Operation Shingle

Operation Shingle

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Operation Shingle during the Italian Campaign
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

 of World War II, was an Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 amphibious landing against Axis
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 forces in the area of Anzio and Nettuno
Nettuno
Nettuno is a town and comune of the province of Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy, 60 kilometers south of Rome. It is named in honour of the Roman god Neptune...

, Italy. The operation was commanded by Major General John P. Lucas
John P. Lucas
John Porter Lucas was an American Major General and one of the commanders of VI Corps during the Italian Campaign of the Mediterranean Theater of World War II.-Early career:...

 and was intended to outflank German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 forces of the Winter Line
Winter Line
The Winter Line was a series of German military fortifications in Italy, constructed during World War II by Organisation Todt. The primary Gustav Line ran across Italy from just north of where the Garigliano River flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, through the Apennine Mountains to the...

 and enable an attack on Rome. The resulting combat is commonly called the Battle of Anzio.

The success of an amphibious landing at that location, in a basin substantially comprising reclaimed marshland and surrounded by mountains, depended completely on the element of surprise and the swiftness with which the invaders could move relative to the reaction time of the defenders. Any delay would result in the occupation of the mountains by the defenders and the entrapment of the invaders. Lieutenant General Mark Clark, commander of the U.S. Fifth Army, and his superiors understood the risk perfectly well; Clark did not pass on their appreciation of the situation to his subordinate Lucas but as an experienced general he no doubt should have understood. The initial landing succeeded without opposition and a jeep patrol which went as far as the outskirts of Rome reported no resistance. Despite that report, Lucas, who had little confidence in the operation as planned, failed to capitalise on the element of surprise by delaying his advance a few days until he judged his position was sufficiently consolidated and his troops ready.

While Lucas consolidated, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring
Albert Kesselring
Albert Kesselring was a German Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall during World War II. In a military career that spanned both World Wars, Kesselring became one of Nazi Germany's most skilful commanders, being one of 27 soldiers awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords...

, the German Italian theatre commander, moved every spare unit to be found, into a ring around the beachhead and on the flanks of the mountains, where his gunners had a clear view of every target. The Germans stopped the drainage pumps and flooded the reclaimed marsh with salt water. They intended, under protest of the Italians, to create an epidemic of malaria by re-establishing the brackish environment in which the mosquitoes flourished. They planned to entrap the allies and destroy them by epidemic. Meanwhile, for weeks a rain of shells fell on the beach, the marsh, the harbor, on anything that was observable from the hills.

After a month of heavy but inconclusive fighting Lucas was relieved and sent home, replaced by Major General Lucian Truscott
Lucian Truscott
Lucian King Truscott, Jr. was a U.S. Army General, who successively commanded the 3rd Infantry Division, VI Corps, U.S. Fifteenth Army and U.S. Fifth Army during World War II.-Early life:...

. The Allies finally broke out in May but instead of striking inland to cut lines of communication of the German Tenth Army's units at Cassino, Truscott on Clark's orders reluctantly turned his forces north-west towards the prize of Rome which was captured on 4 June. As a result, the forces of the German Tenth Army at Cassino were able to withdraw and rejoin the rest of Kesselring's forces north of Rome, regroup and make a fighting withdrawal to his next major prepared defensive position on the Gothic Line
Gothic Line
The Gothic Line formed Field Marshal Albert Kesselring's last major line of defence in the final stages of World War II along the summits of the Apennines during the fighting retreat of German forces in Italy against the Allied Armies in Italy commanded by General Sir Harold Alexander.Adolf Hitler...

.

Background


At the end of 1943, following the Allied invasion of Italy
Allied invasion of Italy
The Allied invasion of Italy was the Allied landing on mainland Italy on September 3, 1943, by General Harold Alexander's 15th Army Group during the Second World War. The operation followed the successful invasion of Sicily during the Italian Campaign...

, Allied forces were bogged down at the Gustav Line, a defensive line across Italy south of the strategic objective of Rome. The terrain of central Italy
Geography of Italy
Italy is located in southern Europe and comprises the long, boot-shaped Italian Peninsula, the land between the peninsula and the Alps, and a number of islands including Sicily and Sardinia . Its total area is , of which is land and...

 had proved ideally suited to defense, and Field Marshal
Generalfeldmarschall
Field Marshal or Generalfeldmarschall in German, was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire; in the Austrian Empire, the rank Feldmarschall was used...

 Albert Kesselring
Albert Kesselring
Albert Kesselring was a German Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall during World War II. In a military career that spanned both World Wars, Kesselring became one of Nazi Germany's most skilful commanders, being one of 27 soldiers awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords...

 took full advantage.

Operation Shingle was originally conceived by Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 in December, 1943, as he lay recovering from pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 in Marrakesh. His concept was to land two divisions at Anzio, bypassing German forces in central Italy, and take Rome, the strategic objective of the current Battle of Rome. By January he had recovered and was badgering his commanders for a plan of attack, accusing them of not wanting to fight but of being interested only in drawing pay and eating rations. General Harold Alexander, commander of Allied Armies in Italy
Allied Armies in Italy
Allied Armies in Italy, commanded by Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander, was the title of the highest Allied field headquarters in Italy, during the middle part of the Italian campaign...

, had already considered such a plan since October using five divisions. However, the 5th Army did not have either the divisions or the means to transport them. Clark proposed landing a reinforced division to divert German troops from Monte Cassino
Battle of Monte Cassino
The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome.In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans...

. This second landing, however, instead of failing similarly, would hold "the shingle" for a week in expectation of a breakthrough at Cassino and so the operation was named Shingle.

The Anzio and Nettuno beachheads are located at the northwestern end of a tract of reclaimed marshland, formerly the Pontine Marshes
Pontine Marshes
thumb|250px|Lake Fogliano, a coastal lagoon in the Pontine Plain.The Pontine Marshes, termed in Latin Pomptinus Ager by Titus Livius, Pomptina Palus and Pomptinae Paludes by Pliny the Elder, today the Agro Pontino in Italian, is an approximately quadrangular area of former marshland in the Lazio...

, now the Pontine Fields (Agro Pontino). Previously uninhabited and uninhabitable due to mosquitoes carrying malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

, Roman armies marched as quickly as possible across it on the military road, the Via Appia. The marsh was bounded on one side by the sea and on others by mountains: the Monti Albani, the Monti Lepini
Monti Lepini
The Monti Lepini are a mountain range which belongs to the Anti-Apennines of the Lazio region of central Italy, between the two provinces of Latina and Rome....

, the Monti Ausoni
Monti Ausoni
The Ausoni Mountains are mountain range of southern Lazio, in central Italy. They are part of the Antiappennini, a group running from the Apennines chain to the Tyrrhenian Sea. They are bounded northwards by the Monti Lepini and southwards by the Aurunci Mountains.They take the name from the...

 and further south the Monti Aurunci (where the allies had been brought to a halt before Monte Cassino
Monte Cassino
Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about southeast of Rome, Italy, c. to the west of the town of Cassino and altitude. St. Benedict of Nursia established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order, here around 529. It was the site of Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944...

). Overall these mountains are referenced by the name Monti Laziali, the mountains of Lazio, the ancient Latium
Latium
Lazio is one of the 20 administrative regions of Italy, situated in the central peninsular section of the country. With about 5.7 million residents and a GDP of more than 170 billion euros, Lazio is the third most populated and the second richest region of Italy...

