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 Dated: Oct 30, 2005
Pursuit North of Rome 
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  Go To Page 2  German's Plan
  Page 3 - Selected THIS PAGE   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 Pursuit Ends

General Crittenberger, the commander of the IV Corps, was determined not to repeat the tactics employed in the battle for Cecina, where his corps was weakened by frontal attacks with only weak flanking attacks.  By intervening early in the planning stage of the operation against Leghorn, the IV Corps commander expected to coordinate the frontal and flanking operations more closely.  As at Cecina, Ryder's 34th Infantry Division was to carry the main burden.

To give Ryder's division additional fire power, Crittenberger reinforced it with the 442d Regimental Combat Team, the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and the 363d Regimental Combat Team, the second of the 91st Division's units to be assigned to the Fifth Army to gain combat experience.  Crittenberger gave the 363d Regimental Combat Team the mission of outflanking Leghorn on the east and of threatening the enemy's route of withdrawal. That maneuver would cause the enemy garrison to abandon the objective rather than attempt a last-ditch stand.


The Terrain and the Plan

Before Crittenberger could execute these plans his corps, from positions in the hills some six miles north of the Cecina River, had first to cross a 20-mile stretch of terrain far more convoluted than that south of Cecina. This was infantry country and the infantry, supported by artillery, would have to do most of the fighting. From the line of the Cecina three natural routes of approach led toward Leghorn and the Arno valley. Four miles behind Cecina, Highway 1 returned to the coast, and from that point wound along the edge of cliffs dropping abruptly to the sea. Before reaching Leghorn the highway connected several small coastal towns, the largest of which was Rosignano Solvay, seven miles north of Cecina and the site of a large chemical works. A secondary road, Route 206, led northward from the junction of Highway 1 and lateral Route 68 through a valley flanked on the left by the coastal range and on the right by a high ridge line. That road linked numerous villages and towns and passed through the largest community, Colle Salvetti, eighteen miles away on the southern edge of the Arno vallcv. A third unnumbered route paralleled that road about five miles to the east on the eastern side of the ridge line. The unnumbered route led northward from a junction with lateral Route 68 via Ripparbella, six miles northeast of Cecina, to a junction with Route 206 at Torretta, three miles south of Colle Salvetti.  Crittenberger planned to send the bulk of the 34th Division along the latter two roads while the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion and the 34th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop held to the narrow coastal highway. (Map)

To the 34th Division's right, the 88th Division (and later also the 91st Division) was to move forward along the west bank of the Era River valley, which paralleled the coast seventeen miles inland. After the 91st Division arrived, the 88th Division was to cross the Era and proceed up its east bank toward the Arno. Thirteen miles east of the Era the French Expeditionary Corps was to continue its drive on the Fifth Army's right flank through the Elsa valley until relieved just short of the Arno by the II Corps, which General Clark for several weeks had been holding in reserve.

The terrain over which these several routes led favored the defense. Ridge lines on the flanks of the main routes of approach rose to peaks of over 1,500 feet on the left and over 2,000 feet on the right, offering the Germans vantage points from which they might rake the advancing columns with flanking fire. Seven miles north of Cecina and lateral Route 68 the reinforced 29th Luftwaffe Division prepared to make a stand just north of a lateral road which connected the coastal highway with Route 206, the westernmost of the 34th Division's two main routes of approach.

The town of Rosignano Marittimo, on a hilltop two and a half miles northeast of the junction of the lateral road with the coastal highway and the factory town of Rosignano Solvay, afforded the enemy a commanding view of the terrain almost as far as Cecina. On the summit of the hill in the center of the town stood a massive stone castle whose thick walls had withstood besieging armies in centuries past. The location of the town and its buildings had prompted the Germans to make it the major strongpoint of their defenses south of Leghorn.

Because of the terrain and the routes of approach, General Ryder planned to advance with three regiments abreast-the 135th Infantry on the left, the attached 442d Infantry in the center, and the 168th on the right. The 133d Infantry, which had borne the brunt of the battle for Cecina, would remain in reserve. On his left flank, the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion, screened by the 34th Reconnaissance Troop, was to advance along the narrow, cliff-hanging coastal highway. On his right flank, Ryder would deploy the reconnaissance company of the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion to screen the 168th Infantry's flank and to maintain contact with the 91st Division after it entered the line between the 34th and 88th Divisions. By evening of 2 July all units had reached their assigned assembly positions and were prepared to launch the drive to Leghorn early the next morning.

Deployed on the high ground opposite the IV Corps front two enemy divisions of varying quality awaited the attack. On the XIV Army's right flank, General von Senger's XIV Panzer Corps was controlling the 19th Luftwaffe and 26th Panzer Divisions, both of which had given such good account of themselves in the defense of the Cecina sector, but in so doing had suffered considerable losses. To the left and holding a comparatively narrow front was the 20th Luftwaffe Division.


