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- Catalog Record: Anzio beachhead, 22 January-25 May 1944 | HathiTrust Digital Library
- Operation Shingle
- ANZIO BEACHHEAD (22 January May )
In a year otherwise filled with defeat, Hitler was determined to gain the prestige of holding the Allies south of Rome. Map No. Sir Harold R. Alexander, with the U. Fifth Army attacking on the western and the British Eighth Army on the eastern sectors of the front.
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In mid- December, men of the Fifth Army were fighting their way through the forward enemy defensive positions, which became known as the Winter Line. War Department , Washington, In the foreground is the town of Anzio. Nettuno is on the right. Photo taken in September Braving the mud, rain, and cold of an unusually bad Italian winter, scrambling up precipitous mountain slopes where only mules or human pack- trains could follow, the Allied forces struggled to penetrate the German defenses.
Before them were the main ramparts of the Gustav Line, guarding this natural corridor to the Italian capital. Buttressed by snow-capped peaks flanking the Liri Valley, and protected by the rain-swollen Garigliano and Rapido Rivers, the Gustav Line was an even more formidable barrier than the Winter Line. Unless some strategy could be "de- vised to turn the defenses of the Gustav Line, Fifth Army faced another long and arduous mountain campaign.
By late October it was evident that the Germans in- tended to compel the Allied forces to fight a slow, costly battle up the peninsula. To meet this situa- tion, Allied staffs began to consider a plan for landing behind the enemy lines, with the purpose of turning the German flank, gaining a passage to the routes to Rome, and threatening the enemy lines of communication and supply. On 8 November General Alexander ordered the Fifth Army to plan an amphibious landing on the west coast.
The target date was set at 20 December. Because of tenaci ous Ger- man opposition and difficult terrain, the Eighth and '. Two divisions, plus airborne troops and some armor — over twice the force originally planned — were to make the initial assault between 20 and 31 January, but as near 20 January as possible to allow a few days latitude if bad weather should force postpone- ment.
The amphibious operation was again to-be coordinated with a drive from the south, which would begin earlier.
Catalog Record: Anzio beachhead, 22 January-25 May 1944 | HathiTrust Digital Library
Once established, the assault force was to thrust inland toward the vol- canic heights of Colli Laziali. The capture of Colli Laziali would block vit al enemy supply routes and threaten to cut off the German troops holding the Gustav Line. The Allied leaders believed that the Germans lacked sufficient strength to meet attacks on two fronts and that they would be forced to rush troops northward to meet the grave threat to their rear.
Eighth Army, though depleted of two divisions which were to go to the Fifth Army front, was to make a show of force along its front in order to contain the maximum number of enemy forces. If possible, Eighth Army woul d reach Highway No. Main Fifth Army was to follow up the anticipated enemy withdrawal as quickly as. The area chosen for the amphibious landing was a stretch of the narrow Roman coastal plain ex- tending north from Terracina across the Tiber River. Southeast of Anzio this plain 3 is covered by the famous Pontine Marshes; north- west toward the Tiber it is a region of rolling, often wooded, farm country.
The 3, foot hill mass of Colli Laziali lies about twenty miles inland from Anzio and guards the southern approaches to Rome. Highway No. The main west-coast railways parallel these highways. On the east side of the Velletri Gap rise the peaks of the Lepini Mountains which stretch along the inner edge of the Pontine Marshes to- ward Terracina.
An area roughly seven miles d eep b y fifteen miles wide around Anzio was to form the initial Allied beachhead. In the sector northwest of Anzio the beachhead was bounded by the Moletta River. These gul- lies, though their small streams were easily ford- able, were often fifty feet deep and offered difficult obstacles to armor. The Mussolini Canal flows from right to left across the ter- rain shown in this photo, about one-third of the distance between Lit- toria and Anzio, The Factory Aprilia was very similar in structure, and built about the same time as Littona.
