Chapter 15: Invasion of Italy
HISTORICALLY the invasion of Italy was a sequel to the conquest of Sicily, but from the point of view of grand strategy the two events were widely separated. The Sicilian campaign marked the close of a phase of the struggle against the Axis which had begun with Italy's entry into the war in the summer of 1940. When Messina fell to the Allies they had accomplished the basic aim of clearing the enemy from Africa and opening the Mediterranean to Allied shipping. The invasion of Italy initiated a new and offensive phase of strategy which culminated in the invasion of western France and the final defeat of Germany. But in this new phase, the Mediterranean theater would no longer enjoy a top priority in its claims on men and material; its role would be secondary to operations based on the United Kingdom. If a maximum number of German divisions could be contained, if Italy could be eliminated from the war, and if enough of the peninsula could be brought under Allied control to provide useful bases for strategic air operations against Germany and its satellites, the Italian campaign would have served its purposes.
Allied leaders had discussed post-HUSKY strategy at the TRIDENT conference (12-25 May 1943) and the Algiers conference (29 May-3 June) but, failing to come to satisfactory agreements, had decided that General Eisenhower would mount such operations as would be best calculated to force Italy out of the war. During the Pantellerian and Sicilian campaigns, Allied Force Headquarters had prepared a number of preliminary strategic plans with this end in view. Final plans would have to await the end, or near-end, of HUSKY because their nature would be determined in large part by the effect of the Sicilian campaign upon Italian morale and politics and by a number of tactical considerations, some of which could not be accurately forecast:
German intentions in Italy, the future size and disposition of enemy forces, the area to be assaulted (Sardinia, Corsica, and the Toe [Calabria] and Heel [Apulia] of Italy each being under consideration), and the amount of landing craft and shipping which would be available.1
On 28 June, Eisenhower informed the CCS that if HUSKY were successful but Italian resistance did not collapse he would either invade Calabria (Operation BUTTRESS) and then, if necessary, at a point near Crotone (Operation GOBLET)* or he would occupy Sardinia (Operation BRIMSTONE). He preferred BUTTRESS but felt that it would be unsound to embark on that venture without enough forces to occupy the Heel and to exploit the invasion as far north as Naples. On 17 July the CCS accepted General Eisenhower's strategical concept and expressed their interest in the possibilities of a direct amphibious operation against Naples. By the 20th it was obvious that Italian resistance to an invasion of Italy would be of minor importance and that the light losses in landing and assault craft, men, and materiel in Sicily would permit such an operation. Eisenhower then ordered planning for BRIMSTONE to cease2--a decision buttressed soon by indications that Sardinia would fall of its own weight once the mainland was invaded, thus paving the way for an easy conquest of Corsica by the French. With Sardinia scratched, there remained the task of selecting the specific area on the Italian mainland to be assaulted.3
The A-5 section of NAAF, responsible for planning air operations against the Italian mainland, had assembled on 29 June at the Ecole Normale at Bouzarea, near Algiers. There the air planners worked in close cooperation with ground and naval representatives in drafting plans for a number of major amphibious operations.4 Their efforts enabled AFHQ on 24 and 25 July to circulate two planning papers which suggested an entirely new operation, an amphibious landing in the Naples area (Operation TOPHAT). The assault, replacing a contemplated invasion of the Heel (Operation MUSKET), would go ashore on the Salerno plain as a follow-up to an earlier landing on the Toe. "The key factor in the operation would be air protection, "said the paper; therefore, the early capture of an airfield would be essential, and Montecorvino airfield, capable of taking four fighter squadrons, was suitably located.
* See map. p. 490. Under this plan BUTTRESS was scheduled for 1 September and GOBLET for 1 October.
If successful, TOPHAT would give the Allies the city and port of Naples, capable of maintaining all forces which could be put into Italy in 1943, and would thereby pose a definite threat against Rome. The operation would lighten pressure on BUTTRESS troops moving up from Calabria and would force enemy troops in the Heel to withdraw or risk annihilation. Control over the Naples area would give the Allies a number of airfields from which to expand the air offensive against Italy, central Europe, and the Balkans.
The hazards involved were considerable. Indeed, until BUTTRESS columns had taken the five fighter fields below the line Amendolara Belvedere, the venture could hardly be risked. Axis ground forces could rapidly converge on a Salerno beachhead. On airfields in the Naples and Foggia areas, uncomfortably close, there were by Allied estimates some 600 German and Italian day fighters, 50 German night fighters. There was no major port below Naples through which the assault could be supported. Within the Naples area, beaches north of Salerno were unsatisfactory for an assault and out of effective range of NAAF's single-engine fighters; southward from Salerno to Paestum good beaches were hemmed in by near-by mountains which would restrict movement on and out of the coastal plain--artillery sited on the heights could command the whole area. In the last analysis, the decisive argument in favor of the Salerno plain was that the Allies could land no farther north under fighter cover.5
Sensible of these arguments, the CCS were inclined to favor the Salerno operation--henceforth called AVALANCHE. They promised to reinforce its air contingent with one heavy and four escort carriers, thereby reducing what appeared to be the greatest hazard to the proposed operation--insufficient fighter cover over the beaches.6 By 10 August, Eisenhower had decided to invade Italy early in September, with separate but coordinated strikes against Calabria and the Salerno area. About the former operation there had been little question; it involved only a short passage across the Strait of Messina under ample fighter protection and an assault on a coast line without strongly prepared defenses or adequate airdromes. As for AVALANCHE, developments during July and the first week of August argued strongly for an invasion as close to Rome as possible. The downfall of Mussolini to which the Allied air raid on Rome on 19 July had contributed heavily, the accelerated progress of the Sicilian campaign, signs that Italy could not continue to prosecute the war and that she was about ready to sue
for peace, the lessening of the naval and air capabilities of the Germans in the Mediterranean, and an increase in Allied strength--all combined to convince Anglo-American planners that an invasion in the Naples area, but not a direct assault on Naples itself, had a better-than-even chance of success.7
After 10 August, then, Eisenhower had only to determine the exact nature of the landing on the Toe. Two operations had been planned: BUTTRESS to be mounted from North Africa; BAYTOWN from northeastern Sicily. On 16 August, Eisenhower informed his commanders that BAYTOWN would be launched between1 and 4 September and that the Salerno area would be assaulted on 9 September. On 19 August he announced that BUTTRESS was canceled and AVALANCHE was being mounted.8
The President, the Prime Minister, and the CCS, currently meeting in the QUADRANT conference at Quebec, approved these decisions. The leaders also looked beyond the assault phase to consider over-all plans for future operations in the European and Mediterranean theaters. Their most important decision was that OVERLORD (the cross-Channel invasion of Europe in 1944) and POINTBLANK (the CBO) were to have first priority in allocations. The Mediterranean, having profited by diversions from BOLERO since the acceptance of TORCH, must now resign itself to a secondary role as troops and materiel were poured into England for the cross-Channel push. It would have to carry out its three-way mission of forcing the collapse of Italy, creating diversions of enemy forces, and destroying vital installations on the continent without top priority on men and supplies.9 On the very eve of BAYTOWN-AVALANCHE, the Allies' first invasion of continental Europe, the decision had been taken which was to fasten on Italian operations the designation of "the forgotten war."
BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE Plans
BAYTOWN, scheduled for 3 September, was to be essentially a British affair, employing the Eighth Army's 13 Corps, with the predominantly British Desert Air Force providing air cooperation. Two divisions would be moved across the narrow Strait of Messina and landed at Reggio and Gallico/Catona where Axis defenses were believed to be weak. The immediate objectives of the ground troops were Reggio and near-by airfields; later, they were to sweep northward for a junction with the right wing of AVALANCHE and to fan out
toward the east for a link-up with other British forces which were to be landed near Taranto between D plus 2 and D plus 7 in Operation GIBBON-SLAPSTICK.
Up to D minus 7 the Allied air forces were to pave the way for BAYTOWN by neutralizing attacks on enemy airfields. From D minus 6 through D minus 1 they would isolate the assault areas, interdict enemy movements into them, and reduce defense positions. Night fighters would cover the assault convoys. On D-day DAF would furnish fighter cover over the assault areas and Tactical would handle close air action.* Subsequent air operations would follow the usual patterns preventing the enemy air forces from interfering effectively with the ground troops, hitting Axis concentrations, and giving direct assistance to the Eighth Army.
DAF would exercise operational control over Tactical Bomber Force under the direction of TAF through D-day; thereafter, DAF would retain only the 47th Bombardment Group (U.S. A-20's) and the 232 Wing (RAF Baltimores) for coordination with the Eighth Army as it advanced through Calabria, turning over to XII Air Support Command for use in AVALANCHE the remaining units of TBF. The U.S. 57th and 79th Fighter Groups were assigned to DAF under a similar arrangement. DAF, along with Headquarters, Malta, would be responsible for the protection of any convoys which might move along the south and east coasts of Sicily during AVALANCHE.10
The AVALANCHE operation would be more complicated. The plan called for the Fifth Army to seize Salerno and the airfield at Montecorvino, then to capture Naples and secure the airfields near by. The American VI Corps (Maj. Gen. Ernest J. Dawley commanding) and the British 10 Corps (Lt. Gen. Sir Richard L. McCreery) were to initiate the invasion by simultaneous attacks on the beaches between Salerno and Paestum† on 9 September. Total strength of the invading and follow-up troops was 125,000; these would face enemy forces estimated at 39, 000 on D-day but capable of being increased to more than 100,000 by D plus 3. Maintenance for the troops was to be supplied
* Tactical planned to devote 100 per cent of its effort on D-day to direct support; on D plus 1 through 3 only 40 per cent would go to direct support, with 60 per cent assigned to communications and airfields; on and after D plus 4 the ratio would be 10 to 80.
† The Salerno plain, shaped rather like a half-moon, is 21 miles long and 8 miles deep in the center.
primarily over the beaches until the port of Naples had been made available.11
The Western Naval Task Force under Vice Adm. H. K. Hewitt was to transport VI and 10 Corps to their beaches, while its diversion group was to make a feint against the beaches north of Naples to draw off enemy forces. Its support carrier force, one carrier and four escort carriers, was to supply fighter protection to the naval forces and assist the Sicily-based fighters of XII Air Support Command to control the air over the beaches.12
For the air planners the most serious problem was to provide fighter cover over the beaches, which were barely within range of Sicily-based fighters but were within easy reach of Axis airfields around Naples and Foggia. Salerno was 226 miles from Trapani, 224 from Gerbini, 178 from Messina. Fighter radius, allowing ten minutes of combat and using an auxiliary tank, was as follows: P-38, 350 miles; A-36, 200 miles; Spitfire, 180 miles; P-39 and P-40, 150 miles; Beaufighter, 300 miles. P-38's could reach the assault beaches and remain over them for an average of one hour (including ten minutes of combat), A-36's could stay for thirty minutes, and Spitfires for twenty minutes. Beaufighters, operating from Gerbini, could provide protection at night over the beaches and the offshore shipping. P-39's and P-40's could be used only for duty near Sicily. Fighter cover for AVALANCHE, even under the most favorable conditions, would be limited. Two threats to efficient operation of the Spitfires--a shortage of 90-gallon tanks and of airfields in the Messina area--proved worse in anticipation than in actuality. Eighteen hundred additional tanks arrived in time, and during the first week of the invasion fewer sorties than had been planned were necessary; fast work by aviation engineers and careful scheduling of operations solved the airfield problem.13
AFHQ's concern over fighter cover for the assault was increased by the fear that NAAF might not have enough bombers and fighters to neutralize the enemy's air arm and disrupt his lines of communication. The long and strenuous Tunisian campaign and the intensive efforts required during HUSKY had thinned out and worn down both crews and planes. General Eisenhower tried to increase his bomber force by a short-term loan from the Eighth Air Force. His first request was for several groups of B-17's, but Devers and Eaker strongly opposed the request on the ground that even a temporary transfer would seriously impair the Eighth's participation in the Combined Bomber Offensive
and the antisubmarine campaign at a critical period. The CCS refused Eisenhower's request. He then asked that the three B-24 groups from the United Kingdom which had bombed Ploesti be left in the Mediterranean. Although Eisenhower declared that without them he would be "skating on very thin ice" and Tedder considered it most important that they be retained, General Arnold returned the groups to the United Kingdom on the ground that the Eighth had to destroy most of the German fighter factories before the onset of bad weather. A third request--for the loan of four groups of mediums from the United Kingdom--was turned down by General Marshall. In all three instances, the rejections may have been based in part upon the belief that combat crews did not operate at maximum efficiency when separated from their ground echelons.
A suggestion by Spaatz, supported by Eisenhower, to increase NAAF's striking power by re-equipping at least one medium bomber group with B-17's also was rejected because AC/AS, Plans believed that the conversion would delay the build-up program of the Eighth as well as deprive General Eisenhower's ground forces of needed tactical cooperation. Then, a few days before the launching of AVALANCHE, the theater was informed that it would receive no more P-38's until October. NAAF especially needed Lightnings, which had proved extremely valuable in such diverse activities as escorting bombers and convoys, covering assault areas, cooperating with ground troops, cutting lines of communication, and destroying transport. Spaatz considered the plane to be "in a class by itself." The loss rate (sixty in August and twenty-four in the week ending 5 September) already exceeded the number of available replacements, and less than 250 were currently on hand.14
It began to appear that Air Chief Marshal Tedder had had a clear picture of the situation when he informed General Spaatz on 31 July that the air forces which he would have at his disposal would have to come from the resources already permanently allotted to NAAF15; Those resources were increased by the subsequent decision to close out the operations in the Mediterranean of the Ninth Air Force as a separate force. On 22 August the 57th, 79th, and 324th Fighter Groups (P-40's) were transferred from the Ninth to XII Air Support Command, and the 12th and 340th Bombardment Groups (B-25's) to XII Bomber Command; effective 23 August the 316th Troop Carrier Group (less the 37th Squadron) went to XII Troop Carrier Command. Between
23 and 26 August seven air service command units were transferred. Personnel involved in the shift totaled 1,300 officers and 7,000 enlisted men, all of whom with their units passed for administrative purposes to the Twelfth Air Force. But these units, actually, had been operating with NAAF since before the invasion of Sicily, as indeed for all practical purposes had been the case with the 98th and 376th Bombardment Groups (H) which now with the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron and eight supporting units (a total of 700 officers and 6,200 enlisted men) were promised to the Twelfth as soon as that force was ready to move its heavies to forward bases. Thus did the AAF on the eve of Italy's invasion take steps for a consolidation of its units in the Mediterranean that put a period to the service of the Ninth Air Force in that area.16 Reconstituted in the United Kingdom in October, the Ninth prepared itself for a major role in the invasion of western Europe.*
Eisenhower also added to his air strength 320 Waco gliders (CG-4As) and 50 Horsas. The former were shipped to the Mediterranean from the United States and erected by XII Air Force Service Command; the latter were towed to the theater from the United Kingdom by the RAF 38 Wing. These additions gave NAAF a total of some 700 Wacos and 60 Horsas, enough to take care of planned operations. Finally, the British chiefs, concerned over Eisenhower's air strength, agreed to leave with him the three squadrons of Wellingtons which had been loaned to the theater for HUSKY.17
Eisenhower having decided to launch AVALANCHE whether or not the theater received additional air strength18 NAAF's A-5 section prepared the air plan, long in advance of D-day, in terms of aircraft actually available. The finished product was complex, as must inevitably be the case in large-scale amphibious operations involving the cooperation of so many services and organizations. The features of the air plan may be analyzed here in somewhat more detail than has been usual in this Volume as an illustration of the vast amount of staff work entailed in modern warfare.
NAAF's first major tasks would be to neutralize enemy air forces by bombardment, then to prevent or retard the movement of enemy reinforcements into the combat area.19 Assuming that 75 per cent of its planes would be serviceable, NAAF would have for these duties 346 heavies, 388 medium day bombers, and 122 medium night bombers--856 bombers in all20
* See below, pp.642-43.
