The Anzio Landing
The jubilation that the decision for Anzio had brought to the Fifth Army headquarters on 8 January was part of a general surge of optimism that spread throughout the higher levels of the theater command. The deadlock in southern Italy seemed about to be split wide open. A successful landing at Anzio would dissolve the Gustav Line defenses and enable General Clark to move quickly into Rome and pursue the Germans into northern Italy and beyond. General Eisenhower would ensure victory with the cross-Channel attack that was then scheduled for May. ANVIL, the invasion of southern France, would be unnecessary. The war would be over by autumn at the latest.
This imaginative picture appeared reasonable. No one had realized during the summer of 1918 how near the Allied forces were to victory in World War I. Why should there not be a swift and sudden triumph in 1944?
There seemed no reason in the world as the commanders and planners involved in the Anzio landing buckled down to solve the complex problems attending the launching of an amphibious operation. As the probability of an invasion of southern France receded into the mist of speculation, General Clark expressed his desire to remain in command of his Fifth Army rather than take command of the Seventh Army. He had no wish, his aide recorded, to be in command of a planning headquarters when the war ended "and thereby miss a chance to march into Germany at the head of this Army."1
When General Alexander arrived at the Fifth Army command post on 9 January to confer with General Clark on the Anzio operation, he brought a letter from Prime Minister Churchill urging the speedy capture of Rome. Without Rome, Mr. Churchill had written to Clark, the campaign in Italy will have "petered out ingloriously." In reply, Clark assured Churchill: "I am delighted with the opportunity of launching SHINGLE Operation, . . . I have felt for a long time that it was the decisive way to approach Rome."2
The meetings in North Africa with Churchill on 7 and 8 January, Alexander informed Clark, had provided answers to all the questions on the availability of assault shipping. The Fifth Army was to get even more landing craft than Clark had asked for. But because the Anzio operation would affect ANVIL by diverting resources marked for southern France, President Roosevelt still had to be consulted, even though his approval of the Anzio landing was a foregone conclusion. The success of the German defense south of Rome was prejudicing and
Advances at Anzio
22-31 January 1944
embarrassing the entire Allied position in the European area of the war, and the Anzio landing promised to improve the situation immeasurably.
Alexander announced that D-day for the Anzio landing had been moved up from 25 to 22 January. If bad weather postponed the execution of the landing beyond 25 January, the operation would have to be canceled since after that date it would interfere with the preparations for the cross-Channel attack--and according to the agreement reached by the President, the Prime Minister, and Marshal Stalin nothing was to interfere with OVERLORD.3 (Map V)
How the Germans would react to a landing at Anzio was, of course, impossible to foretell. All the probable responses seemed favorable to the Allied command. But the Anzio force would have to be strong enough to cut or to threaten the German communications as well as to sustain itself as an independent entity until the main forces followed up the expected German withdrawal from the Gustav Line and made contact with the beachhead.
The Allied force that was to go ashore at Anzio was to be headed by the VI Corps headquarters. The American units initially scheduled for the landings were the 3d Division, the 504th Parachute Infantry, the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, and the Ranger Force of three battalions; the British units were the 1st Division and two Commando battalions formed into a special service brigade. As additional vessels became available, General Clark added part of the 1st Armored Division and a regiment of the 45th Division in immediate follow-up roles. If more strength proved necessary, he would send the rest of the 1st Armored and 45th Divisions to the beachhead.4
From a subsidiary operation on the left flank of a nearby Fifth Army, the Anzio venture had developed into a major landing deep in the German rear. The original Anzio force had grown from a tentative figure of about 24,000 men to an eventual strength of more than 110,000.5
General Alexander's intelligence officers judged correctly that the Germans had about two divisions in reserve near Rome and able to move at once against the VI Corps landings. Counting on Allied air attacks to hinder the movement of these divisions, as well as of reinforcements, to the beachhead, they believed that the Germans would be unsuccessful in opposing the landings.
As Alexander saw the operation, the Anzio force was "to cut the enemy's main communications in the Colli Laziali [Alban Hills] area Southeast of Rome, and to threaten the [German] rear." The landing would compel the Germans to weaken their Gustav Line defenses, and this would enable General Clark to break through these defenses and make quick contact with the beachhead.6
Clark's intelligence officers were not quite so optimistic. They too estimated that the Germans had a corps headquarters and two divisions, plus contingents of paratroopers ,and armored forces, near Rome. But they believed
that a landing would constitute so serious a threat that the Germans would have to react violently. The Anzio operation, they felt, would be "an emergency to be met by all the resources and strength available to the German High Command in Italy." As soon as the Germans appreciated the magnitude of the landing and realized the impossibility of other attacks elsewhere along the coast, they would bring a ruthless concentration of forces against the beachhead to prevent movement to the Alban Hills. Otherwise, a withdrawal from southern Italy would become necessary. They could move an additional division from the Adriatic front and have it near Rome by the third day of the operation, and they could call upon two more divisions in northern Italy and expect their arrival during the following two weeks.7
Unwilling to commit the Anzio forces to a single and unalterable line of action because he was unable to predict the German reaction, and uncertain that he could get through the Gustav Line and up the Liri valley to a junction with the Anzio forces as quickly as Alexander seemed to think he could, General Clark issued an order that was deliberately ambiguous. He directed VI Corps: "a) To seize and secure a beachhead in the vicinity of Anzio. b) Advance on Colli Laziali."8 What seemed perfectly clear on the surface as a mission to be executed in two logically consecutive phases was, in reality, vague on the second part. After establishing a beachhead, was the VI Corps to advance toward the Alban Hills or to them?
Expecting from his estimate of the strength of the German forces that the Anzio landing force would meet strong resistance at the beaches, and assuming from his experience at Salerno that the same pattern of heavy opposition would develop at Anzio, General Clark recommended that VI Corps make immediate defensive preparations upon landing, the troops to dig in as soon as they secured a beachhead; a strong reserve was to be kept in readiness to meet anticipated counterattacks.
If, contrary to every expectation, VI Corps met slight opposition, it was to advance "on" the Alban Hills by one of two routes--up the Albano road to cut Highway 7, or through Cisterna to cut Highway 7 there and Highway 6 at Valmontone, at the head of the Liri valley.
Whether VI Corps went on the defense or the offense after landing would depend on how the corps commander, General Lucas, sized up the situation.
General Lucas was at first flattered by the opportunity to lead a vital and spectacular operation but he soon became concerned over the risks involved. Despite his soldierly resolve to carry out his orders, he had little enthusiasm for the landing because, in his view, sufficient ships, men, and time for preparation were lacking. "Unless we can get what we want," he wrote in his diary, "the operation becomes such a desperate undertaking that it should not, in my opinion, be attempted."9
"We have every confidence in you," General Alexander told Lucas. "That is why you were picked." Lucas was not reassured. To him, "this whole affair had a strong odor of Gallipoli and apparently the same amateur was still on the coach's bench."10
More than six months earlier, General Patton had said and General Lucas had recorded in his diary that a landing operation required little training. The troops had only to move straight inland after being put ashore. A great many losses would result, Patton admitted, but there was no way to avoid severe casualties in an amphibious assault.11
On 18 January, the Anzio forces rehearsed their landings on beaches near Naples. Late that evening, as reports began to reach General Clark of losses of DUKW's and 105-mm. howitzers, he became "greatly concerned."12 About 2200 he received a copy of a personal note that General Truscott, commander of the 3d Division, had sent to General Gruenther, the Fifth Army chief of staff.
I believe that you know me well enough, to know that I would not make such a point unless I actually felt strongly about it. If this [Anzio operation] is to be a "forlorn hope" or a "suicide sashay" then all I want to know is that fact--If so, I'm positive that there is no outfit in the world that can do it better than me--even though I reserve right (personally) to believe we might deserve a better fate.13
To General Clark, the trouble was the "overwhelming mismanagement by the Navy," which "appalled" him. During the rehearsal, "the losses in equipment and material which the 3d Division had suffered . . . amounted roughly to 43 dukws, 19 105's including fire control equipment, 7 57mm antitank guns and 2 37's . . . . I have just talked on the telephone with Admiral Lowry and informed him that I am astonished at such mismanagement." The losses--matériel vital to the landing--had to be replaced, and Clark had no choice but to take from the 10 Corps, the 36th Division, and the 45th Division equipment "which will be hard to replace."14 Naval authorities promised corrective measures, but little could be expected in the short time remaining before the landings.
