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Pursuit North of Rome 
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  Go to Page 1   Advance North from Rome
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  Go To Page 3   Pursuit Ends at the Arno River
  Map - Advance to Trasimeno Line Advance from Rome To Trasmione Line
  Map - Advance to Leghorn & Arno River Advance to the Arno River



The French Advance to the Orcia

A similar threat was developing on the 5th Army's right wing, where the French Expeditionary Corps(FEC) had encountered steadily increasing resistance since relieving the U.S. II Corps on 10 June.  The FEC had lost some of its dash because they had learned that they would be taken out of Italy and used to fight for liberation of their own country.  They would rather die on their own soil.

General Juin organized a pursuit group under command of Lt. Gen. Edgard R. M. deLarminant that inclued the 1st Motorized Division, 3rd Algerian Division and support from the 13th US Field Artillery Brigade.  Their first objective was Route 74, just north of Lake Bolsena.  On June 11, the group pushed up to the lake and it took another two days for the FEC and II Corps to clear Route 74 between Lake Bolsena nd the sea.

General Clark extended the western boundary of the FEC and added deMonsabert's Algerian Division.  By 17 June, the FEC had progressed 15 miles beyond Lake Bolsena but the next 3 days their progress was slowed to only 10 miles due to weather and enemy resistance.  By 25th, the FEC was in striking distance of the Orica River ( a tributary of Ombrone).

British Sector

General Clark's concern for the British 8th Army was that they would not be able to keep pace with the advance of the 5th Army since they were facing a more capable German force and more difficult terrain.  The 8th Army continued to advance northward on a two-corps front; the 13 Corps to the west of Lake Trasimeno via Highway 71 and the 10 Corps to the east of the lake.  By the evening of the 13 June, the 13 Corps had advanced to within 4 miles of its first objective; Orvieto. 

{Para omitted ---Summarize}


General Kesserling had begun to regroup his units so as to strengthen the XIV Army.  This regrouping had begun on the 12th with the transfer of Senger's XIV Panzer Corps headquarters from the X to the XIV Army sector, where the panzer corps took command of the 19th and 20th Luftwaffe Field Divisions on the coastal flank, pending the arrival of its former divisions-- the 26th Panzer and the 29th and 90th Panzer Grenadier Divisions from the X Army zone. Since 13 June the panzer and the two panzer grenadier divisions had been located west of the Tiber, where they had been steadily braking the 5th Army's forward movement. Whether the X Army, shorn of those units, could continue to do the same to General Leese's 8th Army, was a question about to be answered as the 8th Army, like the 5th Army, prepared to close with the FRIEDA Line.

Orvieto was not of strategic importance, so the Germans withdrew to the hills commanding the Paglia valley.  By noon on the 14th of June, the 6th South African Armoured Division cleared the town of the enemy rear guard units.

East of the Tiber, the 10 Corps slightly westward to Terni, as reconnaissance aircraft had located the position of General Feuersteins' LI Mountain Corps.  Aided by the terrain, Feuerstein's troops were able to hold the advance of the British 6th Armoured Division to 30 miles in 5 days.  As on the 5th Army front, the British armor led the way during the day and the infantry at night and similarly, the German demolitions, artillery and mortar caused most of the delays.  The British armor did not reach the southern outskirts of Terni until 13 June, where they were held up for 2 days due to a blown bridge across a deep gorge. 

Kesselring Reinforces His Right Wing

From the German viewpoint, despite the successive loss of Grosseto, Orvieto, and Terni, chances of restoring an intact front had improved considerably by mid-June. In addition to returning Senger's XIV Panzer Corps to the XIV Army, Field Marshal Kesselring also brought the Hermann Goering Panzer Grenadier Parachute Division back into action, this time on the X Army's right flank north of Orvieto opposite the British 13 Corps.

Undoubtedly, Field Marshal Kesselring's most significant accomplishment during the first ten days after the loss of Rome had been to prevent a break-through along the inter-army boundary and to reinforce the XIV Army west of the Tiber. By mid-June the XIV Army commander, General Lemelsen, could muster nine divisions, with two others having been withdrawn for rest and reorganization. Although three of the nine were critically needing relief, five of the remaining six were first-rate panzer and panzer grenadier divisions.