The third major task was to provide air protection over the assault convoys, the assaults, and subsequent operations. Coastal Air Force was to protect the AVALANCHE convoys from the time they left the normal routes up to last light of D minus 1,when the responsibility would pass to Tactical Air Force. For carrying out its assignment Coastal had some 850 aircraft, of which 372 were RAF planes attached from the Middle East and India, 149 were in the French air force (which with Anglo-American assistance had been re-created and soon would be ready for action), and the remainder were day fighters and night fighters of the Twelfth Air Force." "The number of planes was more than enough for the single job of protecting the assault convoys but CAF had many other responsibilities, its operations extended from Casablanca to Messina and over thousands of square miles of ocean, and a large number of its planes were types such as Swordfish, Dakota, Walrus, and Albatross, none of which was suitable for convoy duty. Eisenhower felt that Coastal's forces were inadequate for its several tasks and, in spite of objections from both the British and the U.S. Navy, strengthened it with the 1st Anti-Submarine Squadron (B-24's)
* USAAF units were: 52dd, 81st, 414th Fighter Groups (day); 414th, 416th, 417th Fighter Squadrons (night). The 415th Fighter Squadron (night) was assigned to TAF for AVALANCHE.
which had been operating under the Navy at Port Lyautey in French Morocco.21
On and after D-day, Coastal would protect shipping to within forty miles of the beaches, and Tactical would be responsible beyond that point. TAF was to furnish cover for the inshore convoys by employing two squadrons of P-38's and one each of A-36's and Spitfires; in addition, one squadron of Seafires would operate over the northern end of the assault area. Patrol would be constant from 0900 to 1950 hours, with from four to forty aircraft over the shipping at all times.22
The most difficult air task, furnishing air cover for the assault and for subsequent ground operations, fell to XII Air Support Command.* The job of protecting the ground troops would fall upon three groups of U.S. P-38's (from Strategic), two of U.S. A-36's, one of U.S. Spitfires, and eighteen squadrons of RAF Spitfires. Four squadrons of Beaufighters would handle defense of the area at night. It was intended that the P-38's and Spitfires each would fly two sorties per day, which, with the A-36's and Navy Seafires, would give an average of fifty-eight planes constantly over the beaches during the daylight hours of D-day and a total of close to 1,000 sorties per day. One group of P-38's was to be especially trained to fly in darkness so that it could take off before dawn and return to base after dark.23
With 75 per cent serviceability, there would be available for cover over the beaches and offshore shipping around 322 single-engine fighters, 206 twin-engine fighters, 32 night fighters, and 110 carrier-based Seafires, a total of 670 aircraft. The number was sufficient provided the German and Italian air forces did not react sharply and persistently; if they did, the number might well be insufficient in view of the limited time that each plane could stay over the beaches and because the length of the patrol was certain to result in early pilot fatigue. For these reasons it was recognized from the beginning that the first major objective of the ground forces must be Montecorvino airfield, three miles inland from the invasion area and ten miles below Salerno, and that aviation engineers would have to go ashore immediately behind the ground troops for the purpose of constructing landing strips in the Paestum sector.24 Fighter planes would immediately begin operating
* USAAF units were: 27th, 86th Fighter-Bomber Groups; 31st, 33d, 324th Fighter Groups; 99th Fighter Squadron (Separate); 111th Observation Squadron.
from these strips. As other fields, especially those in the Naples complex, fell to the Allies, the build-up would continue." "
The planes of XII Air Support Command would be directed during the assault period by a fighter director control on board the USS Ancon, flagship of the commander of the Western Naval Task Force. Maj. Gen. Edwin J. House, commanding XII ASC, and thirteen officers and forty-two enlisted men were to comprise the control group. HMS Hilary would serve as the auxiliary fighter control ship, with USS Samuel Chase as stand-by. As soon as fighter squadrons were based on the mainland the control personnel would go ashore and direct subsequent operations from the headquarters of XII ASC, which would be located as close as possible to Fifth Army headquarters.25
The 111th Observation Squadron was placed under the control of XII ASC for reconnaissance both planned and on call; the squadron's planes were to report to the Ancon while returning from their missions and to XII ASC (Rear) in Sicily after landing. Ground troops which found themselves in need of direct support by fighters and fighterbombers would send their requests through their divisional headquarters, which would pass on the request to Air Support Control, Headquarters, XII ASC. Tentacles were set up in various brigades and divisions for the purpose of communicating with the Ancon. Thorough plans for air-ground recognition, including markings and signals, were worked out.26
Air-Navy liaison was established by assigning three naval officers from the Western Naval Task Force to XII ASC. One officer was to train P-51 pilots in spotting procedure; the other two were to act on requests from naval sources for fighter cover and calls for spotting planes.27
NAAF's fourth major task was to transport and drop whatever airborne troops General Eisenhower might decide to use during and after the assault period. In anticipation of its employment the 82d Airborne Division moved from Sicily to Kairouan, Tunisia, for re-equipping and
* On the assumption that Montecorvino would be taken on D-day or D plus 1, it was planned to fly in, not later than D plus 6, 12 squadrons of U.S. Spitfires, P-40's, and A-36's, 8 squadrons of RAF Spitfires, and one-half squadron of night fighters. When established ashore these 20½ units would be under the control of the air support command's 64th Fighter Wing. By D plus 28 (7 October) there would be on the mainland 36 squadrons of single-engine fighters, 7 of light bombers and fighter-bombers, 8 of medium bombers, and 5 of Coastal's planes, a total of 56 squadrons. By mid-December virtually all of NAAF's combat aircraft were scheduled to be based in Italy.
training; and the 51st and 52d Troop Carrier Wings initiated refresher courses in night formation flying, glider training, and parachute infantry dropping. During the last week of August the two wings flew special night training flights out of Tunisia in which the courses, distances, drop zones, landing zones, and objectives simulated those of the actual AVALANCHE airborne operations. Between 2 and 6 September the troop carrier units moved themselves and the combat echelon of the 82d to southern Sicily.28
NAAF also was ready well ahead of D-day to carry out its half-dozen secondary tasks. The majority of these jobs were the responsibility of Coastal Air Force, which was to defend the territory held by the Allies (except on the eastern coast of Sicily where Desert Air Force had the responsibility), including cities, ports, airdromes, and military installations; protect the regular Mediterranean convoys; attack Axis convoys and naval units (with which job Strategic would assist when feasible); conduct antisubmarine reconnaissance and strikes; and handle air-sea rescue in the central and western Mediterranean. All of these tasks had long been the normal responsibility of Coastal, so that except for a broadening of air-sea rescue facilities no special preparations were necessary.29
NAAF's other jobs were to meet requirements for air transportation, other than for airborne troops, and to conduct strategic and tactical reconnaissance. Air transportation was primarily under the supervision of XII Air Force Service Command, which handled the movement by air of all Air Corps passengers and freight and controlled the Ferry Pilot Service which delivered aircraft to depots and combat units. Northwest African Air Service Command was responsible for setting up missions, whether for ferrying or for the movement by air of passengers and freight. Finally, on 26 August, AFHQ announced that, if possible, other air transport services would be made available for both invasions: emergency service for the dropping of supplies by parachute; emergency delivery of supplies to an airfield in the BAYTOWN area; regular delivery of ordnance stores; evacuation of casualties. For handling these transport services there were in all twenty-nine squadrons of Troop Carrier Command and two U.S. squadrons and one RAF squadron of NAASC. To facilitate operations an advance control was to be established alongside headquarters of XII ASC.30
Except for the limited amount of tactical reconnaissance assigned to the 111th Observation Squadron, photo reconnaissance was wholly the
responsibility of the Northwest African Photographic Reconnaissance Wing. Its share in the invasion had begun even before the operational plans had crystallized. With a single seven-squadron group,* the 3d (scheduled to be reinforced by the 5th Group in September), NAPRW had flown more than 1,100 sorties during the three summer months. Vertical photos of the two invasion areas had been enlarged for detailed study, and low obliques, annotated and consolidated into a schematic map, had been printed and distributed to ground force units down to battalion level.31
Basic to any air force operation, and especially important in the launching of an invasion, was the work of the air service command. XII AFSC supplied the U.S. air forces with gasoline and bombs; built, improved, and maintained airfields; administered airdromes and took care of housekeeping; provided repair and maintenance for aircraft; and handled the 500,000 different items of Air Corps supply. It assembled the hundreds of replacement fighter aircraft which were brought into the theater on shipboard. Its erection points, using the American assembly-line, mass-production methods, put together the CG-4A gliders which would be used during the invasion, erecting 573 between the middle of May and the end of August. This was all noncombat, behind-the-line-of-scrimmage work; it went on from Marrakech and Casablanca to Sousse and Messina, at great airdromes like Maison Blanche outside of Algiers and at little bomb dumps in wayside olive groves, in the Atlas Mountains and the wastes of southern Tunisia, in cities like Bizerte and on tiny islands such as Gozo. The work was never spectacular and seldom exciting, but without it no airplane dropped its bombs on Axis installations or shot down raiding enemy aircraft above Allied ground troops.32
But XII AFSC also was to participate directly in AVALANCHE. A detachment from III Air Service Area Command (that one of the three sub commands of XII AFSC whose area of operation was the most advanced) and subordinate signal, ordnance, quartermaster, and engineer units were to go ashore immediately behind the assault troops. These men were to construct temporary landing strips, repair Montecorvino airfield, and move air force supplies from beaches to dumps and from dumps to airfields so that the fly-in squadrons of fighters would be able
* The squadrons were: 5th, 12th, 15th, 23d (U.S.); 682 (RAF); 60 (SAAF); 2/33(FAF).
to operate at the earliest possible moment. It was planned to have some 3, 500 air service troops ashore by D plus 15.33
Happily, in the midst of so much planning and the constant air operations which accompanied it, it was not necessary for the air forces to go through the ordeal of an internal reorganization. The structure which had grown out of the establishment of NAAF in February 1943 had been thoroughly tested in the last two months of the Tunisian campaign, in the conquest of Pantelleria, and during the Sicilian campaign and had proved to be satisfactory. Within the Twelfth Air Force the only notable organizational development between 15 May and 30 August was the activation on 6 June of a new bombardment wing, the 2686th Medium Bombardment Wing (Prov.), which on 25 August became the 42d Bombardment Wing. This gave XII Bomber Command three wings with units divided among them in strict accordance with type of aircraft, plus fighter planes to serve as escort: the 5th Bombardment Wing with B-17's, the 42d with B-26's, and the 47th with B-25's.34
The most important administrative development prior to the invasion of Italy came on 1 September when, pursuant to NAAF General Order No. 166 dated 26 August 1943, all administrative functions of the USAAF elements of NAAF were returned to the respective commanding officer of each Twelfth Air Force echelon. Each USAAF unit of NAAF was assigned (or attached) to the corresponding Twelfth Air Force organization, which assumed the administrative function of the NAAF organization to which the unit had been and continued to be attached for operational control. For example, XII Bomber Command took over the administration of all USAAF units of NASAF. The change did not affect the administrative control of RAF elements nor the operational control of USAAF or RAF units; thus, NASAF continued to control all operations of XII Bomber Command and RAF 205 Group.
This order, in effect, re-established the Twelfth Air Force as an active headquarters after it had existed "in name only" since the previous February. It was re-established, however, purely as an administrative agency; personnel now operated in a dual capacity: operationally as NAAF, administratively as Twelfth Air Force.35
Air Prelude to Invasion
While the Allies were putting the finishing touches to these administrative changes and to the elaborate and complex plans and preparations for BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE--that is, from 18 August through 2 September--the air forces already had been paving the way for the two invasions. To be sure, Tactical Air Force had operated on a very limited scale. Its units, especially fighters and fighter-bombers, were engaged largely in regrouping, reorganizing, refitting, and resting in preparation for the intensive operations which would begin when BAYTOWN was launched.36 Strategic, however, had steadily smashed at Italian cities, port facilities, marshalling yards, airdromes, rail and road bridges, and other installations. For the heavies and mediums and their fighter escort and for the ground crews which serviced them there was never a break between campaigns; their operations were continuous, knowing neither beginning nor end.
The outline air plans for AVALANCHE and BAYTOWN provided that up to 2 September Strategic would attack enemy airfields in southern and central Italy with sufficient strength to prevent effective build-up and to force the enemy to move his air units to more northerly fields, thereby neutralizing the Axis air force for operations against BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE. When this requirement had been met, the remaining available air effort was to be directed against enemy communications and other suitable targets, the attacks being designed to retard the movement of reserves into the assault areas and to isolate the battlefields.37 Actually, Strategic already had gone far toward realizing its two principal objectives before the end of the Sicilian campaign permitted it to throw its full weight against the mainland. It has been noted above* that bombers of the Ninth Air Force had attacked Italy as early as 4 December 1942, that the Twelfth had joined in the attack in April 1943, and that after the Tunisian campaign the assault had been continued on an increasingly heavy scale throughout HUSKY. By 17 August thousands of bombs had fallen on key cities, marshalling yards, harbors, bridges, airfields, and other installations; the assault had built up an accumulation of destruction which already had reduced sharply the strength of the German Air Force, limited the movement of reinforcements and supplies into southern Italy, hurt the morale of the Italians, and reduced the over-all Axis war strength.
Actually, Strategic's steady attacks on Italian airdromes during the summer had resulted by 18 August in the neutralization of virtually all of the more important airfields in southern Italy with the exception of Foggia and its satellites, so that from the end of the Sicilian campaign to the launching of BAYTOWN, SAF directed almost all of its major assaults against marshalling yards and railroad junctions and stations. Marshalling yards in southern Italy constituted an unusually good type of target. From Naples south there were only ten yards (excluding those on the Heel, which were of no strategic importance) and only four shops--one major and three minor--for repair and maintenance of locomotives.38 The greater part of the supplies which supported the Axis forces in southern Italy came down the narrow "boot" from the northern part of the peninsula, whether they originated in Germany, as did, for example, 95 per cent of the oil and 80 per cent of the coal, or in the Po Valley, which contained three-fourths of Italy's industrial installations.39 In moving southward the supplies passed through one or more of three bottlenecks: Rome, Naples, and Foggia. If marshalling yards at those points could be smashed the transportation of Axis men and materiel down the Tyrrhenian coast to Calabria and down the Adriatic coast to Apulia would be seriously handicapped. The yards at Rome and Naples already had been hit hard, but the one at Foggia, although damaged, was in full operation. In the last weeks before the two invasions it remained to knock out Foggia and wreck the rail lines from Rome to Naples, Naples to Foggia, Naples to Salerno, and Salerno to the Gulf of Taranto, with some attention being paid to a few key spots north of Rome.
It was decided that Strategic would attack targets above a line Sapri-Trebisacce, with the Ninth taking care of the Heel and Tactical working on the Toe. Under this plan, from 18 August through 2 September NAAF's U.S. heavies flew almost 1,000 sorties and its mediums (both Strategic and Tactical) flew close to 2,000 against the enemy's lines of communication. By the time AVALANCHE was launched, NAAF's total post-HUSKY operations against communications, including those by RAF as well as USAAF planes and fighter-bombers as well as heavies and mediums, had grown to more than 4,500 sorties with around6, 500 tons of bombs dropped.40
The heaviest attack of the period41 was against Foggia on 19 August; 162 Fortresses and 7I Liberators hit its yards with 646 tons of bombs, and Wellingtons came in to attack that night. In spite of some sharp air
opposition which cost the heavies five B-17's (flak damaged another seventeen) the bombers cut the lines to Naples, Manfredonia, and Bari, scored numerous hits on the yards and on near-by factories, inflicted considerable damage on locomotive and repair shops and on rolling stock in the freight sidings, and severely damaged the city's electric substation. When the British Eighth Army entered Foggia on 28 September it reported that this attack, together with later bombings, had been "most effective" and that the damage surpassed all earlier estimates.42
The second heaviest attack was on Pisa, delivered on 31 August by 152 B-17's, which dropped more than 450 tons of bombs on the yards, an aircraft factory, a gas works, and other industrial targets. The attack cut rail lines to Leghorn and Vada and caused widespread destruction. Other major attacks by heavies were on Sulmona, Terni, Bologna, Cancello, and Pescara, while small raids were carried out against yards at Aversa, Orte, Bari, and Foggia, yards and shipping at Taranto, and the supply line through the Brenner Pass which ran from Innsbruck, Austria, to Bolzano and Verona. The last raid, 2 September, was effective out of all proportion to the number of planes involved. Twenty-four B-17's destroyed the bridge across the River Iscara and cut the only other line running south (from the pass to Merano), thereby blocking all traffic from Germany to Trento; the same day nineteen other Fortresses cut the Trento highway bridge and the adjoining bridge over the Adige River. The Brenner route was the shortest, most direct line between Germany and Italy, and its interdiction, although temporary, was valuable to the Allies.
Most of the heavy bomber sorties were by planes of XII Bomber Command. But IX Bomber Command ably supplemented them; its outstanding mission was on 21 August against Cancello, where its planes not only severely damaged the yards but shot down 22 enemy fighters. During the period, Liberators and Halifaxes of RAF, Middle East went out against the Crotone yards in small-scale attacks which were effective in disrupting activity. Mediums worked principally on marshalling yards and industrial installations in southern Italy. B-25's of Strategic and B-26's of Strategic and Tactical attacked by day, Wellingtons by night. The most popular target was Salerno, whose yards were bombed on five different occasions by a total of 139 Wellingtons and 112 U.S. mediums. Torre Annunziata was hit three times by a total of 126 Wellingtons and 51 U.S. mediums. Battipaglia took the third
hardest pounding, from 54 Wellingtons and 107 B-25's and B-26's. Other yards which were struck by bombs from more than 100 effective sorties were Aversa, Bagnoli, Cancello, Caserta, and Villa Literno, all in the Naples area; Benevento, northeast of Naples; Taranto; and Civitavecchia. The yards at Catanzaro and Sapri also were hit hard.
There were no large-scale light bomber attacks on communications, the heaviest effort against a single target being a series of raids on 27 and 28 August by a total of fifty-eight RAF and SAAF planes against Lamezia rail and road junction. Fighter-bombers were more active. Twelfth Air Force A-36's attacked rail and road junctions at a halfdozen points and marshalling yards at three, all in Calabria; after bombing they usually strafed trains and transport vehicles. P-40's attacked bridges, motor transport, and barracks. At night, Malta-based Mosquitoes bombed and strafed trains, road traffic, and railway stations on a small but highly successful scale.
Allied reconnaissance planes reported on the eve of BAYTOWN that NAAF's assault had blocked communication lines and stopped all rail traffic at Pisa, Sulmona, Cancello, Aversa, Benevento, Foggia, Salerno, Paola, and Catanzaro and had reduced Rome's Littorio yard and that at Battipaglia to limited activity. Movement by rail south of a line Naples-Foggia was practically at a standstill. In addition, the attacks had wiped out large quantities of rolling stock. The destruction of rail communications forced the enemy to rely increasingly on road transport into southern Italy. This not only withdrew transport vehicles from other areas and other fields of activity and put an additional strain on fuel reserves but the limitations of road transport as compared to rail made the enemy's problem of supply increasingly difficult.43
As noted above, a blitz on enemy airfields such as had preceded the Sicilian campaign was not necessary as a prelude to the invasion of Italy, for the back of the Axis air forces already had been broken. It was necessary only to give the fields around Foggia a thorough going over and to hit again any already damaged field which began to show signs of renewed activity. On 25 August, 140 SAF P-38's swept over the Foggia complex on the deck, strafing grounded aircraft and road and rail transportation; then 136 B-17's, escorted by other Lightnings, dropped 240 tons of 500-pound GP and 20-pound fragmentation bombs in the space of thirty minutes on satellites 2, 4, 7, and 10. Besides wreaking havoc among the airfield buildings, the attack destroyed at least forty-seven enemy planes and damaged thirteen. The blow may
well have been a major event in the air war in the Mediterranean, for thereafter there was a sharp decline in the number of Allied bombers lost to enemy fighters.
Fortresses also pulverized the fighter base at Capua and hit the bomber base at Viterbo with good results. Liberators of the Ninth got in one attack against airfields, striking Bari airdrome; and RAF Halifaxes from the Middle East flew a few sorties against Grottaglie in the Heel. U.S. B-25's and B-26's chimed in with a large-scale raid on the Grazzanise fighter base and a small attack on Crotone airfield.
