Thursday, January 22, 2015

Today in American History: The Battle of Anzio, 01/22/1944

On the morning of January 22, 1944, Allied troops began landing on the beach thirty miles south of Rome in Italy signaling the beginning of the Battle of Anzio.  This battle has been planned for months in 1943, but eventually scrapped because General Eisenhower thought that it was not the best way to accomplish the goals that were set for the offensive, and that the fighting would be fierce with more lives lost than it would be worth.  After Eisenhower relinquished command of the Mediterranean Allied forces, Allied commanders put the Italian offensive back on the table, and we got The Battle of Anzio.  The Battle lasted from January 22, 1944 through May 24, 1944 and is remembered as some of the fiercest fighting of World War II.  All told, the Allies lost 4,400 lives with over 18,000 casualties and 6,800 missing or taken prisoner.  It was a costly battle, that failed to meet the stated objectives: move the Germans out of the way, take Rome and advance north -- all quickly.

The impetus for the offensive existed within the scope of the surrender of Italy to the Allies in 1943.  After Italy surrendered, Germany began a grab and run operation.  The goal being to get out of Italy with as many supplies and goods that they could, while slowing the Allied advance from the south as much as possible.  And through the end of 1943, Germany had been very successful in doing just that.  Seeing that the Allied troops were being pinned down at every turn, the Allies thought a major offensive that landed behind enemy lines would kick the Germans out of the way and open the door for a larger European invasion from the south.

The reasons for the difficulties were clear.  The Germans had a strong presence, and had been quite effective in keeping the Allies at bay in Italy, this was simply a continuation of that effort.  Another reason is that it seems the Allies underestimated the German resistance.  General Lucas was vocal before the offensive was launched that he needed more people, more armament and more resources.  Those requests fell on deaf ears, and they went forward undermanned and undergunned.  Lucas' critics say he was too timid a commander.  That he spent too much time digging in and failed to launch an aggressive enough offensive to catch the Germans.  The Germans had adequate time to prepare and defend their positions.  Instead of a quick and aggressive offensive, the Allies put on a slow, methodical war of attrition.  In retrospect, maybe someone like General Patton would have been the right call for this mission.  He had a knack for making lemonade out of rocks.

But the offensive is seen as important in the scope of World War II for a number of reasons.  First, it put a great deal of pressure on the Germans from the south.  Having a sustained number of Allied troops sitting behind their lines of resistance made Germany put more resources into Italy than they would have done otherwise.  These resources (as many as 144,000 troops) came from other places in Europe they were perhaps needed more.  Ultimately, the offensive drained the German resources enough that the 15th Army broke through and marched onward.

Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

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