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"Hanging Tough: The Germans in Italy" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2021 8:31 p.m. PST

"No campaign illustrates the gulf between what you hope to get in war, and what you actually get, than the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943. Launched with high hopes of exploiting Italian surrender and jetting up the Italian peninsula, it soon bogged down. Indeed, US troops barely got ashore at Salerno in September, then had a pretty hard time staying there. Since then, they'd been stuck in first gear for months, creeping ahead over the treacherous mountains, valleys, and rivers of southern and central Italy. An attempt to reopen mobile conditions in January 1944, an amphibious landing at Anzio south of Rome, went sideways early, and wound up as just another deadlocked front, with Allied troops sitting in a shallow bowl of a beachhead for months while German shells rained down upon their heads. It's easy to turn the blame inwards for all this.

The US commander at Salerno, General Mark Clark, grossly underestimated the difficulty of an amphibious landing, and in later stages of the campaign, his disastrous attack on German positions on the Rapido River, for example, he seems little better than a butcher. General John P. Lucas, commander of the US VI Corps at Anzio, was absolutely hapless. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill dreamed up the whole Anzio mess, indeed the entire Italian campaign, and he too deserves his share of the blame. That's all to the good: generals and statesmen alike should be held accountable for their blunders and bad decisions, and the Italian campaign had plenty of both…"
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