. Invading armies from the south had the choice of crossing the marsh or to take the only other road to Rome, the Via Latina
Via Latina
The Via Latina was a Roman road of Italy, running southeast from Rome for about 200 kilometers.It led from the Porta Latina in the Aurelian walls of Rome to the pass of Mons Algidus; it was important in the early military history of Rome...

, running along the eastern flanks of the Monti Laziali, risking entrapment, as had been a Roman army at the Battle of the Caudine Forks
Battle of the Caudine Forks
The Battle of Caudine Forks, 321 BC, was a decisive event of the Second Samnite War. Its designation as a battle is a mere historical formality: there was no fighting and there were no casualties. The Romans were trapped in a waterless place by the Samnites before they knew what was happening and...

 in 321BC. The marshes were turned into cultivatable land in the 1930s under the command of the dictator, Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

. Canals (over which the battle was fought) and pumping stations were built to remove the brackish water from the land which divided it into personal tracts with new stone houses for colonists from north Italy. Mussolini also founded the five cities destroyed by the battle.

When Truscott's 3rd Division was first selected for the operation, he pointed out to Clark that the position was a death trap and there would be no survivors. Agreeing, Clark canceled the operation, but Prime Minister Churchill revived it. Apparently the two allies had different concepts: the Americans viewed such a landing as another distraction from Cassino, but if they could not break through at Cassino, the men at Anzio would be trapped. Churchill and the British high command envisioned an outflanking movement ending with the capture of Rome. Mediterranean Theatre commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

, leaving to take command of Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

, left the decision up to Churchill with a warning about German unpredictability. Both sides finally agreed that the troops could not remain at Anzio, but Lucas received somewhat equivocal orders. He was to lead the Fifth Army's U.S. VI Corps in a surprise landing in the Anzio/Nettuno area, and make a rapid advance into the Alban Hills
Alban Hills
The Alban Hills are the site of a quiescent volcanic complex in Italy, located southeast of Rome and about north of Anzio.The dominant peak is Monte Cavo. There are two small calderas which contain lakes, Lago Albano and Lake Nemi...

 to cut German communications and "threaten the rear of the German XIV Panzer Corps" under General Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin. It was hoped that this threat would draw Germany's forces away from the Cassino area and facilitate an Allied breakthrough there. No one saw the point of taking the Alban Hills
Alban Hills
The Alban Hills are the site of a quiescent volcanic complex in Italy, located southeast of Rome and about north of Anzio.The dominant peak is Monte Cavo. There are two small calderas which contain lakes, Lago Albano and Lake Nemi...

, nor was Churchill's idea of a flanking movement expressed.

Plan


Planners argued that if Kesselring (in charge of German forces in Italy) pulled troops out of the Gustav Line to defend against the Allied assault, then Allied forces would be able to break through the line; if Kesselring did not pull troops out of the Gustav Line, then Operation Shingle would threaten to capture Rome and cut off the German units defending the Gustav Line. Should Germany have adequate reinforcements available to defend both Rome and the Gustav Line, the Allies felt that the operation would nevertheless be useful in engaging forces which could otherwise be committed on another front
Front (military)
A military front or battlefront is a contested armed frontier between opposing forces. This can be a local or tactical front, or it can range to a theater...

. The operation was officially canceled on 18 December 1943. However, it was later reselected.

Clark did not feel he had the numbers on the southern front to exploit any breakthrough. His plan therefore was relying on the southern offensive drawing Kesselring's reserves in and providing the Anzio force the opportunity to break inland quickly. This would also reflect the orders he had received from Alexander to "...carry out an assault landing on the beaches in the vicinity of Rome with the object of cutting the enemy lines of communication and threatening the rear of the German XIV Corps [on the Gustav Line]." However, his written orders to Lucas did not really reflect this. Initially Lucas had received orders to "1. Seize and secure a beachhead
Beachhead
Beachhead is a military term used to describe the line created when a unit reaches a beach, and begins to defend that area of beach, while other reinforcements help out, until a unit large enough to begin advancing has arrived. It is sometimes used interchangeably with Bridgehead and Lodgement...

 in the vicinity of Anzio 2. Advance and secure Colli Laziali [the Alban Hills] 3. Be prepared to advance on Rome". However, Clark's final orders stated "...2. Advance on Colli Laziali" giving Lucas considerable flexibility as to the timing of any advance on the Alban Hills. It is likely that the caution displayed by both Clark and Lucas was to some extent a product of Clark's experiences at the tough battle for the Salerno beach head and Lucas' natural caution stemming from his lack of experience in battle.

Neither Clark nor Lucas had full confidence in either their superiors or the operational plan. Along with most of the Fifth Army staff they felt that Shingle was properly a two corps or even a full army task. A few days prior to the attack, Lucas wrote in his diary, "They will end up putting me ashore with inadequate forces and get me in a serious jam... Then, who will get the blame?" and "[The operation] has a strong odour of Gallipoli
Battle of Gallipoli
The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign or the Battle of Gallipoli, took place at the peninsula of Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916, during the First World War...

 and apparently the same amateur was still on the coach's bench." The "amateur" can only have referred to Winston Churchill, architect of the disastrous Gallipoli landings of World War I and personal advocate of Shingle.

Availability of naval forces


One of the problems with the plan was the availability of landing ships. The American commanders in particular were determined that nothing should delay the Normandy invasion and the supporting landings in southern France
Operation Dragoon
Operation Dragoon was the Allied invasion of southern France on August 15, 1944, during World War II. The invasion was initiated via a parachute drop by the 1st Airborne Task Force, followed by an amphibious assault by elements of the U.S. Seventh Army, followed a day later by a force made up...

. Operation Shingle would require the use of landing ships necessary for these operations. Initially Shingle was to release these assets by January 15. However, this being deemed problematic, President Roosevelt granted permission for the craft to remain until February 5.

Only enough tank landing ships (LSTs) to land a single division were initially available to Shingle. Later, at Churchill's personal insistence, enough were made available to land two divisions. Allied intelligence thought that five or six German divisions were in the area, although U.S. 5th Army intelligence severely underestimated the German 10th Army's fighting capacity at the time, believing many of their units would be worn out after the defensive battles fought since September.

Order of battle


Allied forces in this attack consisted of 5 cruiser
Cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

s, 24 destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s, 238 landing craft
Landing craft
Landing craft are boats and seagoing vessels used to convey a landing force from the sea to the shore during an amphibious assault. Most renowned are those used to storm the beaches of Normandy, the Mediterranean, and many Pacific islands during WWII...

, 62+ other ships, 40,000 soldiers, and 5,000+ vehicles.

The attack consisted of three groups:

The British force ("Peter Beach")


This force attacked the coast 6 miles (10 km) north of Anzio.
  • British 1st Infantry Division
    British 1st Infantry Division
    The 1st Infantry Division was a regular British Army division with a long history having been present at the Peninsula War, the Crimean War, the First World War, and during the Second World War.-Napoleonic Wars:...

