The Italian Campaign of World War II consisted of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to 1945. The Joint Allied Forces Headquarters (AFHQ) was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre and it planned and led the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, followed in September by the invasion of the Italian mainland and the campaign in Italy until the surrender of the German Armed Forces in Italy in May 1945.
It is estimated that between September 1943 and April 1945, 60,000–70,000 Allied and 38,805–150,660 German soldiers died in Italy.[nb 1] The number of Allied casualties was about 320,000 and the German figure (excluding those involved in the final surrender) was over 330,000.[nb 2] Fascist Italy, prior to its collapse, suffered about 200,000 casualties, mostly POWs taken in the Allied invasion of Sicily, including more than 40,000 killed or missing. Over 150,000 Italian civilians died, as did 35,828 anti-Fascist partisans and some 35,000 troops of the Italian Social Republic.
In the West, no other campaign cost more than Italy in terms of lives lost and wounds suffered by infantry forces of both sides, during bitter small-scale fighting around strongpoints at the Winter Line, the Anzio beachhead and the Gothic Line. The campaign ended when Army Group C surrendered unconditionally to the Allies on May 2, 1945, one week before the formal German Instrument of Surrender. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican, both surrounded by Italian territory, also suffered damage during the campaign.
Even before the victory in the North African Campaign in May 1943, there was disagreement between the Allies on the best strategy to defeat the Axis. The British, especially the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, advocated their traditional naval-based peripheral strategy. Even with a large army, but greater naval power, the traditional British answer against a continental enemy was to fight as part of a coalition and mount small peripheral operations designed to gradually weaken the enemy. The United States, with the larger U.S. Army, favoured a more direct method of fighting the main force of the German Army in Northwestern Europe. The ability to launch such a campaign depended on first winning the Battle of the Atlantic.
The strategic disagreement was fierce, with the U.S. service chiefs arguing for an invasion of France as early as possible, while their British counterparts advocated a policy centred on operations in the Mediterranean. There was even pressure from some Latin American countries to stage an invasion of Spain, which under Francisco Franco was friendly to the Axis nations, although not a participant in the war. The American staff believed that a full-scale invasion of France at the earliest possible time was required to end the war in Europe, and that no operations should be undertaken that might delay that effort. The British argued that the presence of large numbers of troops trained for amphibious landings in the Mediterranean made a limited-scale invasion possible and useful.
Eventually the U.S. and British political leadership reached a compromise in which both would commit most of their forces to an invasion of France in early 1944, but also launch a relatively small-scale Italian campaign. A contributing factor was Franklin D. Roosevelt's desire to keep US troops active in the European theatre during 1943 and his attraction to the idea of eliminating Italy from the war. It was hoped that an invasion might knock Italy out of the conflict, or at least increase the pressure on it and weaken it. The elimination of Italy would enable Allied naval forces, principally the Royal Navy, to dominate the Mediterranean Sea, securing the lines of communications with Egypt, the Far East, the Middle East and India. Italian divisions on occupation and coastal defence duties in the Balkans and France would be withdrawn to defend Italy, while the Germans would have to transfer troops from the Eastern Front to defend Italy and the entire southern coast of France, thus aiding the Soviets.
A combined Allied invasion of Sicily began on 10 July 1943 with both amphibious and airborne landings at the Gulf of Gela. The land forces involved were the U.S. Seventh Army, under Lieutenant General George S. Patton, and the British Eighth Army, under General Bernard Montgomery. The original plan contemplated a strong advance by the British northwards along the east coast to Messina, with the Americans in a supporting role along their left flank. When the Eighth Army were held up by stubborn defences in the rugged hills south of Mount Etna, Patton amplified the American role by a wide advance northwest toward Palermo and then directly north to cut the northern coastal road. This was followed by an eastward advance north of Etna towards Messina, supported by a series of amphibious landings on the northern coast that propelled Patton's troops into Messina shortly before the first units of the Eighth Army. The defending German and Italian forces were unable to prevent the Allied capture of the island, but they succeeded in evacuating most of their troops to the mainland, with the last leaving on 17 August 1943. The Allied forces gained experience in opposed amphibious operations, coalition warfare, and large airborne drops.