The rehearsal seemed to bear out General Lucas' pessimism. Admiral Sir John Cunningham had assured him he would have little trouble at Anzio--"The chances are seventy to thirty," Cunningham had said, "that, by the time you reach Anzio, the Germans will be north of Rome." But Lucas had remained unconvinced. "Apparently," he had written in his diary, "everyone was in on the secret of the German intentions except me."15
General Lucas wondered whether higher headquarters had intelligence information unavailable to him. Were there indications that the Germans intended to pull out of the Gustav Line and move north of Rome? If the Germans intended to retire, all the more reason, he thought, for making a strong end run with well-trained and well-equipped forces able to intercept and destroy the withdrawing troops. And for this, he believed, he lacked the means.
Increasingly, General Lucas found himself out of sympathy and out of touch with the thinking at higher echelons. He wrote in his diary on 14 January:
Army has gone nuts again . . . . The general idea seems to be that the Germans are licked and are fleeing in disorder and nothing remains but to mop up . . . . The Hun has pulled back a bit but I haven't seen the desperate fighting I have during the last four months without learning something. We are not (repeat not) in Rome yet.
They will end up by putting me ashore with inadequate forces and get me in a serious jam. Then, who will take the blame?
On 20 January, in an ambivalent frame of mind, General Lucas boarded the USS Biscayne for the voyage to Anzio. "I have many misgivings," he wrote in his diary, "but am also optimistic." If good weather continued for several days, "I should be all right." The amphibious preparations seemed undetected by the Germans. "I think we have a good chance to make a killing." Yet he wished "the higher levels were not so over optimistic."
Lucas' uncertainty was underscored by two events that had occurred shortly before his embarkation for Anzio. The first was a visit from the Fifth Army G-3, General Brann. On 12 January Brann delivered personally to Lucas the final Fifth Army order for the Anzio operation. The reason for the visit, Brann explained, was to discuss the vague wording of the order with respect to the advance "on" the Alban Hills. Brann made it clear that Lucas' primary mission was to seize and secure a beachhead. This was the extent of General Clark's expectations. Clark did not want to force Lucas into a risky advance that might lose the corps. If, of course, the conditions at Anzio warranted a move to the hills, Lucas was free to do so. But Clark and the Fifth Army staff believed this to be a slim possibility. Given the strength of the forces in the landing, they thought Lucas could not hold the beachhead to protect the port of Anzio and the beaches and at the same time reach the hill mass. Since loss of the port and the landing beaches would place VI Corps at the mercy of the Germans, Clark was interested primarily in holding a beachhead.16
The second event, a change in the mission of the airborne troops, reinforced this point of view. An early plan for the landing, projecting an airborne drop by the 504th Parachute Infantry on the Anzio-Albano road about ten miles north of Anzio, clearly reflected an intention to reach and take the Alban Hills.17 Later plans left out an airborne operation for a variety of reasons--some British commanders thought their troops might mistake the American paratroopers for Germans and take them under fire; naval officers pointed out that the paratroopers would be within range of naval gunfire supporting the landing and that the relatively flat Anzio coastal plain offered little cover; air authorities cited their inability to spare planes for a rehearsal, noted that the parachute infantry had not practiced a landing for several months, objected to the feeling of improvisation about the airborne operation, expected the paratroopers to be widely dispersed and ineffective after a drop, and deplored the absence of moonlight
at the time of the landing. The final plan had the parachute regiment coming into Anzio across the beaches immediately after the infantry assault divisions.18
The removal of a powerful incentive to push the VI Corps out from the landing beaches in order to make contact with the paratroopers thus coincided with doubts expressed by Brann and Clark that Lucas could do anything more than seize and secure a beachhead. Since Lucas himself had reservations on what was possible, he was sure that a successful landing and capture of a beachhead would be considered in itself a successful operation.
The earlier concept had been quite different. In November, when the Fifth Army was drawing its original plan to comply with Alexander's directive of 8 November, G-2 and G-3 had agreed on the vital need to capture quickly the port of Anzio to handle supplies and the Alban Hills for their "commanding position" over the Anzio area.19
Though Lucas would be cautious or bold depending on how he himself saw the situation at Anzio, he had every indication that Clark expected him to be prudent.
The ships of the assault convoy put to sea from Naples early on 21 January. The assault force consisted of about 40,000 men and 5,900 vehicles--the equivalent of about twenty-seven infantry battalions.
