The Opening Battles at Anzio
The Allied Attack
The VI Corps had come ashore on a large coastal plain between the Anzio beaches and the Alban Hills. Formerly the malarial Pontine Marshes, the land had been partially reclaimed by Mussolini's government and transformed into a fertile farming region through a system of drainage canals and ditches. Almost in the center of the plain was the largest waterway, the Mussolini Canal, "a prime tank trap," which General Lucas used to protect his right flank.1 South of the canal the Germans had flooded the ground as a precaution against invasion, and there, except for a few exposed roads that were virtual causeways, the land had reverted to its primitive state.
Ahead of the Allied troops was an expanse of slightly rolling farmland dotted with stone and masonry houses. The main road from the beachhead ran north up a gradual slope most of the 20 miles between Anzio and Albano, then climbed steeply up the southern face of the Alban Hills to the town perched at the top. There the Anzio-Albano road joined Highway 7, which led to Rome, 15 miles away. From the height of Albano, the Anzio plain stretched in open panorama to the sea. West of the Albano road, deep, brush-covered ravines offered obstacles to tank maneuver but presented excellent hidden assembly points for infantry. East of the road, where the country was relatively clear, several large railroad embankments gave concealment and defilade against ground observation and fire. Eastward from the twin towns of Anzio and Nettuno, secondary roads led to Cisterna, a dozen miles away on Highway 7 and about 15 miles below Albano. Fifteen miles east of Cisterna lay Valmontone, at the upper end of the Liri valley and astride Highway 6, the inland route to Rome, 25 miles away.
Almost due north from Anzio, Highways 6 and 7 skirted the northern and southern edges of the Alban Hills, which were formed by a great volcano long since extinct. The rim of the crater, which has a diameter of eight miles, encloses two large lakes, fertile fields, and wooded hills, some of which rise hundreds of feet. Possession of this natural barrier standing between the Allies and Rome gave the Germans unrestricted observation over the Anzio beachhead.2
If General Lucas could take both Albano and Valmontone, he would cut the two main highways linking the German Tenth Army in southern Italy with Rome. He would also be at the gates of the Eternal City. But General Lucas at the outset was more interested in building up his beachhead than in expanding it. He devoted his attention to putting the Anzio harbor, which he had captured intact, into operation at once to handle incoming troops and supplies and to keep his supply line open. He personally supervised the establishment of an antiaircraft warning system, construction of an airfield, and clearance of the supplies that jammed the beaches behind the first row of dunes.
Lucas' concern with logistics came not only from General Clark's and General Brann's suggestions of caution but also from his own natural prudence. "My days are filled with excitement and anxiety," Lucas wrote in his diary on the fourth day of the invasion, "although I feel now that the beachhead is safe and I can plan for the future with some assurance." While a regiment of the 45th Division was coming ashore that day, the 1st British and 3d U.S. Divisions were advancing "to extend the beachhead a little."3
General Clark had visited the beachhead on the morning of D-day. He spent two hours ashore, then conferred with General Lucas and Admiral Lowry aboard the Biscayne before returning to his command post at Caserta. He was well satisfied with the landings, and on 22 January his sense of achievement increased as reports reaching him during the day confirmed the success of the invasion.4 By the next day, however, he was becoming impatient. He wrote Lucas:
Little is known of your situation due to poor communications. Please answer the following questions at once. How far have your patrols worked? What are your intentions for immediate operations? What is your estimate of enemy situation? Present and predicted unloading capacity of port of Anzio? Can LSTs unload dryshod at Anzio? Is unloading being affected by weather?5
"Lucas must be aggressive," Clark wrote in his diary. "He must take some chances. He must use the 3d Division to push out."6 Already Clark had decided to reinforce the beachhead to the maximum extent permitted by its supply installations and facilities. He planned to send the entire 45th Division and the bulk of the 1st Armored Division to Anzio; to alert the 1st Special Service Force for immediate movement there; and to shift his own tactical headquarters so that he would be on hand "when our build-up in that area is sufficient to take the offensive."7 Like General Lucas, General Clark was well aware of the importance of keeping the "newly-won bridgehead area" well supplied. "The extent to which the new positions can be exploited," he wrote, "depends on maintenance which must be attended to with every diligence."8
