Chapter XVIII
The Gothic Line Offensive Begins

Alexander's shift of the main offensive from the central to the eastern sector created several logistical problems for the Eighth Army. In addition to combat divisions, considerable quantities of stores and ammunition that had already been amassed behind the central sector had to be moved eastward. That the Polish corps on the Adriatic flank, up to that time maintained as an independent force, passed to Eighth Army control added another responsibility. To support the British 5 Corps and the 1st Canadian Corps, which were to operate on the Adriatic flank, the Eighth Army early in August had taken over and expanded the Polish corps' line of communication, while the army's original line of communication, supporting the central sector, was to be maintained to support the British 10 and 13 Corps.1

The Fifth Army too had to realign and reorganize its lines of communication based on the newly captured port of Leghorn, to which the main part of the Peninsular Base Section (PBS) had moved.2 Shortly after the capture of Leghorn on 19 July, engineers from PBS arrived to begin the hazardous task of removing approximately 25,000 mines from the harbor and nearby ruins. A man-made harbor, capable of accommodating ships with a 25-foot draft, Leghorn had been the prewar Italian navy's main base and thus had abundant facilities for the storage and distribution of petroleum products. On 3 September the first convoy of seven Liberty ships entered the harbor. As reconstruction proceeded, unloading was slow at first, only 4,242 tons of cargo during the first week of September, but in the last week of the month, those figures were to rise to 45,328 long tons. The first tankers entered the port in mid-month, by which time storage facilities for 275,000 barrels of gasoline were ready. The amount of storage for fuel would eventually almost double. Throughout this period both American and British port battalions were assigned to Leghorn, each handling ships of their respective nationalities.3

While developing Leghorn as a major port, logisticians backing up the Fifth Army could make only minimum use of Florence, the major communications center on the Fifth Army front. Both to conceal troop movements from the enemy and to protect the city's historical and cultural monuments, supply officers located most facilities outside the city. A Class I dump, for example, containing a million rations, was established in an olive grove several miles south of the city, while a few miles farther down the road a million gallons


of gasoline were assembled in containers concealed in a vineyard.4

In the final weeks before the fall offensive, the Fifth Army's combat troops spent much of their time in rest areas behind the front, there to enjoy amenities so often missing at the front. Refrigerator vans brought in large supplies of fresh meats, butter, and eggs to supplement regular rations. Shower units enabled men to dispose of long-accumulated grime. Field laundries handled over two million pounds of wash. Clothing was replaced, repaired, salvaged. It would be a well-supplied, well-fed, freshly scrubbed army that would again take the field in September.5

Preliminary Operations

Meanwhile, the 2 Polish Corps, which since 10 August had been halted along the Cesano River, prepared to resume its advance as a screen for the assembly of the Eighth Army's two assault corps. The corps was to cross the Metauro River and establish bridgeheads to be used by the assault corps as jump-off points for the main offensive. Although little ground action had erupted since the Poles halted on the 10th, fighter-bombers of the British Desert Air Force in a week had flown 392 sorties against German troops in the main line of resistance and supporting artillery positions.

For five days beginning on 18 August the 3d Carpathian and 5th Kresowa Divisions ground steadily forward in the kind of fighting that had come to characterize action on this part of the front. The Poles gradually pushed back the enemy's 278th Infantry Division beyond the Metauro River, and by the evening of 22 August both divisions had drawn up to the river. The Poles counted 300 enemy dead and took 273 prisoners, but bridgeheads over the Metauro, to be exploited in the Eighth Army's main offensive, remained out of reach.6

Leese's Plan

Troops of the 1st Canadian and British 5 Corps moved on 24 August into assembly areas behind the Poles a little over a mile short of the Metauro. In hope of achieving surprise and making up for the lack of bridgeheads beyond the river, General Leese directed that the artillery remain silent until assaulting elements had crossed the river. The offensive was to begin an hour before midnight on 25 August.

