Why Seaborne Evacuations on Adriatic, instead of Tyrrhenian Coast of Italy?

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Emilio Fox Luther, Jul 11, 2024 at 3:34 AM.

  1. Emilio Fox Luther

    Emilio Fox Luther New Member

    Hi everyone,

    I have a pretty simple question that, for whatever reason, I've had a lot of trouble finding a simple answer for. I'm developing a film set during the German occupation of Rome, and it features a sequence (set specifically in December 1943) in which an arrangement is made for a British POW to be brought to the coast and picked up by Allied forces in a submarine, in order to be brought back to England. I've done considerable research into seaborne evacuations during this time, most notably those conducted by I.S.9, SAS, and SOE, and from what I've been able to gather, it seems like the vast majority of rescues of POWs along the coasts of Italy occurred on the eastern (Tyrrhenian) coast instead of the western (Adriatic) coast, and I'm just wondering why exactly that is.

    If, hypothetically, an Allied POW being sheltered in Rome was to be picked up via submarine, would he actually choose to travel to the Adriatic coast instead of heading to the Tyrrhenian coast, which is so much closer? I have trouble imagining the logic of that even though most of the research I've found would seem to suggest that's the case. Some of the elements I assume would be a factor in the decision include the Allies' relative strength in Italy (much stronger on the Adriatic coast after capturing Bari and Brindisi in September 1943, I believe), the Germans' defenses (I assume they were stronger on the Tyrrhenian coast, but is that actually true?), and the location of the camp where the POWs are coming from originally. But for such a seemingly simple question, I've just been confounded in trying to find a simple answer, so any help you can provide would be much appreciated. Thanks so much!
  2. Emilio Fox Luther

    Emilio Fox Luther New Member

    Arg, not sure how to edit, but I meant "it seems like the vast majority of rescues of POWs along the coasts of Italy occurred on the eastern (Adriatic) coast instead of the western (Tyrrhenian) coast, and I'm just wondering why exactly that is."
  3. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Here is a map of the German defensive lines during the winter / spring of 1943/44 After the fall of Ortona to the Canadians in Dec 1943, the emphasis in Allied operations switched to the 5th Army front on the western side of Italy. The offensives that took place from Jan-May 1944 saw a push up through Cassino to Route 6 and the Liri Valley and on to Rome. There was also the amphibious landing at Anzio in Jan 1944.

    In Sept/Oct 1943 Sardinia & Corsica were also in Allied hands.

    Allied submarine operations in late 1943 were directed towards those areas where there were still Axis shipping movements that could be tackled without undue risk (submarines were still lost until June 1944 in the med, so not no risk). So they were limited to the Gulf of Genoa area, Southern French coast and the Aegean. AIUI no submarine operations were undertaken in the Adriatic after the Italian surrender (prior to that the limited operations that were undertaken were confined to the southern part). The reason was quite simple, the waters beyond the Allied front line were too shallow to allow them to operate in safety. see the map below.
    Adriatic Basin - Wikipedia

    The last submarine operations in the Med were in Sept 1944, after which they were moved into the Indian Ocean.

    Allied Coastal Forces (Motor Torpedo Boats, Motor Launches etc) were very active in the Adriatic during 1944. Over 150 of these vessels were in the Adriatic & Aegean areas of operations by the end of the war.

    This Wiki article gives some background to naval operations in the Aegean in WW2. Note the big mine problem.
    Adriatic campaign of World War II - Wikipedia
    Rob Crane, 4jonboy and davidbfpo like this.
  4. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello, I am interested to know if you have any data regarding the numbers of POWs actually picked up by these submarines.

    After the Armistic of 8 September 1943 a number of escaped POWs were tricked into thinking there was a sub waiting in the Adriatic ready to take them to safety - all they had to do was make for the coast. It turned out to be a ruse and they were recaptured. One of these was himself a submariner - Cecil 'Paddy' Neill of HMSubmarine Saracen.


  5. tedfromscrubs

    tedfromscrubs Junior Member

Share This Page