tv The Italian Campaign Liberation of Rome 1943-1944 CSPAN January 11, 2020 11:59am-1:19pm EST
moses stands up, bleeding. just bleeding. the guys who ran away are looking. moses said come are you ready to go register to vote? you see that kind of strength. that quiet power. >> you can learn more about efforts to register african-american voters in mississippi tonight at 8:00 and that eastern on lectures in history. join us on american history tv. productsan history tv are now available at the new c-span online store. store.org to see what is new for american history tv and check out all of the c-span products. national world war ii museums annual conference in new
orleans, a look at the italian campaign in 1943 and 1944. seniorino, the historian, talks about the german army in italy, and author and historian rick atkinson discusses the campaign from the allied perspective. >> now you hear me. i hear me, too. good morning. lengle, senior director for programming. welcome to our humble abode. we had to clear out some junk to make room for you, so it sits on best so sit on any -- so sit on any old upturned law you can find. you don't see this kind of passion to get in at 8:00 in the morning at an academic
conference. we like to keep things at a very high level. we certainly witnessed that yesterday with our preconference symposium on dwight d. eisenhower. the quality of the presentations ,nd the questions were superb caps off by a fantastic lecture 1944.l hitchcock on june i encourage you throughout today and tomorrow, it is really you who make this conference happen and make it as exciting as it is. please keep the great questions coming. it will make every session just as good as they were yesterday. i would like to welcome c-span and our online livestream viewers and to give a shout out
to the pritzker military museum and library, who are our kind sponsors for this event, as they have been for so long. yes, please. [applause] ed: and if you get to chicago, go to the pritzker. fantastic programs. i have one change in the program to announce. lynne olson, who had been scheduled for the second session today, unfortunately had to cancel because of circumstances beyond her control. otherl expand the presentations on that panel. on to our first session discussing the italian campaign with the title breakout from the beach and the race to rome, the italian theater.
ryanour moderator chris and a guy he cannot seem to keep away from, rob citino, it seems like they are always on panel together. my good friend the great historian rick atkinson. enjoy. [applause] >> good morning. universityryan, air press. i'm excited to be here at this panel. if you picked to scholars in the world to speak on this topic, this is the to you would pick. in the presentation last night, will hitchcock mentioned several of the significant events in june 1944, certainly d-day, the opening of the marianas campaign . it is telling that june of 1944
was such a significant month that a fourth event, the liberation of one of the three axis capitals slips to the fourth most important thing that happened that month. that does not mean it was an insignificant campaign or event. we will start with rob citino, who you all know very well. the senior historian here at the national world war ii museum. he will speak on the access perspective of the campaign. following him, another historian who is familiar to you, distinguished military historian from the american revolution all the way to our wars in the .iddle east, dr. rick atkinson [applause] rob: good morning, everyone. we have a custom here at the
museum of asking people to stand and be recognized. i wonder if those who are in the asu national world war ii museum cooperative academic program, if you would stand and be recognized. i'm curious as to how many of you there are. a couple, more, there you are. very good. i think i have gotten everyone. the rest of you who aren't in the program, you can find applications on the website. we offer a masters degree in cooperation with arizona state on world war ii studies. we also have continuing studies. if you decide that another masters degree is not for you. as you know, it is digital, and i don't see any faces at all. people tapping me on the
shoulder constantly saying you are my professor, it is unnerving. of talking about the axis, and that will largely be the german military position in italy. i'm going to set them up, and then rick atkinson is going to knock them down following my talk. in war, there are things you hope to get. that is why you undertake the campaign. then there are the things that you actually get. they are often pretty far apart from one another. there is often a wide gap between expectations and results. itsink our friend close of would be a will to explain just why that is. we will get started. that way. there we go. there we go. thank you very much. i think no campaign better illustrates this cap between
expectation and reality than the allied invasion of italy in september of 1943. it started, like they all do, with high hopes. you would rarely undertake a campaign without high hopes. those hopes were exploiting italian surrender and moving up rome,alian peninsula to florence, and even into the wealthy heart of italy. you'd be able to do that because the at times would be surrendered. they would be disappearing, and highly mobile allied forces would be motoring to the north. it bought down almost immediately. the divorce between expectation and reality was not over the course of months and years, it was over the course of hours and days and weeks. allied forces landed at salerno in 1943 and had a hard time staying there.