General Leese's plan was quite simple. Both the 1st Canadian and British 5 Corps were to pass through positions of the 5th Kresowa Division on the left wing of the Polish corps. Once past the lines, the Polish division was to shift toward the coast and join the 3d Carpathian Division in a drive on the minor port of Pesaro, eastern anchor of the Gothic Line. There the Polish troops would be pinched out by the generally northwestward advance of the Canadians toward Rimini, while the 5 Corps protected the Canadian left by clearing a range of low hills. Farther west the British 10 Corps, with a strength of


only 1½ divisions, was to follow up the enemy withdrawal in the mountains.7

German Preparations

Rather than withdraw voluntarily into the Gothic Line's main zone of resistance, the commander of the LXXVI Panzer Corps, General Herr, had established his divisions along a series of ridges north of the Metauro whence he could better observe Allied movements and make up for the shortages of reconnaissance aircraft. Once he had determined that the main British offensive had begun, he intended to fall back in good order into the shelter of the Gothic Line. Yet Herr ran the risk of his units being overwhelmed before they could retire should the British achieve sufficient surprise. So confident were the Germans that they would have adequate warning that General von Vietinghoff, the Tenth Army commander, and General Schlemm, the 1st Parachute Corps commander, went on leave beginning 24 August.8

It remained to be seen whether General Leese could develop in the region of the little Metauro River the same kind of decisive victory that Roman legions of the Consul Nero in 207 B.C. had achieved against a Carthaginian army in winning the 2d Punic War in Italy. The Metauro river itself and a succession of parallel ridges and rivers between the Metauro and the Romagna Plain clearly would have an important bearing on the outcome. Thirty miles separated the Metauro from the Marecchia River, marking the southern edge of the Romagna Plain, the Eighth Army's objective. Within that area Allied infantrymen and tankers whose task it was to cross the rivers and drive the Germans from the ridges beyond were to become obsessed with a kind of bitter refrain: "one more river, one more ridge."

The Offensive Begins

When the Eighth Army attacked on schedule an hour before midnight on 25 August, the stratagem of artillery silence paid off. Both the 1st Canadian and British 5 Corps crossed the Metauro against little resistance. An hour later as the troops prepared to push out from their bridgeheads, the massed guns of fifteen artillery battalions fired a covering barrage. By dawn on 26 August all divisions were well beyond the river and advancing steadily behind heavy artillery fire and aerial bombardment directed mainly against enemy infantry.9

Throughout the day, planes of the Desert Air Force flew 664 sorties, mostly against Pesaro. Fighter-bombers also attacked enemy armor and artillery positions, while bombers hit coastal fortifications between Pesaro and Rimini as well as railroad marshaling yards to the north and northwest of Cesano, Budrio, and Rimini. Offshore two gunboats opened fire with 6-inch guns against enemy left flank positions. Even darkness brought the Germans little relief; that night, the 26th, and the next three, bombers continued to attack lines of communication around Rimini, Ravenna,


Prato, and Bologna.10 By nightfall on the 27th the Allied divisions had cleared all enemy south of the Arzilla River and prepared to continue five more miles to the northwest to reach the Foglia River, last of the waterlines before the main defenses of the Gothic Line.

German Countermeasures

The Allied offensive clearly had achieved tactical surprise. Reacting nervously to a report on 24 August of an Allied landing in the Ravenna area, Field Marshal Kesselring had canceled entrainment of the 3d Panzer Grenadier Division for movement to France and ordered a withdrawal of the 26th Panzer Division from army group reserve to become the Tenth Army's reserve. Even after the Germans learned later in the day that the basis for the landing reports was the exceptionally heavy air attack on Ravenna, Kesselring allowed the shift of the panzer division to the eastern sector to continue. But that was more a precaution than recognition that the offensive had begun. Not until 26 August, after the Allied troops had reached the Arzilla River, did General Vietinghoff cut short his leave and hurry back to Tenth Army headquarters, where his staff briefed him on the developing situation. The long-awaited Allied offensive, General Vietinghoff discovered, had indeed begun. Vietinghoff immediately informed Kesselring of his conclusion. Believing the Allies had other surprises up their sleeve, Kesselring preferred to wait to see what those might be before deciding to react to what might be an opening or diversionary maneuver.11