    • 2nd Infantry Brigade
      • 1st Bn, The Loyal Regiment
      • 2nd Bn, The North Staffordshire Regiment
      • 6th Bn, The Gordon Highlanders
        The Gordon Highlanders
        The Gordon Highlanders was a British Army infantry regiment from 1794 until 1994. The regiment took its name from the Clan Gordon and recruited principally from Aberdeen and the North-East of Scotland.-History:...

    • 3rd Infantry Brigade
      • 1st Bn, The Duke of Wellington's Regiment
        The Duke of Wellington's Regiment
        The Duke of Wellington's Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army, forming part of the King's Division.In 1702 Colonel George Hastings, 8th Earl of Huntingdon, was authorised to raise a new regiment, which he did in and around the city of Gloucester. As was the custom in those days...

      • 2nd Bn, The Sherwood Foresters
      • 1st Bn, The King's Shropshire Light Infantry
        The King's Shropshire Light Infantry
        The King's Shropshire Light Infantry was a regiment of the British Army, formed in 1881, but with antecedents dating back to 1755. The KSLI was amalgamated with three other county light infantry regiments in 1968 to became part of The Light Infantry...

    • 24th Guards Infantry Brigade
      • 5th Bn, Grenadier Guards
        Grenadier Guards
        The Grenadier Guards is an infantry regiment of the British Army. It is the most senior regiment of the Guards Division and, as such, is the most senior regiment of infantry. It is not, however, the most senior regiment of the Army, this position being attributed to the Life Guards...

      • 1st Bn, Irish Guards
        Irish Guards
        The Irish Guards , part of the Guards Division, is a Foot Guards regiment of the British Army.Along with the Royal Irish Regiment, it is one of the two Irish regiments remaining in the British Army. The Irish Guards recruit in Northern Ireland and the Irish neighbourhoods of major British cities...

      • 1st Bn, Scots Guards
        Scots Guards
        The Scots Guards is a regiment of the Guards Division of the British Army, whose origins lie in the personal bodyguard of King Charles I of England and Scotland...

    • 1st Reconnaissance Regiment
    • 2/7th The Middlesex Regiment
    • 2, 19 & 67 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
      Royal Artillery
      The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

    • 81 Anti-tank Regiment, RA
    • 90 Light Anti-aircraft Regiment, RA
    • 23, 238 & 248 Field Companies, Royal Engineers
      Royal Engineers
      The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

    • 6 Field Park Company, RE
    • 1 Bridging Platoon, RE
  • 46th Royal Tank Regiment
  • 2nd Special Service Brigade
    2nd Special Service Brigade
    The 2nd Special Service Brigade was formed in late 1943 in the Middle East and saw service in Italy, the Adriatic, the landings at Anzio and took part in operations in Yugoslavia....

     (partial)
    • No. 9 Commando
      No. 9 Commando
      No. 9 Commando was a battalion-sized commando raised by the British Army during the Second World War. They took art in raids across the English Channel and in the Mediterranean ending the was in Italy as part of the 2nd Special Service Brigade...

    • No.43 (Royal Marine) Commando
      43 Commando
      No. 43 Commando or 43 Commando was a unit of Royal Marines trained as Commandos during the Second World War. They served in the 2nd Special Service Brigade in the Mediterranean, Italy and the Adriatic....


No 1, 2 & 3 Field Ambulance
Field Ambulance
A Field Ambulance is the name used by the British Army and the armies of other Commonwealth nations to describe a mobile medical unit that treats wounded soldiers very close to the combat zone...

, Royal Army Medical Corps
Royal Army Medical Corps
The Royal Army Medical Corps is a specialist corps in the British Army which provides medical services to all British Army personnel and their families in war and in peace...


The northwestern U.S. Force ("Yellow Beach")


This force attacked the port of Anzio.
  • 6615th Ranger Force
    6615th Ranger Force
    The 6615th Ranger Force was an American unit in World War II. It served in the Italian campaign and lost two battalions at the Battle of Cisterna, part of the Battle of Anzio.- Formation :...

    • 1st Ranger Battalion
      1st Ranger Battalion
      The 1st Ranger Battalion is an elite special operations unit of the US Army that is currently based at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, United States....

    • 3rd Ranger Battalion
    • 4th Ranger Battalion
    • 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion
      509th Infantry Regiment
      The 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment was the first combat paratrooper unit of the United States Army formed during World War II...

       (PIB)
    • U.S. 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion
  • U.S. 93rd Evacuation Hospital
  • U.S. 95th Evacuation Hospital

The southwestern U.S. Force ("X-Ray Beach")


This force attacked the coast 6 miles (10 km) east of Anzio. The invasion plan originally assigned the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
504th Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment is an airborne infantry regiment in the United States Army, first formed in 1942 as part of the 82nd Airborne Division.-Organization:...

 to make a parachute assault
Paratrooper
Paratroopers are soldiers trained in parachuting and generally operate as part of an airborne force.Paratroopers are used for tactical advantage as they can be inserted into the battlefield from the air, thereby allowing them to be positioned in areas not accessible by land...

 near Aprilia, eight miles north of Anzio, which would have placed it in position for an early capture of the key road junction at Campoleone, which was not taken until late May. However these plans were scrapped on 20 January, apparently because of the high losses during the airborne assaults at Sicily. The 504th PIR was then assigned to land by sea.
  • U.S. 3rd Infantry Division
    • 7th Infantry Regiment
      7th Infantry Regiment (United States)
      The United States Army's 7th Infantry Regiment, known as "The Cottenbalers" from an incident that occurred during the Battle of New Orleans, while under the command of Andrew Jackson, when soldiers of the 7th Infantry Regiment held positions behind a breastwork of bales of cotton during the...

      • 1/7 Infantry Battalion
      • 2/7 Infantry Battalion
      • 3/7 Infantry Battalion
    • 15th Infantry Regiment
      • 1/15 Infantry Battalion
      • 2/15 Infantry Battalion
      • 3/15 Infantry Battalion
    • 30th Infantry Regiment
      30th Infantry Regiment (United States)
      The 30th Infantry Regiment is a United States Army infantry regiment.-Lineage:*Constituted 2 February 1901 in the Regular Army as the 30th Infantry...

      • 1/30 Infantry Battalion
        1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment (United States)
        The 1st Battalion 30th Infantry Regiment is a unit of the United States Army, notable for service in both World War II and most recently during Operation Iraqi Freedom.-History:...

      • 2/30 Infantry Battalion
      • 3/30 Infantry Battalion
    • 3rd Infantry Division Artillery
      • 9 Medium Artillery Battalion
      • 10, 39 & 41 Field Artillery Battalions
    • 10 Engineer Battalion
    • 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion
      601st Tank Destroyer Battalion
      The 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion was a battalion of the United States Army active during the Second World War. It was the first of the newly formed tank destroyer battalions to see combat, and the only one to fight as a "pure" tank destroyer force...

    • 751st Tank Battalion
    • 441st AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion
    • Battery B, 36th Field Artillery Regiment
    • 69th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
    • 84th Chemical Battalion (motorized)
  • U.S. 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
    • 1/504 Parachute Infantry Battalion
    • 2/504 Parachute Infantry Battalion
    • 3/504 Parachute Infantry Battalion

Southern attack



The Fifth Army's attack on the Gustav Line began on January 16, 1944, at Monte Cassino
Battle of Monte Cassino
The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome.In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans...