In addition to the two major objectives, lines of communication and airfields, NAAF's planes paid some attention to enemy shipping, sinking one vessel and damaging seven. Successes were far fewer than during the Tunisian and Sicilian campaigns, for the enemy now was reinforcing only two outlying positions, Corsica and Sardinia.
Although the air attacks on mainland objectives were delivered as a preliminary to two separate and distinct invasions, the greater part of the attacks served to prepare the way simultaneously for both invasions. Thus, the smashing of lines of communication in and near Naples and the battering of the airfields around Foggia were as valuable to BAYTOWN as to AVALANCHE. However, it was necessary in the week immediately preceding BAYTOWN to conduct a special series of attacks against enemy positions in Calabria, especially in the vicinity of Reggio, in order to minimize the ability of the Axis to interfere with landings in that area. This phase of the air effort was handled by escorted light bombers of Tactical--U.S. A-20's and RAF and SAAF Bostons and Baltimores-supplemented on occasions by U.S. B-25's. Principal targets were gun positions, fortified positions, troop concentrations, and army headquarters. The attacks were limited. in number and size, and there was no attempt at saturating the area. A more concentrated assault would have disclosed the exact spot at which the landings were to be made; moreover, air reconnaissance and two commando landings had revealed that enemy defenses in the area were weak.44
During the period from 18 August through 2 September the enemy's opposition to bombers and fighters of Strategic and Tactical was spotty to the point of being unpredictable, except around Naples and Foggia where it was generally strong and aggressive.45 Even there, the defensive fighter effort was not always consistent, apparently because the enemy was unable to cope adequately with more than one bomber formation at a time. Bombers which went unescorted into central and northern
Italy were attacked on some occasions and on others were left entirely alone. Fighter-bombers ran into opposition on about half of their sorties, but night bombers were not bothered. Reconnaissance planes, on the contrary, were constantly harassed by both aircraft and flak. It was evident in the last few days before BAYTOWN that the enemy had concentrated his fighter strength, his best pilots, and his heaviest AA defenses in the Naples sector; part of this increase was at the expense of Calabria, from which all but a few fighters and a handful of AA had been withdrawn by the 28th.
Between 18 August and 2 September, GAF reconnaissance of Allied ports was thorough; in the week before BAYTOWN an average of fourteen planes a day were over Allied territory. The enemy's bomber effort was directed largely against ports but it was weak and only partially effective. On the 17th and again on the 18th of August, at least sixty planes raided Bizerte. Most of the attackers were Ju-88's from the Foggia and Viterbo complexes; the remainder were He-111s, apparently from Salon in southern France. They inflicted some damage, sinking an LCI and damaging three other vessels; some oil installations were destroyed, and 22 military personnel were killed and 215 wounded. The Germans lost fourteen planes, four to Allied aircraft and ten to AA fire. One heavy attack by Ju-87's and 88s and a number of small raids by Me-109 fighter-bombers were made on shipping and shipping facilities at Augusta but damage was negligible, and a forty-plane raid on the 27th against Algiers accomplished nothing. The only night raid of the period, against Palermo, sank two submarine chasers, damaged a coaster, and caused heavy casualties.46 The enemy's operations against Allied convoys were limited to a few small raids, mostly by fighter-bombers, which did little damage. To have had any hope of success, the GAF's attacks on the harbors where the invasion forces were being assembled would have had to be delivered in great strength. Such strength the Luftwaffe did not have.
By September the Axis air arm was no longer the powerful and aggressive force, either offensively or defensively, it had been in the previous winter. Allied bombing had pushed most of the enemy' bombers from southern to central and northern Italy. Never committed to the American system of concentrating attacks until the objective had been saturated, the Axis commanders now were unwilling to risk the heavy losses which might result from large-scale missions. They had lost too many planes and first-line pilots to highly effective fighter and
AA defenses of the Allies and could expect no appreciable reinforcements from the eastern or western fronts. So severe were the demands imposed by activities of the Red Air Force and by the Combined Bomber Offensive, indeed, that the GAF was forced to withdraw aircraft from the Mediterranean--an act which helps to explain the decline of GAF strength there toward the end of August from about 1,100 to less than 600 serviceable planes.47 Kesselring later said that before and after the Allied invasion of Italy the Mediterranean front was considered and supplied as the first front "in certain respects, such as the allotment of air forces." But the fact remained that the Luftwaffe was fighting a "poor man's war." 48 With their air potential reduced to 50 to 100 sorties per day,49 the best that the Germans in Italy could do was to conserve their strength in planes and crews, giving battle only in defense of the most vital spots or when the occasion seemed highly propitious and hoping thereby to be at the maximum possible strength when the time came to defend against the Allied landings on the mainland, which were so evidently to be expected.
In spite of its weakness, the Axis air arm on the eve of BAYTOWN was a factor which the Allies could not ignore. It had 1,500 operational aircraft of all types (exclusive of training planes and nonoperational reserves) in Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, and southern France; of these, roughly 900 were Italian and 600 were German. More than one-half of the German planes and almost a third of the Italian were in Italy south of 420; the total was 670 planes, of which 380 were single-engine fight ers.50However, to have a true picture of the enemy's air strength it is necessary to remember that the Italian Air Force was a poor outfit at best. A large number of its planes were obsolescent, if not actually obsolete. Its best pilots had been eliminated in the desert campaign and after, and its present flyers were neither of high quality nor well trained and, in many instances, were far from enthusiastic. The Germans could count on no more than a minimum of help from the IAF.51
And the GAF alone, with at least one-third of its 600 planes of low serviceability,52 did not appear capable of offering serious challenge to the superior number and quality of NAAF's planes and crews.
On the evening of 2 September, then, the Allied forces in the Mediterranean were ready to launch the first invasion of the Italian mainland. The days of planning were over. The preliminary tasks of softening up the Axis defenses, neutralizing its air arm, crippling its lines of communication, and isolating the battle area were done. In the eastern
Sicilian harbors of Augusta, Catania, Taormina, and Teresa some 300 BAYTOWN landing craft were ready, laden with troops, equipment, and supplies of the Eighth Army. In the Strait of Messina naval vessels turned more than 125 guns toward the Italian shore; and opposite Reggio 410 field guns and 120 medium guns were massed to give covering fire. Spitfires of Desert Air Force, tanks filled and guns loaded, stood ready to take off to cover the landing craft, the assault troops, and the beaches.53 The first Allied invasion of Hitler's Europe was about to begin--it would be a fitting anniversary of the beginning of the war, exactly four years before.
In the early hours of 3 September, under cover of naval bombardment from the strait and heavy artillery fire from the Sicilian coast, a Canadian infantry division went ashore at Reggio and a British division at Gallico and Catona. Enemy opposition was limited to token resistance by a few Italian coastal troops. No mines or demolitions were encountered. The beachheads were easily and speedily secured.54
Fighters and fighter-bombers of DAF covered the crossing and the landings, flying 253 sorties.They encountered only a few enemy fighters and saw no long-range bombers whatever. The negligible enemy effort permitted DAF's planes to take the offensive, and by noon light bombers and fighter-bombers were sweeping over the lower part of Calabria bombing and strafing gun positions, convoys, rail and road crossings, bridges, and troop concentrations. American A-20's and A-36's aided the British in these operations. When German fighter reinforcements appeared at the Camigliatello airdrome (east of Cosenza), sixty-nine B-25's of the 12th and 340th Bombardment Groups bombed the field, while Baltimores attacked Crotone airfield. That night, Beaufighters were up on defense and RAF heavy bombers flew sixteen effective sorties against Grottaglie airfield. For the day, DAF recorded 273 Spitfire and 230 P-40 sorties.55
Before midnight of D-day the Eighth had passed the high ground back of the beaches and had captured Reggio airdrome and the town of Gallico.56 On the 4th and 5th the troops made steady progress, being held up only by demolitions. By the end of the 5th they had reached a line Bagnara-Bagaladi-Bova Marina and had a bag of 2,500 prisoners.
The advance was feebly opposed; fighter reconnaissance flights revealed
that in the area there was no enemy force large enough to offer a genuine battle. It was evident that the enemy's plan was to organize his forces in depth and, by the use of demolitions and rear-guard actions, to slow the Allied advance as much as possible, meanwhile conserving the bulk of his strength to throw against an Allied invasion in the Naples area, which-although the Allies were not aware of the fact-the Germans had anticipated.57
On the 4th and 5th the Allied air forces, in spite of very limited enemy air activity and few good targets, were busy. They maintained cover over shipping in the strait. The enemy's single effort against the beaches was broken up and seven of his planes were shot down. Light bombers raided a defended position near San Stefano, in coordination with a successful ground attack. U.S. P-40's flew armed reconnaissance, while A-36's hindered enemy movements by bombing a road junction at Catanzaro with good results and attacked the road net and railway station at Cosenza. B-25's effectively bombed the roads and rail lines at Briatico, and U.S. A-20's and SAAF Baltimores attacked troop concentrations near Laureana and Gioiosa, respectively. These American
operations were in addition to the larger British air effort. During the two days, NAAF's planes over Calabria saw only a handful of Axis fighters, and reconnaissance showed that the airfields which might have posed a threat had been evacuated. By the end of the 5th, Tactical's effort had dwindled appreciably, for want of good targets and good weather." 58
During the 6th and 7th the Eighth increased its pace, passing Palmi and Gioia in the west coast. Offensive air operations on the 6th were limited to a few fighter-bomber sorties, but on the 7th, Tactical's planes were busy enough to increase to more than 1,000 the total sorties by fighters, fighter-bombers, and light bombers for the first five days of BAYTOWN.59 The day's largest operations, however, were conducted by mediums of Strategic and Tactical which went for lines of communication. The Crotone yards were attacked by thirty-six B-25's, the Trebisacce area by thirty-six, and the Lauria road net by thirty-two. In the heaviest attack, 106 B-26's dropped 158 tons on road and rail bridges at Sapri. During the night fifteen B-24's of the Ninth bombed the landing grounds at Manduria and San Pancrazio.
On the 8th the ground troops continued to move rapidly north. The advance was accelerated when a British brigade was landed in the early morning just north of Pizzo (Operation HOOKER). The landing met slight immediate ground opposition; a small air reaction was checked by the standing Spitfire beach patrol. Later in the morning, as ground operations developed, Tactical was requested to hit gun and heavy mortar positions which were shelling the new bridgehead; two squadrons of Kittyhawks dealt roughly and effectively with these centers of resistance.
As the day advanced, reconnaissance found signs that the enemy was evacuating the Catanzaro area, and U.S. P-40's and RAF Kittyhawks bombed and strafed retreating vehicles until nightfall. Mediums delivered several sharp attacks on lines of communication in Calabria and between there and the Heel, returning to bomb the Sapri road and rail bridges, the Lauria road net, and the Trebisacce bridges with notable success. These attacks were designed to interfere with the withdrawal of enemy troops and to prevent reinforcements from moving in. Indirectly, they supported AVALANCHE by striking at a transportation bottleneck on the west coast between Calabria and the Salerno area through which enemy troops moving north would have to pass.60
By night of 8 September the Eighth Army was approaching Catanzaro, where the widening of the Calabrian peninsula would allow freer movement. The Eighth was ahead of schedule; in the absence of genuine opposition by German ground and air forces, it appeared that the British would continue to move north at good speed, contacting the right flank of the Fifth Army--then en route to the Salerno beaches--at an earlier date than had been hoped for.
Since D-day heavy and medium bombers of NAAF had continued to strike at enemy airfields, lines of communication, and other military objectives. Most of the effort was directed against airdromes and landing grounds. These operations supported BAYTOWN but were intended primarily as a prelude to AVALANCHE. Plans for that operation had called for intensified day and night bombing from D minus 7 to D minus 1 of all fields within range of the Salerno assault area to deny their use to the Axis.
In spite of bad weather, the bombers carried out their assignments with a high degree of success.61 From the 3d through the 6th, B-17's, B-25's, B-26's, and Wellingtons concentrated on airfields in the Naples area. Three heavy attacks smashed Grazzanise; two attacks battered Capua and Capodichino. The fields were cratered and hangars and other installations heavily damaged. Viterbo airdrome, north of Rome, took a severe beating from 180 tons dropped by 133 Fortresses; 13 aircraft on the ground were destroyed or damaged and the field was rendered unserviceable.
These attacks left only small, barely usable strips available to the enemy at Grazzanise and Capodichino on the eve of AVALANCHE, while the field at Capua was completely useless. The only important field in the Salerno sector, Montecorvino, was not attacked, for the Allies wished it left unscathed for early use after the landings.
On the 7th, NASAF directed its entire day effort (save for the BAYTOWN attacks below Salerno, previously mentioned) against the fighter and }u-88 bases in the Foggia complex. One hundred and twenty-four B-17's in three attacks dropped more than 180 tons of explosives. Damage was considerable but not severe enough to hamper decisively enemy bomber operations. That night forty-eight Wellingtons attacked the Viterbo airdrome. The final pre-AVALANCHE assault on the GAF came on the 8th when forty-one B-24's of the Ninth Air Force bombed Foggia No. 2.
During the period 3-8 September, Strategic's planes attacked a
number of targets other than counter-air. B-25's bombed the railroad bridge, tracks, and roads at Minturno and the yards at Metaponto; Wellingtons attacked the Villa Literno and Battipaglia yards; B-1is made small attacks on the Minturno and Villa Literno yards; 62 and B-24's of the Ninth not only damaged the Sulmona yards but shot down 27 enemy planes. On the 8th, 130 B-17's struck a smashing blow against the town of Frascati, fifteen miles southeast of Rome, where the headquarters of the German high command was located. In the raid the heavies dropped 64 x 2,000-pound, 64 x 1,000-pound, and 1,172 x 500-pound bombs. The 389 tons destroyed many buildings and did extensive damage throughout the town; it was reported by the Axis radio that Field Marshal Kesselring himself narrowly escaped death.
On the night of 8/9, as the Fifth Army convoys neared the beaches, USAAF and RAF mediums carried out a series of attacks against three groups of objectives. Forty-nine B-25's bombed bases and roads which handled supplies and reinforcements in the interior, in and around Auletta, Avellino, and Potenza. Fifteen Wellingtons hit Formia and Gaeta, both on the Gulf of Gaeta where an Allied invasion was a possibility, and Forio on Ischia Island. These targets were shipping bases, but were selected primarily as a "cover" to the real landings. The third group of targets consisted of the two principal centers of enemy transportation in the AVALANCHE area, Battipaglia and Eboli. The yards at the former were attacked by thirty-seven Welling tons with eighty-six tons of bombs; the railway junction at the latter by forty-two Wellingtons, also with eighty-six tons. Damage to rail lines, roads, and rolling stock was severe.
RAF and SAAF light bombers also were active between the nights of 4/5 and 8/9 September, flying 116 effective sorties against yards at Altamura, Battipaglia, Benevento, and Metaponto and against rail and road junctions and transport vehicles at Auletta, Avellino, Battipaglia, Benevento, Capua, Metaponto, and Potenza. These missions helped AVALANCHE, the Eighth Army, and a projected British landing at Taranto (Operation GIBBON).63
By 27 August photo reconnaissance had provided the welcome intelligence that tentatively planned attacks on Sardinia airfields--in protection of Salerno-bound convoys--would not be required. The enemy had begun to evacuate Sardinia; the landing grounds at Elmas, Capoterra, and Monserrato, all in the southern half of the island, had been rendered unserviceable, and the principal fighter bases in the north,
Alghero/Fertilia and Ozieri/Chivilani, were being used mainly to protect shipping in that area. The hard pounding which Allied planes had given to the island's ports and airfields prior to 1 September had paid dividends. NAAF found it necessary to bomb only Pabillonis airfield (north of Villacidro) which was attacked on the 5th, 7th, and 8th by a total of 112 P-40's of the 325th Group. The fighter-bombers dropped 20-pound frags and strafed aircraft and targets of opportunity.
The enemy's defensive air effort against NAAF's strategic operations during the first week of September was even smaller than before. Allied heavies and mediums flew about fifty missions; in half the cases they saw no enemy fighters, and in only sixteen missions were they attacked. In three instances only was the interception strong and aggressive--in the two Foggia raids on 7 and 8 September and the Frascati attack on the 8th. Each was jumped by forty to fifty enemy fighters. Offensively, the Axis carried out just one major attack, against Bizerte and Ferryville harbors on the night of the 6th. Around forty-five Ju-88's and He-111s participated; although the enemy used metal strips to jam Allied radar, he managed only to fire a petrol dump while losing five planes to Allied night fighters and four to flak.64
It was evident that the enemy was still conserving his air strength which, although badly depleted, was still capable of rendering valuable service in the days ahead. But in the hoarding process he suffered heavily. In the last week before the Salerno landings, Allied claims indicated that his air arm lost around 180 planes, destroyed, probably destroyed, and damaged (the Allies lost 70), while his poorly protected airfields, lines of communication, and installations were battered by almost 4,000 tons of bombs.
The heavy tonnage dropped by Allied planes during the week marked only the final effort; since 1 April, NAAF's planes had dropped close to 19,000 tons of bombs on the mainland of Italy, more than half since the end of the Sicilian campaign, and the Axis had lost on the ground and in the air more than 800 planes. Even on the sea the enemy could not hold his own, although the Volume of Allied shipping was many times as great and operated in the open sea, whereas the enemy moved mostly along the coast. Between the middle of August and 9 September, NAAF's planes had sunk four enemy ships and had listed four as probably sunk and twenty-seven as damaged, while the Allies lost only six ships to enemy aircraft and submarines, although its vessels traveled 843,000 miles.65
On the evening of 8 September, then, the situation was this: BAYTOWN had got off to a good start and the Eighth Army was moving steadily northward; NAAF's planes, while covering the BAYTOWN operation, had smashed or pinned down the greater part of the Axis air forces which were within reach of Salerno and had seriously disrupted the lines of communication leading into the invasion area; and the AVALANCHE convoys, under the protection of Coastal Air Force, were approaching the beaches between Salerno and Paestum. Then, with dramatic suddenness, events in Italy forced the Allies to change some of their plans.