Forces of the British Eighth Army, still under Montgomery, landed in the 'toe' of Italy on 3 September 1943 in Operation Baytown, the day the Italian government agreed to an armistice with the Allies. The armistice was publicly announced on 8 September by two broadcasts, first by General Eisenhower and then by a proclamation by Marshal Badoglio. Although the German forces prepared to defend without Italian assistance, only two of their divisions opposite the Eighth Army and one at Salerno were not tied up disarming the Royal Italian Army.
On 9 September, forces of the U.S. Fifth Army, under Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, expecting little resistance, landed against heavy German resistance at Salerno in Operation Avalanche; in addition, British forces landed at Taranto in Operation Slapstick, which was almost unopposed. There had been a hope that, with the surrender of the Italian government, the Germans would withdraw to the north, since at the time Adolf Hitler had been persuaded that Southern Italy was strategically unimportant. However, this was not to be; although, for a while, the Eighth Army was able to make relatively easy progress up the eastern coast, capturing the port of Bari and the important airfields around Foggia. Despite none of the northern reserves having been made available to the German 10th Army, it nevertheless came close to repelling the Salerno landing. The main Allied effort in the west initially centred on the port of Naples: that city was selected because it was the northmost port that could receive air cover by fighter planes flying from Sicily.
As the Allies advanced, they encountered increasingly difficult terrain: the Apennine Mountains form a spine along the Italian peninsula offset somewhat to the east. In the most mountainous areas of Abruzzo, more than half the width of the peninsula comprises crests and peaks over 3,000 feet (910 m) that are relatively easy to defend; and the spurs and re-entrants to the spine confronted the Allies with a succession of ridges and rivers across their line of advance. The rivers were subject to sudden and unexpected flooding, which had the potential to thwart the Allied commanders' plans.
In early October 1943, Hitler was persuaded by his Army Group Commander in Southern Italy, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, that the defence of Italy should be conducted as far away from Germany as possible. This would make the most of the natural defensive geography of Central Italy, whilst denying the Allies the easy capture of a succession of airfields; each one being ever closer to Germany. Hitler was also convinced that yielding southern Italy would provide the Allies with a springboard for an invasion of the Balkans with its vital resources of oil, bauxite and copper.
Kesselring was given command of the whole of Italy and immediately ordered the preparation of a series of defensive lines across Italy, south of Rome. Two lines, the Volturno and the Barbara, were used to delay the Allied advance so as to buy time to prepare the most formidable defensive positions, which formed the Winter Line – the collective name for the Gustav Line and two associated defensive lines on the west of the Apennine Mountains, the Bernhardt and Hitler lines (the latter had been renamed the Senger Line by 23 May 1944).
The Winter Line proved a major obstacle to the Allies at the end of 1943, halting the Fifth Army's advance on the western side of Italy. Although the Gustav Line was penetrated on the Eighth Army's Adriatic front, and Ortona was liberated with heavy casualties to Canadian troops, the blizzards, drifting snow and zero visibility at the end of December caused the advance to grind to a halt. The Allies' focus then turned to the western front, where an attack through the Liri valley was considered to have the best chance of a breakthrough towards the Italian capital. Landings at Anzio during Operation Shingle, advocated by the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, behind the line were intended to destabilise the German Gustav line defences, but the early thrust inland to cut off the German defences did not occur because of disagreements that the American commander, Major General John P. Lucas, had with the battle plan and his insistence that his forces were not large enough to accomplish their mission. Lucas entrenched his forces, during which time German Field Marshal Kesselring assembled sufficient forces to form a ring around the beachhead. After a month of hard fighting Lucas was replaced by Major General Lucian Truscott who eventually broke out in May.