General Alexander, who had visited the Anzio beachhead on the first day of the landings, returned on 25 January and showed much optimism about future
prospects. "What a splendid piece of work," he said to Lucas. Although Lucas reminded him that the task was hardly complete, he himself thought that his accomplishment to date, a beachhead nearly ten miles deep, was not bad.9
General Clark, also at the beachhead on 25 January, was impressed by Lucas' logistical arrangements. But he suggested that Lucas push out at once to take Campoleone on the road to Albano and Cisterna on the road to Valmontone--not because of the value of these places for offensive action but because they were important anchors for a defensive line. In response to intelligence estimates that the Germans had about three full divisions at Anzio and a fourth possibly on the way, Clark cautioned Lucas, "Alertness for counterattack is indicated," and promised him more troops.10
To General Clark, securing the beachhead against counterattack was important, but at the same time he was looking ahead to offensive operations. Within a week, he believed, Lucas would have sufficient strength at the beachhead to shift from defense to offense. "I will then strike out," he wrote in his diary, "and cut the German lines of communication, forcing his withdrawal out of the Cassino area. Then, I will turn my attention to Rome."11
If Lucas took Albano, the Allied forces would have direct access to Rome by way of Highway 7. But judging Lucas too cautious to aim for the moon, Kesselring concentrated his troop strength at Cisterna.
The 3d Division had moved to within four miles of Cisterna, but the closer it got the more resistance it encountered. In contrast, the British 1st Division had gone steadily ahead on the Albano road and by 25 January had taken Aprilia, a cluster of brick buildings designed as a model farm settlement and called by the troops the "Factory." Located on a slight rise of ground, Aprilia controlled a network of roads that had become vital because rain had turned the fields on the Anzio plain into a vast bog. Four miles beyond Aprilia was Campoleone, which was still only lightly defended. But Lucas was not yet ready to launch a coordinated offensive. "I must keep my feet on the ground and my forces in hand," he wrote in his diary, "and do nothing foolish."12
Rain, hail, and sleet on 26 January disrupted supply operations at the beachhead, and two heavy air raids that night inflicted casualties, destroyed trucks and ammunition dumps, started fires, and gouged big craters in the roads. Fortunately, with only a short interruption, the port continued in operation. General Lucas cabled General Clark about the "heavy rain, sleet, lightning and strong winds [that made] unloading of Liberties and over beaches impossible . . . . Anzio harbor shelled by hostile long range artillery . . . . Plan to continue aggressive reconnaissance and local attacks to enlarge beachhead."13
General Clark's reaction was calm: "I feel perfectly safe in the bridgehead with the number of troops in there . . . . If the German buildup is not too strong we will succeed in pushing out."14
RUINS OF THE "FACTORY"
General Lucas called his division commanders to a meeting on 27 January to discuss plans for taking the offensive some time soon. The prospects for enlarging the beachhead appeared excellent to the corps commander--he expected thirty LST's to unload at Anzio that day; the 3d Division was within three miles of Cisterna; and the 1st British Division had repulsed a counterattack at Aprilia.15
In light of an army intelligence estimate that day, Lucas appeared dilatory. The enemy strength on the VI Corps front, Clark informed him, "does not exceed three full divisions" and there "are indications that he [the enemy] is having difficulties reinforcing your front."16
Thus, when General Alexander expressed dissatisfaction with the progress being made at Anzio and voiced specifically his feeling that Lucas was pushing neither rapidly nor hard enough, General Clark was not surprised. Alexander, Clark recorded in his diary,