The responsibility of embarking, landing, and supporting the Anzio force lay with Admiral Lowry.20 He had 2 command ships, 5 cruisers, 24 destroyers, 2 antiaircraft ships, 2 gunboats, 23 mine sweepers, 32 submarine chasers, 6 repair ships, 16 landing craft equipped with guns, antiaircraft weapons, and rockets, 4 Liberty ships, 8 LSI's, 84 LST's, 96 LCI's, and 50 LCT's--American, British, Dutch, Greek, Polish, and French vessels.21 These were divided into two task forces, one to carry and protect the American troops, the other, under Rear Adm. Thomas H. Troubridge, the British. Small naval parties were to precede the ground force assault waves to locate the beaches and mark them with colored lights. After daybreak, a naval salvage group was to lay ponton causeways to facilitate unloading.
Reinforced by elements of the British Desert Air Force, General House's U.S. XII Air Support Command would give direct support to the amphibious operation.
The supply arrangements were meticulously made. "I am satisfied," the Fifth Army G-4 wrote several days before the landing, "that the force will be amply supplied if we get an average break in the weather . . . . "22
The ships of the convoy swung south around Capri to avoid German mine fields and to deceive German agents and reconnaissance planes as to their destination. After nightfall, 21 January, the vessels
turned sharply toward Anzio. Five minutes after midnight they dropped anchor off the Anzio shore. Assault craft were lowered into the water, and patrol vessels herded them into formation. Shortly before 0200, 22 January, the boats of the first assault wave were heading toward the beaches. At 0150, two British landing craft equipped with rockets launched a 5-minute barrage on the landing beaches.
There was no reply. The shore line was dark and silent.
Everyone had expected the landing to be bitterly opposed. Colonel Darby, the Ranger Force commander, for example, was concerned not only about the resistance he anticipated but also by the shallowness of the beach at Anzio and the nearby rocks. His immediate objective was a big white casino on the beach. "When I run out of that landing craft," he had told naval planners, "I don't want to have to look to right or left. I'll be moving so fast that I want to make sure that . . . I will run right through the front door of the casino." He missed his target by only ten or twenty yards. But best of all, nobody was shooting at him.23
What everyone had overlooked, while bending every effort toward achieving surprise, was the possibility that the Germans might actually be taken unawares. No one had expected to gain total surprise in the landing. Yet as the initial assault waves swarmed ashore at 0200, no Germans opposed them.
"We achieved what is certainly one of the most complete surprises in history," General Lucas wrote in his diary. "The Biscayne was anchored 3½ miles off shore, and I could not believe my eyes when I stood on the bridge and saw no machine gun or other fire on the beach."24
Allied planes flew more than 1,200 sorties on 22 January in support of the landing, but the only fire against the ground troops came from a few small coast artillery and antiaircraft units.25 Two batteries fired wildly for a few minutes before daylight until silenced by naval guns. A few other miscellaneous artillery pieces near the beaches had no chance even to open fire.
Small and scattered mine fields, mostly in the port of Anzio, proved to be the greatest hazard to the troops coming ashore. The only opposition immediately inland came from two depleted coast-watching battalions recently relieved from the Gustav Line for rest and rehabilitation; they were quickly overrun.
The 3d Division landed on beaches south of Anzio and was three miles inland by midmorning, with all its artillery and tanks ashore. After destroying four bridges along the Mussolini Canal to protect the right flank, the men dug in to repel a German counterattack that did not come.
The three battalions of Rangers seized the port of Anzio, while the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion swung down the coastal road and occupied Nettuno, two miles away. Behind them came the 504th Parachute Infantry. "The day was sunny and warm," a paratrooper later remembered, "making it very hard to
SHIPS OFF ANZIO AWAITING SIGNALS TO MOVE TO SHORE
believe that a war was going on and that we were in the middle of it."26
The British 1st Division landed on beaches north of Anzio, where mines and shallow water imposed short delays. By midday, the troops were more than two miles inland, and British Commandos had swung over to cut the road leading to Albano, establishing a roadblock just north of Anzio.
Behind the assault troops, engineers cleared the mine fields, bulldozed exit roads across the dunes, and handled streams of men and supplies coming ashore. Despite some sporadic long-range shelling from German guns and despite three hit-and-run raids by German planes, the beachhead was quickly organized. A mine damaged a mine sweeper, and bombs sank an LCI, but engineers cleared debris from the harbor, naval personnel hauled away sunken vessels and swept the harbor, and by early afternoon the port of Anzio was opened. Because the British beaches were too shallow for effective unloading operations, General Lucas switched the British to the newly opened port. By midnight of 22 January, VI Corps had some 36,000 men, 3,200 vehicles, and large quantities of supplies ashore--about 90 percent of the personnel and equipment of the assault convoys.