i would say it was as close a run of thing has happened in the course of the second world war. since then they had been stuck in metaphorical first gear for months, creeping ahead over the treacherous mountains, valleys, and rivers of southern and central italy. they landed in september, so we immediately went into the rainy season and winter. all those brochures and travel descriptions of sunny italy, well italy is sunny and beautiful part of the year. the other half of the year it is miserable. mobilettempt to open conditions in january of 1944, an amphibious landing at anzio, south of rome, went sideways early and ended up being another deadlocked front, the very condition it was supposed to alleviate. with allied troops sitting in a shallow beachhead for months while shells rained down on
their heads from the germans in the mountains. every allied movement brought down a halo of german fire from the surrounding mountains. blame iny to turn the words for all this. the u.s. commander at salerno, and there he is, we heard his name taken in vain several times yesterday and will probably today. grosslymark clark underestimated the difficulty of an amphibious landing. in later stages of the campaign, his disastrous attack on german positions, he seems little better than a butcher, a horrible attack that led to nothing better than allied casualties. . did seven years in texas you really want to hear mark clark's name being taken in vain, just travel to texas.
you will get an earful on mark clark. general john lucas at anzio was absolutely hapless. british prime minister winston churchill dreamt up the whole anzio mess and italian campaign, and he certainly deserves blame as well. that is all to the good. generals and statesmen should be held accountable for their , andkes, flights of fancy the italian campaign had plenty of all of these things. know who really to blame for the deadlock in italy. it was the germans, of course. they are much praised in histories of the campaign, especially in english language histories. the narrative goes like this, the germans had a supreme , field marshal
uppercrust lorraine, who was routinely described as a genius. they had a tough field commanders like an armor officer of real aggressive drive. he looked the part. his father was a field marshal army andrman imperial had the same look. there were meticulous staff officers. and there were tough veteran soldiers. you add in a theater that was too narrow for a great deal of maneuver and the extremely difficult terrain, and you have a recipe for allied frustration plans to blast through the german lines. that is the narrative. i'm not quite sure plans to blat through how true any of it was.
if i could go back in a time machine and dropped him down in the middle of the eastern front, see how much of a genius he looks like there with multiple soviet tank armies heading at you from multiple directions. nobody solved that problem during the entire course of the war. aggressive tough, manner, not so much in italy. he'll had probably been burned out by the expanse of the also a warnt, and criminal. he was convicted of the massacre of italian hostages. those hostages were taken in response to a also a war criminal. bombing inside rome of a number of german soldiers. hostages were taken them innocent hostages who had nothing to do with the bombing were taken and murdered. how about those crack german troops who occupy so much of the
narrative of this campaign? many of them, about half were members of divisions destroyed in the bombing inside stalingrad pocket. that would be seven months 1943.usly in simply been draftees who were given the old divisional number. hitler's and the general staff thought it was important to get the divisional numbers back in the field. 305th divisionhe have not really been destroyed. it was campaigning in italy. it was a patchwork of men from all over the occupied territories, including a number who spoke no german at all. another stalingrad unit was the 44th division.
it was filled with raw recruits up and down and showed it in its first encounters in combat. the same might be said of the 94th division. commander was hard-core, one of the last to fly out of the stalingrad pocket before the last german airfield was overrun by the soviets, and he did so against his will, practically had to be dragged into the plane . the quality manpower simply was not there. i think anyone is capable of being trained as a soldier, but these were men who had been hardly trained and were rushed into the field. in all these cases, should also recall another thing. these were late model german infantry divisions consisting of only six fighting battalions. that is three regiments, to battalions of peace.
it's infantry battalions who hold the line and do most of the fighting. german divisions could usually make impact, the initial fight would be fairly even. once both sides had worn each other down, german divisions tended to fade away in the hard fighting. my point, in terms of combat power, fresh divisions, trained manpower, firepower especially, the wehrmacht was outclassed in italy. it might be interesting to the audience who know the eastern front, the quintessential soviet arm, artillery, thousands of big artillery pieces lined up blasting the german line. german officers who served on the fronts often said firepower was much heavier in
italy. the front was much smaller. the firepoweryou read that again an. the wehrmacht was outclassed in italy. the germans were overstretched on multiple fronts, especially in the east. in the words of the theater chief of staff, the blanket had become threadbare. our blanket was threadbare. he was using an old peasant expression for lean times. having said that, there were two moments in this long drawn out italian campaign when the german army, commanders, men, staff officers alike showed the old fire. both were emergencies, do or die moments. both required improvisation, scrambling, decision-making on the fly, nerves of steel. in both, german speed and
flexibility were enough, just barely, to master the moment. i would like to spend some time with these two big moments. there are the invasions of italy in september 1943. i would like to start here. the allies are invading italy, and italy is falling apart altogether from top to bottom. the italians have officially surrendered the moment that general mark clark was landing at salerno. there are two allied landings in italy, one that we think about a hardly one that we remember. the latter is operation baytown, montgomery's landing in collaborative, the southern tell of the boot and the city know family home. if you have ever been there, you know why people have left there
over the years. it is beautiful but desperately poor. organized crime is in charge of many of the construction projects. reasonse any number of that it is still a tough situation for the italians. that was operation baytown. mark clark then landed at salerno. a little bit up the boot, if you say italy is a boot, somewhere around the ankle at the town of salerno, and that is operation avalanche. just to add spice, the italians had the trade their german allies and surrendered to the western allies at the same moment. here are three simultaneous threats, montgomery's big army coming up the tell, mark clark's big army landing at salerno, and the italian surrender, all happening, the trade by your ally while deep inside his country.
what has to be called one of the great operational scrambles of all time, the wehrmacht, the german armed forces managed to counter all of these threats. to put it in shorthand, they played just enough of a screen monty,bria to delay although monty was kind of a delimit a shame -- delay machine in his own right. all of the great captains would say you need to seize the moment, grab the initiative, but montgomery had an infinite capacity for being careful. he is coming up slowly. germans put just enough of a screen in front of him to hold him off. the fact that calabria is mountainous and badly served by germans put just enough of a screen in front ofroads had a l.
at the same time the germans launched operation axis, rushing divisions down into italy from the north, overrunning the entire peninsula. it is one of the real lightning campaigns of world war ii, and disarming hundreds of thousands of italian troops. the germans were aided by the nature of the italian surrender, which was to announce it. and theprime minister king announced the invasion and then got out of dodge, to leave rome for unknown whereabouts. was,e knew where the king the prime minister was, no troops had been given any orders whatsoever. german troops were approaching the time positions. many italians. they were our allies, and they did not open fire until the germans opened fire. this is a recipe for disaster. there is a tendency to treat the italian military history as a kind of comic opera.
this is decidedly unfunny. hundreds of thousands of italians soldiers rounded up, sent to germany in labor camps, or murdered on the spot. it is a dark moment, a dark day in modern telling history. finally, the germans managed to face down the main event, which was that anglo-american landing at salerno, south of naples. day one sock mark clark's landing held up by a single german division. i will name them. that will be the quiz later. was held up force by the 16th panzer. restext day, the germans to more divisions to the front. these were old friends who the allies had fought in sicily and had escaped the island to live and fight again. that is the first parachute panzer division under designated
hermann goering. it is a ground fighting division. the 15th panzer grenadier division. all three divisions were formed anzer corps.h p the next day, the 16th panzer and 29th panzer came up from the south. they were formed into another panzer corps, the 76th. together they made up the german 10th army. once the germans sorted out the touchy situation in rome, had arrested everybody or killed those they wish to kill, the third panzer grenadier division came barreling down the road at salerno. here is what is important. within three days of the landing at salerno, three allied divisions were facing elements .f six german divisions
no one should be surprised that it was a tough fight for the allies, however we might assess mark clark's generalship, and i would tend to assess it fairly low, i think he did have some qualities as the commander, but let's say clark was napoleon. say he had those qualities, he still would have had a difficult time advancing more rapidly at salerno because of the german surge capacity. the germans got more troops to the front then the allies were able to get in those crucial opening days. there is essentially the stalemate that resulted from the allies being unable to really blast ashore at salerno. they got ashore, managed to hold their own, managed to break the german ring around the bridgehead and then retreat grudgingly and slowly to the north. this is the classic map of the
italian campaign, in that the germans are on a position called the wustaff line, the rapido river which is, swift, the ,penine mountains in the center and then leading up to the adriatic. it is a seamless defensive position. the allies are attempting to fight their way from the toe to the top. saideon once famously italy is a boot, and like every boot must be entered from the top. you don't put your boot on from the toe first. there is the deadlock. the allied solution that deadlock was anzio. 22ied landings on january 1944, at anzio south of
rome. outflank theas to gustav line, restore mobile conditions. every military officer wants to be operating in the field, not grinding it out man for man in an attritional struggle. ony allies landed at anzio generate 22nd, 1944. they took the wehrmacht completely by surprise. the road to rome was literally undefended for a few crucial hours on january 22, 1944. the allies got ashore with you than 100 casualties. almost all landings in world war ii generated more death and destruction than that. histories are filled with the system of what the allies didn't. they came ashore, relieved to have not been shot at, doug and
-- dug in and that's that. i would simply add this to that narrative, which is true. anzio is not a failure in early of anything the allies did. it failed because of the speed of the german reaction. salerno, it was scrambling time. consider this, the allies landed at on zeal at 2:00 in the morning on generate 22nd. within an hour, the german awakened theief chief of staff with news of the landing. the germans had contingency plans. they had contingency plans for everything. they already had contingency plans on the books for an allied landing at rome. all vespa had to do was give a single code word, richard.