It took four major offensives between January and May 1944 before the line was eventually broken by a combined assault of the Fifth and Eighth Armies (including British, American, French, Polish, and Canadian corps) concentrated along a twenty-mile front between Monte Cassino and the western seaboard. In a concurrent action, American General Mark Clark was ordered to break out of the stagnant position at Anzio and cash in on the opportunity to cut off and destroy a large part of the German 10th Army retreating from the Gustav Line between them and the Canadians. But this opportunity was lost on the brink of success, when Clark disobeyed his orders and sent his U.S. forces to enter the vacant Rome instead. Rome had been declared an open city by the German Army so no resistance was encountered.
The American forces took possession of Rome on 4 June 1944. The German Tenth Army were allowed to get away and, in the next few weeks, were responsible for doubling the Allied casualties in the next few months. Clark was hailed as a hero in the United States. The Canadians were sent through the city without stopping at 3:00am the next morning.
After the capture of Rome, and the Allied invasion of Normandy in June, the U.S. VI Corps and the French Expeditionary Corps (CEF), which together amounted to seven divisions, were pulled out of Italy during the summer of 1944 to participate in Operation Dragoon, codename for the Allied invasion of Southern France. The sudden removal of these experienced units from the Italian front was only partially compensated for by the gradual arrival of three divisions, the Brazilian 1st Infantry Division, the U.S. 92nd Infantry Division, both in the second half of 1944, and the U.S. 10th Mountain Division in January 1945.
In the period from June to August 1944, the Allies advanced beyond Rome, taking Florence and closing up on the Gothic Line. This last major defensive line ran from the coast some 30 miles (48 km) north of Pisa, along the jagged Apennine Mountains chain between Florence and Bologna to the Adriatic coast, just south of Rimini. In order to shorten the Allied lines of communication for the advance into Northern Italy, the Polish II Corps advanced towards the port of Ancona and, after a month-long battle, succeeded in capturing it on 18 July.
During Operation Olive, which commenced on 25 August, the Gothic Line defences were penetrated on both the Fifth and Eighth Army fronts; but, there was no decisive breakthrough. Churchill, the British Prime Minister, had hoped that a major advance in late 1944 would open the way for the Allied armies to advance northeast through the "Ljubljana Gap" (the area between Venice and Vienna, which is today's Slovenia) to Vienna and Hungary to forestall the Red Army from advancing into Eastern Europe. Churchill's proposal had been strongly opposed by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff who, not fully understanding its importance to British postwar interests in the region, did not think that it aligned with the overall Allied war priorities.
In October, Lieutenant General Sir Richard McCreery succeeded Lieutenant General Sir Oliver Leese as the commander of the Eighth Army. In December, Lieutenant General Mark Clark, the Fifth Army commander, was appointed to command the 15th Army Group, thereby succeeding the British General Sir Harold Alexander as commander of all Allied ground troops in Italy; Alexander succeeded Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson as the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean Theatre. Clark was succeeded in command of the Fifth Army by Lieutenant General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr.. In the winter and spring of 1944–45, extensive partisan activity in Northern Italy took place. As there were two Italian governments during this period, (one on each side of the war), the struggle took on some characteristics of a civil war.
The poor winter weather, which made armoured manoeuvre and the exploitation of overwhelming air superiority impossible, coupled with the massive losses suffered to its ranks during the autumn fighting, the need to transfer some British troops to Greece (as well as the need to withdraw the British 5th Infantry Division and I Canadian Corps to northwestern Europe) made it impractical for the Allies to continue their offensive in early 1945. Instead, the Allies adopted a strategy of "offensive defence" while preparing for a final attack when better weather and ground conditions arrived in the spring.