This stretch of open country leading inland along the Albano road formed the best avenue of approach into or out of the beachhead and was to be the scene of major Allied and German attacks. Between Cisterna and Littoria the plain merged with the northern edge of the Pontine Marshes, a low, flat region of irrigated fields interlaced with an intricate network of drainage ditches. The tree- less, level expanse offered scant cover for troops, and during the rainy season the fields were im- passable to most heavy equipment.
From Padig- lione east the entire right flank of the initial beach- head line was protected by the Mussolini Canal, which drains the northern edge of the Pontine Marshes. The line ran east along the west branch of the canal to its intersection with the main branch and from there down the main branch to the sea. The canal and the Pontine Marshes made the beachhead right flank facing Littoria a poor avenue of attack; this flank could he held with a minimum of forces. Most of the beachhead area was within an elab- orate reclamation and resettlement project. The low, swampy, malarial bo gland of the Pontine Marshes had been converted into an area of culti- vated fields, carefully drained and irrigated by an extensive series of canals and pumping stations.
Only in the area immediately north of Anzio and Nettuno had the scrub timber, bog, and rolling grazing land been left untouched. At regular inter- vals along the network of paved and gravel roads crisscrossing the farmlands were the standardized 2-story podere, or farmhouses, built for the new settlers. Such places as the new community center of Aprilia, called the "Factory" by Allied troops, and the provincial capital of Littoria, were modern- istic model towns.
The twin towns of Anzio an- cient Antium and Nettuno in the center of the beachhead were popular seaside resorts before the war. Originally conceived as a subsidiary operation on the left flank of an advancing Fifth Army, it de- veloped, when main Fifth Army failed to break the MAJ. JOHN P. VI Corps, selected by General Clark to make the amphibious landing, employed British as well as American forces under the command of Maj. The assault force was to be dispatched from Naples, and was to consist of the U.
This force was the largest that could be lifted by the limited num- ber of landing craft available. It was estimated that the turnaround would require three days. As soon as the co'nvoy returned to Naples, the U. On the right, the 3d Division, under Maj. Lucian K. Truscott, Jr. Penney, would make the assault; the 2 Special Service Brigade of 9 and 43 Commandos would land with it and strike east to establish a road block on the main road leading from Anzio to Campoleone and Albano.
All these forces would link up to seize and consolidate a beachhead cen- tering on the port of Anzio. The assault plan assumed the possibility of ini- tial heavy resistance on the beaches, and the cer- tainty of heavy counterattacks once the enemy was fully aware of the extent of the landing. Conse- quently, VI Corps held out a strong reserve and placed great emphasis on digging in early at initial objectives to repel armored counterattacks.
The bulk of the 1 Division, with the 46 Royal Tank Regiment, the 24 Field Regiment, and the 80 Medium Regiment attached, was to remain on shipboard as a floating reserve. The th Para- chute Infantry would land behind the 3d Division and also assemble in Corps reserve. Up to a few days before the landing, it had been intended to drop the paratroopers behind the beaches. This drop was called off because its objective was about the same as that of the 1 Division, and because dropping before H Hour might prematurely reveal the main assault. From the latest intelligence avail- able on enemy troops in the Rome area, Army G-2 estimated that VI Corps could expect an initial D Day resistance from one division assigned to coast watching, four parachute battalions from Rome, a tank and an antitank battalion, and miscellaneous coast defense personnel, totaling 14, men.
By D plus 2 or 3 the enemy might have appreciated that the Allies had weakened the Eighth Army front; if so, he could bring the 26th Panzer Division from that sector to produce a total build-up of 31, men. If the Fifth Army attack in the south were sufficiently powerful and sustained, it should pin down all enemy reserves in that area.
G-2 did not believe that the Germans could bring down reinforcements quickly from northern Italy, especially in the face of overwhelm- ing Allied air superiority. Probable build-up from north of Florence was estimated to be not more than two divisions by D plus The final sum- mary by G-2, Fifth Army, on 16 January pointed out the increasing attrition of enemy troops: Within the last few days there have been increasing indications that enemy strength on the Fifth Army front is ebbing, due to casualties, exhaustion, and possibly low- ering of morale.
