United States Army in World War II
Mediterranean Theater of Operations

Cassino To the Alps

by Ernest F. Fisher, Jr.


. . . to Those Who Served

Maurice Matloff, General Editor

Advisory Committee
(As of 1 March 1976)
Otis A. Singletary
University of Kentucky


Russell F. Weigley
Temple University


Edward M. Coffman
University of Wisconsin


Maj. Gen. Robert C. Hixon
United States Army Training and Doctrine Command


Harry L. Coles
Ohio State University


Brig. Gen. Edward B. Atkeson
United States Army War College


Frank Freidel, Jr.
Harvard University


Brig. Gen. William C. Louisell Jr.
United States Army Command and General Staff College


Peter Paret
Stanford University


Col. Thomas E. Griess
United States Military Academy


Center of Military History
Brig. Gen. James L. Collins, Jr., Chief of Military History

Chief Historian Maurice Matloff
Chief, Historical Services Division Col. Walter L. McMahon
Chief, Histories Division Col. James F. Ransone, Jr.
Editor in Chief Joseph R. Friedman


Foreword vii
The Author viii
Preface ix
Chapter Page
The Spring Offensive
I. Spring in Italy--1944 3
    Allied Strategy 4
    German Strategy 6
    Allied Command and Organization 8
    The Germans 11
II. Preparing for a New Offensive 16
    The German Defenses 16
    Alexander's Concept 19
    A Cover Plan 21
    Disposition of the Allied Armies 22
    Planning the Offensive 26
    Planning for Operations in the Liri Valley 27
    Developing the Fifth Army Plan 29
    German Preparations 39
III. DIADEM's First Day--11 May 42
    Behind the German Front 42
    Monte Cassino and the Rapido 43
    Santa Maria Infante and the S-Ridge 45
    The Capture of Monte Majo 56
IV. Collapse of the Gustav Line 63
    German Countermeasures 64
    The II Corps' Attack Renewed 65
    The Germans Fall Back on the Right 69
    The Fall of Santa Maria Infante 71
    Attack on Castellonorato 74
    The Germans Prepare To Withdraw 75
    Keyes Reinforces His Left 76
    Progress in the Liri Valley 77
    The German Reaction 79
V. Breakthrough on the Southern Front 81
    The Eighth Army's Advance to the Hitler Line 81
    The Fifth Army's Advance to the Hitler Line 83
    Breakthrough of the Hitler Line 90
    Junction With the Beachhead 93
    The Tenth Army Withdraws 97
Breakout From the Beachhead
VI. The Anzio Beachhead 103
    Italian Lands vs. German Blood 103
    German Plans 107
    The Terrain 108
    The Opposing Forces 110
    Allied Preparations 111
    Final Moves 117
VII. The First Day 120
    A General Hazard 120
    Harmon's Plan 121
    The Attack Begins 122
    The Attack on Cisterna 128
    Action on the Corps' Flanks 137
VIII. Breakout From the Beachhead 142
    Action on the Flanks 149
    The German Reaction 150
    The Third Day 152
    The Enemy Situation 153
    The Attack on Cori 154
    The Capture of Cisterna 154
    German Countermoves 156
Drive to Rome
IX. Stalemate Along the Caesar Line 163
    Clark's Decision 163
    BUFFALO Buried--Almost 167
    "The most direct route to Rome" 173
    Truscott Commits His Armor 175
    The German Situation 177
    Infantry Against Lanuvio 177
    The 1st Armored Division's Attack Reinforced 180
X. Breaking the Stalemate 184
    Stratagem on Monte Artemisio 185
    The German Reaction 189
    Exploiting the Penetration 190
    Preliminary Moves 192
    Keyes' Plan 193
    The II Corps Begins To Move 194
    The VI Corps Begins To Move 199
XI. The Fall of Rome 203
    The Race for Rome 206
    Entry Into Rome 211
Rome to the Arno
XII. Interlude in Rome 227
    The View From the Capitoline Hill 227
    Planning the Pursuit 228
    The German Situation 231
