A Walking Tour of Italy’s WWII Battlefields: From the Anzio Landings to Rome
Robert Irving Desourdis¹
¹Desourdis Collaboration, LLC, President and CEO, A Business-Development Consulting Company
Series: Europe: Past, Present and Future
Homeland Security and Safety
The Italian Campaign is truly an amazing, and often heartbreaking, story, and it certainly generates sympathy as well as respect for the soldiers who fought there, particularly the sacrificed Texas and Polish soldiers as well as the British “D-Day Dodgers.” In addition to the British soldiers, you gain a new and far greater appreciation of the men in the 36th Texas and Polish Divisions because of their commitment, heroism and sacrifice in these battles, much less the many others from multiple nations who fought in Italy in 1943 and 1944. This book is the third title in the NOVA Science Publishers Homeland Security Series presenting a walking tour of World War II battle sites in mainland Italy:
1. A Walking Tour of Italy’s WWII Battlefields: From the Salerno Landings to San Pietro Infine
2. A Walking Tour of Italy’s WWII Battlefields: Breaking the Gustav and Hitler Lines
3. A Walking Tour of Italy’s WWII Battlefields: From the Anzio Landings to Rome.
These books were derived from the sights and sounds experienced during Marty Gane’s South Mountain Expeditions tour called WWII Invasion of Italy: From Sicily to Rome, conducted in September 2014. The late Edwin Cole Bearss was the lead South Mountain historian for the tour, and helped select our expert history guide British Lt Col (Retd) Frank de Planta de Wildenberg, a deservedly renown Italian battlefield tour leader. Franks designed the tour route, providing the specific strategic and tactical on-the-ground details experienced at each tour stand site. Ed Bearss provided insightful commentary and likened situations to his own combat experience as a Marine in the WWII Pacific theater.
After experiencing the disaster of the underpowered US 36th Division at the Rapido crossing as described in Book 1 and the four battles for the high ground around Montecassino to break the Gustav Line from Book 2, the walking tour from Anzio to Rome demonstrates more horrific losses of men and material for little gain. The cost of attacking the “tough old gut,” includes the American Rangers at Cisterna and the British in the World War I trench warfare of the Lobster Claws above Anzio. Added to these losses are the men and woman behind the lines, the doctors and nurses, lost to the terror shelling by long-range cannon like Anzio Annie, reminiscent of the Paris Gun during WWI.
The late Ed Bearss history tours always emphasize the importance of the terrain in victory or defeat for the ground soldier, his or her units, and the armies as a whole. From the Alban Hills, German artillery observers could see everything that moved on the Anzio Plan, call in indirect fire from many guns with impunity, or lob shells into the port area miles behind the fighting. Just as at Salerno, the Allies had to capture this high ground to protect the beachhead, and once through the Velletri Gap, move north toward Rome.