One of the causes of this condition, no doubt, has been the recent, continuous Allied attacks. From this it can be deduced that he has no fresh reserves and very few tired ones. His entire strength will prob- ably be needed to defend his organized defensive posi- tions. This novel supply method was getting its first Mediterranean battle test in the Anzio beachhead operation. Cassino against a co-ordinated army attack. Since this attack is to be launched before Shingle, it is considered likely that this additional threat will cause him to with- draw from his defensive position once he has appreciated the magnitude of that operation.
Whatever the enemy resistance and coast de- fenses might be, two natural obstacles, bad weather and poor beaches, made a landing at Anzio in January extremely hazardous. The win ter r ainy season was the worst time of year to launch an amphibious assault. The beaches themselves, much shallower than those at Salerno, had the added disadvantage of two offshore sandbars. It was hoped that the small port of Anzio could be captured before the enemy had time to demolish it. Its capture intact would help to ease the grave problem of supply over open and exposed beaches.
To protect the establishment of the beachhead an elaborate air program in two phases was pro- jected. Prior to D Day the Tactical Air Force would bomb enemy airfields to knock out the German Air Force, and would seek to cut com- munications between Rome and the north which enemy reinforcements might use.
The Strategic Air Force would assist in these tasks. Then, from D Day on, every effort would be made to isolate the beachhead from enemy forces by maintaining air superiority over the beachhead, bombing bridges and road transport, and attacking enemy columns or troop concentrations within striking distance. Support would be drawn from some 2, Allied aircraft in Italy, Corsica, and Sardinia, representing an overwhelm- ing superiority over available German air power.
House, reinforced by two groups from the Desert Air Force, would provide direct air support, while the Tactical Bomber Force flew heavier missions. The Coastal Air Force would give day and night fighter cover to the mounting area at Naples and halfway up the convoy route. From here on the 64th Fighter Wing would cover the battle area. Enemy air power was not considered a major threat. It was believed that Allied attacks on enemy bases would reduce the remaining German air strength by 60 percent.
Rear Admiral F. Lowry, USN, commander of Task Force 81, was charged with the responsi- bility of mounting, embarking, and landing the ground forces and with the subsequent support of this force until it was firmly established ashore. Troubridge, RN, for British troops. Peter Beach was so shallow that only light assault craft could be used. Task Force X-Ray was further divided into several functional groups: a control group of two flagships; a sweeper group to clear a mine-free channel; and an escort group for antiaircraft and submarine protection.
A beach identification group was designated to precede the assault craft, to locate the beaches accurately, and mark them with colored lights. Then three craft groups would land the assault waves. Following the first wave, the 1st Naval Beach Battalion would improve the marking of beach approaches and control boat traffic. A salvage group was assigned to lay pon- ton causeways after daylight for unloading heavier craft. Back at Naples a loading control group would handle berthing and loading of craft.
To gain surprise no preliminary naval bombard- ment of the beaches was ordered, except a short intense rocket barrage at H minus 10 to H minus 5 minutes by three LCT R 's. An important as- signment, however, was given to a naval task force which was to deliver a feint at H Hour of D Day by bombarding Civitavecchia, north of Rome, and by carrying out dummy landings.
Since it considered the number of German troops in Italy barely sufficient to hold the southern front and strengthen the rear areas, the German High Com- mand in December worked out an elaborate plan to reinforce German troops in Italy with units from France, Germany, and Yugoslavia in the event of an Allied landing. Thus it was that while the Germans realized that they did not have avail- able sufficient forces to prevent an Allied landing behind the Gustav Line, they believed that they could contain and then destroy it by hurrying rein- forcements into Italy to meet the emergency.