Advance Towards Leghorn

At dawn on 3 July, the 135th and 168th Infantry Regiments of the 34th Division began to advance across the flanking ridges; at the same time in the valley below, the 442d Infantry {442RCT} attacked across a broader front. By early evening the lead company of the 135th Infantry's 3d Battalion had reached Rosignano Marittimo's southern outskirts. A few hours later the rest of the battalion arrived, but was halted just short of the town by mortar and artillery fire, including some 170-mm. rounds from enemy guns located behind a ridge northeast of Rosignano. Since it was too dark to continue the assault, the battalion organized three company-sized strongpoints and settled down for the night. Early the next morning the battalion began the difficult task of establishing a foothold in the town. For several hours the men inched forward through streets made gauntlets by the enemy's firing small arms and hurling grenades from upper stories of the compact stone buildings lining the streets. After beating off a strong tank-supported infantry counterattack, the 3d Battalion by late afternoon had at last gained a foothold in the southern third of the town. Despite reinforcement by the rest of the parent 135th Infantry, it took three more days for the men to advance house by house through the rest of the town. It was late on 7 July before the men reached the northern edge of the town, there to confront a stubborn rear guard holding scattered strongpoints in isolated houses along the fringe.

The remaining regiments under 34th Division control found the fighting equally difficult. The 442d Regimental Combat Team, astride the valley road in the center, and the 168th Infantry, along the eastern ridge overlooking the valley road, advanced in echelon to the right rear of the 135th Infantry. Although on 4 July the corps commander attached the 363d Infantry to the 34th Division for use on the 168th's right, the 442d and the 168th could do little more than consolidate their gains across a four-mile front. They accomplished that only after beating off several small-scale counterattacks by Germans infiltrating a proliferation of ravines and gullies. So painstaking was the advance that the 168th Infantry required four days to reach and clear the village of Castellino Marittimo, five miles due east of Rosignano Marittimo.

Map - Pursuit to Leghorn & Arno

For all the difficulties, capture of Rosignano Marittimo and Castellina Marittimo meant that the infantrymen had driven the enemy from the last favorable defensive terrain south of Leghorn. That left the 135th Infantry free to move directly on the port while to the right the 34th Division's remaining regiments and attached units were to envelop the city from the east before turning west toward the coast and north toward the Arno River and Pisa, site of the famous leaning tower. They would have help from Maj. Gen. William G. Livesay's 91st Division, committed for the first time as an entire unit between Ryder's 34th and Sloan's 88th Divisions. At the same time attachment of the 363d Infantry to the 34th Division and the 361st Infantry to the 1st Armored Division terminated.

With two regiments forward---the 362d on the right and the 363d on the left---the 91st Division launched its first attack as a division early on the 12th from assembly areas three miles south of a four-mile-wide sector between Chianni and Laiatico and about ten miles northeast of Rosignano Marittimo.  On the 91st Division's right the 88th Division resumed its drive astride Route 439 near the Era River. Both divisions were heading for the Arno near the small industrial town of Pontedera, seventeen miles northeast of Leghorn.

It would be only a matter of time before General Lemelsen's XIV Army would have to begin a general withdrawal to the Arno.  Hard pressed on the right wing, General von Senger's XIV Panzer Corps fell back toward Leghorn. The panzer corps' left wing experienced an equally serious reverse with the loss of Volterra on 8 July to the 88th Division, which opened a wide gap in a sector occupied by the 90th Panzer Grenadier Division. With no available reserves to close the gap, General von Senger had no alternative but to withdraw across his entire corps front. That move forced General Lemelsen to pull back the neighboring I Parachute Corps front as well. Even as the 91st Division during the night of 12 July prepared to attack, the XIV Army broke contact across its entire front and fell back on the Arno.

General Lemelsen was concerned not only with the persistent American ground advance but also with stepped-up Allied naval activity. For a week the Germans had been observing Allied naval units engaged in mine-clearing operations in the waters west of Leghorn and the mouth of the Arno west of Pisa. That activity rekindled both Kesselring's and Lemelsen's chronic appprehension of an amphibious operation aimed at envelopment of the XIV Army's western or Ligurian flank.  Lemelsen, accordingly, alerted Senger to the possibility of a landing between Leghorn and Pisa. Thus concerned, however unrealistic the threat, it was unlikely that the Germans would attempt a protracted defense of Leghorn.