. Although the operation failed to break through, it did succeed in part in its primary objective. Heinrich von Vietinghoff, commanding the Gustav Line, called for reinforcements, and Kesselring transferred the 29th and 90th Panzergrenadier Divisions from Rome.

Initial Landings



The landings began on January 22, 1944.

Although resistance had been expected, as seen at Salerno
Salerno
Salerno is a city and comune in Campania and is the capital of the province of the same name. It is located on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea....

 during 1943, the initial landings were essentially unopposed, with the exception of desultory Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

strafing
Strafing
Strafing is the practice of attacking ground targets from low-flying aircraft using aircraft-mounted automatic weapons. This means, that although ground attack using automatic weapons fire is very often accompanied with bombing or rocket fire, the term "strafing" does not specifically include the...

 runs.

By midnight, 36,000 soldiers and 3,200 vehicles had landed on the beaches. Thirteen Allied troops were killed, and 97 wounded; about 200 Germans had been taken as POWs
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

. The 1st Division penetrated 2 miles (3 km) inland, the Rangers captured Anzio's port, the 509th PIB captured Nettuno, and the 3rd Division penetrated 3 miles (5 km) inland.

In the first days of operations, the command of the Italian resistance movement
Italian resistance movement
The Italian resistance is the umbrella term for the various partisan forces formed by pro-Allied Italians during World War II...

 had a meeting with the Allied General Headquarters: it offered to guide the Allied Force in the Alban Hills
Alban Hills
The Alban Hills are the site of a quiescent volcanic complex in Italy, located southeast of Rome and about north of Anzio.The dominant peak is Monte Cavo. There are two small calderas which contain lakes, Lago Albano and Lake Nemi...

 territory, but the Allied Command refused the proposal.

After the landings


It is clear that Lucas's superiors expected some kind of offensive action from him. The point of the landing was to turn the German defences on the Winter Line taking advantage of their exposed rear and hopefully panicking them into retreating northwards past Rome. However, Lucas instead poured more men and material into his tiny bridgehead, and strengthened his defences.

Winston Churchill was clearly displeased with this action. "I had hoped we were hurling a wildcat into the shore, but all we got was a stranded whale", he said.

Lucas's decision remains a controversial one. Noted military historian John Keegan
John Keegan
Sir John Keegan OBE FRSL is a British military historian, lecturer, writer and journalist. He has published many works on the nature of combat between the 14th and 21st centuries concerning land, air, maritime, and intelligence warfare, as well as the psychology of battle.-Life and career:John...

 wrote, "Had Lucas risked rushing at Rome the first day, his spearheads would probably have arrived, though they would have soon been crushed. Nevertheless he might have 'staked out claims well inland.'" However, Lucas did not have confidence in the strategic planning of the operation. Also, he could certainly argue that his interpretation of his orders from Clark was not an unreasonable one. With two divisions landed, and facing two or three times that many Germans, it would not have been unreasonable for Lucas to consider the beachhead insecure. But according to Keegan, Lucas's actions "achieved the worst of both worlds, exposing his forces to risk without imposing any on the enemy."

Response of Axis forces



Kesselring was informed of the landings at 03:00 on January 22. Although the landings came as a surprise, Kesselring had made contingency plans to deal with possible landings at all the likely locations. All the plans relied on his divisions each having previously organised a motorised rapid reaction unit (Kampfgruppe) which could move speedily to meet the threat and buy time for the rest of the defenses to get in place. At 05:00 he ordered the Kampfgruppe of 4th Parachute Division
4th Parachute Division (Germany)
The 4th Parachute Division, , was a formation in the Luftwaffe during World War II. It was formed in Venice, Italy, in November 1943, from elements of 2 Fallschirmjäger Division and volunteers from the Italian 184 and 185 Airborne Division Folgore parachute divisions...

 and the Hermann Göring Panzer Division
Fallschirm-Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring
The Fallschirm-Panzer-Division 1. Hermann Göring was an élite German Luftwaffe armoured division. The HG saw action in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and on the Eastern front...

 to defend the roads leading from Anzio to the Alban Hills
Alban Hills
The Alban Hills are the site of a quiescent volcanic complex in Italy, located southeast of Rome and about north of Anzio.The dominant peak is Monte Cavo. There are two small calderas which contain lakes, Lago Albano and Lake Nemi...

 via Campoleone and Cisterna
Battle of Cisterna
The Battle of Cisterna took place during World War II, on 30 January-2 February 1944, near Cisterna, Italy, as part of the battle of Anzio that followed Operation Shingle. The battle was a clear German victory which also had repercussions on the employment of U.S...

 whilst his plans expected some 20,000 defending troops to have arrived by the end of the first day. In addition, he requested that OKW send reinforcements, and in response to this they ordered the equivalent of more than three divisions from France, Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

, and Germany whilst at the same time releasing to Kesselring a further three divisions in Italy which had been under OKW's direct command. Later that morning, he ordered General Eberhard von Mackensen
Eberhard von Mackensen
Friedrich August Eberhard von Mackensen was a German general who served in World War II, and one of 882 German recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

 (Fourteenth Army
German Fourteenth Army
The 14th Army was a World War II field army.The 14th Army was activated on August 1, 1939 with General Wilhelm List in command and saw service in Poland until the end of the campaign in Poland October 13, 1939...

) and General Heinrich von Vietinghoff
Heinrich von Vietinghoff
Heinrich Gottfried Otto Richard von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel was a German Colonel-General of the German Army during the Second World War....

 (Tenth Army
German Tenth Army
The 10th Army was a World War I and World War II field army. During World War I the 10th army was stationed at the Eastern Front against Russia, and occupied Poland and Belorussia at the end of 1918 when the war ended....

 - Gustav Line) to send him additional reinforcements.

The German units in the immediate vicinity had in fact been dispatched to reinforce the Gustav Line only a few days earlier. All available reserves from the southern front or on their way to it were rushed toward Anzio; these included the 3rd Panzer Grenadier and 71st Infantry Divisions, and the bulk of the Luftwaffe's Hermann Göring Panzer Division. Kesselring initially considered that a successful defence could not be made if the Allies launched a major attack on January 23 or January 24. However, by the end of January 22, the lack of aggressive action convinced him that a defence could be made. Nevertheless, few additional defenders arrived on January 23 although the arrival on the evening of January 22 of Lieutenant General
General der Fallschirmtruppe
General der Fallschirmtruppe was a General’s rank of the German Luftwaffe.The rank was equivalent to the long established General der Kavallerie, General der Artillerie and General der Infanterie...

 Alfred Schlemm
Alfred Schlemm
Alfred Schlemm was a German General der Fallschirmtruppe in the Wehrmacht. His last command in World War II opposed the advance of the First Canadian Army through the Reichswald in February 1945....

 and his 1st Parachute Corps headquarters brought greater organisation and purpose to the German defensive preparations. By January 24, however, the Germans had over 40,000 troops in prepared defensive positions.

Three days after the landings, the beachhead was surrounded by a defence line consisting of three divisions: The 4th Parachute Division to the west, the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division to the center in front of Alban Hills, the Hermann Göring Panzer Division to the east.

von Mackensen's 14th Army assumed overall control of the defence on January 25. Elements of eight German divisions were employed in the defence line around the beachhead, and five more divisions were on their way to the Anzio area. Kesselring ordered an attack on the beachhead for January 28, though it was postponed to February 1.

