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Sicilian and Italian Campaign 43-45

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  • Sicilian and Italian Campaign 43-45

    We've been discussing quite a few theatres of war and not this one. American, British and Canadian divisions fought in some tough terrain the Italians and then the Germans. The divisions were even called " D-Day Dodgers " by a member of the British royal family?? A cousin maybe?? In any event, these soldiers fought very hard in Italy and kept dozens of German Divisions tied up in Italy which could have been used to supress the Invasion in Normandy. Open for discussion.
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    Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

  • #2
    Italian Campaign (opening thoughts)

    Well, "Smiling Albert" Kesselring might have cost the Germans the war, by cancelling the Ural Bomber; he made up for it with his campaign in Italy.

    Italy was notable for the large use of German Fallschirmjagers including a Fallschirm-Panzer Division (Hermann Goering)!

    In what other campaign would taking a Major axis capitol (Rome) lost front page headlines to D-Day.

    It was a long, bloody campaign; it should have been covered better and the men who fought treated like Heros.

    Cheers!


    Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

    "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

    What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.

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    • #3
      I agree the campaign in Italy is often overlooked. Considering the hard fighting that ocurred on both sides you would think it would get better coverage. Maybe the tough mountain fighting just wasn't that "glamorous" to cover. I for one would appreciate some articles about this theater.
      Lance W.

      Peace through superior firepower.

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      • #4
        There are three books written by Mark Zuehlke on the Italian Campaigns from a Canadian perspective:

        1. Ortona
        2. The Liri Valley
        3. The Gothic Line.
        http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

        Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

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        • #5
          OK after a bit of reading, it was Lady Astor in the House of Commons who commented on the trrops of the Italian Front as D Day Dodgers and a followup song was composed by the said troops which I have included here:

          THE "D" DODGERS.
          THERE IS A SONG EIGHT ARMY USED TO SING
          MARCHING THRO THE DESERT, MARCHING WITH A SWING
          BUT NOW THEY'RE ON A DIFFERENT GAME.
          ALTHOUGH THE TUNE IS THE SAME
          THE WORDS HAVE ALL BEEN ALTERED -THE WORDS WE'RE SINGING STILL

          WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS HERE IN ITALY
          DRINKING ALL THE VINO, ALWAYS ON THE SPREE,
          WE DIDN'T LAND WITH EISIENHOWER
          AND SO THEY THINK WE'RE JUST A SHOWER
          FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


          HERE'S TO LADY ASTOR, OUR PIN UP GIRL OUT HERE
          SHE'S THE DEAR OLD LADY, WHO SENDS US SUCH GOOD BEER
          AND WHEN WE GET OUR ASTOR BAND
          WE'LL BE THE PROUDEST IN THE LAND
          FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


          SALERNO AND CASSINO WE'RE TAKIN IN OUR STRIDE
          WE DIDN'T GO TO FIGHT THERE, WE WENT THERE FOR THE RIDE
          ANZIO AND SANZIO WE'RE O. K.
          JUST ANOTHER HOLIDAY
          FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


          AROUND LAKE TRASIMANO WE HAD A LOVELY TIME
          BAGS OF WINE AND WOMAN THERE, THEY DIDN'T COST A DIME
          BASE WALLAHS, AMGOT AND THE YANKS
          ALL STAYED IN ROME , TO DODGE THE TANKS
          FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


          WE STAYED A WEEK IN FLORENCE POLISHED OF THE VINO
          THEN THUMBED OUR WAY TO RIMINI THRO THE GOTHIC LINE
          SOON TO BOLOGNA WE WILL GO
          WHEN JERRYS GONE ACROSS THE PO
          FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


          SOON THE BOYS IN FRANCE, WILL BE GETTING LEAVE
          AFTER SIX MONTHS SERVICE ITS A SHAME THERE NOT RELIEVED
          BUT WE CON CARRY ON OUT HERE
          FOR WHAT MAY BE A FEW MORE YEARS
          FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


          ONCE WE HEARD A RUMOUR WE WERE GOING HOME
          BACK TO DEAR OLD BLIGHTY NEVER MORE TO ROAM
          THEN SOME ONE SAID IN FRANCE YOU'LL FIGHT
          WE ANSWERED "NO WE'LL JUST SIT TIGHT"
          FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


          wHEN THE WAR IS OVER AND WE'VE DONE OUR BIT
          CLIMBING OVER MOUNTAINS, THRO' MUD AND SLEET
          THEN WE WILL ALL BE SENT OUT EAST
          TILL B.L.A. HAVE BEEN RELEASED
          FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


          FORGOTTEN BY THE MANY REMEMBERED BY THE FEW
          WE HAD OUR ARMISTICE WHEN AN ARMESTICE WAS NEW
          ONE MILLION GERMANS GAVE UP TO US
          WE FINISHED OUR WAR WITHOUT MUCH FUSS
          FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


          IF YOU LOOK AROUND THE MOUNTAINS IN THE WIND AND RAIN

          YOU'LL FIND THE SCATTERED CROSSES SOME WHICH BEAR NO NAME
          HEART BREAK AND TOIL AND SUFFERING GONE
          THE BOYS BENEATH THEM SLUMBER ON
          FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY
          http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

          Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

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          • #6
            Boy would I have been pissed off.... I brought up the subject once with my wife's grandfather, and I heard an earful for about 10 minutes. I never mentionned it again. :bowdown:
            http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

            Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

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            • #7
              Re: Sicilian and Italian Campaign 43-45

              Originally posted by dannybou
              We've been discussing quite a few theatres of war and not this one. American, British and Canadian divisions fought in some tough terrain the Italians and then the Germans. The divisions were even called " D-Day Dodgers " by a member of the British royal family?? A cousin maybe?? In any event, these soldiers fought very hard in Italy and kept dozens of German Divisions tied up in Italy which could have been used to supress the Invasion in Normandy. Open for discussion.
              Certainly the Italian campaign was anything but a easy go. The Appenine mountains were superb natural defensive system, and the were, I believe, at least three created defensive lines, though I can only recall the Kesselring Line at present. Perhaps one of the most arduous operations was the Anzio landings, which were prevented from becoming a total disaster only by the determination, gallantry and stubborness of the troops landed. Another well-known campaign is, of course, the Siege of Monte Cassino, a abbey first built in the 6th Century, was seized and fortified by the Wehrmacht. In my opinion, an exceptionally poorly planned operation. Despite mutliple assaults and aerial bombardment the Germans refused to surrender. On 12 May 1944, the Germans at last abandoned the abbey and the Allied forces took control of what remained. It is estimated that the battle cost the lives of 20,000 civilians.
              Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
              (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

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              • #8
                Re: Re: Sicilian and Italian Campaign 43-45

                Originally posted by hogdriver
                Certainly the Italian campaign was anything but a easy go. The Appenine mountains were superb natural defensive system, and the were, I believe, at least three created defensive lines, though I can only recall the Kesselring Line at present.

                I believe these are the Gothic Line, the Ceasar Line, the von Senger Line (also known as the Hitler Line IIRC).
                Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

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                • #9
                  Cassino: Eventually which unit captured it?

                  I heard that both the Canadians and Polish were involved in the operation, and I think the Polish were the unit to actually 'take' it.

                  (No insult to the Canadians on the list, just trying to remember. Correct me if I'm wrong.)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by daemonofdecay
                    Cassino: Eventually which unit captured it?

                    I heard that both the Canadians and Polish were involved in the operation, and I think the Polish were the unit to actually 'take' it.

                    (No insult to the Canadians on the list, just trying to remember. Correct me if I'm wrong.)
                    In short, the Poles captured the Benedictine Abbey on Monte Cassino. The Canadian I Corps exploited the break through the Liri valley.
                    Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Italian Campaign (opening thoughts)

                      Originally posted by RStory
                      In what other campaign would taking a Major axis capitol (Rome) lost front page headlines to D-Day.

                      It was a long, bloody campaign; it should have been covered better and the men who fought treated like Heros.
                      OF course, Rome was an allied capital at that point, Italy having changed sides earlier.

                      You're completely right that the men who fought there (both sides...or all three ) should be well regarded.

                      JS
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                      • #12
                        Sideshow

                        Italy was the soft underbelly of Europe. Churchill was a big fan of attacking in Italy and into Germany. Of course, the Italian terrain is absolutely miserable for fighting a war.

                        I always thought the Italian and Sicily campaign was a mistake. Anyone who thinks that attacking straight through the mountains is a good idea should have their head examined.

                        The Germans fought an excellent holding action. They had wonderful terrain to help. The Allied troops that served in this thearter had some of the hardest fighting of the war. I would rate only the Southern Pacific campaign as harder terrain to fight in.

                        On the bright side, the Americans didn't go for the Balkans campaign as a concept. They should have also passed on the Italian campaign.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Sicilian and Italian Campaign 43-45

                          Originally posted by dannybou
                          We've been discussing quite a few theatres of war and not this one. American, British and Canadian divisions fought in some tough terrain the Italians and then the Germans. The divisions were even called " D-Day Dodgers " by a member of the British royal family?? A cousin maybe?? In any event, these soldiers fought very hard in Italy and kept dozens of German Divisions tied up in Italy which could have been used to supress the Invasion in Normandy. Open for discussion.
                          This campaign is a perfect historical model of how NOT to wage war.

                          Not to take away from the bravery of the men and the sacrifices that they made, but every mistake that could be made, was made.
                          From the battles in Sicily, where the Germans were permitted to evacuate about 55 000 men to the slaughter of the 36th US Inf Div along the Rapido River to the Anzio Beachhead.

                          As for the dozens of German divisions tied down in Italy, that works both ways.
                          IIRC 23 German divisions were tied down using 22 Allied divisions(or is it the other way around?). IMHO these units could have been used to better effect elsewhere.
                          Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Tigersqn
                            In short, the Poles captured the Benedictine Abbey on Monte Cassino. The Canadian I Corps exploited the break through the Liri valley.
                            Weren't there some Ghurka troops involved too, or am I mistaking a different engagement? No other unit would be better aclimated to the altitude.
                            Lance W.

                            Peace through superior firepower.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Here are the Countries on the Allied side who fought at Monte Cassino:

                              Britain
                              France (Free)
                              US
                              New Zealand
                              Poland
                              Canada
                              Nepal (Gurkha, 9th Gurkha Rifles)
                              India I believe the Rajputana Rifles
                              South Africa
                              Morocco (Free France)
                              Algeria (Free France)

                              I hope I didn't forget any Allies.
                              http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

                              Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

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