Casualties were extremely light: 13 killed, 97 wounded, and 44 missing. The VI Corps had taken 227 prisoners.
Intermittent bombing by German aircraft was the only harassment. The first planes had appeared over the beaches about 0815, and raids continued every
MEN AND EQUIPMENT MOVE ASHORE SOUTH OF ANZIO ON D-DAY
three or four hours.27 This tactic stemmed from Hitler, who believed that the decisive act to take against Allied troops going ashore was to drop bombs "on their heads the moment they land." The bombs would force the debarking troops to take cover and thereby waste precious time. During that period of enforced delay German reserves would start to arrive and prepare for the eventual attack designed to throw the beachhead forces into the sea.28
Despite the nuisance raids, VI Corps had a beachhead firmly in hand and a port captured virtually intact. Thus far, the amphibious operation was a resounding success.
The Allied landing at Anzio had taken the Germans by surprise because the British 10 Corps attack across the Garigliano had attracted Kesselring's attention and his two reserve divisions to the Gustav Line.29 The Rome area was practically denuded of German troops, and Kesselring had no forces available to counter the Allied landings, no headquarters to organize even an emergency defense. According to the immediate Tenth Army intelligence estimates,
the Allied landing had a good chance of major success. If Allied troops quickly reached Valmontone at the head of the Liri valley and cut the lines of communication to the Tenth Army, if they turned from Anzio and directly threatened the Tenth Army rear, or if they established a base for a later offensive, they would force the Germans to withdraw from the Gustav Line.30
Kesselring learned of the invasion about an hour after the troops began to land. Three hours later, from reports coming into his headquarters, Kesselring estimated that the landing was a full-scale operation. His immediate judgment was that the Allied troops would probably try to seize the Alban Hills. If they rapidly exploited their unopposed landing and moved to these heights, they would jeopardize the entire German strategy in Italy. Holding the Gustav Line would probably become impossible.31
At 0500, Kesselring ordered the 4th Parachute Division, which was in the process of being activated in the area immediately north of Rome, and several nearby replacement units of the Hermann Goering Division to block the roads leading from Anzio to the Alban Hills. An hour later, reporting the landing to OKW, he requested reinforcements. OKW responded later in the day by ordering the 715th Division to move from southern France to Italy, the 114th Division from the Balkans, and miscellaneous units in about division strength from Germany. OKW also authorized Kesselring to activate a new division, the 92d, from several replacement battalions in northern Italy.
Not long after 0710, Kesselring directed the Fourteenth Army headquarters in northern Italy to make forces available for employment against the landing. The army headquarters ordered the 65th Division (less one regiment), which was stationed at Genoa, the 362d Division less one regiment), stationed at Rimini, and elements of the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Division, newly formed at Leghorn, to proceed immediately to Anzio. By evening these units were moving.
At 0830, Kesselring reluctantly telephoned Vietinghoff and instructed him to transfer from the Gustav Line area a corps headquarters and all the combat troops he could spare. Vietinghoff selected the I Parachute Corps headquarters, which had arrived only a day or two before from the Rome area, the 3d Panzer Grenadier Division (less one regiment), the 71st Division, and parts of the Hermann Goering Division. Most of these troops began to march toward Anzio during the day. Their withdrawal from the Gustav Line would insure the retention by the British of the important bridgehead they had secured across the Garigliano. Later that day, Vietinghoff would pull the 26th Panzer Division and parts of the 1st Parachute Division out of the Adriatic front and send them to Anzio.
Not long after his conversation with Vietinghoff on the morning of 22 January, Kesselring ordered the Commandant of Rome, the only general officer in the Rome area who was available for the assignment, to improvise a staff and take command of the Anzio front until
THE ANZIO-NETTUNO AREA
the I Parachute Corps headquarters arrived later in the day.
Despite the far-ranging sorties of Allied aircraft that were active over much of southern Italy, German units moved quickly toward Anzio. At 1700, the I Parachute Corps headquarters reached the Anzio area and took command of defenses hastily being erected by a variety of battalions. By nightfall, a thin defensive line had been set up around the Allied beachhead.