The changes stemmed back to the middle of the summer when Mussolini's Fascist government had been overthrown. Soon thereafter, the government of Marshal Pietro Badoglio originated plans designed to withdraw Italy from the war, and in August Allied and Italian representatives started secret negotiations for an armistice and an Italian surrender. General Eisenhower was empowered by the CCS to handle the negotiations and to decide the day and hour on which the end of hostilities would be announced and in effect.
Progress of the negotiations after 20 August convinced Eisenhower that in all probability an armistice would be signed before 9 September, D-day for AVALANCHE. Anxious to take quick advantage of italy'S surrender, he decided to launch a bold stroke designed to seize the Rome area. Italian acceptance of an armistice might be contingent upon Allied aid in Rome against German reprisals; at the cost of one diverted division he might secure Italian help in retarding the movement of German reinforcements and thus insure the success of AVALANCHE.
On 3 September a short-term armistice was signed at Cassibile, near Syracuse, Sicily, by Maj. Gen. W. B. Smith for General Eisenhower and by Brig. Gen. Giuseppe Castellano for Marshal Badoglio. Troop Carrier Command was immediately notified that the 82d Airborne Division, originally scheduled to be dropped in the Capua area (Mission "AVALANCHE"), in direct support of AVALANCHE, would not be so employed but instead would be dropped in the Rome area on the nights of D minus 1 and D-day (GIANT II). The Italians, whose armistice commission had agreed to ready airfields at Guidonia, Littorio, Cerveteri, Centocelle, and Furbara (all in the Rome complex) to receive the troop carrier planes and the paratroopers, would undertake to prepare the fields and protect them against the Germans and would provide
transportation, supplies, extra fuel, etc. The 82d would assist the Italians in preventing a German occupation of Rome.
At 0200 hours on 7 September, Brig. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor of the 82d and Col. William T. Gardiner of Troop Carrier left Palermo for Rome to complete arrangements for GIANT II. There the two officers speedily became convinced that the mission would end in disaster: the Germans had built up their strength in the Rome area and had stopped the flow of gasoline and munitions to the Italian troops; the Italian military leaders had overcommitted themselves and could neither render effective aid to the airborne troops nor guarantee the security of the airfields and, disorganized and vacillating, had adopted an attitude of "let the Allies save the Italian government and Rome." So informed on 8 September, Eisenhower canceled GIANT II. Unfortunately, it was then too late to reinstate Mission "AVALANCHE." 66
Thus, on the eve of the AVALANCHE landings the original plans were in effect with one important exception: there would be no drop of airborne troops in the vicinity of Capua to hamper the southward movement of German reinforcements for Salerno.
The more than 600 men-of-war, transports, and landing craft allotted to AVALANCHE sailed in sixteen convoys which left the terminal ports of Oran, Algiers, Bizerte, Tripoli, Palermo, and Termini at varying times between D minus 6 and D minus 1. The several elements came together north of Palermo on D minus 1. By dusk of that day they were in position some fifty miles west of the beaches, had deployed, and had started their approaches..
Up to 2300 hours of D minus 2 the convoys were not bothered by enemy aircraft, although they were shadowed by reconnaissance planes. That night and on the following afternoon the Luftwaffe attacked five times in small raids which sank a British LCT and damaged an American LCI. Between 2000 and 2400 hours of D minus 1 the Northern Attack Force was repeatedly annoyed by small groups of torpedo bombers, and the southern forces fought off two heavy and five light attacks. A combination of good fighter cover, severe AA fire, and poor performances by the bombers kept damage to a minimum, one LST being hit and several ships suffering near misses. The enemy lost five planes to AA fire and five probables to CAF night fighters.67
Between 2400 hours, when the ships began moving into their final
positions, and 0330 hours (H-hour), when the last of the assault troops headed for the beaches, there were no attacks by enemy planes. In fact, the entire area from Salerno to Paestum was quiet until the troops approached the beaches. The Germans, who had very accurately forecast Allied intentions, then greeted them in English over a public address system with the words "Come in and give up. We have you covered!" and immediately opened with artillery, mortars, and machine guns.68 The fire struck all the way from the beaches to the transport lowering points. But in spite of some damage and confusion, the troops hit the beaches, spilled ashore, and began working inland.
By daylight VI Corps, on the right (south), was approaching its initial objectives. In the center the British 10 Corps also was moving inland but against bitter resistance. Between Salerno and Maiori, British Commandos had knocked out minor opposition at Vietri. On the left flank, American Rangers had landed unopposed at Maiori and were hurrying toward the mountain passes between Salerno and Pompei. At the end of the day the ground troops had made limited but steady progress inland. VI Corps had met tough opposition from at least four groups of tanks, but by nightfall the 36th Division had reached its objectives, being inland from four to six miles except in the extreme south around Agropoli. The 10 Corps had encountered even stiffer resistance but with the help of naval fire had advanced an average of 3,000 yards and was attacking Montecorvino airfield. Some of 10th's patrols had entered Battipaglia but had been forced out; others were approaching Salerno from the east. The Rangers were in the important Nocera and Pagani passes, and the Commandos were moving rapidly toward Salerno.69
During the entire day XII Air Support Command provided continuous air cover over the beaches and over shipping in the assault area.
Protection was furnished by two squadrons of P-38's, one of A-36's, and one of Spitfires, supplemented by one squadron of carrier-based Seafires from as early as possible to 0800 hours and from 1800 hours to as late as possible; in addition, Seafires maintained standing patrols over the northern flank of the assault areas. In general, the Fleet Air Arm patrolled the northern end of the Gulf of Salerno as far west as Capri, while the USAAF and RAF covered the center and southern sectors.
Throughout the daylight hours, 12 A-36's flying low cover, 24 P-38's medium cover, and 12 Spitfires top cover maintained a protective canopy. The A-36's and P-38's operated from bases on the Catania plain and
the Spitfires from fields in the Messina area.70 By the end of D-day XII ASC's fighters had flown almost 700 sorties and the Seafires more than 250. After dark, Beaufighters from Sicily took over, keeping two planes over the beaches at all times. Operations for the day were limited to protecting the beaches and offshore shipping, and no direct support was given to the ground troops.71
The day fighters received very little assistance from the control center on the Ancon (largely because the near-by hills caused echoes); 72 the night fighters found the seaborne GCI accurate and helpful. But in spite of late warnings and scattered enemy attacks, Allied fighters shot down four enemy planes and damaged one, to the loss of two P-38's in combat.73
Opinions vary widely as to the amount, severity, and success of the enemy air reaction on D-day. The Western Naval Task Force recorded in its history of AVALANCHE that the enemy's "regular and persistent bombing and strafing attacks effectively interrupted unloading activities, "and even declared that "the scale of these attacks has never before and has never since been equaled" in the Mediterranean theater.74 On the other hand, a study of AVALANCHE prepared later by Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force stated that "very little enemy action in the air was encountered on the first day" ; all of NAAF's summaries and reports for the day agreed that the Luftwaffe's effort was slim and that the raids were effectively dealt with; the British Admiralty's report on AVALANCHE notes that "little damage was done" by the attacks; and in a meeting held at the Admiralty on 20 October 1943it was stated that the GAF's air effort over the beaches "was not severe, being confined to small tip and run raids." Captured enemy documents list only eighty-two GAF fighter and twenty-six ground attack sorties for the day.75
What actually happened was that the enemy flew enough small missions, and flew them regularly enough, to keep the Allied forces constantly on the alert and to annoy troops unloading supplies; but the sum total of his sorties was small, his attacks were not very aggressive and were distinctly of the "hit-and-run" variety, and the damage and casualties which he caused were slight, especially if they are considered in relation to the size and importance of the landings. The best proof of the effectiveness of the Allies' fighter cover is the fact that only one ship (an AT) was sunk and one (an LST) damaged. Nor is there any
evidence to show that damage to personnel and equipment on shore was anything except small.76
The activities of Strategic on D-day were designed primarily to continue the isolation of the battlefield by cutting roads, rail lines, and bridges. Three key places along the two main German reinforcement routes were hit. Sixty-one B-17's of the 97th and 99th Bombardment Groups dropped 172 tons on the bridges over the Volturno River at Capua; photographic coverage showed that both road bridges were almost completely destroyed, the railway bridge severely damaged, and several roads cut. The raid was of particular interest and importance as it was in the nature of a "replacement" for the paratrooper operation which had been canceled in order to set up the abortive GIANT II mission to Rome. Sixty Fortresses further hampered communications above Naples by attacking the Cancello bridges between Capua and the coast; the 180 tons damaged the approaches to the bridges but did not hit the structures. One hundred and thirteen B-25's unloaded 170 tons of explosives on the yards, roads, and bridges at Potenza, east of the bridgehead; they hit the yards and roads but missed the bridges.
Two attacks on enemy airfields were carried out. Forty-one B-24's of the Ninth bombed the Foggia complex, where they met the only opposition of the day from the GAF,77 and sixty-seven B-26's attacked a newly discovered landing ground at Scanzano, southwest of Taranto. Results were good at both places and, in addition, the Luftwaffe lost at least thirteen planes.
NAAF's total activities for the period from 1800 hours on D minus 1 to nightfall of D-day came to almost 1,700 sorties. The air forces claimed fourteen enemy planes destroyed, three damaged, and four destroyed on the ground against losses of four destroyed and five missing. As General Eisenhower put it, Allied air power was "flatout in support of 5th Army positions." 78
On 10 and 11 September the Fifth Army consolidated the positions which it had won on D-day and continued to move slowly forward. By the end of D plus 2, VI Corps' line curved from the coast below Agropoli to Persano on the Sele River, being inland to a depth of eleven miles around Altavilla and Roccadaspide. On 10 Corps' front, where the mountains were closer to the shore and the German opposition was tougher, progress had been slower and the deepest penetration was five miles. Montecorvino airfield had been overrun but was not
available for Allied planes, as it was under artillery fire from the near-by hills. Farther to the northwest, troops of10 Corps continued to clean up Salerno, the Commandos were astride the coast road, and the Rangers had advanced ten miles west to Positano while holding their positions in the Nocera-Pagani and Mount di Chiunzi passes against counterattacks.79
Meanwhile, the Allies had landed thousands of men and guns and hundreds of tons of supplies and equipment over the beaches. With the enemy denied the roads on both flanks and with the weather continuing good, the Allies hoped that their rate of build-up would be sufficiently rapid to offset the flow of German reinforcements which were racing up from the south and rolling down from the north. In spite of the generally satisfactory situation at the end of the 11th the Allies were concerned over two matters: one, inasmuch as Montecorvino was still untenable, fighter cover must continue on the old long-range basis, with possibly some assistance from temporary fighter strips which were being hastily constructed inside the beachhead; the other, the Germans were massing along the Sele River and it was problematical whether the Fifth Army was in sufficient strength to hold a heavy counterattack.
On the 10th and 11th the reaction of the enemy's air arm was stronger than it had been on D-day. The raids over the assault area were still mostly small and of the "hit-and-run" variety, but they were more numerous than on the 9th and some missions were on a larger scale. The planes appeared to be corning from Viterbo, Frosinone, and the Foggia bases, with a few bombers apparently flying down from southern France. On each day more than 100 enemy planes attacked; most of them were fighter-bombers, but there were some high-level and dive bombers.
NATAF's fighters met these attacks with the same system of patrols which had been used on D-day. On the roth, day fighters broke up or turned away more than forty raids. On the 11th the enemy made a special effort against the Allied men-of-war and succeeded in damaging HMS Flores and the USS Philadelphia and Savannah. The attack on the Savannah, which resulted in a hit by a radio-controlled bomb, came at a time when the fighter cover had been somewhat reduced, partly because some fighters and fighter-bombers were being used to delay and disorganize enemy movement toward the assault area (this appeared feasible in view of the unexpectedly small enemy air reaction)
and partly in an effort to hold down pilot fatigue. After the Savannah was hit, normal cover was restored.
For the two days, XII ASC's fighters flew around 1,250 sorties and the Seafires 400. They claimed 20 enemy aircraft destroyed and probably destroyed, while losing 7.80
According to a Marine Corps observer, the air cover over AVALANCHE had been "excellent" during the first three days of the invasion.81 But the situation at the end of the 11th was not one to cause rejoicing at NAAF. Land-based fighter pilots were beginning to show signs of fatigue from frequent and long flights from Sicily in cramped cockpits, and accidents were increasing rapidly. The number of operational Seafires had been reduced, "for a sustained air effort could not be kept up from carriers alone for more than 48 to 72 hours, "and landing accidents had become frequent.82 The Germans were increasing their air effort. Until Montecorvino airfield could be utilized, little improvement could be expected.83
From D-day through D plus 2, convoys had brought in some 3,000 ground personnel and 530 vehicles of XII AFSC, XII ASC, and the RAF. This personnel had two principal jobs: to move air force supplies and equipment from beaches to dumps and from dumps to airfields and to repair Montecorvino and prepare temporary landing fields near the beaches for fighter planes. On the evening of D-day a detachment of the 8I7th Engineer Battalion (Aviation) went ashore and began building an air strip but had to abandon the site an hour later because it was under enemy fire. A second location was chosen and before morning an emergency runway had been laid out. During the night, heavy equipment came ashore and early on the morning of the 10th the men began building a field at Paestum. Drainage ditches were filled, trees cut to clear the approaches, a 3, 800-foot runway scraped, and a taxiway and enough hardstandings constructed to take care of one fighter squadron. By 0600 hours on the 11th, Paestum was operational, and before the day was over four P-38's had used it for emergency landings.
On the morning of the 11th the 817th began work on a second field, naming it Sele. That night pressure from the German ground forces forced them to evacuate the site, but they returned next morning and early on the 13th the field was completed. The following day they started in on a third field, known as Capaccio, which was operational on the 16th. The fields at Paestum, Sele, and Capaccio all were back of VI Corps. Behind 10 Corps, British airdrome construction companies
had been at work on two fields: one, Tusciano, could be used on the 11th; the other, Asa, on the 13th.84 But until these fields were operational, NAAF's planes could meet the enemy air threat only after the long flight from Sicily.85
On the 9th, Mediterranean Air Command had informed Strategic and Tactical that for the next few days their job would be to isolate the battle area and to destroy enemy personnel and equipment. Tactical was made responsible for the area south of a line Battipaglia-Potenza-Bari, inclusive, and Strategic for all points north of that line. Road communications used by the enemy to reinforce the battle sector whereto constitute the principal objective.86
Pursuant to this directive, NAAF's bombers on the 10th and 11th continued to hit lines of communication and airfields. They operated on a twenty-four-hour schedule, with RAF Wellingtons, U.S. B-25's, and RAF and SAAF light bombers flying night missions as a complement to the larger day effort.87 North of the prescribed line, Strategic hit the yards at Grosseto, the road junctions at Isernia and Mignano, roads at Boiano, roads and bridges in the Ariano-Irpino area, the Formia road junction, road nets at Cassino and Castelnuovo, traffic at Avellino, the yards, roads, and bridges at Benevento, and other targets.* With a few exceptions, notably at Boiano, the bombing was accurate. Secondary operations were conducted against airfields, attacks being made on Frosinone, Grazzanise, and the Foggia complex. The raids on Frosinone left the field unserviceable, with 150 craters. South of the line, Tactical's medium and light bombers hit the road junctions at Auletta and Corle to and transport in the Cosenza, Sapri, and Avellino areas, and its A-36's and P-38's bombed and strafed motor transport on the main roads leading to the battle zone. Pilots of the fighter-bombers claimed the destruction of more than 100 motor transports.
Allied air superiority made it possible to equip with bombs some fighters on patrol over the bridgehead. The pilots received their ground targets while in flight, and after bombing their objectives would then carry out their normal defensive patrols. This type of operation was used largely over 10 Corps, whose channels back to XII ASC were slow and uncertain. The system often enabled the command to furnish air support within ten to thirty minutes after the ground troops had sent in the initial request. However, until after Allied planes were based on shore air-ground cooperation was not satisfactory: the land lines
were unreliable, maps were poor, changes in bomb lines came through slowly, and requests from ground troops took so long to reach Sicily that planes often did not arrive for as much as four hours.88
The Twelfth's 111th Tac/Recce Squadron of P-51s and the British 225 Squadron of Spitfires provided tactical reconnaissance essential to close support, artillery fire, and intruder missions in the battle zone. At first, tactical reconnaissance was carried out on a prearranged basis with a set number of missions, but after D plus 3 (12 September) the 111th operated with VI Corps and 225 with 10 Corps. Each squadron carried out up to six missions a day. On the 18th, for the first time in the European war, a fighter plane (P-51) adjusted artillery fire on enemy gun
positions.89 During the 10th and 11th, NAAF's aircraft of all types flew more than 2,700 sorties, of which almost 1,600 were by day fighters. A decrease in fighter sorties and an increase in fighter-bomber sorties on the 11th showed that NATAF was shifting some of its fighters from defensive patrols to offensive missions. The Allies lost fifteen planes while destroying thirty of the enemy in the air and an undetermined number on the ground. Losses on both sides occurred almost entirely over the
bridgehead, for the enemy made no attempt to intercept NASAF's heavies and mediums but employed his fighters and bombers exclusively for offensive missions over Allied ground forces and inshore shipping.90
Meanwhile, on the Eighth Army front, on 9, 10, and 11 September the British had continued to push steadily northward, slowed only by extensive demolitions and German rear-guard actions. They occupied Catanzaro, Nicastro, and Petilia, and reached Belvedere. DAF coordinated with the advance, its light bombers and fighter-bombers on the 9th destroying more than 90 vehicles, damaging 130, and inflicting severe casualties on personnel as the German columns hurried through the narrow bottleneck below Paola. On the 10th and 11th, DAF's tactical activities were curtailed while its fighters flew escort missions for bombers attacking lines of communication leading to the Salerno sector.9l
Meanwhile, too, General Eisenhower had launched Operation GIBBON-SLAPSTICK, sending a part of the British I Airborne Division into Taranto on the 9th and following it on the 10th with ground troops of 5 Corps. The landings were made without interference from the enemy. From Taranto the British moved rapidly north and north west, meeting no opposition for several days except around Gioia.92
The taking of Taranto was a valuable operation. It gave the Allies an excellent port through which could be moved a large part of the supplies required by the Eighth Army; it permitted a direct drive against Bari, the best port on the Adriatic below Venice, and against Foggia, the center of the largest and most useful complex of airfields in southern Italy; and it further dispersed German air and ground forces.