As additional reports of Allied advances along the Adriatic flank continued to reach Army Group C headquarters during the 28th, Field Marshal Kesselring at last concluded that General Alexander had indeed launched his main offensive. He authorized General Vietinghoff to withdraw Herr's LXXVI Panzer Corps into the Gothic Line behind the Foglia River and enlist from army reserve the 26th Panzer Division to back up the Gothic Line defenses in that sector. That night the Germans opposite the Eighth Army right wing began to fall back in some disorder into the Gothic Line. Opposite the Eighth Army's left wing, General Feuerstein's LI Mountain Corps withdrew into the mountains to conform with Herr's maneuver.12

The Assault

Late on the 29th, across a 17-mile-wide front, the British and the Canadians reached the crests of the last hills overlooking the valley of Foglia, while patrols from the Polish corps entered the southern outskirts of Pesaro. That night the last of the German troops south of the Foglia retired. The next morning Allied patrols found that in many places the river was shallow enough for fording and that a hard gravel bottom was free of mines. A study of aerial photographs and other intelligence sources indicated that the main German defenses were on a ridge


paralleling the river about three miles to the north. Key strongpoints appeared to have been developed around the towns of Montecalvo, Monte Gridolfo, and Tomba di Pesaro.

During the night of 30 August, the assault troops began crossing the river to move at dawn against the Gothic Line. First evidence of German reserves developed in the zone of the British 5 Corps at Monte Gridolfo where armored infantry units from the 26th Panzer Division had occupied the town a short time before the British arrived. Poorly oriented in their new surroundings and exposed to the tremendous weight of Allied firepower, the armored infantrymen were unable to hold.

That was the story almost everywhere. Outflanking the eastern anchor of the Gothic Line, Pesaro, the Polish corps impelled the Germans in the town to withdraw on 2 September. The Canadian corps had, in the meantime, taken Tomba di Pesaro to open a gap between the 26th Panzer and 1st Parachute Divisions and on 3 September to advance ten miles and pinch out the 2 Polish Corps against the coast. On the Canadians' left the 46th Division of the 5 Corps kept pace.

With the defenses of the Gothic Line behind, months of hard work by German engineers had gone for naught. It was hardly surprising that a feeling of an imminent and far-reaching breakthrough permeated Eighth Army headquarters. General Leese ordered forward the 1st British Armoured Division to join the 5 Corps and prepare to follow up a German withdrawal.

Early on that same day, 2 September, General Vietinghoff sent his chief of staff, General Wentzell, to General Herr's headquarters to evaluate the situation on the Tenth Army's left wing. At the command post of the LXXVI Panzer Corps Wentzell found the situation even more alarming than he and others at the army headquarters had realized. After trying without success to reach army headquarters for approval to commit the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division to close the gap between the 1st Parachute and the 26th Panzer Divisions, Wentzell on his own authority ordered it done. General Herr in turn brought forward his corps reserve, the 98th Division, to help close a second gap that had developed between the 26th Panzer and 71st Divisions. Along the coastal sector held by the 1st Parachute Division, General Herr formed to the rear of the parachutists a blocking position made up of miscellaneous elements from the 162d Turkomen Division, with two artillery battalions in support.13

By that time it was nevertheless doubtful whether those moves would be sufficient to enable Herr's corps to hold, for they ate up the last of his reserve. Fighting for over a week against greatly superior Allied forces, the troops of the LXXVI Panzer Corps were close to exhaustion. The corps commander knew that for additional reinforcement he would have to depend upon General Vietinghoff's ability to persuade Kesselring to shift units from the army group center, where the Allies as yet had made no move.14

The Coriano Ridge

The line General Herr was attempting


to hold ran along the Coriano Ridge, which constituted the more prominent of two remaining hill features short of the Eighth Army's objective of the Romagna. When during the afternoon of 2 September the Canadian corps burst from a small bridgehead beyond the Conca River in the direction of the ridge, expectations at General Leese's headquarters of an imminent breakthrough burgeoned. Yet mixed in with reports of progress were disquieting indications of growing resistance. To beat back a tank-led counterattack, for example, the Canadians asked assistance from the 46th Infantry Division of the 5 Corps, whose troops crossed the intercorps boundary to help drive the enemy from high ground overlooking the Canadians' left flank. In the center and on the left wing of the 5 Corps the 56th Division and the 4th Indian Division had throughout been moving with considerably less speed against the enemy located in the Apennine foothills, and were becoming echeloned farther and farther to the left rear.

These setbacks were nonetheless insufficient to justify failure to try to turn what was clearly a deep salient in the enemy lines into a breakthrough, and General Leese ordered the British 1st Armoured Division into action. The armored division was to seize what appeared to be the keystone of the Coriano position, the village of Coriano.

Everything turned upon the timely arrival of the armor, yet when the division left its assembly area south of the Foglia, everything seemed to conspire against achieving that goal. The footing on the rain-soaked trails leading to the front was so poor that a score of vehicles broke down, and the rest, grinding forward much of the way in low gear, failed to reach the south bank of the Conca River until late on 3 September. It was midmorning of the next day before the first tanks began passing through the ranks of the 46th Infantry Division.

Even then the armor had to extemporize, because the 46th Division had not yet captured the planned jump-off line in a village just over two miles short of the Coriano Ridge. By now the weary tankers had fought for five hours just to reach their starting line and by the time the move against the ridge began, the sun was in their eyes and behind defending German gunners. As night fell, the assault bogged down a mile short of the Coriano Ridge, while fire from the ridge also brought troops of the adjacent 1st Canadian Corps to a halt. The delays had given the Germans time to bring up tanks and assault guns, and the moment when breakthrough might have been achieved--if indeed such a possibility had ever existed--had passed.15

For three more days repeated efforts to gain the ridge got no place, partly because of the German commitment of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division in the gap between the 1st Parachute and 26th Panzer Divisions and of an infantry division, the 356th, and partly because the rains came. Starting on 3 September while the British armor was moving from its assembly area, rain fell off and on for a week. Flash floods washed out tactical bridges along inland roads, leaving only the coastal highway as an artery for supporting those troops beyond


the Foglia River. Until the flooding receded, operations on the Eighth Army front sloshed to a halt. While waiting for a break in the weather, General Leese could only ponder a resumption of his offensive toward Rimini and the Po Valley, and locate some 8,000 replacements for the casualties incurred since the offensive began on 25 August. German losses for the same period were approximately a thousand less.16

The Eighth Army's offensive had penetrated the Gothic Line but had fallen short of a breakthrough to the Romagna. The Germans had paid the penalty of early setbacks almost always exacted by surprise, but by shifting reinforcements--an infantry division and the 26th Panzer and 29th Panzer Grenadier Divisions--they had prevented disaster. Yet those shifts, however essential from the German viewpoint, fitted in perfectly with General Alexander's concept of a one-two punch. The time was approaching for Clark's Fifth Army to execute a left hook against the German defenses in the central sector.

The Fifth Army--Plans and Regrouping

The Fifth Army was to launch a two-phase attack against the Gothic Line north of Florence. During the first phase Clark planned for Keyes' II Corps to attack through the left half of the zone of the British 13 Corps to seize a line of hills some eight miles north of Florence, just short of the valley of the Sieve River. The 13 Corps was to assist on the right. In the second phase, the II Corps was to attack across the Sieve and advance astride Highway 65, with the 13 Corps following several miles to the east of Highway 65 astride Route 6521, the Borgo-San Lorenzo-Imola road. Meanwhile, west of Florence on the left of the II Corps, the IV Corps was to simulate a crossing of the Arno and be prepared to follow up an enemy withdrawal.17

The weakest point topographically in the Gothic Line in the Fifth Army's zone of operations was along Highway 65, which crosses the Apennines at 1,200-foot Futa Pass, about twenty miles north of Florence. That fact was as apparent to German engineers as to the Fifth Army planners: the strongest man-made defenses were there, consisting of concrete pillboxes, gun emplacements, and troop shelters. In an outpost line were numerous fire trenches, barbed wire obstacles, antitank ditches, and mine fields. A ridge two miles south of the pass and the high ground flanking it were similarly fortified. Strong defenses also covered a secondary route paralleling Highway 65 several miles to the west, the Prato-Bologna road, on Highway 6620, and at a similar distance to the east, Il Giogo Pass, which carried Route 6524 across the mountains to Firenzuola.