By mid-June, opposing those divisions the U.S. 5th Army had six divisions and part of a seventh (the 91st).  On the 8th Army left wing the British 13 Corps controlled three divisions, making a total of about nine and a half divisions against the XIV Army's nine. Even allowing for the fact that three of the nine were under strength, the ratio of nine and a half to nine scarcely afforded a promise of a continued rapid Allied advance.   Opposite the equivalent of five divisions in the 10 Corps, on the 8th Army' right wing, the German situation was no more encouraging, for there General Vietinghoff's X Army mustered eight divisions, divided between Herr's LXXVI Panzer Corps and Feuerstein's LI Mountain Corps.

Despite harassment by a daily average of 1,000 Allied air sorties, the ability of the Germans to shift major units from one sector to another and to bring important reinforcements from northern Italy to man the several delaying lines north of Rome had been largely responsible for the failure of the Allies from isolating and destroying either of the two German armies.  By maintaining maneuverability, the Germans were able to reform along new lines even in the face of Allied pressure and penetration, forcing upon the Allies a form of pursuit that had come to characterize Russian operations against the Germans on the Eastern Front. In the opinion of General von Senger und Etterlin, only if the Allies had, as at Anzio, taken advantage of the Germans' long and vulnerable seaward flanks to launch amphibious landings could that pattern have been broken. Unknown to the Germans at the time, the shortage of landing craft prevented such operations.

The further north the Germans moved back, the more the more they worried about their lines of communications.  They were bedeviled with fear of an Allied amphibious landing and were constantly attacked by partisans.  By mid-June sabotage of German lines of communications had reached such proportions as to disrupt not only long-distance telephone cables but also to immobilize even local telephone networks.  In the vicinity of Siena partisans cut a vital lateral supply route leading from Grosseto to Siena.  In the following weeks, the Germans would take stern counter-measures to stop these attacks.

The 8th Army Closes With the FRIEDA Line

{Summarize the Brits activities}

Breaking the Frieda Line

By 21 June the Allied armies in Italy had reached a line extending across the peninsula from a point on the Tyrrhenian coast, some 110 miles northwest of Rome, to the Adriatic coast at a point five miles north of Pedaso. The general trend of the front remained, as it had since the fall of Rome, with the Allied left advanced and the right refused.

On the left the Fifth Army was some 30 miles short of its intermediate goal, lateral Route 68, which, paralleling the Cecina River for 15 miles, connects the town of Cecina on the coastal highway with the ancient Etruscan hill town of Volterra, 20 miles to the northeast, thence another 15 miles to a junction with Highway 2 not quite midway between Siena and Florence. (see Map) Key to the Fifth Army's program was the Tuscan Hills, a stretch of low, rolling terrain overlooking and paralleling Highway 1 from the east. Once the enemy had been cleared from those hills, the coastal corridor would provide an excellent route of advance. The crests are generally wooded and the lower, seaward-facing slopes covered with orchards and vineyards. Since it was summer, the vegetation was in full leaf and afforded the Germans, operating under Allied-dominated skies, desperately needed concealment. East of the hills and about five miles inland, a graveled secondary road wound northward through a series of stream valleys to a junction with lateral Route 68, eight miles east of Cecina.

About the latitude of Grosseto the trend of the coastline becomes more northwesterly, thus widening the IV Corps front and enabling General Crittenberger to employ for the first time two full divisions, the 36th Infantry and the 1st Armored. Relieving Ramey's task force, which had been screening the corps right flank, the 1st Armored Division was to clear the enemy from the hills overlooking the coastal corridor by moving along the axis of Highway 439, which joined lateral Route 68 five miles southwest of Volterra.

Although Crittenberger, the IV Corps commander, realized that the hilly terrain was less favorable for armor than that assigned the 36th Division along the coast, he wanted to avoid the loss of time inherent in shifting divisions. He also believed that the Germans would concentrate on defense of the coastal flank and depend, as they had in the past, upon the more rugged hill terrain to aid them in the interior. A hard-hitting armored division with sufficient fire power could be expected to force the enemy from the hills and enable General Harmon's tanks to so threaten the flank of the Germans in the coastal corridor as to prompt their withdrawal. General Crittenberger, moreover, was aware that he soon was to lose the 36th Division and alerted General Ryder, commander of the 34th Division, to be prepared to relieve Walker's 36th Division within the week.

Learning of his latest assignment, General Harmon protested, as he had when his division had been committed in the Alban Hills south of Rome, that hill country was no place for tanks. He nevertheless again threw himself into his task with characteristic enthusiasm, gruffness, and salubrious profanity. To provide Harmon with additional infantry needed to support armor in hilly terrain where numerous defended barriers and roadblocks might be expected on narrow, winding roads, Crittenberger attached to Harmon's division the 361st Infantry (less one battalion). Unfortunately, those troops had never worked closely with armor, and the result would be less than ideal.  To the armor Crittenberger also attached the 155-mm guns of the 6th Armored Field Artillery Group, which were to provide reinforcing fires until the armored division had arrived at maximum range, whereupon the group was to shift westward to join the rest of the corps artillery in general support of the infantry along the coast.

As the armor moved into the hills early on 21 June, Walker's 36th Division, less the attached 517th Parachute Infantry, continued along the coastal flank into a low range of hills between Highway 1 and the coast northwest of Grosseto. With the 142th Infantry on the left of the highway and the 143d Infantry on the right, the division encountered only scattered resistance en route to the Cornia River, about 10 miles away. In the process the advance would seal off a small peninsula and the little port of Piombino with valuable oil storage facilities.

For all the lack of determined resistance, the infantry's advance was considerably delayed by heavy rains on 22 June, but relief of Task Force Ramey during the day by the 1st Armored Division provided additional strength to assist the infantry on the 23rd both the 141st Infantry and the 517th Parachute Infantry. The paratroopers took over the 36th Division's left flank along the coastal highway, while the 141st Infantry joined the 143d Infantry for the drive toward the Cornia River. By nightfall on the 24th the two regiments had crossed the river and partially sealed off the Piombino peninsula, but the rear guard of the 19th Luftwaffe Field Division, retreating along the coast, got away before the last escape route could be cut.

The next day, the 25th, marked the 36th Division's last participation in the Italian campaign. After having been in action almost continuously since 28 May and having covered almost 240 road miles since the breakthrough of the Caesar Line at Monte Artemisio on 1 June, Walker's division pulled out of line in preparation for its role in southern France.

As had the earlier capture of Civitavecchia and San Stefano, the capture of Piombino would soon help to relieve pressure on Allied supply lines. Located midway between Civitavecchia and Leghorn, Piombino's harbor could handle twelve ships at a time. Like Civitavecchia, Piombino, with a prewar population of 10,000, required extensive rehabilitation, but by the end of June the port was able to accommodate several ships. During the next three months, 377,000 tons of cargo and 1,477 vehicles were discharged and forwarded through the port, an amount almost twice that handled at Civitavecchia during the same period. In addition, 20,446 troops arrived there.  The port's main drawback was the absence of a rail connection with the main line running northward from Rome, so that all cargo had to be forwarded by motor transport until mid-August when the Fifth Army engineers established a rail-head nearby at Venturina. In addition to serving the Fifth Army, the port also received and forwarded a considerable part of the Eighth Army's ration and gasoline supplies pending capture of the Adriatic port of Ancona. Yet for all the help provided by the small ports, only Leghorn, Italy's third largest port--on 25 June still 40 miles north-west of the Fifth Army front-had facilities that could sustain a major Fifth Army offensive into the Northern Apennines, and the Eighth Army would have to have Ancona.

Meanwhile, General Harmon's 1st Armored Division on 22 June had begun its part in the drive toward lateral Route 68. Although the air line distance was only 40 miles, the division would have to travel 120 miles over narrow, winding secondary roads to reach its objective. Here were the Tuscan Hills with steep-sided ridges, averaging 1,500 to 2,000 feet in height. To maintain firm contact with the French on his right, General Harmon ordered a preliminary move on the 21st by the 81st Armored Reconnaissance Battalion to establish contact with an Algerian division on the French left. Hardly had the battalion begun to move when heavy artillery fire drove the men to cover. Only after nightfall was the battalion able to accomplish its objective.

That artillery fire revealed the enemy's awareness of the armored division's presence opposite the XIV Panzer Corps. To forestall a possible breakthrough, the Fourteenth Army commander,  General  Lemelsen,  had scraped together his remaining reserves and moved them into the corps sector.

For the main attack General Harmon utilized two secondary roads: Highway 439 on the left for CCB and Route 73 on the right for CCA. As during the First week following the fall of Rome, the combat commands were subdivided into small task forces in order to facilitate using narrow side roads and trails to bypass demolitions and roadblocks on the main routes.

Hardly had the armor begun to roll when General Harmon decided he needed more strength on the line. In early afternoon he inserted Task Force Howze from his reserve into the center to follow another secondary road. As it turned out, Task Force Howze made the day's longest advance: 5 miles. On the right, in the face of numerous obstacles covered by determined and accurate antitank fire, CCA managed to gain only two miles. After losing heavily to an enemy ambush, CCB made even less progress. Over the next four days the rugged terrain and the enemy's roadblocks and demolitions continued to impose delays, but pushing forward doggedly, the division managed an average daily advance of five miles.

Along the coastal flank, General Ryder's 34th Division, after relieving the 36th Division on 26 June, had the 133d Infantry on the left astride the coastal highway, while in the center the attached Japanese-American 442d Regimental Combat Team took the place of the 517th Parachute Infantry, also scheduled for southern France. The 168th Infantry moved into position on the division's right.

On the first day of the attack, the 27th, the 34th Division moved to within 15 miles of the intermediate objective, lateral Route 68. Paralleling that road for some 20 miles, the little Cecina River was of itself a slight military obstacle, but when defended by an enemy well established in a range of low hills beyond, it could become a formidable obstacle.

As the Fourteenth Army on Army Group C's right wing fell back toward the Cecina River and lateral Route 68, Kesselring prepared to occupy this terrain in strength by assigning to the XIV Panzer Corps the newly arrived 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Division and the 19th Luftwaffe Field Division, the latter replacing the 20th Luftwaffe Field Division, which then moved to the Tenth Army. Kesselring also relieved the 162d Turkomen Division, which had been in action on the coastal flank almost continuously since 8 June, with the veteran 26th Panzer Division, thus returning the panzer division to Senger's XIV Panzer Corps. Two full corps, controlling between them eight divisions in line, with one in reserve, at that point manned the Fourteenth Army front from the Tyrrhenian coast eastward for some 35 miles to a boundary east of and parallel to Highway 2. Schlemm's parachute corps lay to the east and Senger's panzer corps to the west of that highway.

Increased German strength was soon apparent to both attacking American divisions, the 34th and the 1st Armored. The 34th Division required an entire day to cover the six more miles toward Route 68 and the Cecina River and yet another to draw within two miles of the river. After dark, the 133d Infantry's Company K led the 3d Battalion in a dash for the river but in a maze of orchards and vineyards ran into an ambush that forced the rest of the battalion to halt and wait until dawn before resuming the advance. That was the first indication of the presence of the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Division. Although the bulk of the division lay in corps reserve near Leghorn, one of its regiments had entered the line.

The 1st Armored Division took four days to achieve a comparable advance, in the process crossing the upper reaches of the Cecina River where the stream runs several miles south of Route 68. As the division's combat commands approached the road on the 30th, sharp resistance, mainly from the 3d Panzer Grenadier Division and newly arrived elements of the 90th Panzer Grenadier Division, ensconced on the high ground along the road, brought the armor temporarily to a halt.

Faced with evidence of German reinforcement, the 34th Division commander, General Ryder, decided to use his reserve, the 135th Infantry, to swing to the east in an effort to envelop what appeared to be the strongest defenses along the coast south of the town of Cecina. The regiment was first to relieve the attached 442d RCT, then move along a ridge three miles inland that overlooked the coastal corridor and prepare to cross the Cecina four miles east of the coastal highway. Unfortunately for Ryder's plan, the high ground overlooking that particular sector of the river line was held by the 26th Panzer Division, a unit that had given good account of itself in the battles south of Rome.

At dawn on the 30th, Company F led the 1st Infantry's 2d Battalion across the river to establish a modest bridgehead, but when the battalion attempted to reinforce the bridgehead, heavy fire from the high ground pinned the men to the ground. A second effort, this time with armor support, came to grief when enemy antitank gunners destroyed all but two of a force of eleven Sherman tanks. The two surviving tanks withdrew under protective fire to the south bank, leaving only the beleaguered infantry clinging to the little bridgehead through 1 July.

Early on 2 July, the battalion tried a third time to reinforce the bridgehead. This time heavy corps artillery support and close air support from fighter-bombers hammered the enemy-held high ground and carried the day. By nightfall the entire regiment had successfully crossed the Cecina and had begun to expand the bridgehead.

Resistance along the coastal route south of the town of Cecina meanwhile continued to be strong. When the 3d Battalion, 133d Infantry, resumed its attack early on the 30th, Company I in the lead required most of the morning just to recover ground lost the day before. Shortly past noon an enemy counterattack almost cut off the company from the rest of the battalion. The company saved itself only by withdrawing about 1,500 yards, thereby nullifying the gains of the forenoon. Heavy protective fires by supporting artillery finally brought the counterattack to a halt, but not before the enemy had destroyed two tanks and inflicted sharp casualties.

Since the 135th Infantry was still trying to secure its bridgehead, General Ryder saw no alternative to pressing the frontal attack by the 133d Infantry against Cecina with ever greater vigor. That the regimental commander, Colonel Schildroth, prepared to do late that afternoon when he relieved the weary 3d Battalion with the 1st Battalion, his reserve. Until darkness brought their operations to a halt, the 1st and 2d Battalions edged slowly forward, capturing six enemy guns, yet failing to drive the enemy from his positions south of Cecina.

The Germans managed to hold, but the effort had cost them so many casualties, mostly from Allied artillery fire, that the Fourteenth Army commander, General Lemelsen, decided to withdraw the right wing of the XIV Panzer Corps approximately five miles. Since the new position was no stronger than the one at Cecina, Lemelsen saw it as only another delaying line and told the XIV Panzer Corps commander to pull out the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division on the night of 2 July and move it to an area along the Arno River about seventeen miles west of Florence, there to constitute an army reserve in preparation for an eventual Allied attack against the line of the Arno.

Before daylight on 1 July, men of the 133d Infantry, unaware that the Germans were preparing to withdraw, returned to the attack. Five hours later the 2d Battalion was inside Cecina's southeastern outskirts, when the men were checked briefly by stubborn rear guards. On the left the 1st Battalion got within 500 yards of the town, then early the following morning finally cleared paths through mine fields and soon after daylight joined the 2d Battalion inside Cecina.

By mid-morning the battle of Cecina was over, the costliest for an American unit since the fall of Rome. Carrying the main burden of the 34th Division's frontal attack, the 133d Infantry alone lost 16 officers and 388 enlisted men killed, wounded, and missing.

 The Capture of Volterro and Siena

As the fight for Cecina proceeded, General Harmon's 1st Armored Division, operating 20 miles inland along upper reaches of the Cecina River, renewed its efforts to cut Route 68 and gain the high ground beyond. That CCB achieved during the night of 30 June, moving onto the high ground immediately north of the lateral road four miles southeast of Vo1terno. Enemy artillery fire halted Task Force Howze two miles south of the road, a reflection of the presence of reinforcements from the 90th Panzer Grenadier Division. Only after Harmon had moved up the last of his reserves on 3 July was Howze's force able to drive the enemy hack. In the meantime, seven miles to the southeast, CCA incurred numerous casualties in unsuccessful attempts to drive the enemy from a fortified village, just south of Route 68, Casole d'Elsa. The village fell on the 4th to CCA and its attached 361st Infantry after three days of fighting that cost the armored regiment six medium tanks, three light tanks, and two tank destroyers. Over the next few days the 88th Division began to relieve the armor, which withdrew into army reserve, and one of the fresh Regiments, the 350th Infantry, completed the conquest of Route 68 on 8 July by capturing the walled town of Volterra.

