The Allied invasion of Italy - and Sicily - during the Second World War.
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Conflict-Series: Italy 1943 campaign now available on Google Play
Experience the Allied invasion of Italy 1943-1945 in this classic board game styled strategy game. The so called "soft underbelly of Axis powers" turned out to be fierce campaign after Germans threw in their Mountain and Paratrooper formations to defend the mountainous country. Conflict-Series includes over 20 campaigns and is available from both Google Play and Amazon App Store.
The Allies at Anzio: Rare photos from WWII's Italian campaign
On January 22 American and British troops swarmed ashore at Anzio, 30 miles south of Rome. The brainchild of Winston Churchill and dubbed Operation Shingle, the attack caught German troops stationed along the Italian coast largely by surprise; but after the initial onslaught, the Germans dug in. The next four months saw some of the fiercest, most prolonged fighting in World War II`s European Theater, as the Allies battled German troops for control of the region. LIFE photographer George Silk spent months with the Allies after they landed at Anzio, chronicling what LIFE magazine at one point characterized as a `slow, maddening, fruitless battle.`
World War II soldiers gather at Monte Cassino to remember forgotten battle
Monte Cassino's 6th century monastery was seized from its stubborn Nazi defenders in May 1944 after 5 months of fierce fighting, but the victory was overshadowed by the D-Day. "The troops encountered some of the worst close-quarters fighting since the WW1. It was a particularly bad winter in Italy and they spent months crouched in trenches. The only way of supplying the troops was by mule, or on men's backs," explains Nigel Wilkinson. Monte Cassino was a key part of the Germans' defensive Gustav Line and had to be taken by the Allies ... But the Germans were well dug-in and turned the 1,700 ft-high mountain into a murderous defensive position.
The Battle of Anzio: Veterans planning a trip to Italy during Memorial Day weekend
in 1944 staff sergeant Bob Ledford was on a landing craft on the beach of Anzio. 5 months later he had 3 Purple Heart medals. The defenses on the coast were caught off guard, but Germans regrouped soon. Between Jan. 22 and May 25 Ledford had wounds in the leg, shoulder and back - which took him out of combat for good. Harvey Smith, a private first class in the 45th Infantry Division, said the Allied forces got bogged down and the Germans held the high ground: "We had to stay in foxholes in the day time." He was hit by mortar shrapnel in both legs. After recovering he was sent to France where a sniper's bullet hit him in the chest, ending his combat duty.
Battles of the 1st Armored Division recalled
When J.D. Womack was in Italy 6 decades ago, the country was not a nice place for tourists. Drafted into the U.S. Army in Feb 1941, he was assigned to the 1st Armored Division, which was put under British command for Operation Torch (the invasion of North Africa). Womack was in one of the first tanks to hit the beach of Morocco: "The first time... I was so scared I had to reach up and see if my helmet was still there. We fought the French for 3 days [referring to the forces of the pro-Nazi Vichy government]. They were like us. Their equipment was pretty old." One of the most unforgettable memories was "the Stuka dive bombers. That's the worst thing."
Corsicans still remember the U.S. Air Force of 1943-1945
So many American aircraft and airmen were placed on Corsica during World War II that they called it the USS Corsica - an unsinkable aircraft carrier. Up and down its eastern shore unfolded a chain of 14 airfields, the jumping-off points for B-25 bombers and P-47 fighters. 50,000 American pilots, mechanics, nurses and others passed through Corsica after it was seized from Nazis in late 1943. In the spring of 1945, Americans left as hastily as they came, moving their bases to Italy - but memories still linger. "Once, some got drunk and were riding on our donkeys hollering 'I am a cowboy,'" recalled Toussaint Cesari.
A bittersweet day for D-Day Dodgers; Italian campaign reunion recalls 'forgotten war'
The word "bittersweet" was being tossed around during the 30th and last D-Day Dodgers reunion. "It's bitter because we've noticed, as the years go on, time catches up with us. It's sweet because you are here," explained Colin Wackett. 93,000 Canadian military personnel served - and 6,000 died - in "the forgotten war," as the Italian campaign would become known. Art Angus who served with the 7th Canadian Anti-Tank Regiment, apprehended why this reunion was the last. "We've had our day. There's so much going on in the world today, and there's other troops. There's not too many of us left."