briefed thehe had on thef staff developments, the machinery was already running. an antitank screen would be in place around rome by noon in case an allied armored column try to drive into rome weekly. divisions from the four corners of italy and beyond were already streaming towards on zeal. divisional designations include the 71st division and third panzer grenadier from casino in the south, elements of both divisions reached the front by the morning of january 23. by evening, more formations had arrived. goringent of the hermann panzer division, another 15th panzer grenadier division, a motorized engineer battalion preston to the line as infantry, and an antiaircraft battalion in position.
as these disparate forces hustled to the beachhead, they were placed under the tactical command of general schlemmer, a luftwaffe staff officer in rome. he was in command a single day. the next day, as more troops came up, the staff of the first parachute corps under albert schlem. until in the saddle january 25, day three, and the staff under the 14th army from general moccasin arrived from northern italy to take command. the point, by day three at anzio, general lucas, who may have hesitated widely on the first day and the second, general lucas and the allied
sixth core were already facing a full german field army. it was rudimentary, but it was in place around the bridgehead. no wonder by this point that lucas did not go anywhere. no one at anzio will go anywhere until rick atkinson will tell us in a few moments. s, even withemi the situation as desperate as it could be, no one could scramble at the wehrmacht. this was the quality of vermont would have that would last until the end of the war. no one could pull together a handful of italians and turn it into a division. no one could cobble together a handful of visions and turn it into an army. way, and itur frustrated even your best laid plans. in our haste to condemn general clark or lucas or anyone on the
allied side, we have to be fair. we should never forget the germans. thank you very much. [applause] rick: a tough act to follow. good morning. it is always good to see old friends and meet new friends in new orleans. rob,f those old friends, has set us up beautifully to understand what happened 75 years ago leading to the capture of rome. allied armies, as he told you, had been fighting in italy since the invasion of sicily in july 1943, working painfully up the boot mile by bloody mile. 1944, they are about
halfway up the peninsula, and those armies now contained over half a million men and the equivalent of 28 divisions with the mostly british army on the right, roughly to the northeast as you look towards the adriatic sea. they are commanded by this rascal on the left, lieutenant general oliver w lease. he is in montgomery protege, described as a big ungainly bruiser. his motto is never worked about on the low level. on the left, roughly to the southeast on the map, similar to the one rob showed, the american fifth army commanded by this guy , you have seen his picture already, lieutenant general mark clark, another rascal. the fifth army comprised 350,000 men, including the force that
since january has been holding that i embattled bridgehead at anzio. marooned 30 are miles below rome, not in physical contact with the main fifth army line 20 miles south. the anglo-americans had huge advantages in artillery, armor, and aircraft. the germans have the high ground. the allies hope when we get to may of 1944, not only to drive the enemy north of rome, liberating the capital, but also to exterminate so many germans that hit there will be forced to shore up is jeopardized southern flank in italy even as operation overlord sweeps into france from the west. the grand offensive in italy is codenamed diadem. it involved a familiar point of attack, the casino
redoubt, the site of conspicuous failures in allied attacks earlier in the year. the valley just west of the monastery you see on top of the steep hill is the most direct and accessible route for mechanized armies to reach rome and northern italy. harold alexander, seen on the right, is the senior allied commander in italy. eisenhower in montgomery have left to go back to plan normandy. alexander has chosen the british eight army for the main stroke in diadem. it is just too big for them. instead the fifth army will attack on the allied left to support the british. once the gustav line hinged on lucian major general
talking to alexander on the left , and his u.s. sixth court will burst from the anzio bridgehead, shouldering aside the blockading german 14th army and helping destroy the german 10th army and further open the route to rome. that is the plan. the positioning begins. in early may 1944, on the allied right, the eighth army secretly side slips more than a quarter million men east to west over the apennine mountains, and general lease's divisions led by 356,000 poles general anders. he is a slender, handsome cavalryman who had fought both germans and russians in 1939, wounded three times, captured on crutches. he spent 20 months in moscow's
prison before being released. he eventually formed a polish core against the common not see photo as -- cohe eventually forh rps against the theon nazi foe as russians allowed him to do. he ends up. in central italy. as part of the fifth army line on the allied left, wedged into who mile front is the man will soon become the hero of the hour, general alphonse, whose french expeditionary corps includes four divisions and oumiers, aps of g regular berber tribesmen known for agility, ruthlessness, and sartorial naspanache.