As the IV Corps was advancing to Route 68, General Juin's French Expeditionary Corps (FEC) on the Fifth Army's right wing was driving toward Siena astride Highway 2. Juin had the 3d Algerian Infantry Division on his left and, on his right, the 2d Moroccan Infantry Division.

Starting to attack on 21 June, the French soon found themselves bogged down opposite the XIV Army's left wing, one of the most heavily defended sectors of the German front. There General Schlemm's I Parachute Corps had deployed from east to west the 356th Grenadier Division, the 4th Parachute Division, a regiment of the 26th Panzer Division, elements of the 20th Luftwaffe Field Division, and a regiment of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division. For the next five days, from 22 through 26 June, this strong enemy force held the French to a two-mile advance. Not until 26 June, after the neighboring 1st Armored Division had outflanked the enemy positions, did the Germans begin to withdraw and the French to make appreciable progress.

As the acknowledged head of all French forces fighting on the side of the Allies, General de Gaulle had assured Pope Pius XII that French troops would spare the historic site of Siena. Consequently, as Juin's corps approached the city, the French relied upon outflanking and bypassing maneuvers to cut off the enemy inside the city. While these tactics delayed entry, they succeeded in forcing the Germans to evacuate the city so that when the first French troops entered at 0630 on 3 July they fired not a shot and not a single historic monument was damaged.

General Juin immediately regrouped his forces to continue the advance, but with the capture of Siena much of the former elan of the French units had vanished. Even as they entered the city, General Juin received orders detaching many of his units for service with a newly formed I French Corps then assembling in the vicinity of Naples for the forthcoming invasion of southern France.

Beyond Siena, across a 15-mile front, Juin deployed two divisions, the 2d Moroccan Infantry and the 4th Moroccan Mountain. The Germans, the Moroccan found, had turned road junctions near Colle di Val d'Elsa, 12 miles beyond Siena, and at Poggibonsi, 3 miles farther north, into strong-points, so that the French had to fight hard over the next four days before the enemy retired during the night of 6 July from the first of the two strong-points. Before daylight on 7 July, Colle di Val d'Elsa and the high ground overlooking the town were in French hands. That evening the French too crossed Route 68 and continued their advance over winding mountain roads toward Poggibonsi.

Although thirty miles of rugged terrain remained to be crossed before the Fifth Army would reach the south bank of the Arno, the worst of the terrain between Rome and the Arno at that point lay to the rear of Clark's army. As the French Expeditionary Corps prepared to continue its drive, Crittenberger's IV Corps, having moved about five miles beyond Route 68, prepared to close with the last German defenses south of Leghorn.

 The Eighth Army

While the Fifth Army advanced to and beyond Route 68, the British Eighth Army had been operating on the wider of the two army fronts and over far more difficult terrain than had the Fifth Army. The front of the Eighth Army and the separate Polish corps meandered for almost 200 miles through the fastness of the Central Apennines and the less mountainous but still challenging terrain flanking Lake Trasimeno. Yet because of a superior road net, only the 30-mile sector flanking the lake was of strategic importance. It was there that General Leese had concentrated his main strength, the 10 and 13 Corps, to the east and west of Lake Trasimeno respectively. Because the lake divided the two corps, it was evident that in their assault on the Trasimeno Line they would at first proceed independently along separate axes fifteen miles apart. Once the waters of the lake were behind, a broad range of hills that divided the Chiana valley from the upper reaches of the Tiber River still would divide them. There would be no firm contact until they reached Arezzo, 20 miles north of the lake. The inability of each to influence the progress of the other would be a contributing factor to the success of the Germans over the next ten days (from 20 through 30 June) in holding the British to slow painstaking progress in some of the most difficult fighting encountered since crossing the Aniene and Tiber two weeks before.

The Eighth Army's operational problems were further complicated after the advance beyond Rome to the Trasimeno Line had left the army's railhead and main supply base 200 miles to the rear. There were no ports on the Adriatic flank between Ban and Ancona. Although the Fifth Army's capture of the small ports on the Tyrrhenean coast helped to a degree to ease British supply difficulties, especially in gasoline, the Eighth's long lines of communication would remain until Ancona could be opened. In view of the supply problems, the Eighth Army probably would have been unable to maintain additional divisions at the front even had they been available.

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