Kesselring was now beginning to feel more optimistic. He might very well, he believed, be able to contain the beachhead. According to a report written after the war:
The Allies on the beachhead on the first day of the landing did not conform to the German High Command's expectations. Instead of moving northward with the first wave to seize the Alban Mountains . . . the landing forces limited their objective. Their initial action was to occupy a small beachhead . . . . As the Allied forces made no preparations for a large-scale attack on the first day of the landings, the German Command estimated that the Allies would improve their positions, and bring up more troops . . . . During this time sufficient German troops would arrive to prevent an Allied breakthrough.32
Despite the "state of acute continuous tension" that Westphal, Kesselring's chief of staff, noticed at the headquarters, Kesselring remained unshaken. When Vietinghoff telephoned in the
evening to advocate an immediate withdrawal from the Gustav Line in order to eradicate the threat at Anzio--particularly since he doubted his ability to hold after having dispatched such strong forces to the beachhead--he was surprised to hear Kesselring tell him to stand fast. Even though an Allied attack during the next two days would, in Kesselring's opinion, probably succeed in getting to the Alban Hills, he told Vietinghoff there would be no withdrawal from the Gustav Line.33
Since the first strong German contingents could not arrive at Anzio for two more days, an Allied attack launched before then would, Kesselring estimated, overrun the few units in opposition. In effect the road to the Alban Hills was open. Beyond the Alban Hills, Rome lay virtually undefended.34
To Kesselring's vast relief, the Allied landing force on 23 January did little more than slightly increase the size of the beachhead as more troops came ashore and more equipment and supplies were unloaded. That evening Kesselring told Vietinghoff he "believed that the danger of a large-scale expansion of the beachhead was no longer imminent."35
On 24 January, the Germans watched the 1st British Division move a few miles forward to the Moletta River and anchor the Allied left flank there, while the 3d U.S. Division, plus Rangers and the 504th Parachute Infantry, took several more bridges along the Mussolini Canal to secure the right flank. The beachhead was seven miles deep, the front was sixteen miles long, but there seemed to be no preparations for a full-scale attack. "The Allied landing forces," the Germans noted, "limited themselves to reconnaissance and patrol. . . . By this time, the German defenses had been strongly reinforced, and the German Command considered the danger of an Allied breakthrough to be removed."36 Westphal later wrote, "On January 22 and even the following day, an audacious and enterprising formation of enemy troops . . . could have penetrated into the city of Rome itself without having to overcome any serious opposition . . . . But the landed enemy forces lost time and hesitated."37
During that period of hesitation, German forces raced toward Anzio. From northern and southern Italy, Germany, France, and Yugoslavia, units moved steadily toward the beachhead despite Allied air attacks against roads and railways. Traveling for the most part at night, more troops arrived in less time than the Allied command had believed possible.
The first reinforcements came from southern Italy as early as 22 January, parts and pieces of the 3d and 29th Panzer Grenadier, the 71st, and the Hermann Goering Divisions. Four days later the first units from northern Italy began to reach the Rome area, advance elements of the 65th and 362d Divisions.
It took time to erect and organize a defensive line, as Kesselring later wrote, from the "jumble of multifarious troops, which streamed in from all directions,"
MEN OF THE 5O4TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY AT THE MUSSOLINI CANAL
and "oddly assorted groups succeeded in combining together to organize the first significant defense against the enemy landing." Since "no attack aimed at gaining possession of the Alban Mountains had been launched by the enemy on 23 or 24 January, the first and greatest crisis had been overcome."38
Because his forces were rapidly increasing in strength, Kesselring on 24 January ordered the Fourteenth Army headquarters to move from Verona to take command of the beachhead defenses from the I Parachute Corps headquarters. When the army commander, Generaloberst Eberhard von Mackensen, assumed control on the following day, he had parts of eight divisions deployed around the beachhead, elements of five more on the way.
Kesselring informed Mackensen that his primary mission was to launch a decisive counterattack as quickly as possible. The beachhead had to be eliminated without delay so that Vietinghoff could regain forces for his Tenth Army to hold the Gustav Line. Hitler had also made it clear by then that the reinforcements Kesselring was receiving were to be only temporary. When the beachhead was destroyed, the forces would have to return to France to prepare to meet the Allied cross-Channel attack that was expected in the spring.
Mackensen divided his defensive line into three sectors, the Hermann Goering Division defending Cisterna in the eastern portion, the 3d Panzer Grenadier
Division defending Albano in the center, and the 65th Division behind the Moletta River in the west. By 28 January, Mackensen had submitted a plan for an attack to be launched on 1 February. Kesselring had to postpone the attack one day, for OKW reported "reliable information" of a projected Allied landing at Civitavecchia, fifty miles above Rome. The continuing battle was raging along the Gustav Line and the size of the Allied beachhead force argued against a second Allied landing, but Kesselring had to divert some troops to Civitavecchia just in case the invasion actually took place.