Allied offensive



Further troop movements including the arrival of U.S. 45th Infantry Division and U.S. 1st Armored Division
1st Armored Division (United States)
The 1st Armored Division—nicknamed "Old Ironsides"—is a standing armored division of the United States Army with base of operations in Fort Bliss, Texas. It was the first armored division of the U.S...

, brought Allied forces total on the beachhead to 69,000 men, 508 guns and 208 tanks by January 29, whilst the total defending Germans had risen to 71,500. Lucas initiated a two-pronged attack on January 30. While one force was to cut Highway 7 at Cisterna
Battle of Cisterna
The Battle of Cisterna took place during World War II, on 30 January-2 February 1944, near Cisterna, Italy, as part of the battle of Anzio that followed Operation Shingle. The battle was a clear German victory which also had repercussions on the employment of U.S...

 before moving east into the Alban Hills, a second was to advance northeast up the Via Anziate towards Campoleone. In heavy fighting British 1st Division made ground but failed to take Campoleone and ended the battle in an exposed salient stretching up the Via Anziate. On the right, two Ranger battalions made a daring covert advance towards Cisterna in advance of the main assault. (see Battle of Cisterna
Battle of Cisterna
The Battle of Cisterna took place during World War II, on 30 January-2 February 1944, near Cisterna, Italy, as part of the battle of Anzio that followed Operation Shingle. The battle was a clear German victory which also had repercussions on the employment of U.S...

) Due to faulty intelligence, when daylight arrived they were engaged and cut off. A brutal battle with elements of the Hermann Göring
Fallschirm-Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring
The Fallschirm-Panzer-Division 1. Hermann Göring was an élite German Luftwaffe armoured division. The HG saw action in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and on the Eastern front...

 division followed. After several hours of fighting which saw the Ranger's ammunition supplies run low, the Germans drove a group of US prisoners at bayonet point towards the US position, demanding surrender. Each time a German was shot, a prisoner was bayonetted. Rangers began surrendering individually or in small groups prompting others, acting on their own authority, to shoot them. Of the 767 men in the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions, 6 returned to the Allied lines and 761 were killed or captured. The attack of the 3rd Division captured ground up to three miles deep on a seven-mile wide front, but failed to break through or capture Cisterna.

German counterattacks


By early February German forces in Fourteenth Army numbered some 100,000 troops organised into two Army Corps, the 1st Parachute Corps under Schlemm and the LXXVI Panzer Corps under Lieutenant-General Traugott Herr
Traugott Herr
Traugott Herr was a German general of Panzer troops who served during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

. Allied forces by this time totalled 76,400 (including the recently arrived British 56th Infantry Division) After a making exploratory probes on the Campoleone salient on the afternoon of February 3 the German forces launched a full counterattack at 23:00 in order to reduce the salient and "iron out" the front line. Von Mackensen had planned for the salient to be ground away rather than employing a rapid, focused thrust to cut it off. Some hours after the attack started the coherence of the front line had been completely shattered, and the fighting for the salient had given way to small unit actions, swaying back and forth through the gullies. In the morning of the February 4 the situation was becoming more serious, the Irish Guards only had one cohesive company left and on the opposite side of the salient, the companies of the 6th Gordon Highlanders were beginning to crumble.

Even though the base of the salient was nearly broken, Lucas was able to bolster 1st Infantry Division's defenses with one of the newly-arrived brigades from 56th Division, allowing the withdrawal of the British 3rd Infantry Brigade. They had been tasked with holding the tip of the salient 2 miles long and 1000 yards wide on the road going north of Campoleone, but after the German attacks in the early hours of 4 February, the 2nd Sherwood Foresters, 1st Shropshire LI and 1st Duke of Wellington's Regt. had been cut off and were surrounded in the pocket. They held the line all day taking heavy casualties, but were eventually ordered to pull back and made a fighting retreat at 5pm to the Factory with the aid of artillery. From February 5 to February 7 both sides employed heavy artillery concentrations and bombers to disrupt the other side. At 21:00 on February 7 the Germans renewed their attack. Once more the fighting was fierce and it was during this period that Major William Sidney
William Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle
William Philip Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle and 6th Baron De L'Isle and Dudley VC KG GCMG GCVO KStJ PC , was the 15th Governor-General of Australia and the final non-Australian to hold the office...

 of the Grenadier Guards was awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

. Slowly the Allies were forced to give ground and by February 10 they had been pushed out of the salient. Lucas ordered attacks on February 11 to regain the lost ground but the Germans, forewarned by a radio intercept, repelled the Allies' poorly coordinated attack.

On February 16 the Germans launched a new offensive (Operation Fischfang) down the line of the Via Anziate. By February 18, after desperate fighting, the Allies' Final Beachhead Line (prepared defenses more or less on the line of the original beachhead) was under attack. However, a counterattack using VI Corps' reserves halted the German advance, and on February 20, Fischfang petered out with both sides exhausted. During Fischfang the Germans had sustained some 5,400 casualties, the Allies 3,500. Both had suffered 20,000 casualties each since the first landings. Also on February 18 while returning to Anzio the light cruiser was struck by two torpedoes and sunk with a loss of 417 men.
Despite the exhausted state of the troops, Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 insisted that 14th Army should continue to attack. Despite the misgivings of both Kesselring and von Mackensen, a further assault was mounted on February 29, this time on LXXVI Panzer Corps' front around Cisterna. This push achieved little except to generate a further 2500 casualties for the 14th Army.

Lucas replaced


Churchill had continued to bridle at Lucas' perceived passivity. He had written on February 10 to Alexander encouraging him to exert his authority and Alexander had visited the beachhead on February 14 to tell Lucas he wished for a breakout as soon as the tactical situation allowed. After his visit Alexander wrote to the CIGS, Alan Brooke, saying: Lucas wrote in his diary on February 15:

On February 16 at a high level conference hosted by Alexander and attended by Clark and Wilson, commander AFHQ it was decided to appoint two deputies under Lucas, Lucian Truscott and the British Major-General Vyvyan Evelegh
Vyvyan Evelegh
Major-General Vyvyan Evelegh CB OBE DSO was a British army officer during World War II.-Miitary career:Evelegh was appointed an Instructor at the Staff College, Camberley in 1940, Commander of 11th Infantry Brigade in 1941 and Assistant Commandant at the Staff College, Camberley in 1942...

. On February 22, Clark replaced Lucas with Truscott, appointing Lucas deputy commander 5th Army until such time as a suitable job could be found for him back in the United States.

Stalemate: planning for Operation Diadem




Both sides had realised that no decisive result could be achieved until the spring and reverted to a defensive posture involving aggressive patrolling and artillery duels whilst they worked to rebuild their fighting capabilities. In anticipation of the following spring, Kesselring ordered the preparation of a new defence line, the Caesar C line
Caesar C line
The Caesar Line was the last German line of defence in Italy before Rome during the Second World War. It extended from the west coast near Ostia, over the Alban Hills south of Rome, from Valmontone to Avezzano and then to Pescara on the Adriatic coast...

, behind the line of beachhead running from the mouth of the river Tiber
Tiber
The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flowing through Umbria and Lazio to the Tyrrhenian Sea. It drains a basin estimated at...

 just south of Rome through Albano
Albano Laziale
Albano Laziale is a comune in the province of Rome, on the Alban Hills, in Latium, central Italy. It is also a suburb of Rome, which is 25 km distant. It is bounded by other communes of Castel Gandolfo, Rocca di Papa, Ariccia and Ardea. Located in the Castelli Romani area of Lazio...

, skirting south of the Alban Hills to Valmontone
Valmontone
Valmontone is a comune in the Province of Rome in the Italian region Lazio, located about 45 km southeast of Rome.-Geography:...

 and across Italy to the Adriatic
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 coast at Pescara
Pescara
Pescara is the capital city of the Province of Pescara, in the Abruzzo region of Italy. As of January 1, 2007 it was the most populated city within Abruzzo at 123,059 residents, 400,000 with the surrounding metropolitan area...

, behind which 14th Army and, to their left, 10th Army might withdraw when the need arose. Meanwhile, Lucian Truscott
Lucian Truscott
Lucian King Truscott, Jr. was a U.S. Army General, who successively commanded the 3rd Infantry Division, VI Corps, U.S. Fifteenth Army and U.S. Fifth Army during World War II.-Early life:...

, who had been promoted from the command of U.S. 3rd Infantry Division to replace Lucas as commander of VI Corps on February 22, worked with his staff on the plans for a decisive attack as part of a general offensive which Alexander was planning for May and which would include a major offensive on the Gustav Line, Operation Diadem
Operation Diadem
Operation Diadem, also referred to as the Fourth Battle of Monte Cassino was an offensive operation undertaken by the Allies in May 1944, as part of the Italian Campaign. It was launched at 2300 Hours on 11 May 1944 to break the German defenses on the western half of the Winter Line and open up...

. The objective of the plan was to fully engage Kesselring's armies with a major offensive and remove any prospect of the Germans withdrawing forces from Italy to redeploy elsewhere. It was also intended to trap the bulk of the German Tenth Army between the Allied forces advancing through the Gustav Line and VI Corps thrusting inland from Anzio.

In March, the 2nd Italian SS "Vendetta" Battalion and 29th Italian SS Rifle Battalion were sent to fight against the Anglo-American forces at the Anzio/Nettuno beachhead. Dispersed among German battalions, the German commanding officers later gave the Italians companies favourable reports. Because of the demonstration of courage and sense of duty displayed by the volunteers of the Italian SS, they are designated as units of the Waffen-SS, with all the duties and rights that that entailed.

In March, U.S. 34th Infantry Division and in early May, U.S. 36th Infantry Division had arrived at Anzio whilst the British 56th Infantry Division had been relieved by British 5th Infantry Division. By late May, there were some 150,000 Allied troops in the bridgehead including five U.S. and two British divisions, facing five German divisions. The Germans were well dug into prepared defenses, but were weak in numbers of officers and NCOs and, by the time of the late May offensive, lacked any reserves (which had all been sent south to the Gustav fighting).

Despite Alexander's overall plan for Diadem requiring VI Corps to strike inland and cut Route 6, Clark asked Truscott to prepare alternatives and to be ready to switch from one to another at 48 hours' notice. Of the four scenarios prepared by Truscott, Operation Buffalo called for an attack through Cisterna, into the gap in the hills and to cut Route 6 at Valmontone. Operation Turtle on the other hand foresaw a main thrust to the left of the Alban Hills taking Campoleone, Albano and on to Rome. On May 5, Alexander selected Buffalo and issued Clark with orders to this effect.

However, Clark was determined that VI Corps should strike directly for Rome as evidenced in his later writing: "We not only wanted the honour of capturing Rome, but felt that we deserved it... Not only did we intend to become the first army to seize Rome from the south, but we intended to see that people at home knew that it was the Fifth Army that did the job, and knew the price that had been paid for it.". He argued to Alexander that VI Corps did not have the strength to trap the German 10th Army and Alexander, instead of making his requirements clear, was conciliatory and gave the impression that a push on Rome was still a possibility if Buffalo ran into difficulties. On May 6 Clark informed Truscott that "..the capture of Rome is the only important objective and to be ready to execute Turtle as well as Buffalo".

Truscott's planning for Buffalo was meticulous: British 5th Division and 1st Division on the left were to attack along the coast and up the Via Anziate to pin the German 4th Parachute, 65th Infantry and 3rd Panzergrenadier in place whilst the U.S. 45th Infantry, 1st Armored and 3rd Infantry Divisions would launch the main assault, engaging the German 362nd and 715th Infantry Divisions and striking towards Campoleone, Velletri
Velletri
Velletri is an Italian town of 53,298 inhabitants. It is a comune in the province of Rome, on the Alban Hills, in Lazio - Italy. It is bounded by other communes of Rocca di Papa, Lariano, Cisterna di Latina, Artena, Aprilia, Nemi, Genzano di Roma, Lanuvio...

 and Cisterna respectively. On the Allies' far right, the 1st Special Service Force
Devil's Brigade
The Devil's Brigade , was a joint World War II American-Canadian commando unit organized in 1942 and trained at Fort William Henry Harrison near Helena, Montana in the United States...

 would protect the American assault's flank.

Breakout


At 05:45 on May 23, 1944, 1,500 Allied artillery pieces commenced bombardment. Forty minutes later the guns paused as attacks were made by close air support and then resumed as the infantry and armour moved forward. The first day's fighting was intense: 1st Armored Division lost 100 tanks and 3rd Infantry Division suffered 955 casualties, the highest single day figure for any U.S. division during World War II. The Germans suffered too, with 362nd Infantry Division estimated to have lost 50% of its fighting strength.

Mackensen had been convinced that the Allies' main thrust would be up the Via Anziate, and the ferocity of the British feint on May 23 and May 24 did nothing to persuade him otherwise. Kesselring, however, was convinced that the Allies' intentions were to gain Route 6 and ordered the Hermann Göring Panzer Division, resting 150 miles (240 km) away at Livorno
Livorno
Livorno , traditionally Leghorn , is a port city on the Tyrrhenian Sea on the western edge of Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Livorno, having a population of approximately 160,000 residents in 2009.- History :...

, to Valmontone to hold open Route 6 for the Tenth Army, which was retreating up this road from Cassino.

In the afternoon of May 25 Cisterna finally fell to 3rd Division who had had to go house to house winkling out the German 362nd Infantry which had refused to withdraw and, as a consequence, had virtually ceased to exist by the end of the day. By the end of May 25, 3rd Infantry were heading into the Velletri gap near Cori, and elements of 1st Armored had reached within 3 miles (5 km) of Valmontone and were in contact with units of the Herman Göring Division which were just starting to arrive from Leghorn. Although VI Corps had suffered over 3,300 casualties in the three days fighting, Operation Buffalo was going to plan, and Truscott was confident that a concerted attack by 1st Armored and 3rd Infantry Divisions the next day would get his troops astride Route 6.

On the evening of May 25 Truscott received new orders from Clark via his Operations Officer, Brigadier General Don Brand. These were, in effect, to implement Operation Turtle and turn the main line of attack ninety degrees to the left. Most importantly, although the attack towards Valmontone and Route 6 would continue, 1st Armored were to withdraw to prepare to exploit the planned breakthrough along the new line of attack leaving 3rd Division to continue towards Valmontone
Valmontone
Valmontone is a comune in the Province of Rome in the Italian region Lazio, located about 45 km southeast of Rome.-Geography:...

 with 1st Special Service Force in support. Clark informed Alexander of these developments late in the morning of May 26 by which time the change of orders was a fait accompli.

At the time, Truscott was shocked, writing later "...I was dumbfounded. This was no time to drive to the north-west where the enemy was still strong; we should pour our maximum power into the Valmontone Gap to insure the destruction of the retreating German Army. I would not comply with the order without first talking to General Clark in person. ...[However] he was not on the beachhead and could not be reached even by radio.... such was the order that turned the main effort of the beachhead forces from the Valmontone Gap and prevented destruction of the German Tenth Army. On the 26th the order was put into effect." He went on to write "There has never been any doubt in my mind that had General Clark held loyally to General Alexander's instructions, had he not changed the direction of my attack to the north-west on May 26, the strategic objectives of Anzio would have been accomplished in full. To be first in Rome was a poor compensation for this lost opportunity".

On May 26, whilst VI Corps was initiating its difficult maneuver, Kesselring threw elements of 4 divisions into the Velletri gap to stall the advance on Route 6. For four days they slugged it out against 3rd Division until finally withdrawing on May 30, having kept Route 6 open and allowed 7 divisions from 10th Army to withdraw and head north of Rome.

On the new axis of attack little progress was made until 1st Armored were in position on May 29, when the front advanced to the main Caesar C Line defences. Nevertheless, an early breakthrough seemed unlikely until on May 30 Major-General Fred Walker's 36th Division found a gap in the Caesar Line at the join between 1st Parachute Corps and LXXVI Panzer Corps. Climbing the steep slopes of Monte Artemisio they threatened Velletri from the rear and obliged the defenders to withdraw. This was a key turning point, and von Mackensen offered his resignation which Kesselring accepted.

Raising the pressure further, Clark assigned U.S. II Corps
U.S. II Corps
The II Corps was a corps of the United States Army and the first US formation of any size to see combat in Europe or Africa during World War II.-World War I:...

 which, fighting its way along the coast from the Gustav Line, had joined up with VI Corps on May 25 to attack around the right hand side of the Alban Hills and advance along the line of Route 6 to Rome.

On June 2 the Caesar Line collapsed under the mounting pressure, and 14th Army commenced a fighting withdrawal through Rome. On the same day Hitler, fearing another Battle of Stalingrad, had ordered Kesslering that there should be "no defence of Rome". Over the next day, the rearguards were gradually overwhelmed, and Rome was entered in the early hours of June 4 with Clark holding an impromptu press conference on the steps of the Town Hall on the Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Hill
The Capitoline Hill , between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol...

 that morning. He ensured the event was a strictly American affair by stationing military police at road junctions to refuse entry to the city by British military personnel.

Aftermath


Although controversy continues regarding what might have happened had Lucas been more aggressive from the start, most commentators agree that the initial Anzio plan was flawed, questioning whether the initial landing of just over two infantry divisions with no supporting armour had had the strength to achieve the objective of cutting Route 6 and then holding off the inevitable counterattacks which would come as Kesselring re-deployed his forces.

Volume 5 of Churchill's The Second World War is riddled with implied criticism of Lucas, blaming the failure of Operation Shingle on his caution. However, Kesselring after the war was to opine Furthermore, Alexander in his Official Despatch was to say "the actual course of events was probably the most advantageous in the end."

Churchill defended the Anzio operation. In his view, sufficient forces were available. He had clearly made great political efforts to procure certain resources, especially the extra LSTs needed to deliver a second division to shore, but also specific units useful to the attack such as U.S. 504th Parachute Regiment. He argued that even regardless of the tactical outcome of the operation, there was immediate strategic benefit with regard to the wider war. Following the landings, the German High Command dropped plans to transfer five of Kesselring's best divisions to North West Europe. This gave obvious benefit with regard to the upcoming Operation Overlord. Churchill also had to ensure the British dominated forces in Italy were contributing to the war at a time when the Russians were suffering tremendous losses on the Eastern Front.

What is clear is that because of Clark's change of plan, Operation Diadem (during which U.S. 5th and British 8th Armies sustained 44,000 casualties) failed in its objective of destroying the German 10th Army and condemned the Allies to a further year of brutal combat notably around the Gothic Line
Gothic Line
The Gothic Line formed Field Marshal Albert Kesselring's last major line of defence in the final stages of World War II along the summits of the Apennines during the fighting retreat of German forces in Italy against the Allied Armies in Italy commanded by General Sir Harold Alexander.Adolf Hitler...

 from August 1944 to May 1945. The greatest irony was that if the VI Corps main effort had continued on the Valmontone
Valmontone
Valmontone is a comune in the Province of Rome in the Italian region Lazio, located about 45 km southeast of Rome.-Geography:...

 axis on May 26 and the days following, Clark could undoubtedly have reached Rome more quickly than he was able to do by the route northwest from Cisterna. The VI Corps also could have cut Highway 6 and put far greater pressure on the Tenth Army than it did.

Noted participants

  • Denis Healey
    Denis Healey
    Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey CH, MBE, PC is a British Labour politician, who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979.-Early life:...

     — later a prominent Labour Party politician — was the Military Landing Officer for the British assault brigade at Anzio.
  • Eric Fletcher Waters, father to Pink Floyd
    Pink Floyd
    Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially...

    's bassist and songwriter Roger Waters
    Roger Waters
    George Roger Waters is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. He was a founding member of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd, serving as bassist and co-lead vocalist. Following the departure of bandmate Syd Barrett in 1968, Waters became the band's lyricist, principal songwriter...

    , was killed during Operation Shingle at Anzio. The Pink Floyd albums The Wall and The Final Cut
    The Final Cut (album)
    The Final Cut is the twelfth studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd. It was released in March 1983 by Harvest Records in the United Kingdom, and several weeks later by Columbia Records in the United States. A concept album, The Final Cut is the last of the band's releases to...

    contain many references to this. In particular, the song "When the Tigers Broke Free
    When the Tigers Broke Free
    "When the Tigers Broke Free" is a Pink Floyd song by Roger Waters, describing the death of his father, Eric Fletcher Waters, during the Second World War's Operation Shingle...

    " (featured in the soundtrack to the film of The Wall
    Pink Floyd The Wall (film)
    Pink Floyd—The Wall is a 1982 British live-action/animated musical film directed by Alan Parker based on the 1979 Pink Floyd album The Wall. The screenplay was written by Pink Floyd vocalist and bassist Roger Waters. The film is highly metaphorical and is rich in symbolic imagery and sound...

    , and later added to The Final Cut) recounts the events at Anzio.
  • The current controller of BBC Radio
    BBC Radio
    BBC Radio is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927. For a history of BBC radio prior to 1927 see British Broadcasting Company...

     1 Andy Parfitt
    Andy Parfitt
    Andrew Parfitt is an English radio administrator who was the Controller of BBC Radio 1 in the United Kingdom, He held that role from 1998-2011, taking over from Matthew Bannister...

    's father, John Raymond Parfitt was part of the British force landing at Anzio. He was shot in the head and badly wounded in early February.
  • There is a story that a war orphan named "Angelita" became a platoon
    Platoon
    A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 16 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer—the...

     mascot
    Mascot
    The term mascot – defined as a term for any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck – colloquially includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name...

     but was killed just a few days later. Pte. Christopher S. Hayes of the Royal Scots Fusiliers
    Royal Scots Fusiliers
    -The Earl of Mar's Regiment of Foot :The regiment was raised in Scotland in 1678 by Stuart loyalist Charles Erskine, de jure 5th Earl of Mar for service against the rebel covenanting forces during the Second Whig Revolt . They were used to keep the peace and put down brigands, mercenaries, and...

     claimed to have found her and 20 years later, he asked for information from the mayor of Anzio. The story has variations on which army adopted her and how she was killed, leading some to conclude that it could be only a legend; this is the opinion of historian Carlo D'Este
    Carlo D'Este
    Carlo D'Este is an American military historian and biographer, author of several books, especially on World War II. He is a retired U.S...

     who has labeled it a 'myth' of the battle. Regardless, the story has come to symbolize the plight of all the children in all the wars and has been the inspiration for one of the most moving and successful Italian songs in the '60s. The town of Anzio erected a monument in Angelita's memory, unveiled in the International Year of the Child
    International Year of the Child
    * Maureen Millicent Bomford founded International Year of The Child and it was endorsed by the United Nations. Maureen was born in Canterbury Punchbowl in 1930 and had four brothers. Her father was a Mayor and she always learned to appreciate the value of leadership. As the wife of a prominent...

     (1979).
  • James Arness
    James Arness
    James King Arness was an American actor, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon in the television series Gunsmoke for 20 years...

     (born May 26, 1923 in Minneapolis, Minnesota as James Aurness; died June 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California) was an actor best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon on the T.V. series Gunsmoke for 20 years. Arness served in the United States Army during World War II, and was severely wounded at the Battle of Anzio, leading to a lifelong slight limp.
  • Bill Mauldin
    Bill Mauldin
    William Henry "Bill" Mauldin was a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist from the United States...

     noted cartoonist and author of the Willie and Joe series which appeared in the American Army newspaper Stars and Stripes
    Stars and Stripes (newspaper)
    Stars and Stripes is a news source that operates from inside the United States Department of Defense but is editorially separate from it. The First Amendment protection which Stars and Stripes enjoys is safeguarded by Congress to whom an independent ombudsman, who serves the readers' interests,...

     was at Anzio, serving with the 45th Infantry Division.
  • Audie L. Murphy Hollywood actor, Murphy became the most decorated United States combat soldier in United States military history. He received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military's highest award for valor, along with 32 additional U.S. medals. Served with Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.
  • James Chichester-Clark, Baron Moyola, a newly commissioner officer in the Irish Guards
    Irish Guards
    The Irish Guards , part of the Guards Division, is a Foot Guards regiment of the British Army.Along with the Royal Irish Regiment, it is one of the two Irish regiments remaining in the British Army. The Irish Guards recruit in Northern Ireland and the Irish neighbourhoods of major British cities...

    , who was later the fifth Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
    Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
    The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland was the de facto head of the Government of Northern Ireland. No such office was provided for in the Government of Ireland Act 1920. However the Lord Lieutenant, as with Governors-General in other Westminster Systems such as in Canada, chose to appoint someone...

     and eighth leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
    Ulster Unionist Party
    The Ulster Unionist Party – sometimes referred to as the Official Unionist Party or, in a historic sense, simply the Unionist Party – is the more moderate of the two main unionist political parties in Northern Ireland...

    .
  • BBC
    BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

     reporter Alan Whicker
    Alan Whicker
    Alan Donald Whicker, CBE is a British journalist and broadcaster. His career has spanned over 50 years.-Background:Whicker was born to British parents in Cairo, Egypt...

     was at Anzio as a member of the British Army Film and Photo Unit. His 2004 documentary, Whicker's War describes his experiences there.

In popular culture

  • Wynford Vaughan-Thomas
    Wynford Vaughan-Thomas
    Lewis John Wynford Vaughan-Thomas CBE was a British newspaper journalist and radio and television broadcaster. In later life he took the name Vaughan-Thomas after his father....

    , who had been the BBC
    BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

     war correspondent
    War correspondent
    A war correspondent is a journalist who covers stories firsthand from a war zone. In the 19th century they were also called Special Correspondents.-Methods:...

     at the battle, wrote the book Anzio in 1961. In 1968, Anzio
    Anzio (film)
    Anzio, also known as Lo Sbarco di Anzio or The Battle for Anzio, is a 1968 war film about Operation Shingle, the 1944 Allied seaborne assault on the Italian port of Anzio in World War II...

    , a film adaptation of the book, was released.
  • This battle inspired the Pink Floyd
    Pink Floyd
    Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially...

     song "When the Tigers Broke Free
    When the Tigers Broke Free
    "When the Tigers Broke Free" is a Pink Floyd song by Roger Waters, describing the death of his father, Eric Fletcher Waters, during the Second World War's Operation Shingle...

    ".
  • William Woodruff
    William Woodruff
    William Woodruff was a professor of world history, but perhaps most noted for his two autobiographical works: The Road to Nab End and its sequel Beyond Nab End; both became bestsellers in the United Kingdom...

     wrote the novel Vessel of Sadness based on his experiences in the battle with the 24th Guards Brigade of the British Army at Anzio.

See also



  • Barbara Line
    Barbara Line
    During World War II, the Barbara Line was a series of German military fortifications in Italy, some south of the Gustav Line, and a similar distance north of the Volturno Line. Near the eastern coast, it ran along the line of the Trigno river. The line mostly consisted of fortified hilltop...

  • Bernhardt Line
    Bernhardt Line
    The Bernhardt Line was a German defensive line in Italy during World War II. Having reached the Bernhardt Line at the start of December 1943, it took until mid-January 1944 for U.S. 5th Army to fight their way to the next line of defenses, the Gustav Line. The line was defended by XIV Panzer Corps...

  • Operation Chettyford
    Operation Chettyford
    During World War II, Operation Chettyford was a tactical deception in support of the 1944 Allied invasion at Anzio. George Patton made a well-publicized visit to units based around Cairo. A number of double agents were used to misinform the Germans that a major invasion of the Balkans was planned....

  • Battle of Monte Cassino
    Battle of Monte Cassino
    The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome.In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans...

     
  • Anzio Annie

  • Gustav Line
  • When the Tigers Broke Free
    When the Tigers Broke Free
    "When the Tigers Broke Free" is a Pink Floyd song by Roger Waters, describing the death of his father, Eric Fletcher Waters, during the Second World War's Operation Shingle...

  • USS Anzio
    USS Anzio
    Two ships of the United States Navy have been named Anzio, in memory of the World War II landings at Anzio.* The , was an escort aircraft carrier originally commissioned as Coral Sea in August 1943 and renamed Anzio in September 1944....

  • Battle of Cisterna
    Battle of Cisterna
    The Battle of Cisterna took place during World War II, on 30 January-2 February 1944, near Cisterna, Italy, as part of the battle of Anzio that followed Operation Shingle. The battle was a clear German victory which also had repercussions on the employment of U.S...



External links