By 12 September, in spite of serious disruption of his lines of communication by Allied bombing and strafing, the enemy had been able to bring reinforcements into the perimeter of the Salerno bridgehead. Elements of two Panzer divisions had arrived from the south and elements of two others from beyond Naples. Too, despite the advances which had been made by the Fifth Army, the Germans still held a number of interior roads and important heights and so were able to concentrate against almost any desired spot. The weakest place in the Allied line was along the Sele River where, except for one armored reconnaissance brigade, there was a gap of five miles between VI and 10 Corps. On the 12th the Germans launched a heavy counterattack in this sector with the object of cutting the Fifth Army in half. Two days later they had driven a deep and dangerous salient into the Anglo-American lines along a two-mile front. At one point the enemy was within a thousand yards of the beach. Kesselring, who considered it of great importance to deny Italy to the Allies as "an aircraft operating area, "was hitting hard.93
In order to stop the Germans a large part of VI Corps was shifted into 10 Corps' Sele River-Battipaglia sector, leaving only a few companies of beach engineers, some air service troops and fighter-group ground crews, and other noncombat personnel to hold the various passes through the hills which led to the southernmost part of the bridgehead.94 An enemy attack on the right flank of the Allied line could easily penetrate to the coast, catching VI Corps in a pincer movement; any further advance down the Sele River would completely split VI and 10 Corps, which might then be destroyed singly. The situation was critical. And it took the combined efforts of the ground, air, and naval forces to save the day.
While 10 Corps held firm against enemy attacks on the 13th and 14th, VI Corps plugged the weakest positions in its lines sufficiently to throw back German thrusts which came late on the afternoon of the 13th and on the 14th.95 On the 14th the USS Philadelphia fired nearly 1,300 rounds against tanks, machine-gun nests, and roads; on the 15th
the British battleship Warspite, up from Malta, and the Philadelphia, Boise, and Mayo hurled tons of projectiles against troops and positions. HMS Valiant, which arrived on the 15th, did not open fire, the crisis by then having passed.96 The naval fire was controlled by cruiser and Royal Artillery planes, shore parties, and U.S. P-51s, with the latter displaying such skill and good judgment that the commanding officer of the Philadelphia reported that their spotting was "by far, the most successful method" so far tried.97
The air forces played a vital part in breaking up the German counteroffensive. Like the naval forces, NAAF did not begin to throw its full weight directly against the enemy's ground forces until the 14th when the position of the Fifth Army had become most critical. Air operations on the 12th and 13th were a continuation of the program followed on the 9th, 10th, and 11th--that is, cover for the beaches and shipping and attacks on lines of communication, transport, and airfields--except that its bombers began to unload closer and closer to the battle line.
On the 11th and 13th, NATAF's fighters flew 1,150 defensive sorties over the bridgehead, against about 250 enemy sorties. NATAF's daily effort was lighter than on each of the previous three days because many of its A-36's had been shifted to fighter-bomber operations against transportation when it had been found that the Spitfires could extend their beachhead patrols to thirty minutes* and when some fighters had moved into the newly constructed fields within the bridgehead. General House, ashore on the 12th, directed their operations.
On the 12th, NASAF's bombers flew 56 heavy, 147 medium, and 12 light bomber effective sorties against roads, dropping around 400 tons of bombs. The principal targets were at Mignano, Benevento, Isernia, Formia, Ariano, Corleto, Castelnuovo, and Auletta. During the night, Wellingtons unloaded 224 tons on the Castelnuovo road net, B-2 5's attacked roads at Auletta, Potenza, and Corleto, and light bombers raided roads east of the battle area. The attacks on Castelnuovo were especially useful as they cut the junction of the main German escape routes from Calabria. On the 13th the heavies and mediums lowered their sights and went for the roads immediately beyond the semicircle of mountains which inclosed the Salerno plain. B-17's, B-25's, and* The ability of the Spitfires to fly much longer patrols than had been expected and the fact that their 90-gallon tanks seldom had to be used up, together with the weak offensive effort put up by the GAF, allows one to speculate that the Allies might have invaded Italy at Gaeta instead of at Salerno.
B-26's pounded Torre del Greco, Torre Annunziata, and Pompei-all on the roads from Naples to Salerno. On the main road to the south (from Salerno through Eboli and Auletta to Cosenza), B-17's and B-25's bombed the Sala Consilina highway and the road junction and bridge at Atena Lucana. During the night, Wellingtons went for the roads around Pompei, and B-25's attacked roads at Torre Annunziata; farther south, B-25's and Bostons bombed the roads and railway at San Severino. Light bombers carried out intruder missions over roads north of the battle zone.98
As the Allied ground situation further deteriorated on the 13th, NAAF threw its full strength against the enemy in close support of the Fifth Army. Its first task was to fly in troops to strengthen VI Corps. Three missions were set up: two of them involved drops immediately behind VI Corps, while the third was a drop near Avellino for the purpose of disrupting the movement of German troops southward.
The first mission,99 coded GIANT I (Revised), was set up on a few hours' notice. The 51st and pd Troop Carrier Wings were informed of the mission at 1330 hours on the 13th, orders for the mission to be carried out were issued at 1830 hours, and the first planes took off at 1930. Three Pathfinders led the way. They dropped fifty paratroopers, Rebecca-Eureka beacons, Krypton lamps,* and handie-talkies squarely on the drop zone (DZ) 3.5 miles south of the Sele River. Within three minutes the Rebecca-Eurekas were in operation. Fifteen minutes later eighty-two C-47's and C-53's of the 6lst, 313th, and 314th Troop Carrier Groups began coming in from Comiso and Trapani/Milo, Sicily, most of them homing on the Eurekas, to drop the paratroopers of the 504th Regiment of the U.S. 82d Airborne Division. The bulk of the troops landed within 200 yards of the DZ and all were within one mile except B Company of the 1st Battalion, which landed eight to ten miles southeast. Not a plane nor a man was lost and only one man was injured, although about 1,300 men were dropped. The paratroopers were taken by truck to a point near Albanella. After helping to stop the German advance, they went over to the offensive on the 17th and took Altavilla.
The following night (14/15), Troop Carrier flew GIANT IV, when 125 planes dropped 1,900 men of the 505th Regiment with their
* A Krypton lamp is an instrument designed to produce a blinding white flash of one second's duration, visible in daylight from an altitude of 10,000 feet. The light cannot be flashed oftener than at five-second intervals.
equipment on the same DZ that had been used in GIANT I (Revised). The mission was highly successful, all except some forty men landing within a mile and a half of the DZ. Trucks took the men to Agropoli, Ogliastro, and Capaccio where they relieved the service troops and beach engineers who had been pressed into service for a possible last ditch stand (and who by now were three days behind in their job of unloading over the beaches) and a part of the tired and battered 45th Division which had been in the line since the landings.
The third mission, known as GIANT III or AVALANCHE Drop, flown on the night of 14/15 to a point near Avellino, was less successful. The range of the radio transmitter and the Aldis lamps which the Pathfinder force set up was so limited that only a few of the aircraft received homing indications; high hills around the DZ probably further shortened the range, while the planes found it difficult to pick out the DZ area because of a similarity in topography among several valleys and ranges of hills in the vicinity. Nor was it possible to offset these difficulties by the use of visual ground signs, including a lighted "Tee," as had been done in the other drops. Because of the mountains around Avellino the drops had to be made from heights ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 feet (the drops near Paestum had been from 600 feet), which made pinpointing impossible. Of the forty planes of the 64th Troop Carrier participating, only fifteen dropped their men near the DZ. The remainder of the 600 troops landed from eight to twenty-five miles away. They came down in small scattered groups and in woodlands and vineyards, which made assembly difficult. Most of their equipment was lost. Only a small force, with limited equipment, reached Avellino where it blew a hole in the main highway bridge and then took to the hills, as did the other groups. After waiting several days for the arrival of the Fifth Army, the scattered elements moved south and bit by bit made contact with the Allies. On 8 October, 118 men out of the 600 who had been dropped were still listed as captured or missing.
The three missions had been carried out without fighter opposition and, save for a few strays, the planes had not suffered from German flak. There had been no fire from "friendly" guns as in the Sicilian drops. But in Washington, Marshall was far from satisfied with the results of the airborne operations in Sicily and Italy. He felt that the Allies were not using to the fullest the facilities at their disposal, and that the Sicilian and Italian campaigns "might have developed very differently if we had been in a position to handle simultaneously more
than one airborne division." He and Arnold agreed that the Germans were particularly afraid of airborne operations and that such missions would be of immense value in OVERLORD. As a result, the CCS instructed the Combined Staff Planners to reconsider the Anglo-American program and policies for the employment of airborne troops and their supply by air. In November it was decided to transfer most of the airborne troops from the Mediterranean to the United Kingdom for use in OVERLORD.100
On the 14th, as the ground situation entered its most critical stage, NAAF went all out in direct aid to the Fifth Army.10l Bombers, fighter-bombers, and fighters flew more than 2,000 sorties. Of these, NATAF's fighters and fighter-bombers accounted for more than 1,000 sorties on patrols over the bridgehead and offshore shipping and in bombing and strafing attacks against targets of opportunity in the battle area. A-36's and P-38's attacked troops, vehicles, roads, bridges, and yards around Battipaglia, Eboli, Auletta, Torre Annunziata, and Avellino. Fighters of DAF, scarcely needed by the Eighth Army in its rapid advance, swept north from fields at Reggio to strafe transport near Eboli. In all, the fighter-bombers dropped 159 tons of bombs during the day.
Heavies and mediums--with most of the heavies flying two missions--divided their attention between roads leading into the Salerno area and German concentrations of troops and supplies in the Battipaglia/Eboli sector immediately behind the battle front. During the day of the 14th bombers of all types flew more than 1,200 sorties. That night, Wellingtons and B-25's continued the assault with heavy attacks on Battipaglia and Eboli and on roads around Auletta and Controne, while light bombers hit roads leading to the battle area. The Wellington mission of 126 planes was the largest force of night bombers dispatched in the theater to date. The attacks cut the rail lines from Torre Annunziata to Castellammare, Salerno, and Naples, and at Battipaglia those from Naples to Metaponto and Reggio; they blocked the highway to Naples and severely damaged the roads to Castellammare and Metaponto. The towns of Battipaglia and Eboli were all but obliterated.
On the 15th, NAAF's planes flew about 1,400 sorties, the effort being concentrated in the battle area. Out of 850 fighter and fighter bomber sorties only 300 were on defensive patrol; the other 550 were against vehicles, troops, gun positions, and roads in the Eboli, Battipaglia, Auletta, and Avellino sectors. These bombing and strafing
missions destroyed more than 300 vehicles. Bombers flew 92 heavy, 250 medium, and 88 light bomber sorties during the day and 166 medium and 49 light bomber sorties on the night of 15/16. B-17's worked on the Battipaglia-Eboli road and roads at Torre del Greco; B-24's of the Ninth--planes which had been transferred on the 13th from the Ninth to the Twelfth--hit the yards and roads at Potenza; 102 B-25's attacked the Torre Annunziata road junction, troop concentrations at Roccadaspide, and roads back of the German lines; Welling tons dropped 240 tons on roads at Pompei and Torre Annunziata; B-26's hit targets on the Battipaglia-Eboli, Serre-Eboli, and Auletta-Polla roads; and light bombers attacked troop concentrations at Eboli, east of Altavilla, and north of Roccadaspide and hit roads in the battle area. By the end of the day lines of communication at Potenza, Benevento, Castelnuovo, Capua, Formia, and Isernia were cut, blocked, or badly damaged.
In these operations on the 14th and 15th, Strategic Air Force was a tactical air force, for its heavies and mediums operated directly in cooperation with the ground forces. Some of its planes bombed so close to the Fifth Army that "a miss would have been disastrous." 103 There was little interference by the GAF. Only two of NAAF's bomber missions met enemy fighters. The German high command was using all the strength it could muster in offensive missions against the Fifth Army and its shipping, leaving German ground troops and transport completely exposed to NAAF's round-the-clock assault.
The results of the intense and concentrated bombing and strafing from the 12th through the 15th were profound. Strategic and Tactical had dropped more than 3,000 tons of bombs-the actual target areas had received an average bomb density of 760 tons per square mile. Whole towns were flattened, roads and railroads obliterated, and troop and motor transport concentrations severely damaged or wiped out. Enemy troops immediately in front of the Fifth Army were attacked, even by the heavies, although NAAF's bombing of the enemy in the salient might have been more effective had there been better training in mutual air-ground identification and the use of visual signals.104 "Never before, "said Headquarters, MAC, "have bombs been employed on a battlefield in such quantities or with such telling effect." l05 The Germans could not stand up under the combination of bombing, naval shelling, and ground fire. By the night of the 15th their dangerous attack had been blunted. According to enemy documents the Allied air and naval attacks had caused such heavy losses that the Germans had
no choice but to call off the attack. On the 16th they began pulling back and the Fifth Army prepared to go over to the offensive.l06
The beachhead now was secure and the Americans and British were on the mainland to stay. But it had been a close call. The Allies had been nearer to a serious defeat than they would ever be during the remainder of the long Italian campaign, and at a time when a setback would have had the most unfortunate consequences. In the emergency the air forces had played their part well. Spaatz found in the battle further proof of the decisive effect in combined operations of air forces enjoying organizational and operational flexibility.107 Ground force commanders (Alexander and Clark) were duly appreciative in their reports. Eisenhower was "convinced" that but for concentrated use of naval and air strength the ground troops might well have been pushed back into the sea; even at the most critical moment he had written Marshall that "our Air Force, the fighting value of our troops, and strenuous efforts by us all" would pull the Fifth Army through and that he expected to go over to the offensive as soon as his fighterbombers and P-38's could base on the mainland.l08
All-out commitment to direct cooperation with the ground forces left no planes for missions into northern and central Italy. General Eisenhower suggested to the CCS the value of a blow by bombers from the United Kingdom against lines of communication in northern Italy and requested the return to the Mediterranean of the three groups of B-24's which had operated there in July and early August. The CCS approved both suggestions, which were carried out promptly by the air forces in the United Kingdom. On the night of 16 September, 340 RAF heavies and 5 B-17's bombed the yards at Modane in southeastern France in an effort to close the northern end of the Mont Cenis Tunnel. At the same time, the Eighth dispatched 80 B-24's and 544 personnel of the 44th, 93d, and 389th Bombardment Groups (H) to the Mediterranean. These planes began operations on 21 September and continued to fly for NAAF through 1 October. Most of their missions were against lines of communication in north-central Italy.l09
Eisenhower feared that his air force might not be able to continue its operations on the scale necessary to insure the success of Allied arms. The twin invasions had necessitated an actual employment of air forces far in excess of the planned employment. To reduce the scale of the present air effort might be disastrous; yet the air force was being depleted by attrition and would be further reduced by losses of crews
through completion of combat tours, which were especially rapid in the Mediterranean where excellent flying weather from March to November and the constant demands of land campaigns frequently permitted a crew to complete its fifty missions in from four to six months. A cable to Washington outlining these views brought no immediate reinforcements; other theaters were even shorter on replacements than was the Mediterranean, and with AVALANCHE and BAYTOWN secure it was anticipated that the pressure on NAAF's fighters would be reduced. Washington planned, however, to increase the minimum replacement rate from 15 per cent to 20 per cent (troop carrier crews from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent), effective on 1 January 1944.110
While NAAF's planes had been helping to establish and then to save the Salerno bridgehead, they also had been busy with their several secondary tasks. Every night Wellingtons dropped hundreds of thousands of information and propaganda leaflets (" nickels") over central and northern Italy, Corsica, and Sardinia. Regularly, P-40's swept over southern Sardinia looking for signs of enemy air activity--and finding none. Daily, Photo Reconnaissance Wing sent its P-38's, Spitfires, and Mosquitoes over enemy territory and waters to photograph possible targets, locate concentrations and movements of troops, materiel, and aircraft, and assess damage. The enemy made strenuous efforts to interfere by sending up both planes and flak, but with no success. Because NAPRW's headquarters remained in North Africa during September there were delays of up to forty-eight hours in delivery of the important vertical photos to field units in Italy, but this unsatisfactory situation was partly alleviated by having a tac/recce squadron make a number of pinpoint photos. On one occasion such photos were requested by an infantry division, taken, developed, interpreted, and the target fired on by artillery in the space of six hours.
Coastal Air Force escorted aircraft carriers and convoys, attacked submarines, scrambled against hostile planes over Allied territory (its Beaughters so ably protected the beachhead and offshore shipping at night that the Luftwaffe soon virtually abandoned night attacks), conducted air-sea rescue searches, and reconnoitered over Sardinia, Corsica, and the approaches to all of the enemy's major ports from Marseille to Piombino. Coastal helped also to escort to Allied ports the dozens of Italian warships which had left their stations on the evening of the 8th when Marshal Badoglio had announced the surrender of Italy.111
Summaries of air activities on behalf of BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE were impressive. In the period from 1 through 15 September, NAAF's fighters and bombers flew approximately 17,00 sorties. Planes of the USAAF accounted for two-thirds of this number. Fighters (not including A-36's) flew about 11,000 sorties, and bombers around 6,500. Together they dropped almost 10,000 tons of bombs, three-quarters of which were unloaded by aircraft of USAAF. NAAF's aircraft claimed the destruction in air combat of 221 planes, while losing 89; planes of the USAAF were credited with 80 per cent of the victories and suffered 66 per cent of the losses.
During the four critical days from the 12th through the 15th, NAAF's planes flew more than 6,000 sorties and dropped over 3,500 tons of bombs. Three-fourths of all the sorties were flown by planes of the Twelfth Air Force. Of the total sorties, fighters flew around 2,700, mediums 1,100, fighter-bombers 800, heavies 550, light bombers 400, and night bombers 300. Planes of NAPRW flew almost 100 sorties, and aircraft of Coastal-which did not operate over the mainland around 400.112
At the end of the first week of AVALANCHE, the BAYTOWN and GIBBON-SLAPSTICK operations still moved steadily forward. On the Calabrian front, Eighth Army reconnaissance units had reached Sapri, seventy-five road miles below Paestum, and advance patrols were still farther north; to the east, troops were beyond Spezzano. On the Apulian front the Allies controlled everything south of a line Mottola-Ginosa and all of the Heel except a small area around Brindisi; patrols had reached Bari. Only around Gioia were the Germans putting up any resistance.
Things also were going well across Naples Bay and the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Allies occupied the island of Ventotene on the night of 8/9 and Capri on 12/13, thus gaining control of the approaches to Naples as well as sites for radar facilities and motor boat stations. In Sardinia the Germans were pulling out rapidly after having destroyed their installations and airfields on the northern half of the island. On Corsica, patriots and Italian troops were harassing the Germans at all points, but the latter were in sufficient strength to hold those places on the island (notably Bastia) essential to a complete evacuation.113
With AVALANCHE secure the Allies were in position on the 16th to move northward across the peninsula. Between that date and the 19th the Fifth Army passed from the defensive to the offensive, took
over all of the Salerno area from the beaches to the mountains, and joined with the Eighth.114
On the 16th, as the ground troops, led by fighter-bombers, pushed toward the hills around the beachhead,115 General Eisenhower cabled the CCS that the work of the air force continued to be "superb." 116 NAAF's activities for the day merited the words of praise, for its planes flew more than 1,200 sorties and dropped over 1,000 tons of bombs. Bombers, now released from emergency tactical and quasi-tactical operations, hammered the outer ring of communications from Capua to Potenza; fighters and fighter-bombers defended the battle zone and attacked troops and positions. The air assault simultaneously interfered with the enemy's withdrawal and the advance of reinforcements.
The enemy's air activity for the day came to around 120 sorties, all of them against shipping and the beachhead. His principal success was the damaging of HMS Warspite with two direct hits from glide-bombs. The enemy's airdromes, after five days of respite from bombs, were beginning to show signs of increased activity; accordingly, beginning on the night of 16/17 September, NAAF's heavies and mediums initiated a two-day counter-air offensive against the Foggia fields, the bases near Rome, and Viterbo. It was not necessary to attack the fields around Naples, still unserviceable, or any fields south of the line Naples-Bari, all of which were in Allied hands or too badly damaged to be used by the GAF.
The blitz against airdromes ran through the 18th. When it was over some 600 bombers had dropped over 700 tons of bombs and 91 P-38's had carried out a successful strafing attack; close to 300 GAF planes and gliders had been destroyed or damaged on the ground; and Cisterna/Littoria, the two Ciampinos, Pratica di Mare, Cerveteri, Viterbo, and the four most active of the Foggia fields were so badly battered as to be of little or no service to the enemy.117 The GAF was forced to withdraw its bombers to fields in northern Italy and France and its fighters to the Viterbo and Lucca areas. This retreat reduced operations against the Fifth and Eighth Armies from an average of about 100 offensive sorties per day to around 30. This, in turn, permitted Tactical to return all P-38's to Strategic and to reduce its patrols to between 200 and 300 per day, which freed many fighters for escort duty and fighter-bomber missions. The operations of the fighter-bombers were furthered by the move of a large number of planes to bases on the mainland--by the 21st, three squadrons of the 86th Fighter
Bomber Group were flying from Paestum--and the establishment ashore of signal communications, including ground control interceptors, light warning sets, wireless units, and land lines.118
NAAF's preoccupation with airfields did not prevent its planes from hitting communications and concentrations all the way from the battle area to above Rome on the Tyrrhenian Sea and to Pescara on the Adriatic.119 Air operations over the eastern battle zone were on a small scale, for the Eighth Army, meeting limited opposition, needed very little
air support. Spitfires of DAF patrolled the battle line but saw few enemy planes, the GAF's dwindling effort being almost entirely against the Fifth Army. These conditions lasted to the end of the month.120
With the enemy's air arm rendered impotent the Allies on the 20th again began to use air bombardment to interrupt the German retreat and to force concentrations of personnel and equipment for the attention of the light and fighter-bombers. For the remainder of the month, as the Allied armies moved steadily toward Naples and Foggia, with heaviest fighting falling to the lot of the Fifth, the air forces concentrated their effort against the withdrawing foe. In spite of restrictions imposed by intermittently bad weather and an increasing shortage of fighter-bomber targets as the Germans shifted the bulk of their transport operations from daytime to nighttime and from primary to secondary roads,121 NAAF's planes achieved a high degree of success.
From the 20th to the 24th, Strategic's main effort was against road junctions, bridges, and other bottlenecks north and east of Naples. Formidable blocks were created at Formia, Caserta, Benevento, and Castelnuovo; road bridges were knocked down or blocked at Lagonegro, Avellino, and Capua; railway bridges were left impassable at Formia and Pescara, and other bridges in both areaS were unusable. American mediums bore the brunt of this offensive, with some assistance from RAF Wellingtons. Strategic also flew a number of missions against objectives directly ahead of the advancing armies, while fighters of the 31st and 33d Groups and A-36's delivered small but consistent attacks by day and by night on battlefield targets and on troop and transport concentrations. These softened resistance and aided the Fifth Army as it pushed slowly across the mountains toward the Naples plain, although the constantly shifting ground situation, the rugged, wooded terrain, and the skeleton-type of rear-guard resistance employed by the Germans made it difficult for the bombers to locate good targets.122
From the 24th to the end of the month the air forces had more trouble with the weather than with enemy aircraft. Rain and wind interfered with activities at the home fields and, together with heavy clouds, obscured targets. Activities were lighter than during the preceding week and far below the peak of 11-17 September. Nevertheless, the air forces had a busy week. Heavies of the Twelfth, after a solid smash at Pisa's yards on the 24th, put in three long-distance blows on
the 25th with strikes against yards at Bologna, Bolzano, and Verona. On the return trip they found the newly acquired Sardinian airfields useful, a number of aircraft landing at bases around Decimomannu. Tactical's bombers also were busy on the 25th, B-26's bombing lines of communication north of the battle line while B-25's attacked fortified positions at Nocera and Serino and troop concentrations at Sarno so as to soften up the enemy for the Fifth Army's impending breakthrough into the Avellino sector.
On the 26th, 27th, and 28th weather pinned down all but a few bombers. On the 29th and 30th the Twelfth's heavies were still grounded, but its B-25's and B-26's flew 186 sorties against the Volturno bridges. Bombing accuracy was far below normal, damage to the bridges being negligible. During the two days B-25's flew 94 sorties against the road junction and bridges at Benevento, and its P-38 fighter-bombers dropped thirty tons on the Ausonia defile, near the Liri Valley.
When NAAF's Wellingtons failed to record a sortie on the 20th, it marked the first night during the month that they had failed to operate. Between 26 June and 29 September they had flown on 88 out of 92 nights, averaging 68 sorties with only 130 available and serviceable planes. This record was made possible in part because the Wellingtons always had two crews for each plane and because all losses were promptly replaced.123
The activities of fighters and fighter-bombers, like those of the heavies and mediums, were on a considerably reduced scale during the last week of September. Bad weather and almost no enemy air activity lowered the daily average of defensive fighter patrols to less than 100. Fighter-bombers, however, got in a number of good licks against troop concentrations, defended hills, gun positions, bivouac areas, transport, roads, bridges, and airdromes close to the moving battle line and in the areas around Benevento, Nocera, Sarno, and Camerelle north of the Fifth Army sector and Castelnuovo and Isernia beyond the Eighth Army front.124
By the 25th the greater part of the USAAF and RAF fighter units and a number of reconnaissance squadrons were operating from main land airfields; this made possible the good work of the fighters and fighter-bombers in the face of poor weather and against targets constantly farther north. Beginning on the 14th, additional air service units took over the job of maintaining the three American-built fields and
servicing the combat units there. On the 20th, Montecorvino was at last free from enemy artillery fire and it quickly became the principal airdrome in the Salerno area. Serviced by the 306th Service Squadron of the 41st Service Group, Montecorvino by the 25th was supporting the 31st Fighter Group and three RAF squadrons and was being used by planes of Troop Carrier and Mediterranean Air Transport Service engaged in special missions into the area. Another key field was Paestum, home of the 33d Fighter Group, most of the 86th Fighter-Bomber Group, and, as early as the 16th, a terminal for airborne medical services and a take-off point for air evacuation of the wounded. Paestum served also as the unloading point for equipment and supplies--auxiliary fuel tanks, blankets, etc.--brought in by air transport. Not all of XII AFSC's units entered Italy by way of the Salerno beaches. Some had gone in behind the Eighth Army and followed it north, servicing planes, hauling bombs and gasoline and rations, operating control towers, maintaining fields and facilities, and doing dozens of other necessary jobs.125
During the last ten days of September, NAAF conducted a special operation against the enemy's Corsica-Leghorn sea and air evacuation route, used by Germans who had recently left Sardinia and those who now were being pushed out of Corsica by French troops and Corsican patriots.*126 On the 21st the B-24's which Eisenhower had borrowed from the Eighth Air Force carried out their first mission under the direction of NAAF, thirty-two attacking Leghorn and twenty attacking Bastia. The assault on the route was continued through the 25th, with Wellingtons, Mitchells, and Liberators hitting airfields at Pisa and Bastia and installations there and at Leghorn. B-25's struck successfully at ships between Corsica and Elba, and Coastal Beaufighters and Marauders raided transport aircraft, shooting down nineteen Ju-88's on the 24th. In spite of NAAF's efforts the Germans eventually succeeded in evacuating some 25,000 personnel and 600 tons of supplies. But to do so they had to use so many fighters along the route that their troops on the mainland had to fight with practically no air support.
* Meanwhile, French Air Force Spitfires of Coastal, flying out of Ajaccio, Corsica, in their first real combat operations under NAAF, protected ground forces against enemy raiders over the island. Pilots of the French 2/7 and 1/3 Squadrons shot down nine enemy planes. Their most notable success occurred on the 24th when the Luftwaffe struck one of its two September blows against Allied ports; ten Do-217s and one Ju-88 attacked Ajaccio, and of this force the French pilots shot down five. During the raid the enemy used a new-type glide-bomb, previously known to the Allies only in a few antishipping strikes in the Gulf of Salerno.
With almost no interference from the German Air Force127 the Eighth Army advanced past Potenza, Gioia, and Bari to occupy the abandoned airfields of Foggia on 27 September and by 1 October was in possession of the entire Gargano peninsula. The Fifth Army, after hard fighting in the hills and mountains above Salerno, debouched onto the Naples plain on 28 September and then captured Naples itself on 1 October.128 With the capture of Naples and the Foggia airfields, the primary missions of AVALANCHE and BAYTOWN had been accomplished. Italy had been eliminated from the war, and the Allies now held in Naples, Bari, and Taranto three of that nation's best ports and two of its most important air centers (Naples and Foggia).
To assess accurately the contributions of the several arms in these successes would be impossible; but the air forces could well be proud of their work. Aerial bombardment and the fear of continuing attacks had been important factors in encouraging Italy to surrender. NAAF, having seriously crippled the German Air Force, had brought the invasion convoys through with nominal losses, then had protected the assault forces as they poured ashore and set up their beachheads. Under air cover more than 200,000 troops, 100,000 tons of supplies, and 30,000 vehicles had come in over the beaches, with only five Allied ships sunk and nine damaged by the enemy air forces.129 Allied air had helped blunt the German counteroffensive, then had paced the Fifth and Eighth Armies as they moved north, interfering with German movements toward and away from the front and smashing strong points, troop concentrations, and gun positions. Air bombing and strafing had contributed importantly to German casualties and materiel losses.
The statistics covering sorties, bomb tonnage, and claims were impressive.*130 But statistics alone could not reveal the excellence of NATAF's close coordination with the ground armies. NATAF had profited from its experiences in Tunisia and Sicily. Early operations in North Africa had shown to be unsound the old principle of close support in which aircraft were parceled out to individual ground units instead of being used as an integrated and flexible force in support of the
* NAAF's planes had flown more than 20,000 sorties, had dropped about 19,000 tons of bombs, and had registered combat claims of about 300 enemy planes destroyed, 50 probably destroyed, and 110 damaged; another 200 were destroyed on the ground. The claims appear to have been very conservative, for by 3 October, Allied ground troops had collected around 1,000 enemy planes. NAAF claimed, too, some 1,100 to 1,200 motor transport destroyed, 2 ships sunk, 2 severely damaged, and 19 damaged. AAF units contributed roughly two-thirds of the offensive effort and destroyed about an equal proportion of enemy planes. NAAF's losses included about 150 planes lost and 99 damaged.
army as a whole. In the Tunisian and Sicilian campaigns progress had been made toward a more effective employment of air units under the central control of the air commander with decisions on joint operations reached jointly at the army and air command level. Applied during AVALANCHE with greater perfection than before, the new practice proved workable and effective. In actual operations, air-ground coordination involved close liaison between army headquarters and XII ASC, use of forward controllers (" Rover Joes") operating with jeeps or other mobile equipment, and meetings between air and ground leaders to choose targets for the following day, the actual decision resting with the air commander. Frequently modified by local conditions, these practices remained fundamental throughout the war.131
Notes to Chapter 15:
1. TRIDENT, 1st, 5th, 6th Mtgs., 12, 24, 25 May 1943; JCS 290 and 290/1, 7 and 8 May 1943; JCS 78th Mtg., 8 May 1943; CCS 219, 223, 224, 14 May 1943; CCS 234, 235, 237/1, on 17, 18, 20 May 1943; CCS 242/6, 244/1, 250/1, 25 May 1943; Algiers conference, 1st, 2d, 3d Mtgs., 29 May-3 June 1943; Notes for C/S from G-3 Sec., AFHQ, Operations after HUSKY, P/85, 31 May 1943., memo for C/S from G-3 Sec., AFHQ, Outline Plan for Assault on Italian Mainland, 7 June 1943, P /72 (final); memo for C/S from G-3 Sec., AFHQ, Post-HUSKY Operations, P/92 (final), 28 June 1943.
2. Memo for C/S from G-3 Sec., AFHQ, Post-HUSKY Operations, P/92 (final), 28 June 1943; FAN 250, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 29 June 1943; FAN 165, CCS to Eisenhower, 17 July 1943; Fifth Army History, I, 17.
3. Memo for C/S from G-3 Sec., AFHQ, Command for Operations Against Corsica, 7 June 1943, P/89 (final); Minutes of Meeting of JCS with Pres. Roosevelt and Sec. Stimson, 10 Aug. 1943; CCS 106th Mtg., 14 Aug. 1943; MC-IN-7550, AGWAR (from CCS) to Eisenhower, 17 July 1943 in BAM (AHB); FAN 198, CCS for Eisenhower, 20 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-16715, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 22 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-9451, Eisenhower for Marshall, 13 Aug. 1943.
4. See Operations Record Book (ORB), MAC; Hq. MAC, Signals Report on Amphibious Operations in the Mediterranean from July to Sept. 1943, dtd. 22 Oct. 1943.
5. G-3 Sec., AFHQ, Appreciation of an Amphibious Assault Against the Naples Area, 24 July 1943, P/98 (final); memo for C/S from G-3 Sec., AFHQ, Comparison of Operations MUSKET and TOPHAT, 25 July 1943, P/100 (2d draft); memo for C/S from G-3 Sec., AFHQ, Outline Plan for Operation MUSKET, 24 July 1943, P/96 (final): For an early suggestion that a direct attack on Naples be made, see memo for C/S from Maj. Gen. George V. Strong, AC/S, G-2, 15 July 1943. For the plan for such an operation, see NAAF Opns. Instruction 1, Bigot-Barracuda, A-5/P.7 (final).
6. CM-OUT-10374, CCS to Eisenhower, 26 July 1943; CM-OUT-6683, CCS to CG Algiers, 16 July 1943; MC-IN-7550, AGWAR (from CCS) to Freedom Algiers, 17 July 1943.
7. CM-IN-19362, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 27 July 1943; NAF 303, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 28 July 1943; FAN 183, AGWAR (from CCS) to Eisenhower, 6 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-1142, AGWAR (from CCS) to Eisenhower, 2 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-3428, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 5 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-7355 (NAF 318), Freedom to AGWAR for CCS, 10 Aug. 1943; CM-OUT-3733, Eisenhower to C-in-C Med. et al., 10 Aug. 1943. On 10 August 1943, NAAF announced in Memorandum: Operation BARRACUDA that the proposed direct assault on Naples was dead. How greatly the fall of Mussolini strengthened the idea of an invasion in the Naples area is indicated in a number of Signals, now in the files of BAM (AHB).
8. Signals Report on Amphibious Operations in the Med. from July to Sept. 1943; Hq. MAC to CG NAAF, Operations on the Italian Mainland, 31 July 1943, in ORB, MAC, App. I; Hq. NAAF, NAAF Planning Memo--Future Operations, No. 1, A-5/4316 (II Aug. 1943); Minutes of a Conference Held at the Main Eighth Army at 1415 Hours, 5 Aug. 1943; CM-OUT-6685, Eisenhower to C-in-C Med. et al., 16 Aug. 1943; NAF 326, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 16 Aug. 1943; CM-OUT-7810, Eisenhower to L. S. Douglas, U.S. War Shipping Adm., 19 Aug. 1943; The Italian Campaign, Western Naval Task Force: Action Report of the Salerno Landings, Sept.--Oct. 1943, p. 68 (hereinafter cited as Western Naval Task Force); CM-IN-13987, Algiers to Quebec, 19 Aug. 1943; Notes on Meeting of Future Operations Held at La Marsa, 16 Aug. 1943.