The sudden German withdrawal during the latter days of August northward from Florence toward the Gothic Line obviated the planned first phase of the Fifth Army's offensive. Once the British in the Adriatic sector had begun to attack on 25 August, the German Fourteenth Army commander, General Lemelsen, had fully expected something to


happen on his front. Kesselring's order to Lemelsen to pull back came on 29 August, and the withdrawal began two days later.18

IV Corps Crosses the Arno

In ordering the British 13 Corps to follow up the German withdrawal, General Clark, in effect, canceled the first phase of his planned offensive, no doubt gratified that he would be spared hard fighting on the approaches to the Apennines. He also ordered the IV Corps to cross the Arno and advance as far as the German withdrawal permitted.

When patrols during the night of 31 August found no enemy along the river, General Crittenberger ordered his forces to cross soon after daylight.19 As the 1st Armored Division, in the center, with the 92d Division's 370th Regimental Combat Team attached, set out in midmorning, at only one point was there opposition and that only scattered small arms fire from less than determined rear guards. The armor headed for the first of the two hill masses dominating the plain north of the Arno, the Monte Pisano massif, and the city of Lucca at the foot of the mountains ten miles northeast of Pisa.

That afternoon the 6th South African Armoured Division began crossing the river on the right wing of the IV Corps, aiming at the other hill mass on the Arno plain, the Monte Albano Ridge, and to the city of Pistoia, sixteen miles to the north. The South Africans encountered some long-range artillery fire but found no enemy troops. General Rutledge's erstwhile antiaircraft battalions turned infantry, Task Force 45, also crossed the river to occupy that part of Pisa lying on the north bank.

For the troops the advance was a pleasant interlude, an unanticipated respite from the rigors of fighting. They moved easily as if on autumn maneuvers through countryside dotted with ocher-colored villages set amid ripening grain-fields, orchards, and vineyards. On 3 September when approaching the four-lane autostrada running along the base of the Apennines, the South Africans came upon some mines, demolitions, and scattered artillery fire, while the 1st Armored Division also found demolitions and an occasional smattering of small arms fire. That night enemy aircraft, making a rare appearance, bombed two crossing points on the Arno but did little damage and caused no casualties.

On the next day, the 4th, indications developed that the unobstructed road marches might soon come to an end, but there still was no regular pattern to the enemy's resistance. Here, where the Germans might have turned to fight back sharply, they were nowhere to be seen. Southwest of Pistoia, the South Africans brushed aside half-hearted resistance to come within a mile of the autostrada, but a strong enemy rear guard denied a reconnaissance company of the 1st Armored Division entry to a town alongside the autostrada eight miles east of Lucca until late afternoon when the enemy withdrew. Farther west the 11th Armored Infantry Battalion crossed the autostrada against slight opposition, and on the division's left wing the attached 370th Infantry, nearing


the autostrada just south of Lucca, met with some small arms and artillery fire. Continuing beyond Pisa, a patrol of Task Force 45 that crossed the little Serchio River was pinned down by heavy fire and succeeded in pulling back only after nightfall.

Nevertheless, by 5 September the IV Corps had occupied three of its four objectives: the Monte Pisano massif on the left, the Monte Albano Ridge on the right, and the walled city of Lucca, while Pistoia remained in enemy hands. When on the 6th heavy rains began, soon washing out tactical bridges spanning the Arno, General Crittenberger accepted growing evidence that the Germans had withdrawn as far as they intended and ordered a halt. He directed a general regrouping along a line running from the Serchio River through Lucca to the Monte Pisano massif, thence along the autostrada to the Monte Albano Ridge. Here the corps would hold until ordered to resume its advance in keeping with progress of the II Corps in the assault on the Gothic Line.

Having already established a bridgehead north of the Arno, the 13 Corps meanwhile had simply pushed forward in keeping with the rate of German withdrawal. That rate was considerably less precipitate than in front of the IV Corps, for the apparent recognition of the importance of Highway 65 to any thrust against the Gothic Line made the Germans fall back slowly. By 4 September patrol contacts provided no indication of further enemy withdrawal, so the line of the 13 Corps stabilized roughly as an extension of that of the IV Corps from five to ten miles north of the Arno.

