South African Force
World War II
Volume V

Victory in Italy

Neil Orpen



Chapter   Page
Foreword by Mr C.G. Kerr, Chairman of the War Histories Advisory COmmittee v
Acknowledgements xi
Abbreviations xv
1. Birth of an Armoured Division 1
2. Into the Line 22
3. Pursuit Through Rome 40
4. Resistence Stiffens 62
5. Hold-up on the Trasimene Line 61
6. Chuisi--the Hilltop Town 86
7. The Advance Continues 105
8. Breaking the Hilde Line 118
9. Advance to the River Greve 136
10. The Liberation of Florence 155
11. Activities Spread Over Italy 172
12. Crossing the Arno 182
13. Into the Appenines 200
14. The Capture of Monte Stanco 220
15. Struggle for Monte Sálvaro 234
16. Winter and Reorganization 249
17. Bid for a Knock-Out 266
18. Collapse and Finale 286
19. Victory 298
  List of Sources 331
  Annotations [Endnotes have been moved to the end of each chapter]  
  General Index 325
  Units and Formations 337
No.   Page
1. Positions at Cassino 28
2. Advance from Cassino 43
3. Advance Through Rome 46
4. Northward Pursuit 50
5. Onword to Orvieto 60
6. From Orvieto to Sinalunga 87
7. The Thrust into Tuscany 116
8. The Approach to Florence 137
9. Liberation of Florence 161
10. Crossing the Arno 186
11. Monte Vigese Sector 211
12. Monte Stanco 221
13. Monte Stanco to Monte Sálvaro 230
14. The Sole-Caprara-Abelle Sector 273
15. North of the Po 299
16. The Final Bound 304
  General Map of Italy At end of book


Chairman's Foreword

The Casablanca Conference saw the capture of Sicily as the completion of the North African campaign. The Americans did not want the Allied war effort diverted from the Western and Eastern European fronts by opening up a new front in the Mediterranean. Hoiwever, in May 1943, at the TRIDENT Conference in Washington, the decision was taken and the Supreme Commander Mediterranean, General Eisenhower, was directed to:

  1. Eliminate Italy from the War.
  2. Contain the maximum number of German divisions in Italy, thereby denying their use elsewhere in Europe or Russia.

After losing Sicily


Division but by the many other non-divisional units, including the 21 SAEC companies operating in Italy. There were many South

Chairman, War Histories Advisory Committee

June 1975



  Mr C. G. Kerr, Chairman
  Commandant (Dr) C. M. Bakkes, MA, representing the Human Sciences Research Council.
*Brigadier J. B. Bester, DSO
  Brigadier F. W. Cooper, DSO
  Brigadier J. T. Durrant, CB, DFC
  Colonel G. R. Duxbury
  Colonel K. T. Gilson, DSO, ED
  Mr Guy Hart
  Mr A. K. Hunter
  Commandant F. J. Jacobs, representing Central Documentation Services, SADF
*Lt-Colonel A. H. Johnstone, DSO, ED
  Mr W. H. King
  Squadron-Leader F. E. M. Lord, DFC
  Mr J. W. Maasdorp
  Colonel E. O'C. Maggs, CBE
  Lt-General H. J. Martin, SM, CBE, DFC
*Mr Stanley Osler
  Colonel (Dr) J. Ploeger, MA, MEd, DPhil, Acad
*Colonel R. Reeves-Moore, DSO, MC
  Mr L. E. A. Slater
*Major A. B. Theunissen, MBE
  Mr L. H. Walton
  Colonel J. A. Williams, DSO, DFC
  Commandant C. A. Twomey, SM, JCD, Hon. Secretary.

Note: The asterisks indicate the Members of the Land Forces Sub-Committee.


Voorwoord Deur die Voorsitter

Die Casablanca-konferensie het die val van Sicilië as die ende van die Noord-Afrikaanse veldtog beskou. Die Amerikaners wou nie die Geallieerde oorlogspoging up die Westelike en die Oostelike Europese front deur die opening van 'n derde front in die Middellandse See aflei nie. Desondanks is in Mei 1943 op die TRIDENT-konferensie in Washington so besluit, en die opperbevelhebber van die Middellandse See, genl. Eisenhower, is opdrag gegee om:

  1. K Italië uit die oorlog te elimnineer.
  2. So veel as moontlik van die Duitse divisies in Itali&eumml; vass te pen ten einde hul gebruik elders in Europa of in Rusland te verhoed.
Ná die verlies van Sicilië was dit Duitse belied om die Geallieerdes



Author's Acknowledgements

In compiling this record of operations by South Africa's land forces in Italy during World War II, it has been my privilege to enjoy the willing co-opreation of many men who were personally involved in the fighting from Cassino to the Alps. Additionally, I have received great assistance from official sourcds not only in South Africa but also in Great Britain and the United States, without which help no authoritative narrative covering these events could ever have been completed.


permission to use information from Field-Marshal Viscount Alexander's


1 July 1975


List of Abbreviations














 Fd Ambulance

 Fd Coy

 Fd Pk Coy

 Fd Regt

 Fd Sqn

 Fs Svy Coy




 Hy AA




 Lt AA



 Med Regt


 Mtn Regt










 Rd Const Coy




 Rly Const Coy









 Svy Coy





Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation