supplement the crossing of the [[Eighth Army (United Kingdom)|Eighth Army]] with a seizure of the [[port]] of [[Naples]]. They had a choice of two landing areas: one at the [[Volturno River]] basin and the other at Salerno, both at the range limits of Allied [[fighter plane]]s based in Sicily. Salerno was chosen because it was closer to air bases, experienced better [[ocean surface wave|surf]] conditions for landing, allowed transport ships to anchor closer to the beaches, had narrower beaches for the rapid construction of exit roads, and had an excellent pre-existing road network behind the beaches. ''[[Operation Baytown]]'' was the preliminary step in the plan in which Eighth Army, under General [[Bernard Montgomery]] would depart from the port of [[Messina]] on Sicily, to cross the Straits of Messina and land near the tip of [[Calabria]] (the "toe" of Italy), on 3 September 1943. The short distance from Sicily meant [[landing craft]] could launch from there directly, rather than be carried by ship. [[V Corps (United Kingdom)|V British Corps']] [[5th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)|5th British Infantry Division]] would land on the north side of the "toe" while its [[1st Canadian Infantry Division]] would land at Cape Spartivento on the south side. British Montgomery was strongly opposed to ''Operation Baytown''. He predicted it would be a waste of effort since it assumed the Germans would give battle in Calabria; if they failed to do so, the diversion would not work, and the only effect of the operation would be to place the Eighth Army {{convert|300|mi|km|abbr=on}} south of the main landing at [[Salerno]]. He was proved correct; after ''Operation Baytown'' the Eighth Army marched 300 miles north to the Salerno area against no opposition other than engineer obstacles. Plans for the use of [[airborne forces]] took several forms, all of which were cancelled. The initial plan to land [[Military glider|glider]]-borne troops in the mountain passes of the Sorrento Peninsula above Salerno was abandoned 12 August. Six days later it was replaced by ''Operation Giant'', in which two regiments of the [[82nd Airborne Division (United States)|82nd U.S. Airborne Division]] would seize and hold crossings over the [[Volturno River]]. This was at first expanded to include the entire division, including an amphibious landing by the glider regiment, then deemed logistically unsupportable and reduced to a two-battalion drop at [[Capua]] to block the highway there. The Italian surrender on 3 September cancelled ''Operation Giant I'' and replaced it with ''Operation Giant II'', a drop of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment on Stazione di Furbara and [[Cerveteri]] airfields, {{convert|25|mi|km|abbr=on}} northwest of Rome, to aid Italian forces in saving Rome from the Germans, a condition of the Italian armistice. Because the distance from the Allied beachheads precluded any substantial Allied support of the airborne troops, Brig. Gen. [[Maxwell D. Taylor]], 82nd Airborne's Assistant Division Commander, was spirited into Rome to assess the willingness of Italian troops to cooperate with the Americans. Taylor's judgment was the operation would be a trap and he advised cancellation, which occurred late on the afternoon of 8 September as troop carriers were preparing to take off. The main landings (''Operation Avalanche'') were scheduled to take on 9 September, during which the main force would land around Salerno on the western coast. It would consist of the [[Fifth United States Army|U.S. Fifth Army]] under Lieutenant General [[Mark W. Clark]], comprising the [[VI Corps (United States)|U.S. VI Corps]] under [[Major General]] [[Ernest J. Dawley]], the [[X Corps (United Kingdom)|British X Corps]] under Lieutenant General [[Richard McCreery]], with 82nd Airborne in reserve, a total of eight [[Division (military)|division]]s and two [[brigade]]-sized units. Its primary objectives were to seize the port of [[Naples]] to ensure resupply, and to cut across to the east coast, trapping Axis troops further south. In the original planning, the great attraction of capturing the important port of [[Taranto]] in the "heel" of Italy had been evident and an assault had been considered but rejected because of the very strong defenses there. However, with the signing of the armistice with the Italians on 3 September the picture changed. It was decided to carry the [[1st Airborne Division (United Kingdom)|British 1st Airborne Division]] to Taranto using British warships, seize the port and several nearby airfields and follow up by shipping in [[V Corps (United Kingdom)|British V Corps]] and a number of fighter squadrons. The airborne division, which was undergoing training exercises in two locations {{convert|400|mi|km|abbr=on}} apart, was