Their plans did not contemplate the withdrawal of any substantial number of troops from the southern front to meet such a threat to their rear. The bitter and continuous struggle along the southern front from November into January forced the enemy to commit all of his divi- sions that were fit for combat to stop the Allied offensive at the Gustav Line. A lull in the fighting in early January permitted the strengthening of forces in the Rome area to resist an invasion. On the eve of the Anzio landing, the Ger- mans had almost denuded the Rome area of com- bat troops in order to stem the Allied drive in the south.
They had observed the regrouping of Allied troops and Allied naval preparations in the Naples area; and they believed that the Allies had suffi- cient strength both to maintain the offensive along the main fighting front and to attempt a landing in the Rome area. But they hoped to delay such an invasion by counterattacking in the south; then, after stopping the Allies on the Garigliano, they would draw back enough troops to check a landing.
The Assault In early January, VI Corps troops assembled in the Naples area to embark on a short but strenuous amphibious training program. Night operations and physical conditioning through speed marches were stressed. White tape indicates bound- ary of the path to which vehicles were confined by soft ground in the area. These four photos, all taken in the Netttow area, show the type of de- fenses the Germans had set up. The camion is an obsolete model. Artillery- men learned the knack of loading and unloading DUKW-borne mm.
Assault land- ings were practiced and repracticed, first from mock-ups on dry land and then in battalion and regimental landing exercises with craft provided by the Navy. This illustrates the absolute necessity for proper loading and trained crews in the use of this type of equipment. Very few men were drowned, but the DUKW's and all equipment went to the bottom. This battalion was replaced by a battalion of the 45th Division before the 3d Division sailed for Aniio. Their role was to choke off the vulner- able Italian rail and highway routes down which enemy supplies and reinforcements could flow toward the beachhead and the southern front.
Shifting their weight from one main line to another, Fortresses, Liberators, Mitchells, Maraud- ers, and Wellingtons hammered at key bridges and railroad yards from Rome north to the Brenner Pass. Closer to the front, fighters and light bomb- ers strafed and bombed transport on the rail and highway nets. Finally, a few days before the land- ing, heavy bombers flew missions against key air- fields in Italy and southern France to forestall any interference from the Luftwaffe with the Anzio assault.
While the Anzio landing was still in prepara- tion, main Fifth Army began its southern drive. At dawn on 12 January, troops of the French Ex- peditionary Corps surged forward in the moun-' tains above Cassino. While the French sought to turn the German left flank above Cassino, the British 10 Corps struck across the lower Garigliano to pierce the other flank of the Gustav Line. In spite of successive assaults neither the British nor the French were able to break through the rock- ribbed wall of German mountain defenses.
In the center, on 20 January, the U. II Corps attacked in an effort to cross the Rapido and secure a bridgehead. After gaining a precarious foothold in two days of bitter fighting, heavy losses forced it to withdraw. By 22 January, D Day for the Anzio landing, the attack on the Gustav Line had bogged down in the midst of savage German counterattacks. Although Fifth Army had not suc- ceeded in driving up the Liri Valley, the battle for Cassino continued and the Germans had been forced to commit most of Tenth Army's reserves.
High hopes were still held that the Anzio landing would break the stalemate in the Liri Valley. During the third week in January, Naples and its satellite ports were the scene of feverish activity as troops and supplies were loaded on a convoy of more than ships and craft. Long lines of water- proofed vehicles rolled down to the docks and troops filed aboard the waiting ships. As dawn col- ored the hills above the Bay of Naples on 21 Janu- ary, the first ships slipped their hawsers and the convoy sailed.
It had been impossible to conceal craft concen- trations in the Naples area, but elaborate efforts were made to deceive the enemy as to the time and place of the assault, which might fall anywhere from Gaeta to Leghorn. The convoy plowed north from Naples at a steady 5-knot pace, swinging wide on a roundabout course to deceive the enemy as to its destination and to avoid mine fields. Allied air raids, however, had temporarily knocked out the German reconnaissance base at Perugia, and not an enemy plane was sighted in the sun- lit sky.
