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North Apennines

North Apennines

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Published by Bob Andrepont
United States Army History of the North Apennines campaign.
United States Army History of the North Apennines campaign.

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Feb 08, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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World War II was the largest and most violent armed conflict inthe history of mankind. However, the half century that now separatesus from that conflict has exacted its toll on our collective knowledge.While World War II continues to absorb the interest of military schol-ars and historians, as well as its veterans, a generation of Americanshas grown to maturity largely unaware of the political, social, and mil-itary implications of a war that, more than any other, united us as a people with a common purpose.Highly relevant today, World War II has much to teach us, notonly about the profession of arms, but also about military prepared-ness, global strategy, and combined operations in the coalition war against fascism. To commemorate the nation’s 50th anniversary of World War II, the U.S. Army has published a variety of materials tohelp educate Americans about that momentous experience. Theseworks provide great opportunities to learn about and renew pride inan Army that fought so magnificently in what has been called “themighty endeavor.”World War II was waged on land, on sea, and in the air over severaldiverse theaters of operation for approximately six years. The followingessay is one of a series of campaign studies highlighting those strugglesthat, with their accompanying suggestions for further reading, aredesigned to introduce you to one of the Army’s significant military featsfrom that war.This brochure was prepared in the U.S. Army Center of MilitaryHistory by Dwight D. Oland. I hope this absorbing account of that period will enhance your appreciation of American achievements dur-ing World War II.JOHN W. MOUNTCASTLEBrigadier General, USAChief of Military History
 North Apennines
10 September 1944–4 April 1945
By the end of the first week of August 1944 members of theBritish Eighth Army stood on the Ponte Vecchio, bridging the ArnoRiver in recently liberated Florence, Italy. The Eighth Army had justcompleted a campaign, in conjunction with the U.S. Fifth Army, thathad kept Axis forces in Italy in full retreat, unable to halt the Allied drive north of Rome that had begun with Operation D
the previ-ous May. For the first time since the Italian campaign had begun,Allied leaders were optimistic that they were on the verge of pushingthe Germans out of the northern Apennines and sweeping through thePo Valley beyond. After that, many hoped for a rapid advance into theAlps, the Balkans, and perhaps into Austria, before winter and theenemy could stem their advance.
Strategic Setting 
The Italian campaign thus far had been long, arduous, and frustrat-ing. In September 1943 the armies of the United States and GreatBritain and the Commonwealth, fresh from victories in North Africaand Sicily, invaded the southern Italian peninsula at three locations.Allied predictions that the German Army would quickly retreat to theAlps after Italy left the war on 8 September proved wrong. Axis forcestenaciously defended every mountaintop and valley amid deterioratingwinter weather from behind a series of fortified lines that stretched across Italy from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic. After spending thewinter of 1943–44 stalled at the Gustav Line and within a small beach-head at Anzio south of Rome, the U.S. Fifth and the British EighthArmies succeeded in overwhelming enemy defenses in May, advanced up the Liri Valley, and liberated Rome in June. Then, in a two-month-long summer campaign that was very uncharacteristic of Italian opera-tions until that time, Allied forces pushed the enemy 150 miles north tothe Arno River by mid-August. Axis forces, however, began new preparations to frustrate any continuation of the Allied drive by build-ing another belt of fortifications, the Gothic Line. The new line gener-ally consisted of a series of fortified passes and mountaintops, some fif-teen to thirty miles in depth north of the Arno River and stretched eastfrom the Ligurian Sea through Pisa, Florence, and beyond. Farther east,along the Adriatic coast where the northern Apennines sloped down

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