The Italian Campaign

MatthewA By MatthewA, 7th Dec 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

After the defeat of the Afrika Korps in North Africa, the Allies began planning new campaigns. Italy was selected as the next location for further advances. The defeat and occupation of Italy would provide Britain and the USA with additional airfields and open a second front in Europe, which the Russians called for. As such, in 1943 Allied troops began landing along the shores of Sicily.

The Italian Campaign

The most essential operation in this campaign was probably Operation Husky. Taking Sicily was essential if the Allies were to advance any further. If this operation faltered, without an effective beachhead established, then the Italian Campaign may not have lasted long.

So it was essential for the USA and Britain to conceal their plans. If the Italians and Germans became clear as to the next landing point of Allied troops, they would have reinforced those positions more extensively. But Allied tricks convinced the Germans and Italians that Greece was a potential Allied target, so they reinforced Greece and Sicily.

This left a reduced number of German and Italian troops in Sicily when the Allies landed. When they came the primary target was that of Syracuse's port. When Syracuse fell, they had won a vital port from which the Allies could reinforce and resupply their troops. Other ports such as Augusta and Catania were also taken.

As such, Operation Husky was victorious as Allied troops swept through Sicily. As the Italian king dismissed Mussolini from his post soon after, this was perhaps the essential victory in the Italian Campaign. A secret armistice with the Allies followed, but as the Germans were able to effectively withdraw a number of their divisions from Sicily the campaign was far from over.

What followed in the campaign was a gradual Allied advance northwards. But German reinforcements slowed the Allied armies. Around the foothills of Monte Cassino, and the Gustav Line, their advance was all but halted until 1944. In what was the largest battle of the campaign, the Allies needed months to effectively penetrate German positions around Monte Cassino. But their victory here ensured the retreat of the German divisions, leaving the way clear for further Allied advances into northern Italy.

Allied troops also landed at Anzio to further support their soldiers along the Gustav Line. Whilst the landings were very effective, once the Germans had regrouped they pinned the Allied troops into small beachhead pockets. Holding the beachheads at Anzio was also fairly vital. German troops countered around Anzio to push them from the beaches, and had it not been for Allied air support the Germans might have won a victory there. Extensive aerial bombardments at German positions ensured heavy losses for their troops, and the counter began to fizzle out. Thus, Allied troops at Anzio were able to link up with the others to take Rome.

The victory at Monte Cassino might have won the campaign had the Allies cut off the German troops that were retreating. However, as the Allies advanced into Rome the German troops set up new positions further northwards. Only by 1945 did the rest of German divisions in Italy surrender. But Operation Husky, the breakout from Anzio and the breaching of the Gustav Line undoubtedly ensured an Allied victory in Italy.


Italian Campaign, Italy, Operation Husky

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author avatar MatthewA
Matthew is the author of the book Battles of the Pacific War 1941 - 1945. You can find further details at

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