Between the two corps, apparently as a preliminary to the planned passage of the II Corps through the 13 Corps, General Clark had assigned a narrow sector to the II Corps. The 442d Regimental Combat Team followed up the German withdrawal there until relieved the night of 2 September by a regiment of the 88th Division. The 442d was heading for southern France.

As these moves proceeded, General Clark took another look at his plan of attack on the Gothic Line. Word had just reached him through British Intelligence that Hitler had ordered Kesselring to concentrate his defense astride Highway 65 at the Futa Pass. The same message had also disclosed that the interarmy boundary between the Tenth and Fourteenth Armies, and generally the weakest point in the enemy front, lay some six miles east of the Futa Pass at Il Giogo Pass. Military logic suggested that the main effort could be more profitably made at the latter pass. A breakthrough at Il Giogo Pass would outflank the strong defenses at the Futa Pass and most likely force a German withdrawal there. From Firenzuola, five miles beyond Il Giogo Pass, he might proceed either up Highway 65 through the Radicosa Pass to Bologna or along a secondary road northeastward to Imola. Furthermore, by shifting his main effort to the right wing, the Fifth Army commander might achieve better coordination with the supporting attack of the British 13 Corps.20

The II Corps commander, General Keyes, planned to advance toward the Gothic Line with the 34th and 91st


Divisions on either side of Highway 65 in what could appear to the Germans as merely a continuation of the follow-up of German withdrawal. It would also give an impression of a main effort at the Futa Pass. Yet once the 91st Division on the right came into contact with the main defenses of the Gothic Line, the 85th Division was to pass through and make the main effort against Il Giogo Pass. Keyes' reserve, the 88th Division, was to be prepared to pass through either the 91st Division along Highway 65 or the 85th Division. To meet special supply problems to be expected in the mountains, the corps had nine Italian pack mule companies, each with 260 mules.

Despite problems posed by heavy rains and flooding, the Fifth Army by 7 September was ready, awaiting only the signal from General Alexander. "The fate of the Fifth Army," General Clark confided to his diary, was "tied up with that of the Eighth Army." Clark assumed that Alexander would delay the Fifth Army's attack until General Leese could get a renewed effort going against the troublesome Coriano Ridge, whereupon Clark would be prepared to attack "about 48 hours later."21 "We are all set," wrote Clark, "for the thrust over the mountains toward Bologna. It is hard to wait, for we are ready and eager to go. General Alexander is holding the lanyard, and when he pulls it we will be able to jump off with less than 24 hours' notice."22

General Alexander was indeed about ready to pull the lanyard. On 8 September he visited Leese's headquarters to get a closer look at the stalemate at the Coriano Ridge. It would take two or three more days, he deduced, for Leese to get his stalled offensive moving again. Meanwhile, Kesselring had apparently shifted as much strength to his Adriatic flank as he could afford so that there was no point in delaying the Fifth Army's attack in hope of further shifts. Indeed, attack by the Fifth Army might loosen up the front opposite Leese's army. He told General Clark to begin his offensive on 10 September, with the Eighth Army to renew its attack two days later.23

The German Situation

Of the three divisions that Field Marshal Kesselring had shifted to meet the Eighth Army's offensive, only one, the 356th, had been drawn from the Fourteenth Army in front of Clark's Fifth Army. Even so, committing the 26th Panzer Division and the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division from the Tenth Army's reserve had tied up two units that might otherwise have been used in the central sector. Pulling out even one division seriously weakened the defenses, for it left the I Parachute Corps only one division, the 4th Parachute, with which to cover both the Futa and Il Giogo Passes in front of the U.S. II Corps, and the LI Mountain Corps only one division, the 715th, to oppose the British 13 Corps. Almost on the eve of the Fifth Army's attack, Lemelsen's Fourteenth Army incurred another loss with departure of the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Division on orders from OKW to France.24


Even had there been no threat of a Fifth Army offensive, General Lemelsen would have been disturbed by the shortage of troops, for partisan activity in the Fourteenth Army's rear was increasing, particularly between the Ligurian coast and Highway 9, Army Group C's main lateral line of communication. Almost every day some partisan band demolished a railroad, a bridge, a highway. To provide vitally needed security, Lemelsen transferred to the rear one battalion from each division in the less threatened XIV Panzer Corps opposite the U.S. IV Corps.25

