2 Special Service Brigade and Anzio

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by No.9, Feb 21, 2004.

  1. No.9

    No.9 Senior Member

    To start off this Italian section, some info on the role played by the Commandos during the Anzio landing.


    The Allied rationale was that the landing would be fairly heavily resisted and all available German forces would be quickly available for the counter attack. Hence, fight your way ashore, secure the beach and prepare for the counter attack. Reality was nothing like this and probably the most initial action was seen by Bill Darby’s Rangers in securing Anzio port. In general resistance was token or non existent. The American infantry landed 2 miles south of Anzio/Nettuno and the British 6 miles north, with token resistance. Mention is made of the odd 88mm shell landing to little effect and later of a gun crew walking towards the British with their hands up while mumbling something about having done their duty.

    The Albany Hills south of Rome was the objective and for good reason. Italy is mostly mountainous with major roads and railways following the valleys and lowlands. Regarding roads to/from Rome, it truly is a ‘hub and spoke’ situation like a cartwheel. Highways 6 and 7 run south and south east out of Rome to Naples. 6 Is the ‘coast road’ and 7 follows the inland Liri Valley (with Cassino at the southern head), these roads separated by moderate mountainous ranges. Just south of Rome they both pass through the Albany Hills and either side of Colli Laziali, a 956 meter high volcanic peak. If you hold this peak you dominate the two roads.

    4 Days before D-Day it was decided an American parachute drop (509th Parachute Infantry Battalion) to capture a hill overlooking the American beaches would not take place. As capture of this hill was still a requirement of Lucas, the job was given to 2 Special Service Brigade. By this time, No.2 Commando had been sent to Vis, Yugoslavia as part of SOE’s Force 133, and No.40 (RM) and the Polish and Belgium Troops of No.10 (IA), attached to 2 SS Brigade, were assigned to an action on the Garigliano River. This left No.9 and No.43 (RM) for Anzio. Though room was found on the British ships this was for men only and not their vehicles. Hence the men would have to carry everything and march 7 miles to their objective, south east of the British beachhead held by the Scots Guards and across the enemy front.

    The objective was secured by 14:45 hrs same day and the Commandos dug in on the advanced hilltop position and sent out patrols. Brig. Tom Churchill of 2 SS Bgd. set off up the Anzio/Aprilia/Albany road in a jeep with a driver and two men. They drove some 10 miles north towards the Albany Hills and Rome as far as Campoleone before turning back, and saw no Germans. The beachhead advanced to the Commando’s hill by the following evening and the men were relieved and withdrawn back to Naples. At this the First Anzio for 2 SS Bgd., they sustained 4 casualties, none fatal.

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  2. Friedrich H

    Friedrich H Senior Member

    A good and useful well-researched post, as always, 9! ;) Thanks.
  3. No.9

    No.9 Senior Member

    Thank you Herr Baron. :D

    Hopefully the war of the Central Mediterranean Force will not get the side-show treatment once again! <_<


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