[laughter] he intends to outflank the germans, on hinging the gustav line and the tank trap in the valley by scaling up the arusha deemedns, which are impassable by everyone else. as the big day draws near, the fifth army alone stockpiles 11,000 tons of ammunition for the first two days of diadem. 43 italian sawmills turn forests into engineer lumber. the fifth army alone musters 11,000 mules and 2000 horses in 2pac trains -- into packed trains. intelligence estimates that field marshal kesselring's force in italy totals just over 400,000 men, including nine
divisions along the casino front, the main front, and five divisions around anzio in the 14th army. you can see anzio is that blue bubble south of rome. eavesdroppingts on the germans revealed kesselring has 326 serviceable tanks, 316 antitank guns and 180 assault guns. animating principle is everybody throws everything they have at the same time with the fifth and eighth army's attacking simultaneously, ,lthough the attack from anzio where thee the vi is going tohead is
wait until the germans are on their heels and can be stacked in the flank. the allied main attack will follow highway six, heading into rome from the southeast, the only avenue where armor can seo --in mass, passed in past casino. can break out of the beachhead at anzio and sees the critical crossroads town of belmont tony, where the german 14th army appears on this map southeast of rome, if they can armyheir, the german 10th retreating from the casino front will be trapped in a decisive battle of annihilation. churchill, our objective is the destruction of the enemy south of rome. this vexes clark. clark privately tells his
subordinates, the capture of rome is the only important objective. at 11:00 p.m.ns on thursday, may 11, gusts of white flame erupt from gun pits. the fifth army alone fires 174,000 shells in the first hour of the offensive. the eighth army on the allied right surges forward. two polish divisions are two seize monte cassino. entireen a gap for an canadian corps. this map gives you an idea of the magnitude of the offensive and attack vectors. by chance, the germans had chosen the night of may 11 to
leave the defenders behind at monte cassino with fresh troops, and it is nearly double its normal strength. nine german battalions opposed the polls. momentum, may 12, all has seeped away from the allied attack on the right. with the polish assault battalions depleted by half, general anders orders both of his divisions back to the starting line. along the repeat oh, no italian has gained more than 500 yards of the intended 5000 yards. barely half of the objectives have been secured on the british left, and none on the right. one thing that goes right, 350 tons of allied bombs batter kesselring's command post, crushing a german counterattack that might have crippled diadem.
three approaches are planned for the rapido river. through improved force and a very high cost in casualties, the british managed to place one bridge, then two, and finally a third. that is by saturday morning, first light, may 13. six more bridges will eventually span the rapido. in the first four days of operation diadem, the eighth army will advance just four miles at the cost of more than 4000 casualties. it is a man down every five feet. casino, downstream from on the left of the american line, two corps, in an attack under major general jeffrey keyes, has also stalled.
leaves the french corps. three divisions surge into those mountains deemed impassable. at first it goes wrong, and that it goes right. french artillery is redirected to support primarily the second moroccan division, and a push through the center of the line , a 3000 footure limestone monolith. on may 13, moroccan soldiers report capturing that peak, tearing a gap in the gustav line. by sunday, the french have advanced seven miles along a 16 mile front, i'm hinging german defenses. the leash to slip from his berber regulars, and that vanguard of 12,000 four into the fight. court is, the french
six miles ahead of the eighth army. hisral anders again orders poles into the breach, fighting with robots, tank fire, and stones. german defenders begin to slip away or die. the struggle for the high ground behind the abbey at monte 18.ino ends at dawn on may just before 10:00 a.m., a polish flag rises above the wall. a couple thousand british and south african engineers begin to clear highway six, although it will take more than two days to pull those just a one mile stretch. there is so much rubble.
under 250 soldiers each. exclusive of dead and wounded, 1000 german prisoners are being captured on average each day. frankly, kesselring has been out general. he is slow to realize that another allied amphibious landing near rome is only a ruse, and he is slow to release his reserves. corpsl lease has three with 20,000 vehicles jammed along a six mile front in ambush territory. the next defensive position behind the gustav line is now crumbling slowly. transferg is forced to divisions from anzio to check the allied momentum. the time has come for those seven divisions in the beachhead army at anzio to fall on the enemy flank like a dagger in the ribs.
clark radios trust back. operation buffalo will be launched at 0630 hours on may 23. corpsalso sends his commander a private message, telling him to be prepared to consider an alternative plan. g northeast slashin to that critical crossroads on route six, where they will cut off the 10th army retreat, he is to be prepared to take his beachhead army and if ordered swing along the western flank of the hills, angling northwest on the shortest route to rome, which clark calls the great prize. the breakout from anzio is. pure pain.