ordered on 4 September to embark on 8 September. With such short notice to create plans, ''[[Operation Slapstick]]'' was soon nicknamed ''Operation Bedlam''. The ''Avalanche'' plan was daring but flawed; Fifth Army would be landing on a very broad {{convert|35|mi|km|abbr=on}} front, using only three assault divisions (two British in X Corps, one American in VI Corps), and the two Corps were widely-separated both in distance ({{convert|12|mi|km|abbr=on}} and by the [[Sele River]]. Clark initially provided no troops to cover the river, offering the Germans an easy route to attack, and only belatedly landed two battalions to protect it. Furthermore, the terrain was highly favorable to the defender. Planning for the Salerno phase was accomplished in only forty-five days, rather than the months that might be expected. A [[United States Army|U.S. Army]] Ranger force under Colonel [[William O. Darby]] consisting of three U.S. [[United States Army Rangers|Ranger]] battalions and two [[British Commando]] units was tasked with holding the [[mountain pass]]es leading to Naples, but no plan existed for linking the Ranger force up with X Corps' follow-up units. Finally, although tactical surprise was unlikely, Clark ordered no naval preparatory bombardment or [[naval gunfire support]] take place, despite experience in the [[Pacific Theater of Operations|Pacific Theatre]] demonstrating it was necessary.{{Page needed|date=October 2008}} (Major General Fred Walker, commanding [[36th Infantry Division (United States)|36th "Arrowhead" Division]], believed the defenders, from [[LXXVI Panzer Corps (Germany)|LXXVI Panzer Corps]],{{cn|date=September 2011}} were too scattered for it to be effective.) On the German side, [[Albert Kesselring|Albrecht von Kesselring]] lacked the strength to push the Salerno landing back, and was refused two ''panzer'' divisions from northern Italy to assist him. ''Operation Avalanche'' was planned under the name ''Top Hat'' and supported by a deception plan, ''[[Operation Boardman]]'', a false threat of an Allied invasion of the [[Balkans]]. ===German defensive Organization=== In mid-August, the Germans had activated [[Army Group B]] (''Heeresgruppe B'') under [[Erwin Rommel]] with responsibility for German troops in Italy as far south as [[Pisa]]. [[OB Süd|Army Command South]] (''OB Süd'') under [[Albert Kesselring]] continued to be responsible for southern Italy and the German High Command formed a new army headquarters to be Army Command South's main field formation. The new [[Tenth Army (Germany)|Tenth Army]] (''10. Armee'') headquarters, commanded by [[Heinrich von Vietinghoff]], was activated on 22 August. German Tenth Army had two subordinate corps with a total of six divisions which were positioned to cover possible landing sites. Under [[XIV Panzer Corps (Germany)|XIV Panzer Corps]] (''XIV Panzerkorps'') was [[Fallschirm-Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring|Hermann Göring ''Panzer'' Division]] (''Fallschirm-Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring''), [[33rd Infantry Division (Germany)|15th Panzergrenadier Division]] (''15. Panzergrenadier-Division'') and [[16th Panzer Division (Germany)|16th Panzer Division]] (''16. Panzer-Division''); and under [[LXXVI Panzer Corps (Germany)|LXXVI Panzer Corps]] (''LXXVI Panzerkorps'') was [[26th Panzer Division (Germany)|26th Panzer Division]] (''26. Panzer-Division''), [[29th Infantry Division (Germany)|29th Panzergrenadier Division]] (''29. Panzergrenadier-Division'') and [[1st Parachute Division (Germany)|1st Parachute Division]] (''1. [[Fallschirmjäger (Nazi Germany)|Fallschirmjäger]]-Division''). von Vietinghoff specifically positioned the 16th Panzer Division in the hills above the Salerno plain. ===Operations in southern Italy=== [[Image:Mark w clark 1943.jpg|thumb|300px|US General [[Mark Wayne Clark]] on board {{USS|Ancon|AGC-4|6}} during the landings at Salerno, Italy, 12 September 1943.]] [[Image:SalernoBeachhead1943 09 11 2400.jpg|thumb|300px|Map of the Salerno Beachhead at the end of 11 September 1943]] On 3 September 1943, British Eighth Army's [[XIII Corps (United Kingdom)|XIII Corps]], which was composed of British and Canadian formations, launched ''Operation Baytown'' under General [[Bernard Montgomery]]'s direction. Opposition to the landings was light and the Italian units surrendered almost immediately. [[Albert Kesselring]] and his staff did not believe Calabria landings would be the main Allied point of attack, the Salerno region or possibly even north of Rome being more logical. He had already therefore ordered General [[Traugott Herr]]'s LXXVI Panzer Corps to pull back from engagement with 8th Army leaving only 29th Panzer Grenadier Division's 15th Panzergrenadier Regiment in the 'toe' of Italy. By 3 September, most of this