In late February-early March 1945, Operation Encore saw elements of the U.S. IV Corps (1st Brazilian Division and the newly arrived U.S. 10th Mountain Division) battling forward across minefields in the Apennines to align their front with that of the U.S. II Corps on their right. They pushed the German defenders from the commanding high point of Monte Castello and the adjacent Monte Belvedere and Castelnuovo, depriving them of artillery positions that had been commanding the approaches to Bologna since the narrowly failed Allied attempt to take the city in the autumn. Meanwhile, damage to other transport infrastructure forced Axis forces to use sea, canal and river routes for re-supply, leading to Operation Bowler against shipping in Venice harbour on 21 March 1945.
The Allies' final offensive commenced with massive aerial and artillery bombardments on 9 April 1945. The Allies had 1,500,000 men and women deployed in Italy in April 1945. The Axis on 7 April had 599,404 troops of which 439,224 were Germans and 160,180 were Italians. By 18 April, Eighth Army forces in the east had broken through the Argenta Gap and sent armour racing forward in an encircling move to meet the U.S. IV Corps advancing from the Apennines in Central Italy and to trap the remaining defenders of Bologna. On 21 April, Bologna was entered by the 3rd Carpathian Division, the Italian Friuli Group (both from the Eighth Army) and the U.S. 34th Infantry Division (from the Fifth Army). The U.S. 10th Mountain Division, which had bypassed Bologna, reached the River Po on 22 April; the 8th Indian Infantry Division, on the Eighth Army front, reached the river on 23 April.
By 25 April, the Italian Partisans' Committee of Liberation declared a general uprising, and on the same day, having crossed the Po on the right flank, forces of the Eighth Army advanced north-northeast towards Venice and Trieste. On the front of the U.S. Fifth Army, divisions drove north toward Austria and northwest to Milan. On the Fifth Army's left flank, the U.S. 92nd Infantry Division (the "Buffalo Soldiers Division") went along the coast to Genoa. A rapid advance towards Turin by the Brazilian division on their right took the German–Italian Army of Liguria by surprise, causing its collapse.
As April 1945 came to an end, the German Army Group C, retreating on all fronts and having lost most of its fighting strength, was left with little option but surrender. General Heinrich von Vietinghoff, who had taken command of Army Group C after Albert Kesselring had been transferred to become Commander-in-Chief of the Western Front (OB West) in March 1945, signed the instrument of surrender on behalf of the German armies in Italy on 29 April, formally bringing hostilities to an end on 2 May 1945.
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The Badoglio Proclamation was a speech read on Ente Italiano per le Audizioni Radiofoniche (EIAR) at 19:42 on 8 September 1943 by Marshal Pietro Badoglio, Italian head of government, announcing that the Cassibile armistice between Italy and the Allies signed on 3 September had come into force. It followed a speech on Radio Algiers by U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower at 18:30 (17:30 Algerian time) also announcing the armistice.Barbara Line
During the Italian Campaign of World War II, the Barbara Line was a series of German military fortifications in Italy, some 10–20 mi (16–32 km) south of the Gustav Line, from Colli al Volturno to the Adriatic Coast in San Salvo and a similar distance north of the Volturno Line. Near the eastern coast, it ran along the line of the Trigno river. The line mostly consisted of fortified hilltop positions.Battle for Monte la Difensa
The Battle for Monte La Difensa, which took place between 3 December and 9 December 1943, occurred during Operation Raincoat, part of the Battle for the Bernhardt Line during the Italian Campaign in World War II.Battle of San Pietro Infine
The Battle of San Pietro Infine (commonly referred to as the "Battle of San Pietro") was a major engagement from 8–17 December 1943, in the Italian Campaign of World War II involving Allied forces attacking from the south against heavily fortified positions of the German "Winter Line" in and around the town of San Pietro Infine, just south of Monte Cassino about halfway between Naples and Rome. The eventual Allied victory in the battle was crucial in the ultimate drive to the north to liberate Rome. The battle is also remembered as the first in which the troops of the Royal Italian Army (Regio Esercito) fought as co-belligerents of the Allies following the armistice with Italy. The original town of San Pietro Infine was destroyed in the battle; the modern, rebuilt town of the same name is located a few hundred meters away.Caesar C line
The Caesar Line was the last German line of defence in Italy before Rome during the Italian Campaign of the Second World War. It extended from the west coast near Ostia, over the Alban Hills south of Rome, from Valmontone to Avezzano and then to Pescara on the Adriatic coast. Behind the western half of the line was a subsidiary line, the Roman switch line which took a path north of Rome.