Mine sweepers cleared a channel ahead, destroyers and cruisers clung to the flanks to ward LT. MARK W. He is shown reading radio dispatches on the battle's progress with a Fifth Army Staff officer. Photo, taken later, shows a tread- way bridge over the canal, concrete road blocks Ger- man J on the far side, and a trench system dug by Ameri- can forces.
Actually, these elaborate pre- cautions were hardly necessary, for the enemy air reconnaissance failed to observe either the em- barkation at Naples or the approach of VI Corps to Anzio. Aboard the convoy men lolled about the decks, sleeping or sunbathing, checking equipment, or excitedly discussing what they would find.
As night fell and darkness cloaked the convoy's move- ments, it swung sharply in toward Anzio. At five minutes past midnight on 22 January, in the murky blackness off Cape Anzio, the assault convoy dropped anchor and rode easily on a calm Mediterranean Sea. There was a murmur of sub- dued activity as officers gave last-minute instruc- tions, men clambered into stubby assault craft, and davits swung out and lowered them to the sea. Patrol boats wove in and out of the milling craft herding them into formation, and then led the first waves away into the moonless night.
To gain surprise the guns of the escorting war- ships kept silent. Then, just ten minutes before H Hour , a short, terrific rocket bombard- ment from two British LCT R 's burst with a deafening roar along the beach. These newly de- veloped rocket craft, each carrying 5-inch rockets, were employed to disorganize any possible enemy ambush, explode mine fields along the beach, and destroy enemy beach defenses. But the attackers saw no burst of answering fire; when the rocket ships ceased firing, the shore again loomed dark and silent ahead.
As the first wave of craft hit the beach and men rushed for the cover of the dunes behind, there was no enemy to greet them. Pushing rapidly in- land the astonished troops soon realized that the highly unexpected had happened. They had caught the enemy completely off guard. Although the Germans knew an amphibious landing was im- pending, they believed that it would not occur until somewhat later. The two divisions that had been assigned to guard this coast had been sent to the southern front only three days before, and the coastal sector and area south of Rome were held by only skeleton forces.
Consequently, except for a few small coast artillery and antiaircraft detachments, the only immediate resistance to the Anzio landing came from scattered elements of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division. Only three engineer companies and the 2d Battalion, list Panzer Grenadier Regiment, had been left to guard the coast from the mouth of the Tiber River through Anzio to the Mussolini Canal; one 9-mile stretch of the coast was occupied by a single com- pany.
Furthermore, the troops in the Anzio area had not been warned that an Allied landing was imminent. The coastal defenses were limited to scattered mine fields along Peter Beach used by the British 1 Division; some pillboxes, most of which were not even manned ; and scattered artil- lery pieces— a. Aided by a calm sea and the virtual absence of opposition, the invaders quickly established them- selves on shore. On the right, the 3d Division swept in over the beaches east of Nettuno.
Brushing aside a few dazed enemy patrols, they pushed rapidly inland, established themselves on the initial phase line, and dug in to repel any counterattack. General Clark, accom- panied by Brig. Donald W. Motorized patrols of the 3d Reconnaissance and Provisional Recon- naissance Troops forged ahead to seize and blow the bridges over the Mussolini Canal which ran along the right flank.
ANZIO BEACHHEAD (22 January May )
Only at the southernmost bridge did they meet any Germans. The Germans failed to carry out their plans to destroy the port. Explosives, such as these men of the 36th Engineers are seen re- moving had been set so that buildings would topple into the streets, and thus hinder use of port facilities. Note the narrow, winding Cisterna Creek directly below plane. The Ranger Force landed over the small beach just to the right of Anzio harbor and swiftly seized the port.
The Rangers scrambled up the steep bluff, topped with pink and white villas overlooking the beach, and spread through the streets of the town, rounding up a few bewildered defenders. The Germans had had no time to demolish the port facilities. Except for a gap in the mole and some battered buildings along the waterfront damage caused by Allied bombers , the only obstacles were a few small vessels sunk in the harbor. Later in the morning the.