is worried about the slowness of the attack . . . by the VI Corps. I am too, and have been for at least 48 hours . . . . When I told Alex that I was going up personally tomorrow and would stay up for several days, he was completely satisfied for I told him it was my idea to lay on an all-out coordinated corps attack supported by tanks.17
To Lucas, Clark sent a cable asking when the corps commander was going to take Cisterna.18
Before General Clark left for the beachhead on 28 January, his aide made the Fifth Army commander's thoughts a matter of record. Clark had
felt for some time that the force at Anzio is not being pushed forward with sufficient aggressiveness and that opportunities to make progress northward while the German troops were as yet disorganized at the time are being lost. Accordingly, he determined to go at once to the Anzio front and urge General Lucas to initiate aggressive action at once.19
At the beachhead, after approving Lucas' thoroughness in preparing his attack, Clark urged him to launch it immediately--"full advantage of the landing could only be taken by bold and aggressive action and . . . delay now would permit the enemy to build up forces opposite."20 The time seemed especially ripe for boldness. According to intelligence estimates, "No definite enemy line of resistance [was] encountered" that day in the VI Corps area.21
Although Clark had in mind taking the two key points of Cisterna and Campoleone, Lucas understood Clark to mean that he was disappointed because VI Corps had not rushed immediately to the Alban Hills. And this, Lucas was certain, required more troops than he had. Until reinforcements arrived, his offensive effort would have to be less than all out.22
The Fifth Army staff understood the mission assigned to the corps as being "to establish a suitably defended beachhead and then to cut the enemy's line of communications and force his entire withdrawal along the main Fifth Army front or to cut his forces off and defeat them." The second part of the mission, to attack toward the Alban Hills, seemed overdue.23
To the Germans also, General Lucas appeared hesitant to move, reluctant to attack. According to Mackensen's Fourteenth Army chief of staff:
Every minute was precious for the Germans and Allies alike. What would have happened if the enemy had advanced boldly immediately after landing, if he had occupied the Alban Mountains and thrust on to Valmontone, thereby cutting off the vital supply roads of . . . the Tenth Army? But the enemy did not make this advance, he did not feel strong enough; thus he threw away his great chance. This neglect was an error . . . . The enemy's methodical, playing-for-safety manner of waging war was revealed again in the first days of the fighting for the beachhead. He felt his way forward cautiously to the northeast towards Cisterna, and northwards in the direction of Aprilia-Campoleone . . . . it was already too late.24
On 29 January, the eighth day of the invasion, reporting "no definite [enemy] line of resistance," Lucas at last felt strong enough to launch a full-scale attack.25 Planning to attack on the following day, he requested extensive naval and air support and directed heavy artillery support. He projected a two-pronged
advance. The British 1st Division was to make the main effort toward Albano. He wanted the 1st U.S. Armored Division--less CCB, which had remained in the Cassino area--to exploit British gains in the direction of Rome. To obtain room for the armor, Lucas directed the British to carry out a preliminary operation during the night of the 29th to secure the line of the Rome-Cisterna railroad. In the right of the corps zone, the 3d Division, with the 504th Parachute Infantry and the Ranger Force attached, was to take Cisterna, thereby cutting Highway 7, and be ready to drive on Valmontone.26 "Will go all out tomorrow or at once," Lucas assured General Clark, but added with his customary caution, "if conditions warrant."27 While preparing his all-out attack, General Lucas indicated his continuing concern with the logistical aspects of his situation by requesting additional truck companies, Quartermaster service companies, and an Ordnance ammunition company for the beachhead.28 To those who were unaware of VI Corps plans, no changes seemed to be taking place at the beachhead. "Except for reliefs and patrols," General Alexander's army group headquarters noted, "there was little other action."29
The attack of the 1st British Division achieved success. Troops won the railroad embankment and continued steadily to Campoleone, which they captured and made secure by the end of 31 January. The 1st Armored Division, on the other hand, could get nowhere--muddy fields, impassable gullies, and lack of cover prevented the tankers from even starting to exploit the British gain.