When the Caesar C Line defences, manned by the German 14th Army, were breached by the U.S. Fifth Army on 30 May 1944, following the breakout from Anzio, the road to Rome was finally opened. The Germans retreated to their next line of defence, the Trasimene Line where the 14th Army re-aligned with the German 10th Army before withdrawing to the formidable defences of the Gothic Line.Hamish Henderson
Hamish Scott Henderson (11 November 1919 – 9 March 2002; Scottish Gaelic: Seamas MacEanraig (Seamas Mòr)) was a Scottish poet, songwriter, communist, soldier and intellectual.
He was a catalyst for the folk revival in Scotland. He was also an accomplished folk song collector and discovered such notable performers as Jeannie Robertson, Flora MacNeil and Calum Johnston.Hitler Line
The Hitler Line was a German defensive line in central Italy during the Second World War. The strong points of the line were at Aquino and Piedimonte. In May 1944, the line was renamed the Senger Line, after General von Senger und Etterlin, one of the generals commanding Axis forces in the area. This was done at Hitler's insistence, in order to minimise any propaganda significance should the line be penetrated.
The line was a so-called "switch line", joining the Gustav Line at Monte Cairo and providing a fall-back position behind the Gustav Line should it be penetrated. The line was breached on 24 May 1944 on the British Eighth Army's front by the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and 5th Canadian Armoured Division attacking with II Polish Corps on their right. The Polish Corps captured Piedimonte on 25 May and the line collapsed. The next German line was the Caesar C line.Italian Campaign
Italian Campaign can refer to:
Italian campaign of 1524–25, fought during the Italian War of 1521–26
Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars, led by Napoleon Bonaparte between 1796–1797 and 1800
Second Italian War of Independence, fought by Napoleon III of France and Kingdom of Sardinia against Austria in 1859
Italian Front (World War I), fought primarily by Italy against Austria-Hungary
Italian Campaign (World War II), began after the Allied invasion of SicilyItalian Civil War
The Italian Civil War (Italian: La guerra civile) is the period between September 8, 1943 (the date of the armistice of Cassibile), and May 2, 1945 (the date of the surrender of German forces in Italy) in which the Italian Resistance and the Italian Co-Belligerent Army joined the allies fighting Axis forces including continuing Italian Fascist Italian Social Republic.Marocchinate
Marocchinate (pronounced [marokkiˈnate], Italian for "Moroccans’ deeds") is a term applied to the mass rape and killings committed during World War II after the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy. These were committed mainly by the Moroccan Goumiers, colonial troops of the French Expeditionary Corps (FEC), commanded by General Alphonse Juin, and mostly targeted civilian women and girls (as well as a few men and boys) in the rural area between Naples and Rome, traditionally known in Italian as Ciociaria.
The monument "Mamma Ciociara" was erected in remembrance of the Marocchinate women, particularly those who were killed during the military campaign.Moro River Campaign order of battle
The Moro River Campaign order of battle is a listing of the significant formations that were involved in the fighting during the Moro River Campaign in December 1943, part of the Italian Campaign of World War II.Operation Diadem
Operation Diadem, also referred to as the Fourth Battle of Monte Cassino or, in Canada, the Battle of the Liri Valley, was an offensive operation undertaken by the Allies of World War II (U.S. Fifth Army and British Eighth Army in May 1944, as part of the Italian Campaign of World War II. Diadem was supported by air attacks called Operation Strangle. The opposing force was the German 10th Army.
