Why did the Allies invade Italy?
- Most people during the war had an imperialistic approach. Control of Italy meant that they could dominate the Meditteranean to protect North African colonies and the Suez Canal trade routes.
- The US troops were not ready in sufficent numbers to comit forces to the invasion of France and Churchill didn't want a bloodbath like WWI the Battle of Somme.
- The North African and Meditteranean campaign would help build up British forces.
- If the Allies invaded Italy, Germany would divert it forces from France which makes the invasion of France more plausible.
- However, America believed that further commitment of resources and men to the Mediterranean meant that it would remove resources away from France.
The Casablanca Conference
- occured in January 1943
- Churchill and Roosevelt agreed that the invasion of Sicily would occur.
- Agreed that the Axis must unconditionally surrender.
- Some historians argued that this made Germany and Japan fight to the bitter end, however, they already had this attitude therefore the Allies made little difference.
- The Allies were now committed to total victory.
What was the stages for the Invasion of Sicily?
1. 10th July 1943- The Allies land on the South coast of Italy from the air and the sea however, the Axis counter attacks are initially sucessful, but are drove back by the Allied Navy gun fire on the 12th July 1943.
2. Axis troops begin to start evacuating from the east allowing the US troops under the command of General Patton to rapidly drive to Palermo which falls on the 22nd July 1943.
3. The British and Candians are bogged down towards Catania as the Germans are dugged in the mountainous terrain.
4. Three American and One British landing fails to disrup the Axis evacuation from the Straits of Messina. The Axis forces begin crossing the Strait of the 3rd August 1943 and the evacuation ends on the 17th August 1943. Only after the evacuation is the Allies able to enter Messina.
How was Sicily a failure and a success?
- highlighted the issues in the Anglo-American co-operation as Montgomery and Patton didn't get on.
- The planning and execution was poor.
- The enemy was pushed back rather than defeated
- Sicily aids the Fall of Mussolini which makes the invasion plausible.
- Einshower ready to go on with the invasion as the capturing of the Southern Italian oilfields in the Foggia would bring more of Germany and German-controlled industry within the range of the Allied bomber.
- occured on August 1943
- agreed that the invasion of France would occur in 1944
- also agreed to the invasion of Italy
What were the stages of the invasion of Italy?
- 3rd September 1943 British forces cross the Straits of Messina. The same day the Italians sign an armistice with the Allies, British trrops prepare to and at Taranto and other Alied troops at Salerno
- 9th Septmber 1943- British troops land at Taranto and face little resistance. At Salerno, the Allies encounter fierce resistance. By 28th September, the Germans have withdrawn and Allies enter Naple on the 31st September 1943.
- The hostile terrain allows Germany to establish a strong defence called Gustav line in Monte Cassino.
- Between 20th November-5th January 1944, the Allies attacked undefended zones making little progress. The Allies land at Anzio in an attempt to break through the Gustav Line, but became stuck at the beach head due to Germans rapid build up between the 23rd Jan to the 16th Feb.
- 12th Feb-23rd March- laucn three unsucessful attacks on Monte Cassino. On the 11th May, attack between Cassino and the sea. After one week of fighting, they break through the Gustav line.
- 23rd May, the Allies troops at Anzio break through the beachead, but instead of cutting off the German retreat, they rush to liberate Rpme on the 4th June. By this time, the Germans are able to retreat.
- June-August, Allies advance towards the Gothic line which runs south of Bologna. Bologna is eventually defeated.
- occured in November 1943
- At this stage, relations between the US, USSR and British are good.
- Churchill and Roosevelt decide to invade France in May 1944.
- Stalin agreed to attack Japan after the Germans had been defeated.
- Churchill was prepared to accept Stalin's proposals of Poland, but the effort to bully the London Poles into acceptance was futile.
- Showed that Britian's influence was fading.
Why was Italy not the 'soft underbelly' of Europe?
- Germans organisiation: Hitler had already made plans for the defection of Italy. German had occupied the peninsula, mountainous regions and the river valleys. By September 1943, German army had already occupied Northern and Central parts of Italy which enabled them to swiftly occupy and seize Italians colonies in France and Balkans.
- Allied mistakes: Due to Montogomery slow advancements, Kesselring was able to form a line along Vorno, 30 miles north of Naples where he was able to conduct a defensive campaign. Germans able to pull back to the Gustav line where the held up the Allies.
- Germans were allowed to get away by General Mark who advanced to Rome rather than defeating the Germans.
- Jan 1944, unable to take initiative when the landed at Anzio resulting in them becoming trapped at the beachead by German forces.
Summary of Invasion of Italy
- Removed troops from France and tied the German forces. As Germany had placed 31 divisions in Italy leaving 61 divisions in France. However, it didn't compare to the 190 divisions which still remained in the Eastern Front,. In the Western German division, there were 2.44 million men compared to the Eastern division with 2.85 million men.
- Failed to allow the invasion of central Europe from the South