On the other side of the beachhead, General Truscott used Rangers to spearhead his 3d Division attack to Cisterna. He instructed Colonel Darby to infiltrate two of his three Ranger battalions into the town during the night of 29 January, the third battalion to clear the road for tanks and infantry that were to rush forward the next morning to block Highway 7 in strength. The 7th Infantry on the left and the 15th Infantry on the right, also attacking by infiltration, were to cut the highway above and below the town.30
Slipping across a branch of the Mussolini Canal at 0130, 30 January, two Ranger battalions in a long column moved silently along a half-dry irrigation waterway called the Pantano ditch. At dawn the head of the 1st Battalion, leading the column, was at the outskirts of Cisterna; the rear of the 3d Battalion was about a mile and a half away.
As the Rangers emerged from the ditch to enter Cisterna, they walked into an ambush. German tanks and self-propelled guns tore the Ranger battalion apart, while infantrymen encircled the small groups into which the Americans had dispersed. The Rangers fought valiantly all morning, but their light weapons were no match for the heavier German arms. The regiments operating on the flanks could not make enough progress to remove the German pressure, nor could tanks and infantry break
through the German opposition to come up and relieve the Rangers from the rear. Of the 767 Rangers who had started toward Cisterna, only 6 returned; the rest were either dead or captured.31 According to General Truscott, the fighting around Cisterna was the "most severe his division has encountered."32
The resistance came from units of the Hermann Goering Division fighting from dug-in and well-organized positions heavily supported by artillery and tanks. They might possibly have been defeated and overrun, but the first elements of the 715th Division, coming from southern France, arrived near Cisterna on the morning of 30 January, and Mackensen fed these troops into the defenses as soon as they became available.
On 30 January General Clark inspected the new Fifth Army advance command post laid out in a pine grove on Prince Borghese' palace grounds just north of Nettuno, conferred with various commanders and staff members at the headquarters of the VI Corps and the 1st Armored Division, and observed the course of the attack. At the end of the day he summed up his reactions:
I have been disappointed for several days by the lack of aggressiveness on the part of the VI Corps, although it would have been wrong, in my opinion, to attack and capture our final objective on this front [the Alban Hills]. Reconnaissance in force with tanks should have been more aggressive to capture Cisterna and Campoleone. Repeatedly I have told Lucas to push vigorously to get those local objectives. He has not insisted upon this with the Division Commanders. Upon my arrival here today, I was disappointed to find that about half of our available armor of the 1st Armored Division had been committed to the protection of the 1st British Division's left flank. I hope to extricate these commitments in order to launch a full-out armored attack to the northwest from Campoleone tomorrow. I was likewise distressed to find that the 3d Division had led with the Ranger force in its attack on Cisterna. This was a definite error in judgment, for the Rangers do not have the support weapons to overcome the resistance indicated . . . . I have been harsh with Lucas today, much to my regret, but in an effort to energize him to greater effort.33
Clark was not only disappointed in the attack but he was surprised to find the opposition stronger than intelligence reports had indicated. General Alexander had said "a couple of days ago" that he "considers some risks can be taken" at Anzio and "suggests that all efforts should now be urgently concentrated on full scale coordinated attacks to capture Cisterna and Campoleone followed by a rapid advance on Velletri," seven miles above Cisterna on Highway 7. But Clark
now doubted that the comparative strengths of the opponents at Anzio permitted this sort of decisive action. By 30 January the German forces, he estimated, were roughly equivalent to somewhat more than three divisions, with about 175 tanks, and three additional divisions would probably be at the beachhead by 5 February. The Allied forces at the end of 30 January totaled almost four divisions, with approximately 240 tanks. There had "been an unavoidable delay in attacking the Colli-Laziali feature [the Alban Hills] caused by unfavorable weather which resulted in a delay in the VI Corps build-up." And consequently, the enemy forces in the Alban Hills area now appeared substantial enough to slow the progress of the beachhead forces. To counter the increasing number of German units, Clark planned to reinforce the 1st British Division with a British brigade taken from the 10 Corps Garigliano front and perhaps, if it proved logistically feasible, with an American regiment from II Corps--which would bring VI Corps to the maximum strength that could be supplied. If the Germans brought in enough reinforcements to prevent VI Corps from cutting Highway 7, which seemed more than likely, it would probably be necessary for the Allied forces to assume the defensive in the Anzio area until a breakthrough could be made on the Rapido-Garigliano front.34
By the 31st, the VI Corps had made so little progress General Clark was convinced that reaching Cisterna and Campoleone would be the extent of the offensive effort. For the moment there was no chance of moving to the Alban Hills against the forces the Germans had brought to Anzio.35
When General Lucas' attack came to an end on 1 February, none of the Allied commanders appreciated how close VI Corps had come to success. The German forces had been compelled to go over entirely to the defense, putting aside all thought of offensive action of their own. Employing all their reserves, suffering casualties of about 5,500 men, approximately the same number as the Allied forces, Kesselring and Mackensen desperately juggled their troop units and just managed to hold.