the u.s. first armored division loses 86 tanks on the first day. casualties for that tuesday approach 2000, ,ncluding 344 killed in action the highest single day american tally of death in the italian campaign. by wednesday, resistance is crumbling. the coastal roads into the beachheads from the american front to the south is finally opened on thursday, may 25. after 125 days, anzio's isolation ends. byst back believes that sometime on friday, his entire corps will be a stride the german line of withdrawal. alternativeives his
order, and that smile is going to disappear. to send justhim one division to block highway six with the rest of the sixth s pivoting to rome. mark clark is going to spend the rest of his long life defending an indefensible impertinence that for 75 years has remained among the most controversial episodes in world war ii. clark will argue that many escape roads besides route six league north from the german positions on the pillar and gustav lines. that is true enough. he also believes that kesselring's last german divisions will soon congeal along highway six to make things sticky. that is also true. clark sugars the pill for
alexander by keeping more than corps troops coming along highway six. his claim that artillery fire has cut the highway and cut the german escape is mostly nonsense. clark will crow how the fifth army was the first army in 15 centuries to seize rome from the south, to enter the boot from the toe, but many germans escaped to fight another day, as they had on sicily, as they did at salerno. the harsh truth remains that with duplicity and in bad faith him marcuss call clarkuss
contravened a direct order from his superior. he failed to see that the german commander on may 26 would have psced at least three sxith cor divisions with only a single of this rated wehrmacht division. he also fail to see with his sixth corps with the open terrain of highway six offered an expeditious route to rome for the americans. later, clark claims he had told alexander he would order the fifth army to fire on the eighth lease attempt to muscle in on rome. he claimed he was going to shoot his own allies. shocking if true. he later denied this. 25, alexander learned of clark's new orders.
clark45 minutes after tells reporters about his revised plan. pride and solipsism got the better of the good soldier. the reoriented attack opens with a barrage by 228 guns late in the morning on me code-6. may 26. 45th,n hour later, the 34th, and first armored division's surge forward about a elbow. three days later, he reports his offensive has been halted at every point in that 30 german battalions are holding the valmont tony gap. things are not going any better to the east. six days after the hitler line ruptured, they have covered
only 11 miles. enemy ambushes lead to monumental traffic jams. after contributing so much to allied success in the early days of diadem, some colonial french troops disgraced themselves, their army, and france. hundreds of atrocities allegedly committed mostly by african colonial troops staying the italian countryside, including murders and gang rapes. the italian government would document more than 5000 alleged crimes by french colonial soldiers. then something good happens, almost miraculous. cothe far right of the sixth rps line, two miles east of the hill town, american patrols discovered an old cart path d
a steep ridge. aerial photos reveal a two mile gap between the left flank of the german first parachute corps and the right flank of the 76th german panzer corps. desperate, he puts an entire armor regiment under major general fred walker, who happens to be a former mining engineer. he knows something about old roads. they turn that contract overnight into a wide assaulting. haveermans realize they 6000 american soldiers in their rear with tanks. dawn on june 1, american scouts are standing on the highest peaks, staring down at the popes country residence. alexander shifts the inner armor
boundary to give the sixth army a wider attack quarter were because he has some idea of the magnitude of the force now headache towards rome, and 11 divisions are pounding north. 3, the on saturday, june sixth and second are poised for a bragging rights race into rome. kesselring around this time tells berlin that in three weeks his armies have suffered 38,000 casualties, and among his divisions still fighting, only to buy even 50% combat effective. bridges spanned the tiger linking the west bank to the highways vital to the fifth army pursued up the italian peninsula to the northwest.
columns of tanks and infantry men begin to coalesce in the suburbs. precisely who first crossed rome's city limits of early on sunday, june 4, will be disputed for decades. the germans, under hitler's orders, choose not to conduct a scorched earth destruction of the city, partly because those who would do the scorching are moving as fast as they can to get out of rome. that no doubt saves a lot of lives in a campaign that has already cost the allies 44,000 casualties since diadem began on may 11, including 18,000 americans and more than 3000 americans killed in action. the first armored division in six weeks will lose 38 company commanders. german casualties are estimated at 52,000, including almost 6000 dead. the war in italy will continue
for another 11 months. to drive home the brutal point, the campaign in italy from 1943 to 1945 will cost 312,000 allied casualties not equal to about 40% of the allied losses in the northwest european campaign that begins normandy. among the three quarters of the million american .roops who served, 23,501 dead aat of marcus urelius clarkus? in a small cavalcade of jeeps, on monday morning, june 5, he forfor the capital -- heads where a romanne
general would put on a moral crown. no vermilion and settles for a press conference. later that day he has lunch at the hotel excelsior. tuesday,.m. on june 6, an aide wakes them with the news that german radio has announced the allied invasion of normandy has occurred. says sits up in bed and how do you like that? they didn't even let us have the newspaper headlines for the fall of rome for one day. thanks very much. [applause] >> with that and the time remaining, i think we will go right into questions. ladies and gentlemen, if you will please raise your hand,
connie and myself will bring the microphone to you. we will start with alan. please stand. >> this is just sort of a side note and a personal history of our family. the first time we went to rome we got on this side street, and across the street are all of these holes in the brick. my wife knows that i was an avid world war ii bunker. buff, looks at me and says, i bet there was an ambush on this road. a company was ambushed and slaughtered by the italian cost hundredshich
of italian partisan deaths. >> it is absolutely true. if we are thinking about the same episode, it was a bomb. it was not an ambush by the partisans as much as it was simultaneously detonated bonds were the estoppel headquarters were inside of rome. where the gestapo headquarters were inside of rome. the italians underplay this. if you have enough situational awareness, you can follow some of these events. >> the gentleman to your far-left, please. stand. >> during your remarks, you
referenced the use of ultra. how effective were the allied commanders in using the intelligence of ultra? >> altra obviously is the greatest secret of the war. it does not become public until 1974. it was enormously helpful in having big picture understanding of the state of enemy forces. we had particulars about how many tanks they had, antitank guns, supplies generally. useful ins understanding operationally what was happening. the degree to which the allies relied on it would come back to bite them, famously. castleberry pass, planning that had been done in tunisia have been done over basically the good of a jeep.