9. 1st and 2d Mtgs. of President and Prime Minister with CCS, 19 and 23 Aug. 1943; Mtgs. 106-16 incl., CCS, 14-24 Aug. 1943; CCS 303, 303/3, 319, 319/5, 328/1, on 9, 17, 19, 24, 27 Aug. 1943.
10. Hq. NAAF, Provisional Outline Air Plan for Operations BUTTRESS and BAYTOWN, A-5/P.6 (final), 4 Aug. 1943; RAF Mediterranean Review No. 5, pp. 6, 12; MATAF, Operation AVALANCHE; Hq. DAF Opn. Instruction 10, n.d. DAF was responsible for detailed planning for BAYTOWN. (See SCORU Signal 0534, Air Comd. Post to RAF/ME, 14 Aug. 1943, in BAM [AHB].)
11. History, Fifth Army, I, 25-28; Hq. Fifth Army, Outline Plan, Operation AVALANCHE, 26 Aug. 1943.
12. Western Naval Task Force, pp. 76-82.
13. Notes on the Air Implication of an Assault on Italian Mainland-Naples Area, n.d.; MATAF, Operation AVALANCHE; N AAF, Provisional Outline Plan of Air Operations, Operation AVALANCHE, App. E; Notes on a Conference Held at NAAF Headquarters on 28 August 1943; various messages (July 1943) in files of BAM (AHB). NATAF was responsible for detailed planning for AVALANCHE. (See SCORU Signal 0534, Air Comd. Post to RAF/ME, 4 Aug. 1943.)
14. 14. NAAF 303, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 28 July 1943; CM-OUT-323 (FAN 180), AGWAR (from CCS) to Eisenhower, 2 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-8737, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 12 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-21175, USFOR to WAR, 29 July 1943; msg. 4170, Devers to Eisenhower, 29 July 1943, in BAM (AHB); CM-IN-10280, Devers to Marshall and Arnold, 14 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-20257 and 21774, Algiers to WAR, 28 and 30 July 1943; msg., Air Comd. Post to Air Ministry, 26 July 1943, in BAM (AHB); CM-IN-12549, Eisenhower to Marshall, 17 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-14200, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 19 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-14807, Arnold to Eisenhower, 20 Aug. 1943; AC/AS, Plans, Hq. AAF, Division Digest, 2 Aug. 1943; Hq. 12th AF, Operations and Statistics of Twelfth Air Force; CM-OUT-1137, Marshall to Devers and Eisenhower, 4 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-3986, Eisenhower to Marshall, 5 Sept. 1943; ltrs., Spaatz to Arnold, 24 May and 14 July 1943; CM-IN-7355, AFHQ to WAR et al., 10 Aug. 1943; C.O.S. (W) 742, 30 July 1943, in files of BAM (AHB); CM-IN-1739, Algiers to WAR, 3 Aug. 1943; ltr., Arnold to Spaatz, 20 Aug. 1943; memo for Marshall from Deane, 1 Aug. 1943; memo for Marshall from Arnold, 1 May 1943; CM-OUT-815, Arnold to Spaatz, 13 Aug. 1943. For an interesting statement by Air Marshal Welsh on Arnold's opposition to Eisenhower's requests for more bombers, see message in files of BAM (AHB).
15. Hq. MAC to CG NAAF, Operations on the Italian Mainland, 31 July 1943; C-in-C Med. to First Sea Lord, 29 July 1943, in files of BAM (AHB).
16. CM-OUT-2541, Marshall to Eisenhower and Brereton, 7 Aug. 1943; CM-OUT-2371, Arnold to Brereton, 6 Aug. 1943; CM-OUT-959, Marshall to Devers, 3 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-n05, Devers to Marshall, 5 Aug. 1943; CM-OUT-13047, Spaatz sgd. Eisenhower to Arnold, 18 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-17506, Brereton to AGWAR for Arnold and Marshall, 23 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-20872, Algiers to WAR, 29 July 1943; CM-IN-12861, Adv. AFHQ to WAR, 18 July 1943; CM-IN-182 19, Eisenhower to AGWAR, 24 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-22388, Brereton to AGWAR for Arnold and Marshall, 29 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-23053, Brereton to Marshall et al., 30 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-2430, Cairo to AGWAR, 30 July 1943; ltr., Brig. Gen. Victor H. Strahm to Gen. Arnold, 22 Aug. 1943; draft history, 12th AF, Pt. I, chap. xi.
17. 17. CM-OUT-11728, C-in-C Med. to 15th Army Gp., 31 July 1943; CM-IN-668, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 1 Aug. 1943; CCS 280/5, 6 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-6608, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 11 Oct. 1943; CM-OUT-2987, CCS to Algiers, 8 Aug. 1943. For the story of glider erection in the theater, see Hq. AAFSC/MTO, Aircraft and Glider Assembly in the MTO; XII TCC (Prov.), A Report of TCC Activities Including the Italian Campaign, 1 Aug.- 30 Sept. 1943; NATCC (Prov.), Report of Operations and Activities Including the Sicilian Campaign, 18 May--31 July 1943. For the Wellingtons sec BR 1736-30, Admiralty Battle Sum. 37, The Invasion of Italy, p. 7, in BAM (AHB).
18. Msg. 6099, Eisenhower to Marshall, n.d., in BAM (AHB).
19. CM-IN-14200, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 19 Aug. 1943; Hq. NAAF, Provisional Outline Air Plan for Operation "AVALANCHE," A-5/P.8 (final).
20. Hq. NAAF, Provisional Outline Air Plan for Operation "AVALANCHE," A-5/P.8 (final); NAAF Organizational Chart, prep. by 23d SCORU, 24 Aug. 1943.
21. Hq. N AAF, Provisional Outline Air Plan for Operation "AVALANCHE," A-5/P.8 (final); memo for Hq. NAAF (Adv.) from AVM H. P. Lloyd, 16 Aug. 1943; History, 12th AF, Volume IV, The Twelfth Air Force in the Southern Italian Campaign; MACAF, Mare Nostrum, A Review of MACAF Operations, Mar. 1943--Sept. 1944, p. 2; MATAF, Operation AVALANCHE; CM-IN-19575, Eisenhower for Marshall, 26 Aug. 1943; msg., MAC to NAAF, 26 Aug. 1943. See also, msg. G-132, Spaatz to Tedder, 18 Aug. 1943, MC-OUT-12526, MAC to USFOR, 31 Aug. 1943, and other msgs., in files of BAM (AHB). For further details of the career of the antisubmarine squadron, see AAFRH-7, The Antisubmarine Command. For the story of the re-creation and training of the FAF, see The French Air Force in MAAF, A Preliminary History.
22. Hq., 12th Fighter Wing (Prov.), Annex 2 to FO 2, 6 Sept. 1943, in Operations (Sp.), Pt. IV, 12th Fighter Wing; MATAF, Operation AVALANCHE; Hq. TAF , Operational Directif for Operation "AVALANCHE" No. 1.
23. Notes on the Air Implication of an Assault on Italian Mainland-Naples Area, in file III-A, reel 39, file 62, MAAF; NAAF, Provisional Outline Air Plan for Operation "AVALANCHE," A-5/P.8 (final); CM-IN-23717, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 31 Aug. 1943; MATAF, Operation AVALANCHE; Western Naval Task Force, p. 200.
24. Hq. NAAF, Provisional Outline Air Plan for Operation "AVALANCHE," A-5/P.8 (final); CM-IN-23717, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 31 Aug. 1943; Hq., 12th FW (Prov.) FO 2; Estimate of Buildup of Air Forces on the Italian Mainland, n.d., no hq., in file III-A, reel 39, file 62, MAAF.
25. 25. Ltr., Hq. XII ASC to All Concerned, 26 Aug. 1943, in file III-A, reel 39, file 63, MAAF; Hq. 12th FW FO 2; CM-IN-3402, from Algiers, 4 Sept. 1943, in AC/AS, Plans, European Br.
26. Hq., Fifth Army, App. H to Annex 6, 24 Aug. 1943, in file III-A, reel 39, file 63, MAAF; Hq., Allied Central Med. Force, Air Support Control Arrangements for Operation "AVALANCHE," 25 Jan. 1944; memo., Hq. TAF to Hq., XII ASC, et al., 30 Aug. 1943.
27. Western Naval Task Force, p. 198.
28. MC-OUT-11728, C-in-C, Med. to 15th Army Gp., 31 July 1943, in file III-A, reel 39, file 62, MAAF; CM-IN-23717, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 31 Aug. 1943; TCC Warning Order 2, 1 Sept. 1943; Hq. XII TCC (Prov.), A Report of TCC Activities, Including the Italian Campaign, 1 Aug.--30 Sept. 1943; History, 52d TCW, Aug. 1943.
29. Hq. NAAF, Provisional Outline Air Plan for Operation "AVALANCHE," A5/P.8 (final); Mare Nostrum. For improvement and extension of air-sea rescue operations, see CM-IN-17056, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 22 Aug. 1943, and Directive, Hq. No. 242 Gp., RAF to NACAF et al., 3 Sept. 1943, in Operations (Sp.) AVALANCHE.
30. History of AAFSC/MTO, 1 Jan. 1944--30 June 1944; Historical Data, MATS, 25 May 1943-31 May 1944; memo, AFHQ to All Concerned, Air Transport Service, 26 Aug. 1943, in ORB, MAC, App. W; Hq.NAAF, Provisional Outline Air Plan for Operation "AVALANCHE," A-5/P.8 (final).
31. History, NAPRW, 16 Oct. 1943; Hq. AGF, Observers' Notes on the Italian Campaign, During the Period 25 Aug. to 7 Sept. 1943, incl., 5 Dec. 1943.
32. Hq. AAFSC/MTO, History of the Original XII AFSC; Hq.AFSC/MTO, Aircraft and Glider Assembly in the MTO, Dec. 1942--Dec. 1944.
33. History of the Original XII AFSC.
34. Draft history, 12th AF, Pt. I, chap. xi; Administrative History, 12th AF, Pt. I.
35. Administrative History, 12th AF, Pt. I.
36. TAF Opn. Directive 132, 23 Aug. 1943; unit histories of groups and squadrons of TAF, Aug.--Sept. 1943.
37. Hq. NAAF, Provisional Outline Air Plan for Operation "AVALANCHE," A-5/P.8 (final), and for Operations BUTTRESS and BAYTOWN, A-5/P.6(final).
38. OSS paper, Air Attacks Against Bridges and Marshalling Yards, 7 Mar. 1944.
39. NAAF/A.5/COM 2 and COM 3, 12 Aug. and 4 Sept. 1943, in BAM (AHB).
40. Twelfth Air Force in Southern Italian Campaign; RAF Mediterranean Review No. 5; ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 21 Sept. 1943; TAF Opn. Directive 132, 23 Aug. 1943.
41. Unless otherwise noted, the summary of the bombing effort, 18 August--2 September, is taken from NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 40-42; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NASAF Intops Sums. 28-44; NATAF Int/Opsums 130-46. See also W. M. Gould, the Southern Italian Campaign (draft), pp. 162-79, in BAM (AHB).
42. CM-IN-16897, from 12th AF, 27 Oct. 1943 (paraphrase). The terrific damage inflicted on Foggia by the air forces was observed by the writer in the first week of December 1943.
43. Ltrs., Spaatz to Arnold, 4 and 21 Sept. 1943; RAF Med. Review No. 5.
44. Cositintreps 49-50 and 179-94 refer briefly to the air reconnaissance and commando raids. The latter took place on the nights of 26 and 27 August.
45. The summary of the Axis air effort, both offensive and defensive, is from NAAF Air Intel..Weekly Sums. 40-42; NASAF Intops Sums. 27-43; Mare Nostrum. See also, Report by No. 242 Gp. to NACAF, 23 Aug. 1943, in files of BAM (AHB).
46. NAAF/A.I.W.S., Aug.--Sept. 1943; NAAF, Daily Intops Sums., Aug.--sept. 1943.
47. Figures on GAF strength in the Mediterranean supplied by the British Air Ministry, through the courtesy of Mr. J. C. Nerney. See also RAF Mediterranean Review No. 6. Abteilung 6, German Air Ministry Returns as of 31 August 1943 (made available to the author by S/Ldr. L. A. Jackets of BAM [AHB]) gives the GAF strength as 999 combat planes, of which 568 were serviceable. NAAF estimated the GAF strength as of 3 September at 1,045 planes, of which 408 were serviceable. (See NACAF Opns. Order 3, App. A, 3 Sept. 1943.)
48. Questions Regarding the General Strategy During the Italian Campaign by Field Marshal Kesselring and General Westphal of the Cavalry, trans. by Ernest W. Matti, MS B270 (hereinafter cited as Kesselring Questions); German Hist. Br., German Air Force Activities in the Mediterranean, Tactics and Lessons Learned, 1941--1943, dtd. 30 Oct. 1943, trans. by BAM (AHB), 8 Oct. 1946, and made available by Mr. J. C. Nerney.
49. Ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 21 Sept. 1943.
50. NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sum. 42; data supplied by BAM (AHB).
51. The fact that Italy would announce its surrender on 8 September does not materially affect the Italian air potential as of 3 September, for there was no way for the Allies to know at that time how many of the Italian planes would be flown against BAYTOWN either by Italian Fascists or by Germans. It is true, however, that during the week of 3-9 September the greater part of the IAF was grounded because the Germans had denied fuel to most of its planes.
52. App. A to NACAF Opn. Order 3, 3 Sept. 1943; A.C.A.S. (1), Estimate of Enemy Opposition, 1 Sept. 1943; NAF 345 to C.O.S. Mtg., 2 Sept. 1943, quoted in A.C.A.S. (P), all three items in BAM (AHB).
53. RAF Med. Review No. 5'
54. Bernard L. Montgomery, El Alamein to the River Sangro ( 1946), p. 123; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sum. 42; MATAF, Operation AVALANCHE; NATAF Int/Opsums 146-47; NAAF, Operations Record Book, appendices.
55. NAAF Opn. Sum. 195; NASAF Intops Sum. 44; CM-IN-3181, Spaatz to AGWAR sgd. Eisenhower, 4 Sept. 1943; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NATAF Int/Opsums 146-47; NAAF, ORB, apps.
56. Except for such additional sources as may be listed in subsequent footnotes, the discussion of ground and air operations on the Toe (Calabria) from 4 through 8 September is based upon the following: RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 42-43; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 195-96; NASAF Intops Sums. 44-47; NAAF, ORB, apps.; AFHQ, G-2 Weekly Sums.
57. According to Gen. Heinrich von Vietinghoff, commander of the German 10th Army, the Germans had never intended to make a real fight for Calabria because of poor lines of communication. (See Canadian Hist. Sec., Report 18, p. 3, based on captured German documents, in files of BAM [AHB].)
58. CM-IN-4121, Spaatz to AGWAR sgd. Eisenhower, 5 Sept. 1943.
59. Hq. 12th AF, Operations and Statistics of Twelfth Air Force.
60. NAPRW, detailed Interp. Rpt. D.S. 25, 17 Sept. 1943; additional data from files of BAM (AHB). From 31 August through 8 September, TAF's planes flew 4,968 sorties; DAF flew 3,024; TBF 1,376; and XII ASC 568. Claims were 25/2/6 against losses of 9/0/17. (MATAF, Report on AVALANCHE.)
61. Details of Strategic's operations from 3 through 8 September are largely from RAF Med. Review Nos. 5 and 6; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 42-43; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 195-201; NASAF Intops Sums. 43-48; msgs., Spaatz to AGWAR sgd. Eisenhower, 4, 5, 6, 7 Sept. 1943; NAPRW, detailed Interp. Rpt. D. S. 25, 17 Sept. 1943; Hq. 12th AF, Operations and Statistics of Twelfth Air Force; Hq. XII BC, Salerno Operations. Other sources are given in appropriate footnotes.
62. The German Todt Organization, depending largely on Italians pressed into service, had repaired much of the damage to communications which NAAF had inflicted before BAYTOWN (from information supplied by W. M. Gould, BAM [AHB]).
63. Msg., Air Command Post, MAC to CG NASAF, 6 Sept. 1943, in NATAF directive, Operation AVALANCHE.
64. See also, Narrative Account, 2d Bomb. Gp. (R), Sept. 1943; Rpts. by Operational Research Sec., Hq. RAF/ME, RE, Med. Air Operations During 1943. Apparently, this was the first use by the Luftwaffe of the radar-jamming strips. (See CSDIC, AFHQ Rpt. A. 212, 25 Sept. 1943, in BAM [AHB].)
65. See also, Hq. MACAF, Their Victory; Mare Nostrum No. 52.
66. CM-IN-13134 (?), CCS to Eisenhower, 18 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-13517, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 18 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-5241 C-in-C (Eisenhower) to AGWAR for CCS, 1 Sept. 1943; CM-IN-2225, 4870, 5963, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS; on 3, 6, 8 Sept. 1943; A Report of TCC Activities Including the Italian Campaign; Hq. NAAF, Operation AVALANCHE, Amend. I; Outline History, 51st TCW, 17 Aug.--30 Sept. 1943; GIANT Two Outline Plan, 3 Sept. 1943, in G-3 Journal, 82d AB Div., 1--15 Sept. 1943; memo for AC/AS-3 from Gen. Taylor Mission to Rome, 9 Sept. 1943. For a full discussion of the negotiations between General Eisenhower and the Italians, see draft of chap. iv, Volume II, Mediterranean Series, The Sicilian Campaign and the Surrender of Italy, in U.S. Army in World War II, WDSS-HD. For an early decision of the Germans to strengthen their forces in the Rome area, see Extracts from Reports of Fuehrer Conferences, Conference of 26 July 1943, trans. by BAM (AHB), 18 Oct. 1947. For two interesting stories of the Taylor-Gardiner mission, see David Brown, "The Inside Story of Italy's Surrender," in Saturday Evening Post, Volume 217 (16 Sept. 1944), and Richard Thruelson and Elliott Arnold, "Secret Mission to Rome," in Harper's Magazine, Volume 189 (Oct. 1944).