What appeared to the Allied command to be formidable strength was what Kesselring called "a higgledy-piggledy jumble--units of numerous divisions fighting confusedly side by side."36 Allied intelligence, having identified many different units, assumed that each was present in entirety. Total troops, then, like total units, intelligence officers guessed, far outnumbered those of the VI Corps.37 At least one estimate warned against the practice: "It is clear now that the enemy, probably for deception purposes is insuring that each front [at the Gustav Line and at Anzio] has representation of the same units."38 But the tendency was inescapable. Actually, about 100,000 Allied troops at Anzio fought less than 90,000 Germans. The Allied forces had the additional advantage of being balanced, for the amphibious operation had been carefully planned and prepared. In contrast, German countermeasures were improvised. For the most part, fragments,
remnants, and splinters of divisions, depleted units, recently organized formations, provisional commands, and barely trained troops manned the German line. To the Germans, the defensive stand bordered on the miraculous.39
On the afternoon of 1 February, General Alexander joined General Clark at the beachhead. They discussed what Clark termed Alexander's "supposition that SHINGLE had not been exploited as rapidly as might have been the case." Pointing out the serious opposition encountered, Clark found "no valid ground for dissatisfaction with progress made."
He then presented an idea for another landing, this one to be made at Civitavecchia, sixty-five miles north of Anzio, forty miles above Rome, by two divisions no later than 15 February. General Clark was aware that the naval authorities would probably be reluctant to underwrite an operation of this sort, and he knew how marginal the shipping resources would be. But the landings, in his opinion, would certainly be unopposed and would threaten Rome. Together with the forces at Anzio, the units put ashore at Civitavecchia would fashion a pincer movement against the capital city.
General Alexander and his chief of staff, who had accompanied him to the beachhead, were, as Clark judged their reaction, "taken aback by the suggestion." They said that it presented logistical difficulties. "Overcome them," Clark said. But the notion seemed too wild, too daring--another landing would further disperse the Allied forces and put additional strains on the logistical structure, particularly the ships that would be involved.40
Instead, the two commanders decided to concentrate on winning the battle of the Anzio beachhead. Concluding that little could be gained in the immediate future by continued offensive action there, they preferred to have General Lucas prepare for a German counterattack, which they believed to be imminent.41 On the following day, 2 February, they directed Lucas to set up strong defensive positions, using mines and wire, and holding substantial forces in reserve. The VI Corps received reinforcements--the 1st Special Service Force arrived at the beachhead on 2 February and went into positions along the Mussolini Canal, and a brigade of the 56th British Division arrived on the following day to back up the British 1st Division.42
Although General Clark felt it foolish "to waste our strength" in continuing to attack, General Lucas was regretful. "I hate to stop attacking," he wrote in his diary. "We must keep him [the enemy] off balance all we can."43
By then, the initiative had passed to Kesselring. The Germans were about to try to push the Allies into the sea.
