SALERNO TO CASSINO. By Martin Blumenson. (1969, 1988; 491 pages, 16 maps, 94 illustrations, 2 appendixes, bibliographical note, glossary, index, CMH Pub 6-3.)
In September 1943 a combined British and American amphibious force finally made the first Allied landing on the continent of Europe. After campaigns which began with amphibious assaults in both Africa and Sicily, the Allies were hoping that the invasion of Italy would be an equally successful endeavor. Although the Italian capitulation on the eve of the invasion filled the troops with confidence that enemy resistance would rapidly collapse, the Allied campaign in Italy was as tough as any fought in World War II; if anything, the Italian surrender hardened German resistance. Salerno to Cassino begins the story of the Allied effort to wrest control of Italy from its German occupiers, while Cassino to the Alps provides the conclusion.
The confrontation in Italy was the first time Allied armies faced the German Army in a sustained campaign on the European mainland. During the first eight months covered by this volume the fighting was brutal and the situation on both sides was anything but optimistic. The opponents faced the same difficult terrain and bad weather and shared similar supply problems. The Germans, defending in the south, had their long supply lines subjected to the ever-increasing Allied air power, and the Allies had a chronic shortage of practically all types of shipping.
Although the author focuses on the tactical activities of the Allies with special emphasis on the U.S. Fifth Army, he also provides the strategic framework within which those activities took place. The account includes the German point of view and sketches of air and naval activities pertinent to understanding the ground situation. Highlights of the volume include the problems faced by American forces in the initial landings at Salerno, the difficulties encountered while attempting to force a crossing of the flooded Rapido River, the controversial decision to bomb the historical Benedictine abbey on Monte Cassino, and the stalemate at the Anzio beachhead.
1. Amphibious assaults (Chs. III, IV, VI, VII, VIII, XX).
2. River crossings (Chs. XII, XIII, XVIII, XIX).
3. Assaulting fortified towns (Chs. X, XVI, XXI, XXV).
4. Mountain warfare (Chs. XII, XIII).
5. Small-unit tactics (Chs. X, XII, XIII, XVI, XVIII, XIX, XXI, XXIV).
6. Use of air power (Chs. XIV, XXIII, XXIV).
7. German command problems (Chs. V, XI, XIV, XX, XXIV).
8. Strategic decision making in coalition warfare (Chs. I, X, XI, XIV, XVII, XXVI).
9. German defensive tactics (Chs. XIII, XV).
10. Use of airborne troops (Ch. VIII).
11. Coalition command considerations (Chs. IX, XXIV).
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