Northwest of Anzio the landing of the British 1 Division was equally un- opposed, although delayed by poor beach condi- tions. In support of the landing, Allied fighter and bomber squadrons flew more than 1, sorties on D Day. Medium and heavy bombers blasted key bridges and such road junctions as Gsterna and Velletri in an attempt to block the main roads leading toward the Anzio area.
Fighter-bombers, fighters, and night intruders ranged these high- ways, bombing and strafing the enemy traffic be- ginning to surge toward the beachhead. Other fighters gave continuous air cover to the landing force. Advance and secure Colli Laziali [the Alban Hills] 3. Be prepared to advance on Rome". 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. Then, who will get the blame? 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 Shingle would require the use of landing ships necessary for these operations. 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. 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. Although resistance had been expected, as seen at Salerno during , the initial landings were essentially unopposed, with the exception of desultory Luftwaffe strafing runs.
By midnight, 36, soldiers and 3, vehicles had landed on the beaches. In the first days of operations, the command of the Italian resistance movement had a meeting with the Allied General Headquarters: it offered to guide the Allied Force in the Alban Hills territory, but the Allied Command refused the proposal. It is clear that Lucas' 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. He said: "I had hoped we were hurling a wildcat into the shore, but all we got was a stranded whale". Lucas' decision remains a controversial one. Noted military historian John Keegan 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. 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 have been reasonable 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. Kesselring was informed of the landings at 3 a. January 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 motorized 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. 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 , and Germany whilst at the same time releasing to Kesselring a further three divisions in Italy which had been under OKW's direct command. The German units in the immediate vicinity had in fact been dispatched to reinforce the Gustav Line only a few days earlier.
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. Liberty ships , which were never intended as warships, were involved in some fighting in the Battle of Anzio. Evans was under repeated bombardment from shore batteries and aircraft throughout an eight-day period. It endured a prolonged barrage of shrapnel, machine-gun fire and bombs. The gun crew fought back with shellfire and shot down five German planes. Further troop movements including the arrival of U. While one force was to cut Highway 7 at Cisterna before moving east into the Alban Hills, a second was to advance northeast up the Via Anziate towards Campoleone.
Allied forces by this time totalled 76, including the recently arrived British 56th Infantry Division , under Major-General Gerald Templer , which arrived complete on February 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. Even though the base of the salient was nearly broken, Lucas was able to bolster the British 1st Division's defenses with the newly arrived th Brigade from the 56th Division, containing 1st Battalion, London Irish Rifles , 1st Battalion, London Scottish , 10th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment.
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, and a successful assault launched by the London Scottish, of th Brigade,  supported by the 46th Royal Tank Regiment 46 RTR. They overran the th Brigade , of the recently arrived 56th London Division, and virtually destroyed X Company of the 8th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers , which was reduced from around down to a single officer and 10 other ranks and Y Company was down to one officer and 10 men.
Numerous attacks were launched on 1st Battalion, Loyal Regiment 2nd Brigade and they lost a company, overrun, and the day after had suffered casualties. During Fischfang the Germans had sustained some 5, casualties, the Allies 3, Both had suffered nearly 20, casualties each since the first landings,  and it was "far the highest density of destruction in the Italian campaign, perhaps in the whole war". Churchill had continued to bridle at Lucas' perceived passivity. They are negative and lacking in the necessary drive and enthusiasm to get things done.
They appeared to have become depressed by events. I am afraid that the top side is not completely satisfied with my work They are naturally disappointed that I failed to chase the Hun out of Italy but there was no military reason why I should have been able to do so. In fact there is no military reason for Shingle. 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 , behind the line of beachhead running from the mouth of the river Tiber just south of Rome through Albano , skirting south of the Alban Hills to Valmontone and across Italy to the Adriatic coast at Pescara , behind which 14th Army and, to their left, 10th Army might withdraw when the need arose. 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.
Dispersed among German battalions, the German commanding officers later gave the Italians companies favourable reports. The next few weeks saw many changes in divisions on both sides. The U. Also in March the U. The Guards Brigade had suffered devastating casualties nearly 2, of an initial strength of over 2, in just less than two months at Anzio. By late May, there were some , Allied troops in the bridgehead,  including five U. 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.