Was the Italian Campaign worth it? -- Italy's Sorrow: A Year of War, 1944-45
"It was mind-numbing!" recalled Stan Scislowski, of the Canadian 11th Infantry Brigade, of the Allied barrage against the Senger Line south of Anzio at 6am on 23 May 1944. He is one of many witnesses who bring alive James Holland's history of the last year of the war in Italy. Interviews with veterans, hours trawling through the archives at the Imperial War Museum and the WWII Experience Centre at Leeds, weeks spent walking the battlefields (Holland is a badged member of the respected Guild of Battlefield Guides), mixedd with the German point of Italian Campaign, has produced a great work.
Monte Cassino: Italy pays tributes to Indian World War II soldiers
In a rare gesture, tributes were paid to 5,782 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives fighting for Italy against fascist forces. The ceremony was held for the first time since 1945 at Monte Cassino (the scene of the most fierce battle of the Italian campaign on the Gothic Line of defence of the German army) to honour Indian soldiers. In all 50,000 Indian troops had fought for freedom in Italy. Almost 50% of them were injured in the war. Out of 20 Victoria Cross decorations given for bravery during the war in Italy, Indian soldiers won 6. The story of their bravery is still talked about in Italian cities and villages that they helped to liberate.
The Day of Battle: War in Sicily and Italy 1943-1944 (WWII book review)
After chasing Erwin Rommel and Wehrmacht out of North Africa in May 1943, Allied commanders needed to decide what to do next as Operation Overlord could not be undertaken until 1944. In "The Day of Battle" Rick Atkinson shows how Field Marshal Albert Kesselring occupied high ground, bloodying the enemy and then retreating to next mountain citadel. "The Tommies will have to chew their way through us, inch by inch," a German paratrooper wrote. Ortona and Monte Cassino were little Stalingrads with house-to-house fighting. Malaria and breakdowns took thousands off the battlefield. Misguided strategy and bickering among Allied generals also took a toll.
Battle of Monte Cassino tribute to World War II Gurkha soldiers
Military buffs of the North East Hobby Militia group are climbing Helvellyn to re-enact the fight to hold a hilltop position during the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy, 1944. Despite suffering heavy losses a Gurkha battalion held Hangman's Hill for 16 days against a German division. Members will climb the 950m summit on 21 July carrying 2 wooden period ammunition boxes to raise cash for the Gurkha Welfare Trust. "We have been shocked by how little support the welfare trust is given, even though the force has served in almost every major conflict of the 20th Century and has 13 Victoria Crosses to its credit."
Kiwi tank men came close to success at Cassino in World War II (Article no longer available from the original source)
Ron Crosby's book "Albaneta; Lost Opportunity at Cassino" details a little-known opportunity for C Squadron of the 20th Armoured Regiment to launch a surprise attack on the Germans, and seize the monastery on Monte Cassino. The reason Operation Revenge was not successful was because the tanks were not supported by infantry and armour. "There is no doubt that the Germans were initially taken by surprise, but without the infantry they (the tanks) were a sitting duck." The C Squadron tanks, with the aid of the 4th Indian Division, managed to build a road that would carry battle tanks to a strategic position overlooking enemy-held territory.
One of just six Royal Navy commandos to survive a bloody battle
A hero who was among just 6 Royal Navy commandos to survive a bloody World War II battle has died. Ken Hatton risked his life during the invasion of Elba in June, 1944. The commandos' motto was First In, Last Out, because they were first onto the beaches in battle and the last to leave. His best friend was killed next to him during fighting which raged on the Italian island as Allied troops battled for control of the German stronghold. The commandos seized a Nazi gun-boat protecting Elba's beaches. But back-up forces failed to arrive on time and scores of commandos and POWs were killed in an explosion as the Germans fought back.
A heavy weapons platoon in the World War II
One of the scariest times for Hubert "Hube" Wolfe was when the Liberty Ship that he was on broke down and was left behind by the convoy - just when German U-Boats were operating in Wolf packs. It spent 3 days alone. Fortunately, the ship made it. He was assigned to the parachute regiment 504th and loaded up on LCIs (Landing Craft Infantry) landing at Anzio. They did not get a lot of fire from the beach but were attacked by Messerschmidt 109s and the Stuka Dive Bombers. What was worst was the German 35-pound, high-explosive rockets. Called Screaming Meemies, they were fired in groups of 6 with a sound that he will never forget.