    Rome in Allied Hands 233
XIII. Pursuit North of Rome 236
    Eighth Army Joins the Pursuit 240
    Kesselring Outlines His Strategy 241
    To the Trasimeno Line 243
    The French Advance to the Orcia 248
    The British Sector 249
    Kesselring Reinforces His Right Wing 250
    The Eighth Army Closes With the Frieda Line 252
XIV. The Pursuit Ends 255
    Strategic Priorities: France or Italy 255
    Breaking the Frieda Line 259
    The Capture of Volterra and Siena 265
    The Eighth Army 267
    Strategic Decisions 269
XV. End of the Campaign in Central Italy 271
    Mission 271
    The Terrain and the Plan 271
    Advance Toward Leghorn 274
    The Capture of Leghorn 276
    The Capture of Ancona and Arezzo 278
    Pause at the Arno 280
XVI. Along the Arno 285
    The Eighth Army 288
    The German Situation 291
    Evacuation of Florence 292
    The Ligurian Flank 293
    The Cost 294
The Gothic Line Offensive
XVII. Planning for the Offensive 297
    The Terrain 297
    The Gothic Line 299
    German Dispositions 302
    Changes in Allied Strategy 303
    Preliminary Moves 305
    Conference With Clark 306
    The Allied Plan 308
    Allied Regrouping 309
    Doubts on Both Fronts 310
XVIII. The Gothic Line Offensive Begins 312
    Preliminary Operations 313
    Leese's Plan 313
    German Preparations 314
    The Offensive Begins 314
    German Countermeasures 315
    The Assault 315
    The Germans Reinforce Their Line 316
    The Coriano Ridge 316
    The Fifth Army--Plans and Regrouping 318
    IV Corps Crosses the Arno 319
    The German Situation 321
XIX. Battle for the Pass 323
    The Approach 323
    Plans and Terrain 323
    First Contacts 325
    The Attack on the Monticelli Ridge 326
XX. A Diversionary Operation 338
    Leese's Plan 339
    Resuming the Offensive 340
    The Capture of Rimini 342
    Toward Imola 343
    Battle for the Mountains 345
    The Germans Reinforce 346
    The Defense of Battle Mountain 349
    The Imola Drive Abandoned 351
    The Germans Take Stock 353
    Shift Back to Highway 65 353
In the Northern Apennines
XXI. From Ridge to Ridge 357
    Keyes' Plan 362
    II Corps Resumes Its Advance 364
    The Livergnano Escarpment 366
    Action on the Flanks 371
    The Personnel Problem 372
    Unrealistic Strategies 374
XXII. Toward a Winter Stalemate 376
    The Eighth Army Advance to the Ronco 376
    The II Corps' Plan 378
    The II Corps' Attack Renewed 379
    German Countermeasures 381
    New Plans for II Corps 382
    Kesselring Hospitalized 387
    The Attack Continues 387
    Operations on the IV Corps Front 390
    The Offensive Is Halted 391
XXIII. Stalemate in the Mountains and on the Plain 393
    Alexander Develops His Strategy 393
    The Capture of Forli 394
    Reorganization and Planning on the Fifth Army's Fronts 397
    Outside Influences on Strategy 398
    Command Changes 399
    Alexander's Orders 399
    An Allied Directive 400
    The Eighth Army's Advance Continues 401
    German Reactions 403
    Attack on Faenza Resumed 403
    The Fifth Army Plans and Waits 405
    A German Counterattack 408
    The Stalemate 410
XXIV. Through the Winter 414
    Sustaining the Armies 414
    Strengthening the Army 415
    Regrouping the Army 417
    Eliminating Enemy Bridgeheads on the Eighth Army Front 418
    German Dispositions 419
    Operation FOURTH TERM 420
    A Forecast of Spring 424
    Into the Mountains 428
    The Second Phase 432
    Truscott Halts the Attack 433
The Last Offensive
XXV. Strategies and Plans 437
    German Strategic Problems 437
    The German Defenses 442
    Allied Strategy and Plans 443
    The 15th Army Group Operations Plan 448
    The Eighth Army's Plan 450
    Developing the Fifth Army's Plan 453
    The Plan 455
    Allied Preponderance in Material and Manpower 457
XXVI. Breakthrough on the Eighth Army Front 459
    In the East 459
    In the West 459
    German Indecision 462
    The Eighth Army Attack 463
    Breakthrough at the Argenta Gap 465
XXVII. Breakthrough on the Fifth Army's Front 470
    Armor Joins the Battle 476
    The II Corps Attacks 477
    Breakthrough to the Plain 479
    Progress on the Flanks 482
    Hitler's Strategic Decisions 484
Pursuit to the Alps
XXVIII. Race for the Po 489
    The Pursuit 492
    Crossing the Po 495
XXIX. To the Alps 499
    Race for Verona 500
    Clearing the Po Valley 502
    Army Group C's Situation 504
    Victory on the Flanks 505
    The Last Engagements 507
    The Eighth Army Crosses the Adige 511
XXX. The Capitulation 513
    The Widening Circle 514
    German Reservations 515
    Preparations for a Cease-Fire 517
    The Surrender at Caserta 521
    Army Group C's Last Hours 525
XXXI. An Assessment 535
    German Strategy 539
    The Commanders 540
    Allied Tactics 542
    The Surrender Negotiations 543
A. Table of Equivalent Ranks 547
Note on Sources 548
Glossary 553
Basic Military Map Symbols 557
Index 563
1. The Battle for Monte Cassino, 12 May 1944 42
2. FEC Capture of Monte Majo, 11-13 May 1944 58
3. FEC Drive, 13-15 May 1944 70
4. II and VI Corps Link-Up, 22-25 May 1944 98
5. Stratagem on Monte Artemisio, 30 May-1 June 1944 187
6. Fifth Army in Rome, 4 June 1944 213
7. The Advance on Leghorn, 2-19 July 1944 272
8. Capture of Altuzzo and Monticelli, 16-18 September 1944 327
9. Operation FOURTH TERM, 8-11 February 1945 421
10. Operation ENCORE, 19 February-5 March 1945 425
11. The Last Battle, 10th Mountain Division Takes Lake Garda, 27 April-1 May 1945 509
Maps I-XVI Are In Inverse Order Inside Back Cover
I. Jump-Off, 11 May 1944  
II. Attack on Santa Maria Infante, 351st Infantry, 11-12 May 1944  
III. Collapse of the Gustav Line, II Corps, 13-15 May 1944  
IV. Approach and Breakthrough, the Hitler Line, 15-23 May 1944  
V. Capture of Cisterna, 23-25 May 1944  
VI. Shifting the Attack, 25-26 May 1944  
VII. The Drive for Rome, 31 May-4 June 1944  
VIII. Pursuit From Rome to the Trasimeno Line, 5-20 June 1944  
IX. From the Trasimeno Line to the Arno River, 21 June-5 August 1944  
X. The Approach to the Gothic Line: Concept of Operation OLIVE, 25 August 1944  
XI. II Corps Attack on the Gothic Line, 10-18 September 1944  
XII. Thrust Towards Imola, 88th Division, 24 September-1 October 1944  
XIII. II Corps Attack on the Livergnano Escarpment, 1-15 October 1944  
XIV. The Winter Line, 31 January 1945  
XV. Breakthrough Into the Po Valley, IV and II Corps, 14-21 April 1945  
XVI. The Spring Offensive, 9 April-2 May 1945  
Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring 7
General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson 9
Lt. Gen. Sir Oliver Leese, General Sir Harold Alexander, and Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark 10
Maj. Gen. Alfred W. Gruenther 11
Liri Valley 21
Maj. Gen. John B. Coulter 23
Maj. Gen. John E. Sloan 23
Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Keyes 25
Lt. Gen. Willis D. Crittenberger 25
Brig. Gen. Donald W. Brann and General Clark 31
Monte Cassino 43
Terrain Facing the U.S. II Corps 45
Terrain in French Corps Sector 57
American Troops Entering the Ruins of Santa Maria Infante 72
Monte Cassino Monastery Shortly After Its Capture 78
View of Itri 85
U.S. Infantry Approaching Itri 87
German Prisoners Captured at Itri 88
Aerial View of Terracina 96
Maj. Gen. Lucian Truscott, Jr 106