In addition to harassment by partisans, the Germans were plagued by Allied bombers and fighters. Medium bombers again struck the Po River crossings to destroy bridges repaired since Operation MALLORY MAJOR in July. They also attempted to seal off the industrial area of northwestern Italy from the front by bombing five railroad bridges. Fighter-bombers harassed roads and rail lines on both sides of the Po.26

On 9 September the mediums, in an effort to isolate the immediate battle area planned for the Fifth Army, shifted their attacks to railroad lines leading into Bologna. By nightfall the next day they had cut all four main lines.27

Meanwhile, the bulk of the fighter-bombers hit the Gothic Line itself. Beginning on 9 September and continuing through the 20th, when weather would restrict operations, fighter-bombers would fly an average of 240 sorties daily against bivouac areas, command posts, and supply depots in the vicinity of Futa and Il Giogo Passes. For three days, beginning on the 9th, mediums joined the attack, flying 339 sorties against barracks, supply points, and gun positions between the front and Bologna.28

As the 4th Parachute and 715th Divisions resumed their withdrawal into the main Gothic Line defenses, General Lemelsen grew increasingly disturbed over his chances of holding the line. On 9 September his chief of staff requested Kesselring to transfer at least one depleted division from the Tenth Army to replace the departing 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Division. Although Kesselring agreed, he added that he saw no reason for immediate concern, for in his opinion, the Fourteenth Army faced no immediate attack.29


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (17) * Next Chapter (19)


1. Operations of the British, Indian, and Dominion Forces in Italy, Part III, Sec. B; SAC Despatch, Aug-Dec 44.

2. Mayo MS and Meyer MS. Unless otherwise noted the following is based upon these references.

3. Bykofsky and Larson, The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas, pp. 211-32.

4. Ross and Romanus, The Quartermaster Corps: Operations in the War Against Germany, pp. 96-114.

5. Ibid.

6. Operations of the British, Indian, and Dominion Forces in Italy, Part III, Sec. F, 2 Polish Corps.

7. Operations of the British, Indian, and Dominion Forces in Italy, Part III, Sec. B, The Eighth Army--the Gothic Line and Romagna Battles.

8. AOK 14, Ia KTB Nr. 4, 25 Aug 44, AOK 14 Doc. 62241/1.

9. Alexander Despatch, p. 68.

10. Craven and Cate, eds., AAF III, pp. 443-44.

11. AOK 14, Ia KTB Nr. 4, 25 Aug 44, AOK 14 Doc. 62241/1; AOK 10, Ia KTB Anl. 8, 27 Aug 44, AOK 10 Doc. 61437/1; Pretzell, Battle of Rimini, MS in CMH.

12. AOK 10, Ia KTB Anl. 8, 28-29 Aug 44, AOK 10 Doc. 61437/1.

13. Ibid., 2-3 Sep 44.

14. Ibid.; MS # T-1b (Westphal et al.), CMH.

15. Operations of the British, Indian, and Dominion Forces in Italy, Part III, Sec. B.

16. Ibid., App. G; Verluste der Wehrmacht bis 1944, Monatsmeldungen ab 1.VII.43, HI/176a, CMH.

17. Hqs Fifth Army, Opns Instrs 32, 17 Aug 44, in Fifth Army History, Part VII, Annex I G.

18. Greiner and Schramm, eds., OKW/WFSt, KTB, IV(1), pp. 550-51; AOK 14, Ia KTB, Anl. 4, 1 Sep 44, AOK 14, Doc. 62241/1.

19. IV Corps Rpt of Opns, Sep 44. Unless otherwise noted the following is based upon this reference.

20. See Winterbotham, The Ultra Secret, p. 160.

21. Clark Diary, 7 Sep 44.

22. Ibid.

23. Alexander Despatch, p. 69.

24. AOK 14, Ia KTB Nr. 4, 6-9 Sep 44, AOK 14, Doc. 62241/1.

25. Ibid.

26. Craven and Cate, eds., AAF III, pp. 445-46.

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid.

29. AOK 14, Ia KTB Nr. 4, 6-9 Sep 44, AOK 14, Doc. 62241/1.

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