‘…tactically the most absurd and strategically the most senseless campaign of the whole war.’ Major-General J F C Fuller’s verdict on the Italian Campaign, 1948


USS Ancon (AGC-4)Catholic church services being held on board off Mers el Kebir, Algeria, on 4 July 1943, just before the invasion of Sicily. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

USS Ancon (AGC-4)Catholic church services being held on board off Mers el Kebir, Algeria, on 4 July 1943, just before the invasion of Sicily. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

A hard way to make a war : the Italian campaign in the Second World War  Ian Gooderson  London : Conway, 2008  Hardcover. 1st ed. 352 p., [24] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 343-346) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Sicily Invasion, July 1943 Task Force 85 ("Cent" Force) en route to the landings at Scoglitti, Sicily, on 8 July 1943. Photographed from its flagship, USS Ancon (AGC-4). USS Leonard Wood (APA-12) is at left. The next transport astern of her is USS James O'Hara (APA-90). The destroyer in the center is not identified; USS Parker (DD-604), Kendrick (DD-612), Laub (DD-613), Mackenzie (DD-614), Cowie (DD-632), Doran (DD-634), and Earle (DD-635) were assigned to this force. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Sicily Invasion, July 1943 Task Force 85 (“Cent” Force) en route to the landings at Scoglitti, Sicily, on 8 July 1943. Photographed from its flagship, USS Ancon (AGC-4). USS Leonard Wood (APA-12) is at left. The next transport astern of her is USS James O’Hara (APA-90). The destroyer in the center is not identified; USS Parker (DD-604), Kendrick (DD-612), Laub (DD-613), Mackenzie (DD-614), Cowie (DD-632), Doran (DD-634), and Earle (DD-635) were assigned to this force. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

The invasion of Sicily in June 1943 and the landings on the Italian mainland in the September, gave the Allies their first toehold in Europe since 1941. But it was achieved at a cost. Following success on Sicily the forces were put under considerable pressure to take advantage of the changed situation and they landed at Salerno without a clear strategic aim and were met with fierce German counterattack. The subsequent march north was complicated by Italy’s unique terrain (mountains and rivers), its climatic extremes (very hot summers; freezing winters) and German resistance, and was agonisingly slow.

Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, U.S. Army (left), Commanding General, Fifth Army, and Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk, USN, Commander Task Force 85 On board USS Ancon (AGC-4) during the Sicily operation, July 1943. In the right background is Captain Paul L. Mather, USN, Ancon's Commanding Officer. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, U.S. Army (left), Commanding General, Fifth Army, and Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk, USN, Commander Task Force 85 On board USS Ancon (AGC-4) during the Sicily operation, July 1943. In the right background is Captain Paul L. Mather, USN, Ancon’s Commanding Officer. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Ian Gooderson’s considered analysis of the entire campaign places the convoluted mixture of air, land and naval actions into the overall war but, more importantly, shows how the commanders on the battlefield dealt with the military issues as they arose. He has produced one of the finest explanations of a combined forces twentieth-century battle zone ever published. Erudite assessment of one of the most complex and least covered areas of action in the war includes land, sea and air operations, studies the complex alliances and mixed commands of the Allied forces and covers all the major battles such as Salerno and Monte Cassino in detail.

An Army Piper L-4 Cub artillery observation plane takes off from an LST at Anzio, 1944. LST-386 had an improvised "flight deck" installed in 1943 and flew off four such planes during the landing on Sicily. Later LST modifications, like this one, could carry up to 10 planes and supported the Anzio landing and the invasion of southern France. During 1944, LST-776 evaluated an experimental catapult for launching light planes, as well as Brodie gear. In this system, a cable was stretched between booms to one side of the ship, and planes were launched from a quick-release trolley. LST-776 operated Marine OY-1's over Iwo Jima and Army L-4's at Okinawa.

An Army Piper L-4 Cub artillery observation plane takes off from an LST at Anzio, 1944. LST-386 had an improvised “flight deck” installed in 1943 and flew off four such planes during the landing on Sicily. Later LST modifications, like this one, could carry up to 10 planes and supported the Anzio landing and the invasion of southern France. During 1944, LST-776 evaluated an experimental catapult for launching light planes, as well as Brodie gear. In this system, a cable was stretched between booms to one side of the ship, and planes were launched from a quick-release trolley. LST-776 operated Marine OY-1’s over Iwo Jima and Army L-4’s at Okinawa.

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