unit was in prepared positions at Bagnara, some {{convert|25|mi|km|abbr=on}} from the landings which it had orders to hold until 6 September. After this they were to withdraw to join the rest of 29th Panzergrenadier Division which was concentrating at Castrovillari, some {{convert|80|mi|km|abbr=on}} to the rear. The Krüger Battle Group (two battalions of 71st Panzergrenadier Regiment, 129th Reconnaissance Battalion and detachments of artillery and engineers) under 26th Panzer Division, would then stand at Nicotera, roughly {{convert|15|mi|km|abbr=on}} up the coast from Bagnara. On 4 September, 5 Division reached Bagnara, linked up with 1st Special Reconnaissance Squadron (which arrived by sea) and drove 3/15th Panzergrenadier Regiment from its position. On 7 September, contact was made with the Krüger Battle Group. On 8 September, 231st Brigade was landed by sea at Pizo, some {{Convert|15|mi|km}} behind the Nicotera defenses. They found themselves attacked from the north by a mobile force from 26th Panzer Division and from the south by the Krüger Battle Group which was withdrawing from the Nicotera position. After an initial attack which made no headway, the Krüger Battle Group veered away but the northern attack continued throughout the day before the whole German force withdrew at dusk. Progress was slow as demolished bridges, roadblocks and mines delayed Eighth Army. The nature of the countryside in the toe of Italy made it impossible to by-pass obstacles and so the Allies' speed of advance was entirely dependent on the rate at which their engineers could clear obstructions. Thus, Montgomery's objections to the operation were proved correct: the Eighth Army could not tie down German units that refused battle and the main obstacle to their advance was the terrain and German demolitions of roads and bridges. By 8 September, Kesselring had concentrated [[Heinrich von Vietinghoff]]'s 10th Army, ready to make a rapid response to any Allied landing. In Calabria, Herr's LXXVI Panzer Corps had two divisions concentrated in the Castrovillari area. Its third division, 1st Parachute Division (''1. Fallschirmjäger-Division''), was deployed toward Taranto. The rearguard in the toe was BattleGroup von Usedom, comprising a single battalion (1/67th Panzergrenadier Regiment) with detachments of artillery and engineers. Meanwhile, Hube's XIV Panzer Corps was positioned to face possible landings from the sea with 16th Panzer Division in the Gulf of Salerno, the Hermann Göring Division near Naples and the 15th Panzergrenadier Division to the north in the Gulf of Gaeta. On 8 September (before the main invasion), the [[armistice with Italy|surrender of Italy]] to the Allies was announced, first by Eisenhower, then in the [[Badoglio Proclamation]] by the Italian government. Italian units ceased combat and the Navy sailed to Allied ports to surrender. The German forces in Italy were prepared for this and implemented [[Operation Achse]] to disarm Italian units and occupy important defensive positions. ''[[Operation Slapstick]]'' commenced on 9 September. The first echelon of 1st Airborne arrived on four British cruisers, a US cruiser, and the British fast minelayer {{HMS|Abdiel|M39|6}}. The Italian battleships [[Italian battleship Andrea Doria (1913)|''Andrea Doria'']] and {{Ship|Italian battleship|Caio Duilio||2}} with two cruisers passed by, en route to surrender in Malta. There were no Germans in Taranto and so disembarkation was unopposed. The only casualties occurred when ''Abdiel'', at anchor, struck a mine and sank in minutes, with 168 killed and 126 injured. On 11 September, as patrols were sent further afield, there were some sharp encounters with elements of the German 1st Parachute Division. But 1st Parachute could do little but skirmish and fall back because most of its strength was attached to the 26th Panzer and Herman Göring Divisions at Salerno. 1st Airborne's commander, Major General [[George F. Hopkinson]], was mortally wounded in one of these actions. By 11 September the ports of Bari and Brindisi were occupied. ===Salerno landings=== ''Operation Avalanche'' - the main invasion at Salerno by the U.S. 5th Army - began on 9 September, and in order to secure surprise, the decision had been taken to assault without preliminary naval or aerial bombardment. However, tactical surprise was not achieved, as the naval commanders had predicted. As the first wave of the [[36th Infantry Division (United States)|U.S. 36th Infantry Division]] approached the shore at Paestum a loudspeaker from the landing area proclaimed in English: ''"Come on in and give up. We have you covered."'' The Allied troops attacked nonetheless. Major General [[Rudolf Sieckenius]] commander of 16th Panzer Division had organised his forces into four mixed arms battle groups which he had placed roughly {{convert|6|mi|km|abbr=on}} apart and between {{convert|3|and|6|mi|km|abbr=on}} back from the beaches. The ''Dőrnemann'' group was just east of Salerno (and therefore were opposite 46th Division when it landed), the ''Stempel'' battle group was between Pontecagnano and Battipaglia (and so faced the 56th Division), the ''Holtey'' battle group was in a reserve role at Persano on the Sele river which formed the corps boundary between X and VI Corps, while the ''von Doering'' battle group responsible for the Albanella to Rutino sector was {{convert|4|mi|km|abbr=on}} south-east of Ogliastro, somewhat south of the 36th Division's beaches. X Corps, composed of the British [[46th (North Midland) Division|46th]] and [[56th (London) Division|56th Divisions]] and a light infantry force of U.S. Rangers and [[British Commando]]s of [[Brigadier]] [[Robert Laycock|'Lucky' Laycock's]] [[2nd Special Service Brigade]], experienced mixed reactions to its landings. The Rangers met no opposition and with support from the guns of {{HMS|Ledbury|L90|6}} seized their mountain pass objectives while the Commandos, from [[No. 2 Commando]] and [[No. 41 (Royal Marine) Commando]], were also unopposed and secured the high ground on each side of the road through the La Molina Pass on the main route from Salerno to Naples. At first light units of No. 2 Commando moved towards Salerno and pushed back a small force of tanks and armoured cars from 16th ''Panzer'' Reconnaissance battalion. The two British infantry divisions, however, met determined resistance and had to fight their way ashore with the help of naval bombardments. The depth and intensity of German resistance forced British commanders to concentrate their forces, rather than driving for a linkup with the Americans to the south. At [[Paestum]], the two lead battalions of the 36th (Texas) Division (from 141st and 142nd Regimental Combat Teams) received a hot reception from two companies of the ''von Doering'' group. The division had not been in combat before and as a result of the Italian surrender, there was a general belief amongst the soldiers that the landings would be routine. 141st RCT lost cohesion and failed to gain any depth during the day which made the landing of supporting arms and stores impossible, leaving them without artillery and anti-tank guns. However, 142nd RCT fared better and with the support of 143rd RCT, the reserve formation which had landed by 0800, were able to push forward. By the end of the first day the 5th Army, although it had not gained all its objectives, had made a promising start: X Corps' two assault divisions had pushed between {{convert|5|and|7|mi|km|abbr=on}} inland and the special forces had advanced north across the Sorrento Peninsula and were looking down on the Plain of Naples. To the south, 36th Division had established itself in the plain to the right of the Sele river and the higher ground to a depth of {{convert|5|mi|km|abbr=on}}, although 141st RCT was still stuck near the beach. However, XIV Panzer Corps commander Hermann Balck had seen the 16th ''Panzer'' Division's battle groups perform as intended and he had ordered both the Hermann Göring Division south to the battle and later in the day had been able to order 15th Panzergrenadier likewise. Meanwhile to the south, 29th Panzergrenadier Division from LXXVI Panzer Corps had also been directed to Salerno. Neither side had gained the initiative. ===Consolidation of the beachhead=== For the next three days, the Allies fought to expand their beachhead while the Germans defended stubbornly to mask the build-up of their reinforcements for a counter-offensive. On 10 September, Clark visited the battlefield and judged that it was unlikely that X Corps would be able to push quickly east past Battipaglia to link with VI corps. Since X Corps' main line of thrust was to be north towards Naples, he decided to move the VI Corps left hand boundary north of the Sele river and move the bulk of 45th Division into the gap. In view of the enemy reinforcements approaching from the north he also ordered a battalion-sized mixed arms group to reinforce the Rangers the next day. Over the same period, German reinforcements filtered into the battlefield. Units, short of transport and subjected to other delays, arrived piecemeal and were formed into ad-hoc battle groups for immediate action. By 13 September, all the immediately available reinforcements had arrived including additional elements from 3rd Panzergrenadier Division which had been released by Kesselring from further north near Rome. By contrast, the Allied build-up was constrained by the limited transport available for the operation and the pre-determined schedule of the build-up based on how, during the planning phase, it had been anticipated the battle would develop. By 