not having heard anything about a big offensive coming in tunisia in mid february, the allied commanders assumed eisenhower's intelligent chief was relieved of command. this would happen again on several occasions where the absence of information and intelligence from ultra misleads the americans into thinking nothing is going to happen or things are relatively quiet. in italy, they are slogging it out. ultra is not going to help you there. it will not help you with that at monte cassino. ported that they have an average of 250 men in those italians. that is useful but not going to
win the day. it is an extraordinarily important aspect of the war. it will not win the italian campaign. >> gentlemen, to your far-right with connie. f you mentioned how quickly the germans were able to relax -- react. this at a time where logistics, i would think, would constrain them quite a bit, fuel particularly to be able to move quicklyb from one place to ther other. ead flour can you comment on that. ofthey had good lines munication in the intaglio and peninsula. they maintain them through the difficult times you can imagine. maybe air forces and they
interdicting the movement of german reinforcements. but the operational record is clear that none of those inks were actually true. we are talking about getting a unit to the front and then it small amounts. had they the allies germans in any manner of weapons and supply and ammunition. there is no doubt about it. what is the stronger form of warfare? you need three or five to one superiority to advance under modern conditions. natural force multiplier for the defense and it is this mountain range. supplies are determinant of modern warfare but they are not determinative in this unusual campaign.
gentlemen to your right, again, in the far back, please. >> covering some ground back there. italyen the terrain of and the mountains in between the two roads on the left and right, can you take us before the invasion and are we dealing with a sound, strategic plan or are we dealing with elements of hubris from the allied command? shortage ofno hubris but it is not unuseful. 1943 with in may success in north africa. it has been harder than expected. they had fought more gallantly than had been hoped and we were fighting the french when we first arrived in november 1942. you have a million men in north
africa what are you going to do with them? send them back to england? there is not the shipping to do that. it is the narrow strategic bottleneck through which almost be made. also in the rep. cohen: -- american revolution. british courts cannot handle another million men. they are tremendously overburdened with the early preparations for what will be overlord. you have to do something with them because you want to keep the momentum going and solidify your win. you have opened up the mediterranean for the first time in 1943 but you are looking for airbases in sicily and southern italy. the next obvious step, and in some cases a step that has been dictated by your commitment to a mediterranean strategy to start with good when you have gone into north africa in november
1942, you are committed to the man -- med. the next thing is to try to knock italy out of the war the airbases to pressure the germans and the italians to leave the war. there are other options. southern france in 1943. they will do it in august 1944. that is not a good option. churchill wants a campaign eventually through the gap far to the east. eisenhower says i'm not going through any gap i can't pronounce. i think once you have gone into sicily, you're just going to hop across two miles of the straits into southern italy. why not just stop at the airfields.
once you get moving, it is difficult to just sit tight. we have done a lot of clark bashing. he plays a bad hand reasonably .ell too much of his tenure the is a good commander with the exception of the episode i seconds ago.ew italy is a tough place to fight. clark spent one night, the worst night with the germans pouring through the gap and walking amongst the troops and stealing people's nerves. it is sort of thing you would expect a charismatic leader to be doing. >> he is nearly killed a couple of times and is good about supply. there is a lot to be said about him. we did educational trope --
travel to italy. i urge you to go when you are standing on the overlook, there is a mountain overlook and there is one in front of you and there is a road winding. can to the right. it is one of the greatest operational distances i have seen and sums up the entire operational problem of italy. another.untain after mr. atkinson, you touched on the 5000 french colonial soldiers as part of the italian campaign. could you elaborate on their part in the campaign? there are 5000 crimes that -- that thehat the italians documented.