The object of Diadem was to break the German defenses on the Gustav Line (the western half of the Winter Line) and open up the Liri Valley, the main route to Rome. General Sir Harold Alexander, Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Allied Armies in Italy (AAI), planned Diadem to coordinate roughly with the invasion of Normandy, so that German forces would be tied down in Italy, and could not be redeployed to France.
Four corps were employed in the attack. From right to left these were Polish II Corps and British XIII Corps, of Eighth Army, and the Free French Corps (including Moroccan Goumiers) and U.S. II Corps, of Fifth Army. Fifth Army also controlled U.S. VI Corps in the Anzio beachhead, some 60 miles northwest.
Diadem was launched at 23:00pm on 11 May 1944 by elements, composed of the British 4th Infantry Division and 8th Indian Infantry Division with supporting fire from the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade. They made a successful strongly opposed night crossing of the Garigliano and Rapido rivers. This broke into the heart of the German defenses in the Liri valley against strong opposition and drew German theater reserves reducing pressure on the Anzio beachhead. The Free French Corps pushed through the mountains to the left on 14 May, supported by U.S. II Corps along the coast. On 17 May, Polish II Corps on the right attacked Monte Cassino.
The German position collapsed, and the Germans fell back from the Gustav Line to the Hitler Line some 10 miles to their rear.
On 23 May, the four corps attacked the Hitler Line. On the same day, the U.S. VI Corps attacked out of the Anzio beachhead.
The Hitler Line was breached by 1st Canadian Infantry Division's 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards at Pontecorvo on 23 May. German Tenth Army was forced to retire northwestward. U.S. VI Corps, moving northeast from Anzio, was on the point of cutting the German line of retreat, when Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, commander of the U.S. Fifth Army, inexplicably ordered them to turn northwest and advance on Rome instead. There is much speculation that he did this so that his Fifth Army would capture Rome ahead of the Eighth Army advancing up the Liri Valley. The German 10th Army thus avoided being surrounded.
The Germans fought a series of delaying actions, retired to the Trasimene Line, and then to the Gothic Line (identified on German maps as the "Green" Line), north of the Arno River.Operation Strangle (World War II)
Operation Strangle was a series of air interdiction operations during the Italian Campaign of World War II by the United States Fifteenth and Twelfth Air Forces to interdict German supply routes in Italy north of Rome from 19 March 1944 to 11 May 1944. Its aim was to prevent essential supplies from reaching German forces in central Italy and compel a German withdrawal. The strategic goal of the air assault was to eliminate or greatly reduce the need for a ground assault on the region. The Allies failed in the overly ambitious objective of the campaign, namely the forced withdrawal of German forces from the Gustav Line, but the air interdiction seriously complicated the German conduct of defensive operations and played a major role in the success of the subsequent Allied ground assault Operation Diadem.Two principal interdiction lines were maintained across the narrow boot of Italy. This meant that no through trains were able to run from the Po Valley to the front line, and that south of Florence nearly all supplies had to be moved by truck. Over the course of eight weeks, the Allies flew 21,000 sorties (388 per day) and dropped 22,500 tonnes of bombs. The operation employed medium bombers and fighter bombers over a 150-square-mile (390 km2) area from Rome to Pisa and from Pescara to Rimini.Operation Strangle was also the name of the unsuccessful rail interdiction operation of the United Nations Command air forces in 1951–1952 during the Korean War.Second Battle of the Alps
The Second Battle of the Alps (French: deuxième bataille des Alpes; Italian: seconda battaglia delle Alpi) was a military campaign fought between combined German and Italian Social Republic forces, and the re-established French Republic led by Charles de Gaulle.Spring 1945 offensive in Italy
The spring 1945 offensive in Italy, codenamed Operation Grapeshot, was the final Allied attack during the Italian Campaign in the final stages of the Second World War. The attack into the Lombardy Plain by the 15th Allied Army Group started on 6 April 1945, ending on 2 May with the formal surrender of German forces in Italy.Thunderbolt (1947 film)
Thunderbolt is a 1947 film directed by William Wyler and John Sturges which documented the American aerial operations of Operation Strangle in World War II, when flyers of the Twelfth Air Force based on Corsica successfully impeded Axis supply lines to the Gustav Line and Anzio beachhead. The film was originally shot in 16mm color by members of the Army Air Forces. The 12th Combat Camera Unit recorded the combat footage using cameras mounted on some of the P-47s and a B-25 medium bomber equipped as a camera ship to accompany the fighters.