The day before the German offensive started, General Gruenther visited
General Lucas, who felt, Gruenther reported, "fairly comfortable about present situation." Lucas saw "No indications yet of major attack."44
The First German Counterattack
The Fourteenth Army commander, Mackensen, planned a frontal attack down both sides of the Albano road to Anzio. He preferred to outflank the Allied forces, but saw enveloping efforts west of the road as being vulnerable to Allied naval guns and those to the east as requiring bridging operations to get the troops across several major canals. Hoping to strike swiftly into the most vital sector of the beachhead, Mackensen decided to send tanks over the ground immediately adjacent to the main road. But before he launched his decisive attack, he wanted the network of roads controlled by Aprilia. He determined to launch a preliminary operation to capture this first objective. And to gain Aprilia, he turned to the finger-shaped Allied salient at Campoleone, "positively demanding," in the words of Mackensen's chief of staff, Generalmajor Wolf-Ruediger Hauser, to be counterattacked.45
Mackensen's preliminary attack jumped off in the very early hours of 4 February. A regiment of the 65th Division west of the road and portions of the 3d Panzer and 715th Divisions on the east struck both sides of the salient. Although muddy ground hampered supporting tanks and fierce British resistance slowed the German infantrymen, the attack cut through the defenses, and German troops joined on the main road to Anzio.
Isolated British units fought magnificently throughout the day under leaden skies and drizzling rain that kept Allied planes grounded, and by the end of the day the British had restored their positions. The Campoleone salient remained intact, but General Lucas considered the forward units dangerously exposed. He ordered withdrawal to a more defensible line. The British withdrew skillfully during the night and gave up two and a half miles of ground. They had suffered nearly 1,500 casualties, but they had reestablished a cohesive defensive line.
Lucas instructed his subordinate commanders to hold where they were, but at Clark's instigation he began to set up behind the front what he called a final beachhead line. Less than three miles behind the British front, about five miles behind the Americans, strongly fortified with barbed wire and mines, Lucas' final beachhead line coincided with the initial beachhead line occupied on 24 January, two days after the invasion. Leeward of these positions there could be no withdrawal. To bolster his final defenses, Lucas placed one regiment of the 45th Division on the left, along the Moletta River, reduced the frontage of the 1st British Division in the center, giving the British responsibility for most of the area west of the Anzio-Albano road, and reinforced the British with the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion and part of the 504th Parachute Infantry.46 In corps reserve he retained the 1st U.S. Armored Division--less
CCB, still in the Cassino area--and two regiments of the 45th Division.
When General Clark inspected the beachhead on 6 February, he was particularly interested in the defensive works and dispositions, which he checked in detail. He was struck by the reduced strength of the British division, which had lost many combat troops and antitank guns, and by the losses in the 3d Division. Clark would make every effort to send replacements to the beachhead to bring all units to authorized levels, but the problem would remain chronic throughout February.47
Approving General Lucas' defensive preparations, General Clark told the corps commander again that he was to be ready to go over to the offense when the German pressure slackened.48 To help Lucas give his undivided attention to the tactical problems, Clark established at the beachhead a small logistical group, staffed with officers from the Fifth Army headquarters, to take charge of the supply operations.
Supply operations in the American part of the beachhead had been handled since H plus 15 minutes of D-day, when the initial beach parties arrived ashore, by the 540th Engineer Combat Regiment. With attachments--men to work the supply dumps, military police, Signal Corps units, and Navy personnel--the regiment numbered approximately 4,200 men. At first bringing matériel ashore over three beaches, the regiment opened supply depots inland late on the afternoon of 23 January, the second day of the invasion, and eliminated the necessity for large dumps on the beaches. Then the 540th Engineers consolidated supply operations, limiting them to two beaches. Cargo from Liberty ships began to come ashore, and by the morning of the third day, all the D-day convoys of LCT's and LST's were completely unloaded. The 36th Engineer Combat Regiment operated the Anzio harbor and British naval detachments handled over-the-beach unloading for the British units until 6 February, when the 540th Engineers, released from attachment to VI Corps, went under the control of the Fifth Army engineer with responsibility for all the unloading operations at the beachhead. A detachment of the 10th Port Battalion operated the harbor. Stormy weather during the month of February would cause operations to be curtailed and even temporarily halted from time to time, and an insufficient number of LCT's would make it necessary to press LCI's and LCM's into service to unload Liberty ships. But unloading continued through air raid and artillery bombardment, in bad weather and good, nourishing the Allied forces that crowded the beachhead in increasing numbers.49
If supply operations gave little cause for concern, the situation along the front was quite otherwise. Mackensen, trying to seize Aprilia as a springboard for a final crushing attack to the sea, sent troops forward again at 2100, 7 February. German troops infiltrated British flanks and organized small pockets of
resistance within British lines as a prelude to the main effort by units of the 715th Division. The British battled staunchly throughout the night and the following day, supported by heavy artillery fire and the naval guns of three cruisers, and prevented the Germans from taking Aprilia.