Operation Turtle on the other hand foresaw a main thrust to the left of the Alban Hills taking Campoleone, Albano and on to Rome. However, Clark was determined that VI Corps should strike directly for Rome as evidenced in his later writing: "We not only wanted the honor 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.
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. May 23, , 1, 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. 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 24 did nothing to persuade him otherwise. These were, in effect, to implement Operation Turtle and turn the main line of attack 90 degrees to the left. 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. On the 26th the order was put into effect. To be first in Rome was a poor compensation for this lost opportunity. Climbing the steep slopes of Monte Artemisio they threatened Velletri from the rear and obliged the defenders to withdraw. Raising the pressure further, Clark assigned U. 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".
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. Although controversy continues regarding what might have happened if Lucas had been more aggressive from the start, most commentators agree that the initial plan for Anzio was flawed. They question whether the initial landing of just over two infantry divisions, with no supporting armour, had the strength to achieve the objectives: of cutting Route 6 and then holding off the inevitable counterattacks that would come, as Kesselring redeployed his forces.
Volume 5 of Churchill 's The Second World War is riddled with implied criticism of Lucas blaming the failure on his caution. After the war, Kesselring gave his evaluation:. It would have been the Anglo-American doom to overextend themselves. The landing force was initially weak, only a division or so of infantry, and without armour.
It was a halfway measure of an offensive; that was your basic error. Furthermore, Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander , in his Official Dispatch, stated, "The actual course of events was probably the most advantageous in the end. Churchill defended the operation  and believed that 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 with the th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
He argued that even regardless of the tactical outcome of the operation, there was immediate strategic benefit with regard to the wider war. That obviously benefited 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 Soviet Red Army were suffering tremendous losses on the Eastern Front. Because of Clark's change of plan, Operation Diadem during which the U. Fifth Army and the British Eighth Army sustained 44, casualties failed in its objective of destroying the German 10th Army. It also condemned the Allies to another year of bloody combat in Italy, notably around the Gothic Line from August through March The greatest loss was that if the U.
Army VI Corps main effort had continued on the Valmontone axis from May 26, Clark could probably have reached Rome more quickly than by the route northwest from Cisterna. The VI Corps could also have cut Highway 6 and then put much more pressure on the 10th Army than it actually did. Alan Whicker who as a war correspondent with the British Army's Film and Photo Unit, and who was present during the fighting, later said:. After breaking out of Anzio, Alexander's plan was for the Fifth Army to drive east to cut Kesselring's escape route to the north and trap much of his Tenth and Fourteenth Armies.
The operation started well, but then suddenly, when leading troops were only six kilometers from closing their trap at Frosinone , the Fifth Army was re-directed and sent north towards Rome. The trap was left open. General Mark Clark was so eager that the world should see pictures showing him as the liberator of Rome, that he allowed the armies of a delighted Kesselring to escape. He had ignored the orders of Field Marshall Alexander in a decision as militarily stupid, as it was insubordinate. This, vain-glorious blunder, the worst of the entire war, lost us a stunning victory, lengthened the war by many months and earned Mark Clark the contempt of other American and British generals.
They saw an operation that could have won the war in Italy, thrown away at the cost of many Allied lives, because of the obsession and vanity of one man. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Italian Campaign. The Winter Line and the battle for Rome. This section needs additional citations for verification.
- Battle of Anzio.
- 7am Sauna?
- Between the Covers.
- Grundzüge der Netzwerktheorie (German Edition).
- Fortress Books - Anzio Bachhead - 22 January - 25 May - American Forces in Action Series.
- Bedtime Poop Stories.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Further information: Anzio order of battle. Allied naval commanders for Operation Shingle. Main article: Battle of Monte Cassino. Further information: Operation Diadem order of battle. However, these plans were scrapped on 20 January, apparently because of the high losses during the airborne assaults at Sicily.