The Campaign In Italy

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Gerry Chester, May 5, 2005.

  1. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Alexander summed up the Battle for Italy in the following words:

    "Any estimate of the value of the campaign must he expressed, not in terms of the ground gained, for the ground was not vital, in the strict sense, either to us or to the enemy, but in terms of its effect on the war as a whole. The Allied Armies in Italy were not engaged with the enemy's main armies and their attacks were not directed, as were those of the Allies in the west or the Russians in the east, against the heart of the German Fatherland and the nerve-centres of Germany's national existence. Our role was subordinate and preparatory. Ten months before the great assault in the west our invasion of Italy, at first in very moderate strength, drew off to that remote quarter forces that might have turned the scale in France. As the campaign progressed more and more German troops were drawn in to oppose us. The supreme directors of Allied strategy were always careful to see that our strength was never allowed to grow above the minimum necessary for our tasks; at one time and another during those 20 months no less than 21 divisions in all were removed from my command for the benefit of other theatres. The Germans made no comparable detachments. Except for a short period in the spring of 1944 they had always more formations in Italy than we had, and we made such good use of that brief exceptional period that in the summer of 1944, the crisis of the war, they found themselves forced to divert eight divisions to this secondary theatre. At that time, when the value of our strategic contribution was at its greatest, 55 German divisions were tied down in the Mediterranean by the threat, actual or potential, presented by our armies in Italy. The record of the comparative casualties tells us the same story. On the German side they amounted to 536,000. Allied casualties were 312,000. The difference is the more remarkable in that we were always the attackers. Four times we carried out that most difficult operation of war, an amphib­ious landing. Three times we launched a prepared offensive with the full strength of an army group. Nowhere in Europe did soldiers face more difficult terrain or more determined adversaries.

    The conclusion is that the campaign in Italy fulfilled its strategic mission."
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  2. Juanra

    Juanra Junior Member

    It also gave men experience.
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  3. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    It seems like both Italy and Burma were Brutal and thankless jobs
    God Bless the guys that slogged it out in those campaigns.

    At Any Rate..................Was it common for a soldier... Brits or USA... to go ashore in Southern Italy (or even Sisily) and spend the rest of the war there.?
    Thank You
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Several British & US divisions were sent back to the UK for use in Operation Overlord.
    The US pulled more out for the invasion of southern France.
    Some British & Canadian Divisions were also transfered to NW Europe in '45.
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  5. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    36 US Inf Div landed at Salerno but were withdrawn in Jul 44 for the invasion of Southern France in Aug 44.

  6. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Operation Goldflake in Feb 1945 saw the transfer of I Canadian Corps (1st Cdn infantry and 5th Cdn Armoured divisions and 1st Cdn Armoured Brigade plus supporting troops) and 5th British infantry division to NWE.
    Operation Goldflake - Wikipedia

    The French Expeditionary Corps of some 4 divisions was also withdrawn from Italy and moved to southern France following operation Dragoon, where it was joined by other units (incl 2 French Armoured divisions) direct from North Africa.
    French Expeditionary Corps (1943–44) - Wikipedia
  7. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    The US 34th Div fought in North Africa then landed at Salerno and saw the rest of the war out in Italy. And the US 1st Armoured fought in NA before being transferred to Italy in Oct 1943. IIRC the other US divisions present in Italy at the end of the war had entered combat in late 1943/early 1944 as reinforcements fresh from the US.
  8. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    Man-Oh-Man.................assuming you survived, that was a LONG time to be fighting.
    What a nightmare.
    WW2 is the worlds most interesting and most destructive event all at the same time.
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    chipm .
    Have a look at the US 45th Division .
    They landed in Sicily in '43.
    45th Infantry Division (United States) - Wikipedia

    Lone Sentry: The 45th: The Story of the 45th Infantry Division -- WWII G.I. Stories Booklet

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  10. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member

    Sir, You should be aware that 1st Canadian Infantry Division landed in Sicily in July 1943. And, 5th Canadian Armoured Division also saw action in the Italian Campaign.
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  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Plus there are the New Zealanders from November 1943 and the Poles from February 1944. Plus Greeks and Brazilians and and and!
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  12. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    And the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade, also landed in Sicily with the 1st Canadian Infantry Division

    And I Canadian Corps (and all the Canadian Corps Units) became operational in Italy in November 1943 when the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division joined the 1st Canadian Infantry Division,

    92,757 Canadians who served in Italy, 26,254 became casualties there.

    Not to mention the Royal Canadian Air Force:

    No. 331 Wing
    • No. 420 (Bomber) Squadron
    • No. 424 (Bomber) Squadron
    • No. 425 (Bomber) Squadron
    No. 244 Wing
    • No. 417 (Fighter) Squadron
    And not to forget the Royal Canadian Navy;
    • 80th Canadian LCM Flotilla
    • 81st Canadian LCM Flotilla
    • 55th Canadian LCA Flotilla
    • 61st Canadian LCA Flotilla


    Canada and the Italian Campaign | The Canadian Encyclopedia - Democracy at War - The Sicilian and Italian Campaigns, 1943-1945 - Operations
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2021
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  13. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Not meant to be a compare and contrast point, but from a British Army point of view:

    168 Brigade - attached to 50th (Northumbrian) Division in Sicily - arrived at Syracuse in July 1943....two of the brigade's battalions (1st London Irish Rifles and 1st London Scottish) continued in mainland Italy where they re-joined 56th (London) Divsion, until the final battles south of the Po river in April 1945. They spent 3 1/2 months rest/training in Egypt in the middle of 1944.

    78th Infantry Division arrived in the Cassibile area at the end of July 1943 and also fought their way the whole way to the Po. They spent two months at rest in Egypt in July/August 1944.
    (Photo from the 78th Division victory parade in Spittal, Austria on 6th July 1945).

    So that's two infantry formations that made it all the way from the south of Sicily to the north of Italy...

    Edited: my Dad made it all the way...

    Last edited: Jul 6, 2021
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