But Mackensen persisted. On the 9th, using the same pattern of artillery preparation, infantry infiltration, and concentrated assault, he pushed the British out of the Factory.
While American paratroopers and tankers entered the battle to give the British time to organize and consolidate new positions, while eighty-four medium bombers dropped their loads on German troop assembly areas near Campoleone, General Lucas asked for help. Could General Clark send him an additional infantry division? Clark's reaction was negative and irritated. "He should know better," he wrote in his diary, "than to demand another infantry division, realizing full well that I do not have the division, except those that are tired and committed to battle; nor do I have the shipping, nor could it [the division] be maintained logistically in the beachhead."50
When the Germans resumed their attack on the morning of 10 February, Mackensen gained the ground around Aprilia that he deemed necessary for his decisive offensive. But by that time, the combat had been so wearing he needed fresh units.
The British also needed fresh troops. A brigade of the 56th Division was reinforcing the 1st Division, but Alexander and Clark decided to send the rest of the 56th to the beachhead.51 To bolster the front immediately, Lucas committed in the area just west of the main road the two regiments of the 45th Division he had been holding in reserve. The regiments tried to retake Aprilia, but two attacks on successive days had no success.
A message arrived at this time telling General Lucas that because General Alexander "considers it essential to the achievement of our objective which is to drive the enemy North of Rome, the 6 Corps should resume the offensive immediately the tactical situation permits."52 The message had little meaning for Lucas, who remarked in his diary, "This is becoming a war of attrition. Until I am considerably reinforced I can't do much about it."53
He was unaware that Mackensen was about to launch his decisive attack to eliminate the beachhead and that VI Corps would soon be fighting for its life. At the same time, Fifth Army was about to execute an operation in the Cassino area designed to get troops up the Liri valley to make swift contact with the beachhead.
1. Burhans, The First Special Service Force, p. 162. The major secondary sources for the Anzio beachhead are: Fifth Army History, Part IV; AMERICAN FORCES IN ACTION, Anzio Beachhead (Washington, 1947); Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, Anzio (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1961); Clark, Calculated Risk, pp. 283ff.; Truscott, Command Missions, pp. 309ff.; Martin Blumenson, Anzio: The Gamble That Failed (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1963).
2. See Fifth Army Ltr, 14 Nov 43, and Incls, Hq Fifth Army File; Fifth Army Tactical Studies of the Terrain, 10, 22, 29 Mar 44.
3. Lucas Diary, 25 Jan 44.
4. Clark Diary, 22 Jan 44.
5. Ibid., 23 Jan 44; Clark to Lucas, 24 Jan 44, Fifth Army G-3 Jnl.
6. Clark Diary, 23 Jan 44.
8. Ibid., 24 Jan 44.
9. Lucas Diary, 25 Jan 44.
10. Clark to Lucas, 25 Jan 44, Fifth Army G-2 Intel Summaries, AG 370.2.
11. Clark Diary, 25 Jan 44.
12. Lucas Diary, 25 Jan 44.
13. Clark Diary, 26 Jan 44.
15. Lucas Diary, 27 Jan 44.
16. Clark to Lucas, 27 Jan 44, Fifth Army G-2 Intel Summaries, AG 370.2.
17. Clark Diary, 27 Jan 44.
19. Ibid., 28 Jan 44.
21. Fifth Army Intel Summary 142, 28 Jan 44.
22. See Blumenson, "General Lucas at Anzio," Command Decisions.
23. Fifth Army Rpt of G-3 Opns, Jan 44.
24. Hauser in MS # T-1a (Westphal et al.), OCMH. The Hauser manuscript is one of the best accounts of the operations at the beachhead from the German point of view.
