Monte Cassino & Anzio
Second World War 1939-45
After the success of the Allied landings and campaign on Sicily, the Allies kept up the pressure against the Germans and Italians by effecting a landing on the mainland of Italy on 3rd September 1943. The Allies expected a collapse of forces but instead they were faced by a long hard fight as they advanced up the length of Italy.
Mussolini was deposed and replaced by Marshal Badoglio, but not all Italian forces surrendered. Four months later, after enduring winter conditions, the Allies launched 'Operation Shingle', an amphibious landing at Anzio, in an attempt to outflank the Germans and force an entry into Rome.
The plan was conceived by Winston Churchill and on 22nd January 1944 the Anzio landings started with 40,000 men being put ashore. In command was Major General John Lucas of the US Army, but he did not move off the beaches, the Germans consolidated and hemmed the Allies in and it would take them four months to break out. Churchill said: 'I had hoped we were hurling a wildcat onto the shore, but all we got was a stranded whale'.
Italy was already a tough campaign but there were tougher moments such as the fighting around Monte Cassino which delayed the allied advance for many more weeks. Even after these obstacles had been overcome the Allies faced the formidable Gothic Line of defences and the Italian campaign dragged on until 29th April 1945 when the Germans finally surrendered. It had proved to be a 'Tough old Gut'.
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