- Point of Interest
- Anzio, Italie
On 22 January 1944 the Allied forces landed at Anzio. The invasion was intended to outflank German defence forces on the Gustav Defence Line and strike directly for Rome. The operation failed and the invasion force was pinned down around Anzio until the end of May.
On 22 January 1944 Allied forces landed at Anzio (Operation Shingle), 62 km south of Rome. The invasion was intended to outflank the main German defence force on the Gustav Line and strike directly for Rome.
The invasion force of Operation Shingle consisted of 40,000 soldiers and 5,000 vehicles under command of U.S. Major General John P. Lucas. His army landed at three locations: the British Force landed 9.7 km north of Anzio (Peter Beach), the Northwestern U.S. Force attacked the port of Anzio (Yellow Beach) and the Southwestern U.S. Force landed near Nettuno, almost 10 km east of Anzio (X-Ray Beach).
General Lucas did not move inland immediately. Instead he choose to consolidate his position and by doing so allowed the German forces to organize their defense and occupy the surrounding hills from where German artillery units had a clear view of every Allied position. For many weeks a rain of shells fell on the Allied bridgehead and the harbour of Anzio. Churchill commented: “I had hoped we were hurling a wildcat into the shore, but all we got was a stranded whale”.
On 22 February Lucas was replaced by General Truscott. Both sides increased their forces considerably. Italian troops still loyal to the Axis were deployed by the German army. Despite all efforts the Axis forces were unable to push the enemy back into the sea, nor did the Allies manage to penetrate inland. The stalemate at Anzio ended on 18 May when the Allies broke through the German Line at Monte Cassino.
Mark Clark played a leading role in the Italian Campaign (1943-1945). First he was Commander of the U.S. 5th Army, then Commander of the XV Army Group. At the age of 48 he was promoted to general, which made him the youngest four-star-General in the history of the U.S. Army.
The Campaign of Monte Cassino
The Allied campaign of Monte Cassino was fought in four phases between January and May 1944. The town of Cassino was a key stronghold on the Gustav Line, the German defence line in Central Italy designed to prevent Allied advance towards Rome. The Allies suffered about 55,000 casualties, the Germans 20,000.
Adriana Vitali, a 9 year old girl, witnessed the shelling of Littoria (nowadays Latina), by American and British planes and ships moored in Anzio and Nettuno during the battle of Anzio beachhead in 1944. Her family, and the entire population of Littoria, was ordered by the Germans to evacuate the combat area.
James Megellas joined the U.S. army in May 1942 and saw action in Italy, Holland, Belgium and Germany. He took part in some of the most famous battles of the Second World War and is one of the most highly decorated members of the 82nd Airborne Division.
During the campaign in Italy, Sergio Pivetta was a cadet in the Alpine troops of the Royal Italian Army. During the Battle of Cassino in 1944, his battalion displayed bravery in their attempt to conquer the strategic Monte Marrone. After the war, Pivetta received the honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
Anzio Beachhead Museum
The Anzio Beachhead Museum is devoted to the Allied amphibious landing on 22 January 1944, along the coastline between Anzio and Nettuno, in Italy. The museum opened in 1994 for the 50th Anniversary of the landing. It comprises four sections:
Beach Head Commonwealth War Cemetery
The Beach Head War Cemetery near Anzio is a Commonwealth Cemetery of the Second World War. In all, the cemetery contains 2,316 graves, 291 of unknown soldiers. 1,917 graves belong to soldiers from the United Kingdom, followed by 68 Canadian graves. The other casualties are from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India.