12 September, it had become clear that 5th Army had an acute shortage of infantry on the ground. On 12 September, General Alexander reported to London that: "I am not satisfied with the situation at ''Avalanche''. The build-up is slow and they are pinned down to a bridgehead which has not enough depth. Everything is being done to push follow-up units and material to them. I expect heavy German counter-attack to be imminent." By 12 September, X Corps had taken a defensive posture because every battalion was committed and there were no reserves available to form an attack. In the south, 36th Division made some progress but towards midday a counter-attack by elements of 29th Panzergrenadier Division overran 1st battalion 142nd Infantry. ===German counterattacks=== [[Image:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J15460, Italien, Soldaten beim Laden einer Pak.jpg|thumb|220px|A German [[7.5 cm PaK 40|PAK]] near Salerno]] On 13 September, the Germans launched their counteroffensive. While the Herman Göring battle groups attacked the northern flank of the beachhead, the main attack was on the boundary between the two Allied Corps which ran roughly from Battipaglia to the sea, with the greatest weight due to fall on the VI Corps side On the morning of 13 September elements of 36th Division attacked and captured Altavilla in the high ground some {{convert|9|mi|km|abbr=on}} behind Paestum but a counterattack forced them to withdraw as darkness fell. During the afternoon, two German battlegroups, the Kleine Limburg and the Krüger had attacked Persano and overrun 1st battalion 157th Infantry before crossing the Sele to engage 2nd battalion 143rd Infantry and virtually wipe it out. The battle groups continued their strike south and south-west until reaching the confluence of the Sele and its large tributary the Calore, where it was stopped by artillery firing over open sights, naval gunfire and a makeshift infantry position manned by artillerymen, drivers, cooks and clerks and anyone else that Walker, commander of 36th Division could scrape together. VI Corps had by this time lost the best part of three battalions and so the forward units of both its divisions were withdrawn to reduce the length of the defensive line. 45th Division consolidated at the Sele - Calore position while 36th Division was on the high ground on the seaward side of the La Caso stream (which flowed into the Calore). The new perimeter was held with the assistance of the 82nd Airborne Division. Two battalions (1,300 paratroops) of the [[504th Parachute Infantry Regiment]], after the cancellation of ''Giant II'', had been assigned to execute the final version of ''Operation Giant I'' at Capua on the evening of 13 September. Instead they jumped inside the beachhead, guided by [[transponder|transponding radar]] beacons and moved immediately into the line on the right of VI Corps. The next night, with the crisis passed, 2,100 troops of the [[505th Parachute Infantry Regiment]] also parachuted into the beachhead and reinforced the 504th. A clear sign of the crisis passing was that when on the afternoon of 14 September, 180th infantry the final regiment of 45th Division landed, Clark was able to place it in reserve rather than in the line. The [[325th Glider Infantry Regiment]], reinforced by the 3rd Battalion 504th PIR, landed by sea on 15 September. A night drop of 600 paratroops of the 2nd Battalion 509th Parachute Infantry to disrupt German movements behind the lines in the vicinity of [[Avellino]] was widely dispersed and failed, incurring significant casualties. With strong naval gunfire support from the British [[Royal Navy]] and well-served by Fifth Army's artillery, the reinforced and reorganized infantry units defeated all German attempts on 14 September to find a weak spot in the lines. German losses, particularly in tanks, were severe. In addition, on 14 September and the following night Tedder ordered every available aircraft to support 5th Army, including the strategic bomber force. Over 1,000 tons of bombs were dropped during the daylight hours of that day. On 15 September 16th Panzer Division and 29th Panzergrenadier Division went on the defensive, thus marking the end to the thrust towards Paestum. Further north the Schmalz group of the Hermann Göring Division achieved surprise attacking 128th Infantry Brigade on the high ground east of Salerno. The armoured column following up was intercepted and driven back leaving the German infantry exposed. The Allied bomber effort continued on 15 September, although slightly less intense than the previous day, as did the naval bombardment. The arrival of the British battleships {{HMS|Warspite|03|6}} and {{HMS|Valiant|1914|2}}, with {{convert|15|in|cm|abbr=on}} guns off the beaches provided the Allied troops with a