Narrated by Lloyd Bridges and Eugene Kern, Thunderbolt! purports to follow a P-47 Thunderbolt squadron of the group through an interdiction mission from the time they wake up to their return to base afterwards with one aircraft missing. The directors edited their footage to recreate a mission against an unidentified target in northern Italy that resembles that of a May 1, 1944, mission against a railroad tunnel at Rignano sull'Arno, Italy, in which Lt. Col. Gilbert O. Wymond Jr. was awarded the Silver Star for destroying an ammunition dump concealed in a house near Siena and incurred severe damage to his P-47, Hun Hunter XIV. Wymond appears prominently with his P-47 throughout the documentary.
Directors Wyler and Sturges, serving as officers in the AAF, were attached to the 12th CCU during the period it filmed the activities of the 57th Fighter Group. Wyler used his association as a "passport" to visit many areas of liberated Europe after completion of the initial shooting.
Although shown to the press late in 1945, Thunderbolt! was not generally released until 1947 by Monogram Pictures, and was re-released in 1950 during the Korean War. Half of the 1947 profits from the film's release went to the Army Air Force Relief Society and the United States Treasury. The introduction to the film by James Stewart was filmed in late January 1947. Stewart had commanded a bomber wing as a colonel during the war.Trasimene Line
The Trasimene Line (so-named for Lake Trasimene, the site of a major battle of the Second Punic War in 217 BC) was a German defensive line during the Italian Campaign of World War II. It was sometimes known as the Albert Line. The German Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C), Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring, used the line to delay the Allied northward advance in Italy in mid June 1944 to buy time to withdraw troops to the Gothic Line and finalise the preparation of its defenses.Volturno Line
The Volturno Line (also known as the Viktor Line; German: Volturno-Linie, Viktor-Linie, Italian: Linea del Volturno) was a German defensive position in Italy during the Italian Campaign of World War II.
The line ran from Termoli in the east, along the Biferno River through the Apennine Mountains to the Volturno River in the west.
Following the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943 the German forces set up a series of defensive lines across Italy, intended to delay the Allied advance. The Volturno Line was the southernmost of these.Winter Line
The Winter Line was a series of German and Italian military fortifications in Italy, constructed during World War II by Organisation Todt and commanded by Albert Kesselring. The series of 3 lines was designed to defend a western section of Italy, focused around the town of Monte Cassino, through which ran the important Highway 6 which led uninterrupted to Rome. The primary Gustav Line ran across Italy from just north of where the Garigliano River flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, through the Apennine Mountains to the mouth of the Sangro River on the Adriatic coast in the east. The two subsidiary lines, the Bernhardt Line and the Hitler Line ran much shorter distances from the Tyrrehnian sea to just North East of Cassino where they would merge into the Gustav Line. Relative to the Gustav Line, the Hitler Line stood to the North-West and the Bernhardt Line to the South-East of the primary defenses.
The Gustav Line, though ultimately broken, effectively slowed the Allied advance for months between December 1943 and June 1944. Major battles in the assault on the Winter Line at Monte Cassino and Anzio alone resulted in 98,000 Allied casualties and 60,000 Axis casualties.