Italian Campaign

From Academic Kids

The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war.

Following victory in the North African Campaign, there was disagreement between the Allies on the next step. The British, especially Winston Churchill advocated the invasion of Italy. It was clear that the Italian people were becoming less enthusiastic about their participation in the war, and it was hoped that an invasion would knock them out of the war, providing at least a major propaganda blow. The elimination of Italy as an enemy would also enable the Royal Navy to completely dominate the Mediterranean Sea, massively improving communications with Egypt, the Far East, the Middle East and India.

The American staff however believed that a full scale invasion of France as soon as possible was necessary to end the war in Europe, and that no operations should be undertaken which might delay that. The matter was largely resolved when it became clear that an invasion of Northern France could not be undertaken in 1943. Given the presence of large numbers of troops trained for amphibious landings in the Mediterranean, a limited scale invasion was authorised.


Invasion of Sicily

See Operation Husky

A combined British-American invasion of Sicily began on July 10 1943 with both seaborne and airborne landings. The Germans were unable to prevent the Allied capture of the island, but succeeded in evacuating most of their troops to the mainland, the last leaving on August 17 1943.

Invasion of continental Italy

See Allied invasion of Italy.

British forces landed in the 'toe' of Italy on September 3 1943 in Operation Baytown. The Italian government surrendered on 8 September, but the German forces prepared to defend without their assistance. On 9 September American forces landed at Salerno in Operation Avalanche and additional British forces at Taranto in Operation Slapstick. While the rough terrain prevented fast movement and proved ideal for defense, the Allies continued to push the Germans northwards throught the rest of the year.

The Winter Line, Anzio and Monte Cassino

See: Winter Line, Operation Shingle, Battle of Monte Cassino

The German prepared defensive line called the Winter Line (parts of which were called the Gustav Line) proved a major obstacle to the Allies at the end of 1943, halting the advance. Landings at Anzio behind the line were intended to break it, but did not have the desired effect. The line was eventually broken by frontal assault at Monte Cassino in the Spring of 1944, and Rome captured in June.

The Final Stages

See: Gothic Line

Following the fall of Rome and the landings in Normandy the Italian campaign became of secondary importance. This last defensive line, north of Rome, was not broken until the Spring of 1945.

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