For the attack scheduled 2 February, Mackensen would strike along the entire front, his main forces thrusting down the road from Albano to Anzio. Before the attack jumped off, the Germans had to go over on the defensive--the Allied command had launched its own attack to break out of the beachhead.
1. Clark Diary, 9 Jan 44.
2. Ibid., 11 Jan 44.
4. See Clark Diary, 9 Jan 44.
5. VI Corps FO 19, 15 Jan 44; Wilson Despatch, p. 10.
6. 15th AGp OI 34, The Battle for Rome, 12 Jan 44.
7. Fifth Army Intel Summaries, Dec 43, and 3, 4, 11 Jan 44.
8. Fifth Army FO 5, 12 Jan 44. See also Annex 1, G-2 Plan, Outline Plan, Opn SHINGLE.
9. Lucas Diary, 4 Jan 44. General Lucas' state of mind has been discussed in detail in the author's "General Lucas at Anzio," Command Decisions, edited by Kent Roberts Greenfield (Washington, 1960), and Anzio: the Gamble that Failed (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1963).
10. Lucas Diary, 10 Jan 44
11. Ibid., 2 Jul 44.
12. Clark Diary, 18 Jan 44.
13. Ibid., 19 Jan 44.
14. Ibid., 19 Jan 44. See also Clark, Calculated Risk, pp. 268-69.
15. Lucas Diary, 16 Jan 44.
16. Ibid., 12 Jan 44.
17. Sun Force (504th Prcht Inf) Outline Plan for Opn SHINGLE, n.d., and 504th Combat Team Artillery Outline Plan, 8 Jan 44, both in SHINGLE Corresp File. See also Clark Diary, 9 Jan 44.
18. Wilson Despatch, p. 12; Clark Diary, 18 Jan 44.
19. Fifth Army Outline Plan, SHINGLE, 22 Nov 43.
20. See Msg, Adm John Cunningham to Gen Clark, 1720, 10 Nov 43, Fifth Army G-3 Jnl; Directive, Adm John Cunningham to Adm Lowry, SHINGLE, 29 Dec 43, SHINGLE Corresp File.
21. The Navies at Anzio and Formia, 23 Apr 44, OCMH.
22. Col Tate, Memo, 18 Jan 44, Fifth Army G-3 Jnl.
23. Darby Lecture, 27 Oct 44.
24. Lucas Diary, 24 Jan 44. For an excellent account of the extent of the surprise achieved, see Interrogation Rpt on 2d Lt Siegmund Seiler, 25 Jan 44, Current Rpts Investigations 1944.
25. Air Programme, n.d., SHINGLE Corresp File.
26. 504th Prcht Inf History.
27. Fifth Army Engr Rpt on Port and Beach Opns at Anzio, Apr 44.
28. Felix Gilbert, ed., Hitler Directs His War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1950), p. 78.
29. The following is taken largely from Ralph S. Mavrogordato, The Battle for the Anzio Beachhead, MS # R-194, OCMH. See also Magna E. Bauer, Shifting of German Units Before and During Nettuno Landing and Effects of American Rapido River Attack of 21 January 1944 on the Movement of German Reserves, MS # R-75, OCMH; MS # R-78 (Mavrogordato), OCMH.
30. CSDIC/CMF/M296, Detailed Interrogation Rpt of Thirteen German Intel Officers, n.d. (about Aug 45), Intel Activities, AG 383.4.
31. See The German Operation at Anzio (German Military Documents Section, Military Intelligence Division, Camp Ritchie, Md., 1946), pp. 9ff.
32. The German Opn at Anzio, pp. 12-13.
33. MS # X-113; MS # T-1a (Westphal et al.), OCMH.
34. MS # R-78 (Mavrogordato), OCMH. See also MS # R-75 (Bauer), OCMH.
35. The German Opn at Anzio, p. 14.
37. Westphal, German Army in the West, p. 158. See also Generalmajor Wolf-Ruedijer Hauser, chs. 9, 11, in MS # T-1a (Westphal et al.), OCMH.
38. Quoted from Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring, Kesselring: A Soldier's Record (copyright 1953, 1954 by William Morrow and Company, Inc.), p. 233; Fifth Army G-2 History, Feb 44.