morale boost, although ''Valiant'' was not required to shoot and ''Warspite''{{'}}s 29 rounds fired were awe-inspiring but a minor contribution to the naval 2,592 rounds fired in total that day. On 15 September, Kesselring reported to the High Command that the Allies air and naval superiority had forced LXXVI Panzer Corps onto the defensive and that a decisive success would depend on the current attack by XIV Panzer Corps. If this failed, Tenth Army must break off the battle to avoid being 'mangled'. On 16 September, the Schmalz group renewed its efforts on the X Corps front but with no more success. The airforce and navy continued to batter enemy targets, although during an air raid by fighters fitted with radio-controlled bombs, ''Warspite'' was hit and disabled which required her to be towed to Malta for repair. ===Eighth Army ordered to apply pressure=== On 9 September, Montgomery's formations had been strung out along the coastal roads in the 'toe' of Italy. The build-up across the Straits of Messina had proved slow and he was therefore short of transport. On 9 September, he decided to halt his formations in order to reorganise before pushing on but Alexander replied on 10 September that "It is of the utmost importance that you maintain pressure upon the Germans so that they cannot remove forces from your front and concentrate them against ''Avalanche''". This message was further reinforced on 12 September by a personal visit from Alexander's Chief of Staff. Montgomery had no choice and while reorganising the main body of his troops sent light forces up the coast which reached Castrovillari and Belvedere on 12 September, still some {{convert|80|mi|km|abbr=on}} from the Salerno battlefield. On 14 September, he was in a position to start a more general advance, and by 16 September 5th Infantry Division had reached Sapri, {{convert|25|mi|km|abbr=on}} beyond Belvedere, where forward patrols made contact with patrols from VI Corps' 36th Division. ===German withdrawal=== On 16 September, von Vietinghoff reported to Kesselring that the Allied air and naval superiority were decisive and that he had not the power to neutralize this. Tenth Army had succeeded in preventing troops being cut off, and continuing the battle would just invite heavy losses. The approach of Eighth Army was also now posing a threat. He recommended to break off the battle, pivoting on Salerno to form a defensive line, preparatory to commencing withdrawal on 18/19 September. Kesselring's agreement reached von Vietinghoff early on 17 September. ===Salerno mutiny=== The Salerno battle was also the site of the [[Salerno Mutiny]] instigated by about 600 men of the British X Corps, who on 16 September refused assignment to new units as replacements. They had previously understood that they would be returning to their own units from which they had been separated during the fighting in the [[North African Campaign]], mainly because they had been wounded. Eventually the corps commander, McCreery, persuaded most of the men to follow their orders. The [[Non-commissioned officer|NCOs]] who led the mutiny were sentenced to death but were eventually allowed to rejoin units and the sentence was not carried out. ===Further Allied advances=== [[File:SalernoAdvancetoVolturno1943.jpg|thumb|right|320px|Allied advance to the Volturno river]] [[Image:ItalyDefenseLinesSouthofRome1943 4.jpg|thumb|right|320px|Map of the [[Winter Line|German prepared defensive lines south of Rome]].]] With the Salerno beachhead secure, the Fifth Army began its attack northwest towards Naples on 19 September. The 82nd Airborne, after suffering serious casualties near [[Altavilla Silentina]], was shifted to X Corps, joining the Rangers and the [[British 23rd Armoured Brigade]] on the Sorrento Peninsula to flank the German defenses at [[Nocera Inferiore]], [[Sant'Antonio Abate]] and [[Angri]], which the [[46th (North Midland) Division]] attacked. The [[7th Armoured Division (United Kingdom)|7th Armoured Division]], passing through the 46th Division, was assigned the task of taking Naples, while the newly landed [[U.S. 3rd Infantry Division]] took [[Acerno]] on 22 September and [[Avellino]] on 28 September. The 8th Army had been making good progress from the "toe" in the face of German engineer actions and linked with the 1st Airborne Division on the [[Adriatic Sea|Adriatic coast]]. It united the left of its front with the Fifth Army's right on 16 September and advancing up the Adriatic coast captured the airfields near Foggia on 27 September. Foggia was a major Allied objective because the large airfield complex there would give the Allied air forces the ability to strike new targets in France, Germany and the Balkans. A Squadron of the [[1st King's Dragoon Guards|King's Dragoon Guards]] entered Naples on 1 October (whose occupying forces had just been ejected by a [[Four days of Naples|popular uprising]]) and the entire Fifth Army, now consisting of three British and five U.S. divisions, reached the line of the [[Volturno]] River on 6 October. This provided a natural defensive barrier, securing Naples, the Campainian Plain and the vital airfields on it from German counterattack. Meanwhile, on the Adriatic coast, the British 8th Army had advanced to a line from [[Campobasso]] to [[Larino]] and [[Termoli]] on the Biferno river. ==Aftermath== The German 10th Army had come close to defeating the Salerno beachhead. The stubborn initial resistance by 16th Panzer Division's battlegroups and the Germans' ability to reinforce them by land more quickly than the Allies could land follow-up forces by sea or air had almost tipped the battle. 5th Army planners had concentrated the main weight of its forces in X Corps on its left wing, in line with its major objective of advancing on Naples. This had left its right wing thinly manned to defend X Corps' right flank and left a particular weakness at the corps boundary. In the end, the Germans, aware of the limited time available to deal with the Salerno landings because of the inevitable arrival in due course of Eighth Army, were obliged to make hurried and uncoordinated attempts to force a quick decision and had failed to break through Allied lines and exploit the gains in the face of total Allied air superiority and artillery and naval gunfire support. The Allies had been fortunate that at this time [[Adolf Hitler]] had sided with the view of his Army Group commander in Northern Italy, [[Erwin Rommel|Field Marshal Erwin Rommel]], and decided that defending Italy south of Rome was not a strategic priority. As a result, Kesselring had been forbidden to call upon reserves from the northern Army Group. The success of the 10th Army in inflicting heavy casualties, and Kesselring's strategic arguments, led Hitler to agree that the Allies should be kept away from German borders and prevented from gaining the oil resources of the Balkans. On 6 November, Hitler withdrew Rommel to oversee the build-up of defenses in northern France and gave Kesselring command of the whole of Italy with a remit to keep Rome in German hands for as long as possible. By early October, the whole of southern Italy was in Allied hands, and the Allied armies stood facing the [[Volturno Line]], the first of a series of prepared defensive lines running across Italy from which the Germans chose to fight delaying actions, giving ground slowly and buying time to complete their preparation of the [[Winter Line]], their strongest defensive line south of Rome. The next stage of the [[Italian Campaign (World War II)|Italian Campaign]] became for the Allied armies a grinding and attritional slog against skillful, determined and well prepared defenses in terrain and weather conditions which favoured defense and hampered the Allied advantages in mechanised equipment and air superiority. It took until mid-January 1944 to fight through the [[Volturno Line|Volturno]], [[Barbara Line|Barbara]] and [[Bernhardt Line|Bernhardt]] lines to reach the Gustav Line, the backbone of the [[Winter Line]] defenses, setting the scene for the four [[Battle of Monte Cassino|battles of Monte Cassino]] which took place between January and May 1944. ===Clark's award=== General [[Mark W. Clark]] was awarded the [[Distinguished Service Cross (United States)|Distinguished Service Cross]], the second-highest U.S. award for valor in combat, for his front-line leadership during this crisis. He was frequently seen in the most forward positions encouraging the troops. However, in the opinion of historian [[Carlo D'Este]],{{Citation needed|date=November 2008}} Clark's poor planning of the operation caused the crisis in the first place. Clark himself blamed the slowness of the Eighth Army for the beachhead crisis, for which there was at least some validity{{Citation needed|date=August 2009}}. ==In popular culture== *''[[To Hell and Back (film)|To Hell and Back]]'', movie 1955 *''[[Medal of Honor: Airborne]]'', 2007 video games ==See also== *[[Italian Campaign (World War II)|Italian Campaign]] *[[Military history of Italy during World War II]] *[[European Theatre of World War II]] ==External links== *[http://www.remuseum.org.uk/corpshistory/rem_corps_part16.htm Royal Engineers Museum] Royal Engineers and Second World War (Italy) *[http://www.worldwar2history.info/Italy/ Summary of the Italian Campaign] *[http://www.ku.edu/carrie/specoll/AFS/4/e/4e4.html University of Kansas Electronic Library] Bad link *[http://www.btinternet.com/~oneofmany/html/avalanche.html One of Many - Overview of 10 Corps operations at Salerno] {{World War II}} {{Coord missing|Italy}} {{DEFAULTSORT:Allied Invasion Of Italy}}