25. Fifth Army Intel Summary 143, 29 Jan 44.
26. VI Corps FO, 29 Jan 44.
27. Lucas to Clark, 1150, 29 Jan 44, Fifth Army G-3 Jnl; Clark Diary, 29 Jan 44.
28. Lucas to Clark, 2326, 29 Jan 44, Fifth Army G-3 Jnl.
29. 15th AGp Narrative, 29 Jan 44.
30. See Taggert, ed., History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II, pages 114-15, for a detailed account of the action.
31. VI Corps Ltr, Battle Casualties 6615 Ranger Force in the Action of 29-30 January 1944, 16 Feb 14, AG 333; Altieri, Darby's Rangers, pp. 72-78, 80-82. See Capt. Nicholas J. Grunzweig, The Operations of the 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry (3d Division), at the Mole Creek near Cisterna, 30 January-1 February 1944, Advanced Infantry Officers Course, 1949-50, Ft. Benning, Ga.
32. Clark to Gruenther, 1520, 31 Jan 44, Fifth Army G-3 Jnl; Clark Diary, 31 Jan 44. Technician 5 Eric G. Gibson, a cook in the 3d Division, led a squad of replacements through enemy fire, destroyed four German positions, and was instrumental in securing the flank of his company; killed during the attack, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Pfc. Lloyd C. Hawks of the Medical Detachment, 30th Infantry, who administered first aid despite having suffered severe and painful wounds, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary heroism. Sgt. Truman O. Olson of the 7th Infantry, who sacrificed his life to save his company from annihilation, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Pfc. Alton W. Knappenberger of the 3d Division was awarded the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary heroism during the attack.
33. Clark Diary, 30 Jan 44.
35. Ibid., 31 Jan 44.
36. Kesselring, A Soldier's Record, p. 233.
37. See 3d Div AAR's, Jan, Feb 44.
38. Clark to Lucas, 27 Jan 44, Fifth Army G-2 Intel Summaries, AG 370.2.
39. See Fifth Army G-2 History, Jan, Feb 44.
40. Clark Diary, 31 Jan, 1 Feb 44.
41. Intelligence from Rome seems to have played an important part in this belief. See collection of messages from Clandestine Radio Rome received by VI Corps, OCMH; Peter Tompkins, A Spy in Rome (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962).
42. Allied Central Mediterranean Forces (renamed from 15th AGp) OI 37, 9 Feb 44; Burhans, The First Special Service Force, pp. 162ff.; Clark to Lucas, 31 Jan 44, Fifth Army G-2 Intel Summaries, AG 370.9; Clark to Gruenther, 1520, 31 Jan 44, Fifth Army G-3 Jnl.
43. Clark Diary, 4 Feb 44; Lucas Diary, 3 Feb 44.
44. Gruenther to Clark, Clark Diary, 3 Feb 44.
45. Hauser in MS # T-1a (Westphal et al.), OCMH. See also Mackensen's Commentary, Supplement to Chapter XII.
46. See Capt William J. Sweet, Jr., operations of the 2d Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (82d Airborne Division), on the Anzio Beachhead, 22 January-23 March 1944, Advanced Infantry Officers Course, Ft. Benning, Ga., 1947-48.
47. On 3 February, Clark sent a message to Devers to inform him how extremely serious the infantry replacement situation was. Shortages in the divisions of the Fifth Army exceeded 6,000 men, and separate artillery, medical, and engineer components required replacements. Two days later Clark reported to Devers that the 3d Division was short 1,340 enlisted infantrymen, the 45th Division, 506, and the Rangers, 900.
48. Fifth Army OI 15, 7 Feb 44.
49. Fifth Army Engr Rpt on Port and Beach Opns at Anzio, Apr 44.
50. Clark Diary, 9 Feb 44.
51. Ibid., 10 Feb 44.
52. ACMF OI 42, 11 Feb 44.
53. Lucas Diary, 13 Feb 44.