Liberation of Axis Capital Rome obscured by D-Day (Article no longer available from the original source)
June 5th, 1944, Rome fell to the Allied forces. The announcement came just a few hours before D-Day. It was the biggest victory of the war to that moment, the first of the Axis capitals to fall. It was a culmination of 270 days of the toughest kind of campaigning by the U.S. Fifth Army and the British Eighth Army, slugging up the Italian boot against an experienced enemy. The landing at Salerno had been a close-run thing, and after victory at Naples, the winter struggles at places like Monte Cassino brought the advance to a standstill. In fact, the battle in Italy was starved for reinforcements while the Allies began the build-up for the Operation Overlord.
African-American artilleryman saw Europe the hard way - under fire (Article no longer available from the original source)
Joseph Luke Jones recalls the day in 1944 near Monte Casino, when he heard the whoosh of an 88 shell - it hit the ground only yards away. The shell dug itself deep into the ground and exploded, spewing only dirt. He was then a sergeant in a 40mm battery for the all-black 450th Anti-Aircraft Battalion, the first African-American battalion to see combat in Europe. The unit endured 3 months of constant shelling near Monte Casino. The biggest worry was the 88, a Nazi gun used against tanks, troops and planes. But there also were Luftwaffe fighters, "They'd come 3 times a day: out of the sun in the morning, out of the sun at noon and out of the sun in the evening."
Commander who won a Military Cross at the Battle of Cassino
Lieutenant-Colonel Monty Ormsby, who has died aged 89, was a fighting commander of a very high order and won a Military Cross at the first Battle of Cassino and a Bar in Malaya. On the night of February 17 1944, the 1st Battalion (King Edward VII's Own) 2nd Gurkha Rifles was ordered to launch an attack in the hills north of Monte Cassino. The monastery had been destroyed by Allied bombing the previous day, but the Germans still held the area in strength. They were equipped with automatic weapons concealed in well-defended posts and covered by machine guns firing from enfiladed positions on both flanks.
Special tribute to Swazi Army - Swazi Unit at Anzio (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Swazi contingent that fought on the side of the Allies during the WW2 last weekend received an unexpected accolade when it was remembered in the South African broadsheet ‘The Sunday Times’, 62 years after the war. Headlined ‘Swazi Unit at Anzio’ the paper wrote in 1944, about the exuberance our lads carried themselves about as they did their bit for the Empire. Excerpt: ‘The only African natives in the Anzio (Italy) beachhead are members of a Swazi smoke company that landed on January 21 and also participated in the landing at Salerno (Italy) last year.
Reunion of World War II Rangers
Historians argue whether the demise of Darby’s Rangers was the result of faulty intelligence and poor planning on their mission to capture Cisterna, or was due to the German General Field Marshal Albert Kesselring’s strategic deployment of forces. But the fight that ensued was the end of 3 battalions of untested replacements and battle-hardened veterans, most of whom had spearheaded invasions and fought their way through Africa, Sicily and Italy. Only a handful of men from the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions escaped after an overwhelming force of German soldiers — equipped with mortars and tanks — surrounded them.
Americans smash Nazi winter line in Italy - This Day in History (Article no longer available from the original source)
Allied military might pounded hard and successfully at Adolf Hitler's Fortress Europe from land and air Saturday, giving forceful notice that the United Nations have the strength now to back up any agreements, plans or unconditional surrender demands made by the Roosevelt-Churchill-Stalin war conference. Striving to break out of the mountains into a broad valley that leads to Rome, the American Fifth army crashed into the heart of the German winter line in southern Italy.
Monte Cassino: Italian bloodbath
The allies were fighting their way up from southern Italy towards Rome, and the monastery of Monte Cassino stood at the strongest point of a powerful German defensive line. The battle took four months, and by one estimate it left a 250,000 dead or wounded. The German commander, Lieutenant-General Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin, wrote: "We found that divisions arriving from other theatres of war were not immediately equal to the double burden of icy mountain terrain and massed bombardment." Author Matthew Parker: "The largest land battle in Europe, Cassino was the bitterest and bloodiest of the Western Allies' struggles with the German Wehrmacht on any WW2 front."