Over the next few days as General Crittenberger's IV Corps advanced across its entire front, the corps commander's attention was focused upon the columns operating southeast of Leghorn. The 168th Infantry and a newly recommitted 133d Infantry made up the force attempting to envelop Leghorn from that direction. The going for the 133rd Infantry was relatively easy, the regiment emerging from hills overlooking the Arno on 17 July; but the 168th Infantry had to fight harder for comparable gains. As the regiment on the 17th reached the outskirts of the village of Fauglia, about ten miles due east of Leghorn, the Germans in their determination to cover their main forces in a difficult withdrawal behind a bridgeless Arno mustered their remaining mortars and artillery and in the afternoon even managed a battalion-sized counterattack supported by seven Tiger tanks. It took help from all available divisional artillery for the 168th to beat off the enemy forces, but then the regiment entered Fauglia and moved on five miles beyond to Colle Salvetti, the last major town in the regimental zone of operations south of the Arno valley. Early the next morning a battalion of the 442d Regimental Combat Team to the 168th's left entered the village Torretta, two miles west of Fauglia; and by evening of the 18th all three regiments were sending patrols deep into the Arno valley in a vain effort to regain contact with the retreating Germans.


The Capture of Leghorn

As the enveloping maneuver against Leghorn proceeded, General Crittenberger became concerned about having only one regiment, the 135th Infantry, to assault the city frontally. That circumstance prompted him again to attach the 91st Division's 363d Infantry to the 34th Division. In concert with the 135th Infantry, approaching Leghorn from the southeast, the 363d was to attack the city from the east.

Both regiments found the going easy. They readily brushed aside a weak rear guard to enter Leghorn before daylight on the 19th. Within the city they met no resistance, for the enemy garrison, concerned, as the American commander had hoped, with the columns investing the city from the east, had slipped away during the night. Mean-while, to the south of Leghorn, the reconnaissance and tank destroyer force driving along the coastal highway had to contend with nothing more serious than destroyed culverts and widely scattered mines, and it entered the city soon after daylight. Close behind came the 442d Regimental Combat Team's 100th Battalion to take up garrison duty.

Although the Germans had been forced to yield Leghorn earlier than they had planned, they managed to destroy the city's port facilities and partially block the harbor with sunken ships. All quay walls were demolished and the masonry toppled into the water. A number of ships were scuttled alongside piers and the harbor sown with mines. Allied bombing had earlier cut all rail lines and created ruins that blocked the streets in the port area. In their turn the Germans had sown the ruins indiscriminately with thousands of mines and booby traps. Hundreds of American soldiers fell victim to these devices in the early weeks following the fall of Leghorn.

However monumental the task of putting the port of Leghorn in operation, it had to be done before the Fifth Army could launch major operations beyond the Arno. Surveys of the damaged harbor by Army and Navy engineers indicated that at least three weeks would be needed to provide just two berths for Liberty ships. Barring unforeseen circumstances the engineers estimated that it would take two months before Leghorn could meet all the needs of the Fifth Army north of Rome. The first Liberty ships carrying engineering equipment and stevedoring gear arrived at Leghorn on 20 August but had to be unloaded by lighters. Drawing upon earlier experience in rehabilitating the port of Naples, Army engineers soon bridged over the vessels sunk alongside the piers and extended the quays so that all hatches of cargo ships could be worked without reversing the vessel.  By such expedients two Liberty ships were able to dock on 26 August only 5 weeks after the city's capture.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  End of Text  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Summary of Campaign

    Pursuit 150 miles NW of Rome
    8th Army captured 7,656 prisoners
    5th Army captured 16,226

    5th Army  17,939
    8th Army  15,966
    American units:  1,933 KIA,   8,777 WIA,  549 MIA

Chart- Reduction of 5th Army

  Chart that shows the decline of the 5th Army as troops were pulled out for Operation ANVIL, the invasion of Southern France.
   In 2 months,  9 complete division and the equivalent of 1 more were reassigned.

Source:  Operations in Sicily and Italy - West Point Academy, 1947

Glossary of Terms

Goumiers – name of French colonial troops from Morrocco

OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) - German Armed Forces High command in Berlin. OKW was directly responsible for the overall conduct of operations during the war.

Army Group C – German command for the area that included Italy.

BEC or Brazilian Expeditionary Corps – The only South American troops were from Brazil.

FEC or French Expeditionary Corps – Free French troops fighting under Allied command.

CCA, CCB – The US 1st Armored Division reorganized and formed into Combat Commands that would be able to react to the battle situation in Italy. 
CCA was Combat Command A.    CCB was Combat Command B.

Luftwaffe Field Division - An infantry unit organized within the Luftwaffee. The 19th and 20 LwF Divisions served in Italy. The Luftwaffe Field Divisions did not receive training and equipment as the paratroopers and the Herman Goring Division.

HG Division or Hermann Goering Panzer Grenadier Parachute Division – This Luftwaffe unit was an elite armored-infantry unit named after the head of the Luftwaffe.  Even though their name included the term “parachute”, these troops were not paratroopers.

General Senger – shortened name of General von Senger und Etterlin

Task Force Ramey -  A fast-moving battalion size unit that consisted of combined infantry, armor and artillery troops.  TF Ramey was lead by Brig. Gen. Rufus S. Ramey.

Liberty ship – A simple troop transport ship that were easily mass-produced.  The name was used during WW1 for items built to win the war.

Tiger tanks – The largest German tank, that had very thick armor.

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