Operation Avalanche – Invasion of Italy Kelly Loughridge Honors American Century 10 °
Starting in Sicily
In July 1943 Allied troops invaded the island of Sicily, then Roosevelt and Churchill asked the Italian people whether they wanted to die for their leaders, Hitler and Mussolini, or live for Italy.
After the Italians chose to live they worked on overthrowing Mussolini and succeeded by the end of July. The Allies captured Sicily and moved on to the Italian Peninsula.
The Allied troops arrived on Italian mainland September 3 rd 1943
Operation Avalanche, the main operation, landed in Salerno. Assisting operations landed in Calabria and Taranto.
The Allied troops from North Africa crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy and other troops traveled from the island of Sicily.
Italy Map (Left) and Artillery landing in Salerno (Right)
Moving on to capture Italy should’ve been a simple job for Allied troops since the Italian people had no desire to fight. Unfortunately Hitler was not ready to give up Italy so easily.
At first the Allies moved through Italy easily. Naples was captured on October 1 st , 1943 by the UK Fifth Army.
Because of German artillery, Italian winter, and mountains at the Gustav line the Allies were slowed down and had to come up with an alternative to keep the invasion moving.
The Allies plan to keep the invasion going was to send troops behind the Gustav Line.
Fighting in Italy
(Right) Allied soldiers are making their way up the mountainous terrain.
(Left) Tanks are brought to the shore for Allied troops as the aircraft gun on the very right watches for German planes.
Stuck at Anzio
General Mark Clark sent 1 and 2/3 divisions, which was about 100,000 soldiers to Anzio, a seafront resort.
To prevent the Allied troops from sending more soldiers to Anzio, German General Albert Kesselring started a fire in the American’s aircraft and the ship landed violently. The crisis killed many of the soldiers and caused the troops to be stuck on the shore of Anzio.
For about four months the troops in Anzio fought to break out of their beachhead but were unable. Kesselring blocked General Clarks attempts to move the Anzio beachhead and break through the Gustav line.
In May 1944 the troops in Anzio were finally able to break out because of the German’s need for more supplies and troops.
Nearing the End
The southern Allied forces eventually reached Anzio and helped them break out.
About 25,000 - 30,000 soldiers were killed/wounded by the time they had broke free from their beachhead.
Instead of taking out a large part of the German 10 th Army the Allied troops decide to move toward Rome which they entered and captured June 4, 1944.
After capturing Rome the troops captured Florence and then moved toward the Gothic Line which stretched from 30 miles north of Pisa, along the Apennine Mountains, and to the Adriatic coast. The Allied troops broke through this line of defense in the fall of 1944.
General Heinrich von Vietinghoff surrendered of the German armies in Italy on April 29 th , fighting officially came to an end on May 2 nd 1945.
About 300,000 more troops were killed and wounded by the end of the last year of fighting.
The importance of the Allied invasion of Italy was to take Italy out of the war. The Allies were continuing to fight against Germany and the Nazis, and taking out Italy was beginning to destroy the Axis powers.
Also with the U.S. attacking Italy, Germany had to send troops there and couldn’t focus mainly on attacking Russia.
Lastly, the Allies also gained control over the Mediterranean Sea.
Impact on World War II
The main impact of the invasion of Italy was that the Italian people overthrew Mussolini and knocked him out of power. One of the Axis power leaders was no longer in power and had control. Italy surrendering to the Allies was also a shock to the German people and lowered their spirits. Lastly, Hitler had focus somewhat on Italy now too since he would not give it up. He was now fighting on defense in Italy and fighting in Russia.