the french have an important role to play but they have their eye on france. has one arm maimed and salutes with his left hand. he is a real capable tactician. he has gone and looked at the mountains and knows his men. troops ande colonial climbing are used to through the atlas mountains in north africa. he essentially commits his command to be able to make their way through this really wild, tangled, vertical landscape. they are pretty good soldiers until they are not. there is a lot to be said for and theylight infantry
strike the fear of god in germans. guys like iof the show on the screen. you are not sleeping well at night knowing they are out with their knives. it is a failure of small unit leadership that they run amok. it is a disgrace to france. gentlemen, the same area. polishdescribed the contingent coming at great difficulty and from camps in russia. i believe there were 2500 polls involved.- poles can you talk about those as opposed to those in italy and who made the incision and how it happened? the questionrd
correctly, it was the poles landed in normandy. this is the second polish armored division who had an epic journey here and many had been captured by the russians and moved to the camp system. ontohad been loaded shipping in the arabian sea and highway of the cape of good hope and eventually to england where iny were formed into units exile. one of the moving experiences of visiting norman he the polish cemetery. -- the survivors cannot go home because it was communist dictatorship. and here were those who fought for western liberty and liberty of their own country will forever rest on french soil. people ask me all the time did this or that happened in the
war? did clark overdo a back flip and landed on his head? x eight probably. i say probably. everything happened in the war. you want to see the polish center. the survivor -- the leader survives the war. it is an extraordinarily powerful but it is locked. >> gentlemen to the right with connie. you talk about the seaboard in italy. can you comment on the paratrooper landings that were used and if they were strategically important to use paratroops in italy. there were airborne
operations in sicily that were a fiasco. us.es shot down by it was horrible. to drop thescheme 82nd airborne on room early in the italian campaign. it is a harebrained -- scheme.ne it had no tactical sense whatsoever. it was called off only at the very last minute through a series of serendipitous actions. the commander sat on his cotton and wept after he got the reprieve because he knew he will be leading his entire division into catastrophic and probable the terrain like in italy has very limited utility.
see for theyou only americans the first armored division taking a significant role. there is no place to use them. rick: unusable use for emergency reinforcements. there is an airborne drop as part of the original salerno operation to the north. there is a british airborne -- the first airborne division is brought to italy on ship. is notration slapstick really an airborne operation but the use of troops. i second my compatriot's notion that this is not the right place. >> gentleman straight back in the jacket please. >> thank you for your
presentation. with all the different nationalities and allies coming up in italy, how did they communicate -- what communication did they use and what power source did they use? how with all these different languages -- how did they coordinate all of this? it was not easy. there will ultimately be 16 nations in what franklin roosevelt called the united nations and fighting for the allies. it includes the resilience. there is a palestinian contingent. poles. about the it is an international coalition. it is difficult. clark speaks fractured french. real -- you rely on liaison officers that have english languages skills.
that is the way we do it in afghanistan and iraq. that is how you have to communicate. weaponsrability of systems is virtually nonexistent except for those armies you are supplying with your weapon. in this case, we had given the french a lot of what they fought with. the communication systems makes it hard and that is essentially why you give them sectors. here is the master plan, go forth and do good. in case of the poles, go capture cassino. it is always a challenge. withit will never help translating and translating and speaking in sectors. it will make for a slow grind. final question to your
far-right with connie. talked about the composition of the german troops in terms of ad hoc units and recycling unit numbers for propaganda and things like that. there were many of the german troops coming from? with a from the west and the east as well as northern italy? and as a follow-up, rick alluded to the fact that at the operational level there was no crystal ball. do the allies know where the troops are being pulled from for future purposes? put: they put -- rob: they -- i agree with rob. -- i agree with rick. they are coming from the four corners of europe but many are coming from northern italy.
the original german plan was to defend italy somewhere far to the north. that is someone in the polo river valley, the notion being you can't hold it without the navy. the allies will be able to land where they wish up and down both coasts and flank any position until you get to the north. it was proven to hit land salerno that we can hold far to the south. and thek shipping germans were aware of that. the troop reservoir, the staff reservoir and the march battalion, or being given training on the march. they were raw inductees being turned into soldiers. they often turn into soldiers earlier than they should be. of allies did a good job holding german troops in the balkans. it was the man with no name. dead body ande a
float around the waters of nisbon and give them a operational plan and they find a body and say they're going to invade the balkans. northern italy is the big reservoir. gentlemen, we have reached the end of the program and will have a break and time for book signing. please join me in one final round of applause for our representatives. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] you are watching american history tv, all weekend every weekend on speed -- on c-span three. join us, the first and third weekend of each month as we take book tv and american history tree via on the road to watch videos from the cities on ou