OPERATION SHINGLE: THE LANDING AT ANZIO 


On 22nd January 1944, with the code name of  "Operation Shingle,  starts the Allied attempted to draw German troops off the Gustav Line. An expeditionary force commanded by U.S. Major General John P. Lucas secured a beachhead near Anzio and Nettuno on Italy’s west coast, but his divisions were quickly contained by German Field Marshall Albert Kesselring. A succession of attacks resulted in heavy casualties on both sides, though no budge in the stalemate for four months. The Allies finally broke out of the beachhead in late May, facilitating the advance that led to the eventual capture of Rome.

Alexander believed that if the expeditionary force seized the Alban Hills northeast of Anzio, it could block German resupply of Cassino, thus compelling Kesselring to abandon the Gustav Line and retreat to the Apennines. Lucas recognized that the Anzio force could not hold both the Alban Hills and a vital logistical lifeline to the port of Anzio, and elected merely to establish a beachhead outside Anzio and Nettuno.

Kesselring quickly contained the Allied threat and massed German troops. In mid-February, they carried out Adolf Hitler’s order to “lance the abscess south of Rome” with a massive counteroffensive aimed at destroying the beachhead. A series of furious attacks failed to break the Allied line in what one historian has described as “a charge of the Light Brigade without the horses…sheer slaughter.”

After a four-month stalemate during which British and American losses totaled seven thousand killed, thirty-six thousand wounded or missing, and forty-four thousand hospitalized from various nonbattle injuries and sickness, the siege of Anzio finally ended on May 23, 1944, when the Allies launched a breakout offensive.

WWII Anzio
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