67. Western Naval Task Force, pp. 812; memo for CG 1st Marine Amphibious Corps from the Comdt. USMC, 11 Nov. 1943; Signals Report on Amphibious Operations in the Med. from July to Sept. 1943; A/Cdre. Scarlett-Streatfield, Report on Operation "AVALANCHE," 16 Dec. 1943; C-in-C Med., Despatch on the Salerno Landings; Report of Flag Officer, Force II, 4 Dec. 1943. Admiralty Battle Sum. on Salerno. The last four documents are in the files of the BAM (AHB).
68. The Germans had good reason to expect a landing on the Salerno plain on or about 9 September. They knew that the beaches were good, and the moon favorable. They had noted the pattern of Allied attacks on radar sites and communications, and on the airfields around Naples and Foggia. They figured logically that the Allies would try to cut off the German troops in the south. Captured German documents in the possession of the British Air Ministry show that the enemy expected AVALANCHE and had disposed his troops accordingly. Gen. Heinrich von Vietinghoff, commander of the German 10th Army, had written on 11 August that Allied landings in the Naples-Salerno sector "represent the main danger to the whole of the German forces in Southern Italy." On 29 August he had expressed the conviction that the Allies would land on the Toe but that the main landing would be in the Naples-Salerno area. (See Canadian Hist. Sec., Rpt. 18. Those parts of the report which deal with the Germans' understanding of Allied intentions are based largely on captured German documents, especially 10th Army War Diary. See also Salerno, captured German doc., in files of BAM [AHB].)
69. Western Naval Task Force, pp. 9-12 and 137-54; History, Fifth Army, I, 31-34; memo for CG 1st Marine Amph. Corps from Comdt. USMC, 11 Nov. 1943; "Die Engl.-Amerikanische Grosslandung im Raum von Salerno am 9 Sept. 1943," which contains some useful text and a number of excellent maps and charts.
70. Hq. NATAF, Operation AVALANCHE; NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 6; Brit. War Office, Current Reports from Overseas, No. 29, 11 Mar. 1944; Rear Adm. P. Vian, Report of Proceedings of Force V, 23 Sept. 1943, in BAM (AHB).
71. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sum. 202; Current Reports from Overseas, No. 29, 11 Nov. 1943; additional data from files of BAM (AHB). The average strength of the Seafire patrols was just over twenty. (See Report of Flag Officer, Force V, App. 2 [M. 012034/43], in files of BAM [AHB].)
72. It appears that four other factors also were responsible for the poor assistance given by Ancon to the day fighters: there was a thick mist on shore; the ship was not well equipped and was badly located; some frequencies had been arbitrarily changed; the control center was not receiving enough information from troops ashore. (See especially, Minutes by Dir. of Opns. [A.D.] to A.C.A.S. [Opns.], 29 Nov. 1943; RAF Signals in the War, 1939-45, Volume IV [draft]; Minutes of a Meeting Held at the Admiralty, 20 Oct. 1943.)
73. Western Naval Task Force, pp. 11-18; NATAF, Operation AVALANCHE; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sum. 202; RAF Med. Review No. 5; Hq. MAC, Signals Report on Amphibious Operations.
74. Western Naval Task Force, pp. 14243.
75. NATAF, Operation AVALANCHE; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 201-2; NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 6; MAC, War Room Monthly Sum. of Opns., Sept. 1943, in files of BAM (AHB); Admiralty Battle Sum. on Salerno, pp. 40, 51; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sum. 43; RAF Med. Review No. 5; memo from Comdt., USMC, 11 Nov. 1943, incl. B; File 77 (Reports) ; additional data from BAM (AHB). For the figures taken from captured German documents, see W. M. Gould, The Southern Italian Campaign (draft), in files of BAM (AHB).
76. Western Naval Task Force, pp. 11-18; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 201-2; NATAF, Opn. AVALANCHE; Admiralty Battle Sum. on Salerno; War Diary of German Naval Staff, in BAM (AHB).
77. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 201-2; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sum. 43; RAF Med. Review No. 5; Hq. 12th AF, Operations and Statistics of Twelfth Air Force; Hq. XII BC, Salerno Operations; NASAF Intops Sum. 49.
78. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 2012; CM-IN-7325, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 9 Sept. 1943.
79. History, Fifth Army, I, 34-37.
80. Report of CG XII ASC, in Western Naval Task Force, p. 19; CM-IN-9301, Eisenhower to AGWAR, 11 Sept. 1943; CM-OUT-828S, Arnold to Eisenhower, 17 Sept. 1943; Western Naval Task Force, pp. 18-30; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 202-4; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 43-44; NATAF, Opn. AVALANCHE; British War Office, Current Reports from Over seas, No. 29, 11 Mar. 1943; NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 6; CM-IN-9538, C-in-C Med. (Eisenhower) to AGWAR, 12 Sept. 1943; RAF Med. Review No. 5; Admiralty Battle Sum. on Salerno, p. 58; War Diary of German Naval Staff.
81. Memo from Comdt., USMC, 11 Nov. 1943, incl. B.
82. Air Ministry Weekly Intel. Sum. 220; additional data from files of BAM (AHB).
83. NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 6; Western Naval Task Force, pp. 20, 25.
84. Hq. XII ASC Adm. Order 2, Apps. 1-2, 25 Aug. 1943; Brit. Current Reports from Overseas, No. 29; Hq. NAAF, Outline Administrative Plan, Operation AVALANCHE; History, Original XII AFSC, pp. 190-91, 195-97; TWX, CG XII ASC (Adv.) to 27th Bomb. Gp. et al.,0800 hrs., 11 Sept. 1943, in 12th FW (Prov.), Opns. (Sp.), Msgs., Pt. III; Twelfth Air Force in the Southern Italian Campaign; NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 7; History, 33d Fighter Gp., Sept. 1943.
85. CM-IN-9538, C-in-C Med. (Eisenhower) to AGWAR, 12 Sept. 1943; Western Naval Task Force, p. 30; NATAF, Operation AVALANCHE. Full employment of the fields was somewhat delayed when the U.S. Navy on the 13th diverted to its own use the craft which were being used to bring air force units to the bridgehead so that for the next week few such personnel came ashore. (See Hq. TAF , Report on Movement and Supply Aspects of the Operation AVALANCHE, 9 Oct. 1943, in BAM [AHB].)
86. TWX, MAC Post GI60 to NASAF and NATAF, 9 Sept. 1943, in 12th FW, Opns. (Sp.), AVALANCHE; CM-IN-8175, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 10 Sept. 1943.
87. The details of NAAF's operations on 10 and 11 September may be found in RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 43-44; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 202-4; NAPRW detailed Interp. Rpt. D.S. 25; XII BC, Salerno Operations; NASAF Intops Sums. 50-51; NATAF Int/Opsums 153-54.
88. Memo on Air Support Control Arrangements at Hq., Fifth Army, in BAM (AHB).
89. See particularly, NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 7; memo for CG VI Corps from Col. E. M. Edmonson, 26 Sept. 1943.
90. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 202-4.
91. Ibid.; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sum. 44.
92. CM-IN-7325, C-in-C (Eisenhower) to AGWAR for CCS, 9 Sept. 1943; Western Naval Task Force, p. 5; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sum. 202; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sum. 44.
93. History, Fifth Army, I, 37-40; Admiralty Battle Sum. on Salerno; Fuehrer Conferences on Naval Affairs; German War Diaries of Naval Staff (Opns.) and of Naval Command, Italy; captured German docs.; Kesselring Questions.
94. History, Fifth Army, I, 37-40; History, Original XII AFSC; histories, 27th Fighter-Bomber Gp. and 33d Fighter Gp., Sept. 1943.
95. History, Fifth Army, I, 37-40.
96. Western Naval Task Force, pp. 3, 36, 39-41, 43, 231-32; Admiralty Battle Sum. on Salerno.
97. Western Naval Task Force, pp. 46, 231; NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 7; CM-IN-19737, Comdr. 8th Fleet (OPS) to (?), 21 Sept. 1943.
98. NAAF, Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 2045; RAF Med. Review Nos. 5-6; NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletins 6-7; TWX, MAC Post G160 to NASAF and NATAF, 9 Sept. 1943, in Opns. (Sp.) AVALANCHE; TWX, CG XII ASC (Rear) to CG XII ASC (Adv.), 11 Sept. 1943, in History, 12th FW (Prov.), Opns. (Sp.), Msgs., Pt. III; TWX, Col. Kyle, CO 12th FW (Prov.) to Gen. Doolittle, 11 Sept. 1943, in same doc.; Western Naval Task Force, pp. 32, 196-97; Brit. Current Reports from Overseas, No. 29; Signals Report of Amphibious Operations in the Med., 22 Oct. 1943; Air Ministry Weekly Intel. Sum. 220; CM-IN-19012, Spaatz to AGWAR sgd. Eisenhower, 26 Sept. 1943; History, 33d Ftr. Gp., Sept. 1943; Hq. Allied Central Med. Force, Air Support Control Arrangements for Operation "AVALANCHE," 25 Jan. 1943; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sum. 44; NASAF, Intops Sums. 52-53; NAPRW detailed Interp. Rpt. D.S. 29; Hq. XII BC, Salerno Operations.
99. The details of GIANT I (Revised), GIANT IV, and GIANT III are from Hq. XII TCC (Prov.), A Report of XII TCC Activities, Including the Italian Campaign, which contains all of the basic documents; histories, 51st and 52d TCW, Sept. 1943; Rpts. by Operational Research Sec., Hq. RAF/ME, RE, Med. Air Operations During 1943; NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 7; ltr., Brig. Gen. P. L. Williams to CG 12th: AF, 20 Sept. 1943; memo for CG 12th AF from Williams, Report of Troop Carrier Command Operation "AVALANCHE," 18 Sept. 1943; a preliminary report by Maj. P. D. Mulcahy, AFHQ observer, Airborne Activities in the Italian Campaign; Comments on the BIGOT-AVALANCHE Operation with Regard to the Airborne Use (no author, no date).
100. CCS, 120th Mtg., 24 Sept. 1943; CM-OUT-1375, CCS to Eisenhower, 4 Nov. 1943.
101. NAAF's operations on 14 and 15 September are from the following: histories, 14th Ftr. Gp. and 310th Bomb. Gp., Sept. 1943; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 206-8; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sum. 44; NASAF Intops Sums. 54-55; 12th AF, Operations and Statistics of 12th AF (Supplement); NAPRW detailed Interp. Rpt. D.S. 25; XII BC, Salerno Operations; CM-IN-12769, Spaatz to AGWAR sgd. Eisenhower, 16 Sept. 1943; CM-IN-11726, C-in-C (Eisenhower) to AGWAR for CCS, 15 Sept. 1943; CM-IN-15923, MAC to (?), 21 Sept. 1943; Adv. Liaison Gp., AFHQ to AGWAR et al., 14 Sept. 1943; 12th AF, A History of the 42d Bomb. Wing; MAC, War Room Sums., Sept. 1943; Hq. NAAF, Operational Record Book.
102. See various cables from Eisenhower and Spaatz to AGWAR during September 1943, particularly CM-IN-20612, Spaatz to AGWAR sgd. Eisenhower. 29 Sept. 1943.
103. History, 310th Bomb. Gp., Sept. 1943.
104. See ltr., CG AAF to CG AGF, 23 Sept. 1943, and 1st ind.
105. 12th AF, Operations and Statistics of 12th AF (Supplement); CM-IN-15923, MAC to (?), 21 Sept. 1943;
106. CM-IN-11026, C-in-C (Eisenhower) to AGWAR for CCS, 14 Sept. 1943; ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 21 Sept. 1943.CM-IN-12313, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 16 Sept. 1943; German Naval War Diaries, Sept. 1943, and German War Diaries of AOK 10, in BAM (AHB).
107. Ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 21 Sept. 1943.
108. RAF Med. Review No. 5; History, 12th Bomb. Gp. (M), Dec. 1943; CM-IN-15558, C-in-C (Eisenhower) to AGWAR for CCS, 21 Sept. 1943; 1tr., Eisenhower to Marshall, 13 Sept. 1943.
109. CM-IN-12128, Devers to Marshall, 16 Sept. 1943; CM-IN-11726, C-in-C (Eisenhower) to AGWAR for CCS, 15 Sept. 1943; msg., Air Command Post to Air Ministry, 10 Sept. 1943; CM-OUT-7196, JCS to Devers, 15 Sept. 1943; ltr., Eisenhower to Marshall, 20 Sept. 1943; ltr., Eaker to Arnold, 1 Oct. 1943. For the operations of the borrowed B-24's from 21 September through I October, see unit histories of 44th, 93d, and 389th Bomb. Gps., and ltr., Eaker to Arnold, cited just above.
110. CM-IN-10974, Eisenhower to Marshall, 14 Sept. 1943; ltr., Doolittle to B. M. Giles, C/AS, 19 Sept. 1943; memo for Gen. Upston by Brig. Gen. H. A. Craig, A C/AS, OC& R, 15 Sept. 1943; CM-OUT-10325, Marshall to Eisenhower, 22 Sept. 1943; ltr., Giles to Doolittle, 9 Oct. 1943.
111. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 201-7; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 43-44; Hq. AGF, Observers' Notes on the Italian Campaign, During the Period 25 Aug. to 7 Oct. 1943; NATAF Report on AVALANCHE.
112. 12th AF, Operations and Statistics of 12th AF (Supplement); NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 193-208; ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 21 Sept. 1943; Hq. MACAF, Mare Nostrum.
113. RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 204-8; Western Naval Task Force, pp. 33-34; Hq. European Command, Report by Brig. Gen. Hitschhold, Commitment of German Air Forces in Sardinia and Corsica (trans.).
114. History, Fifth Army, I, 41-48; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 45-46.
115. Ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 21 Sept. 1943; CM-IN-13177, Spaatz to AGWAR sgd. Eisenhower, 17 Sept. 1943; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 208-12; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sum. 44; Hq. 12th AF, History of 42d Bomb. Wing.
116. CM-IN-12313, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 16 Sept. 1943.
117. Operations and Statistics of 12th AF (Sup.); RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 208-12; NASAF Intops Sums. 56-59; Western Naval Task Force, pp. 40-48; NAAF Air Intel. Sums. 44-45; msg., CTF 80 to C-in-C Med. et al., 16 Sept. 1943; Bomber Buildup for and Support of Salerno Landings, in BAM (AHB).
118. See n. 117, and Hq. Allied Central Med. Force, Air Support Control Arrangements for Operation "AVALANCHE," 25 Jan. 1944; Signals Rpt. on Amphibious Operations in the Med. from July to Sept. 1943; MAC, War Room Sum., Sept. 1943; NAAF, ORB, apps., in files of BAM (AHB).
119. RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 44-45; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 209-12; NASAF Intops Sums. 56-59.
120. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 21221; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 45-46; British Hist. Sec., Central Med., Eighth Army Operations, Reggio to Ortona, in BAM (AHB).
121. CM-IN-15923, MAC to (?), 21 Sept. 1943; ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 21 Sept. 1943; History, 42d Bomb. Wing; Hq. AGF, Observers' Notes on the Italian Campaign.
122. RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sum. 45; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 212-17; NASAF Intops Sums. 90-94.
123. Histories, 14th Ftr. Gp. and 14th Bomb. Gp., Sept.--Oct. 1943; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sum. 217; History, 42d Bomb. Wing; NASAF Intops Sum. 65; CM-IN-19095, Spaatz to AGWAR sgd. Eisenhower, 26 Sept. 1943; CM-IN-15539, C-in-C (Eisenhower) to AGWAR for CCS, 21 Sept. 1943; NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 6; CM-IN-12910, Spaatz to AGWAR for Arnold sgd. Eisenhower, 17 Sept. 1943. See also, ltr., Doolittle to B. M. Giles, 19 Sept. 1943.
124. RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air intel. Weekly Sum. 46; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 217-23; NASAF Intops Sums. 65-71.
125. RAF Med. Review No. 5; History, Original XII AFSC, pp. 198-202; CM-IN-19095, Spaatz to AGWAR sgd. Eisenhower, 26 Sept. 1943; History, 51st TCW, 17 Aug.--30 Sept. 1943.
126. 126. CM-IN-15539, C-in-C (Eisenhower) to AGWAR for CCS, 21 Sept. 1942; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 45-46; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 213-18; NASAF Intops Sums. 61-65; Air Ministry Weekly Intel. Sum. 215; History, XII Ftr. Comd., June 1943--Jan. 1944; MACAF, Mare Nostrum; Hitschhold Rpt., as in n. 113; NAAF, ORB, apps.
127. RAF Med. Review No. 5; Western Naval Task Force, pp. 49-51, 55-65; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 45-46; Admiralty Battle Sum. on Salerno; NAAF, Report on Air Operations, Operation AVALANCHE.
128. History, Fifth Army, I, 41-48; RAF Med. Review No. 5; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 45-46.
129. According to the Admiralty, the figures on Allied shipping losses presented by Admiral Hewitt were incorrect, as they included some ships which took no part in AVALANCHE or which were sunk after the invasion had been completed. (See Admiralty Report BR 1736, Battle Summary 37, The Invasion of Italy, pp. 82-83, in BAM [AHB].) It is interesting to note that the Germans claimed to have sunk thirty-six ships (including three cruisers and seven destroyers), probably sunk sixteen, and damaged thirty-nine.( Ibid., p. 84.)
130. Military Conference Between the USA, Great Britain, and the USSR, Teheran, 29 Nov. 1943; MAC, War Room Sum., Sept. 1943; NASAF Intops Sum. 70; NATAF, Operation AVALANCHE; History, XII Ftr. Comd., June 1943--Jan. 1944; 12th AF, Operations of the Twelfth AF, 8 Nov. 1942--8 May 1945; Hq. 12th AF, Status Report on French Air Forces for Month of Sept. 1943, dtd. Oct. 1943; 12th AF, Operations and Statistics of Twelfth AF; NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 6; NAAF Air Intel. Weekly Sums. 42--46; data from Brit. Air Ministry, through Mr. J. C. Nerney, and from Stat. Control, Hq. AAF.
131. Hq. MAAF, Close Support of the Fifth Army.