Maj Gen. Ernest N. Harmon 112
Brig. Gen. John W. O'Daniel 113
Isola Bella 131
General O'Daniel's Battle Sleds 132
Patrol Moving Through Cisterna 148
Disarming German Prisoners at Cisterna 155
Aerial View of Valmontane and Highway 6 164
Tanks of 1st Armored Division Assembling for Attack Near Lanuvio 176
3d Division Infantry Entering Valmontane 197
American Infantrymen Advancing Along Highway 6 Toward Rome 198
Generals Clark, Keyes, and Brig. Gen. Robert T. Frederick Pause During Drive on Rome 211
German Troops Withdrawing From Rome 212
Entering the Gates of Rome 214
American Infantrymen Pass Burning German Tank in Rome 217
Romans Line Streets as U.S. Tank Destroyers Roll by Coliseum 220
Aerial View of Civitavecchia 238
Grosseto and Terrain to the East 243
Generals Brann, Crittenberger, and Mascarenhas 251
Lt. Gen. Wladyslav Anders With General Leese 253
Aerial View of Cecina 264
General Alphonse Juin With General Clark at Siena 266
Aerial View of Leghorn 277
American Patrol Entering Pisa 287
Aerial View of Florence 290
Il Giogo Pass 324
Artillery Battery in Action 328
Carrying Supplies to Mountain Positions 331
Captured German Positions in Gothic Line 333
85th Division Troops on Mt. Verruca 334
Looking North From Futa Pass 336
Generals Clark and Keyes Study II Corps Situation Map 343
German Prisoners Captured Near Castel del Rio 347
Monte Battaglia 348
Men, Mules, Mud 350
Indian Infantry in Northern Apennines 372
6th South African Armoured Division Tanks Assembled for Attack 373
Truck Crossing a Steel Truss Bailey Bridge 388
Italian Mule Train Transporting Supplies to the Front 412
General Clark Visits British 13 Corps Sector With General Kirkman 413
Motor Transport in Northern Apennines 416
Soldiers Relaxing During Lull in Battle 417
Area North of Cinquale Canal, 92d Division Zone 423
Ski Patrol, 10th Mountain Division 426
Apennines, IV Corps Sector 427
Artillery Ammunition Being Brought Forward, 10th Mountain Division Zone 428
Monte Belvedere Massif From Lizzano, 10th Mountain Division Sector 430
Evacuating Casualties Over Mountain Trail 431
SS General Wolff 440
The Last Heights Before Bologna 447
Mountain Infantry in Tole Area 473
German Prisoners Captured by 10th Mountain Division 475
Infantrymen Entering the Po Valley 480
34th Division Infantrymen Pause in Bologna 481
Aerial View of Po River Crossing 490
German Equipment Destroyed Along Po 491
American Troops Storm Ashore After Assault Crossing of the Po River 496
Placing a Steel Treadway Bridge Across Po 497
Col. William O. Darby 500
91st Reconnaissance Squadron Moves Through Verona Railroad Station 502
Crossing the Adige 503
American Infantry Enter Vicenza 506
Partisans Before the Cathedral of Milan 507
Engineers Repairing Approach to Tunnel, Lake Garda 508
General der Panzertruppen Heinrich von Vietinghoff gennant Scheel 515
German Representatives Sign Surrender Document 522
General Morgan Receives German Representatives 524
Generalleutnant Joachim Lemelsen and Oberstleutnant Victor von Schweinitz 527
General der Panzertruppen Traugott Herr Leaves Bolzano for Surrender 528
Generalleutnant Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin Surrenders to General Clark at Fifteenth Army Group Headquarters 530
German Representatives Receive Instructions From General Gruenther 531
Prisoners of War Assemble at Foot of Alps 532
88th Division Column in Alpine Pass 533

Illustrations are from Department of Defense files, with the exception of the photograph on page 212, which is from Yank Magazine, and that on page 348, which was supplied by William G. Bell of the Center of Military History.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation