Dated: Oct 25, 2005


Pursuit North of Rome 
to the Arno River

June – August 1944
Final Act of Rome-to-Arno Campaign

   The Rome-Arno Campaign began on 20 January, 1944 with the assault on the GUSTAV Line in the Liri Valley, which was followed by the amphibious landings at Anzio.   For five months, the Allies fought for every inch of the Cassino front and Anzio beachhead.   On 11 May 1944, the Spring Offensive was begun with a renewed attacks that broke the stale-mate.   On June 4, elements of the 5th Army had entered Rome.  The Allies had to keep pushing in order to capture the ports on both the west and east coast.  The German X and XIV Armies were in retreat to their next defensive position; the GOTHIC Line.   

     At this time, the Allies began pulling units out of Italy in order to assist the Normany D-Day landings by launching a second front in southern France.  New troops were arriving at the front as others were stopping for a deserved rest.
      The Allies were advancing rapidly north as the Germans retreated on all fronts.  For some units, this would be their last battle in Italy; for others, this was their first taste of combat. This page attempts to fill in the gaps during this time and explain how the U.S. 5th Army advanced 150 miles to the Arno River.

The text is taken directly from the volume of the US Army History series, entitled "Cassino to the Alps" by Ernest F. Fisher Jr., published in 1977.  Maps were created by Webmaster from this and other sources.  No copyrighted material was used.  Portions of the text were paraphrased in order to focus mainly on the II Corps.
The material contained herein is considered public domain but the compilation of material is copyright protected.

Page Selection      Description
Page 1 - Selected THIS PAGE Advance North from Rome
Go To Page 2 German's Plan
Go To Page 3  Pursuit Ends at the Arno River
Map - Advance to Trasimeno Line  Rome To Trasimeno Line
Map - Advance to Leghorn & Arno River Advance to the Arno River
Go to Glossary

General Overview of the campaign
- June - August 1944

Two days after Rome fell, General Alexander received orders from General Wilson to push the Germans 170 miles north to a line running from Pisa to Rimini as quickly as possible to prevent the establishment of any sort of coherent enemy defense in central Italy. The Fifth Army set as its immediate goals the capture of the port of Civitavecchia and the airfields at Viterbo, with the long-range goal of seizing the triangle of Pisa-Lucca-Pistoia on the Arno River.  The Eighth Army, whose front eventually extended nearly 200 miles from the interior to the Adriatic, targeted the triangle Florence-Arezzo-Bibbiena. To maintain momentum, all units were instructed to bypass enemy strong points, but were told to exploit any opportunity to split and destroy the Tenth and Fourteenth Armies separately before they reached the Arno.

Although Allied progress was steady, neither Fifth nor Eighth Army advanced as rapidly as planned. Civitavecchia and Viterbo fell on 7 June, with extremely light Fifth Army casualties, while the Eighth Army captured Terni and Perugia on 13 and 19 June, respectively. But the advance was slowed due caused innumerable delays the constant shifting of troops between fronts to replace units withdrawn for ANVIL, growing logistical problems, plus the ever-present rough terrain, poor weather, and sporadic but stiff enemy resistance.

While the campaign had changed little in its most fundamental aspects, the terrain for the first 100 miles north of Rome was devoid of the mountains and rivers that had favored the enemy's defensive efforts. The Fourteenth and Tenth Armies did construct two defensive belts across central Italy: the DORA and TRASIMENO (FRIEDA) Lines.  Both were overrun by the end of June.  The Germans increased their resistance with delaying techniques but they were overwhelmed by the Allied advance.

Despite increasing resistance Allied casualties were low, and by 21 June the Germans had been pushed 110 miles north of Rome, a stunning advance compared to the five months of agonizingly slow and bloody gains the previous spring.  (Alexander optimistically predicted in late June that at that rate of advance the Allies could take Leghorn, Ancona, and Bologna within weeks and be in the Po valley by late summer, ready for an assault into Austria and the Danube valley.)

In spite of the handicaps posed by growing shortages, the Fifth and Eighth Armies continued to advance. Cecina fell to the 34th Division on 1 July, after some of the heaviest fighting seen since before Rome. The FEC captured Siena on 3 July, and Volterra fell on 8 July to the 1st Armored Division. The newly arrived U.S. 91st Infantry Division, under Maj. Gen. William G. Livesay, entered action for the first time on 12 July and helped the 34th and 88th Infantry Divisions and the U.S. Japanese-American 442d Regimental Combat Team capture the port of Leghorn on 19 July before reaching the banks of the Arno with the rest of the Fifth Army on 23 July. On the Eighth Army front, the Polish Corps captured the vital port of Ancona on 18 July, while the British 13 Corps advanced into Florence on 5 August after the Germans blew all but one of its bridges that spanned the Arno Rive.

Having failed to stem the Allied advance between Rome and the Arno, Field Marshal Kesselring was not optimistic that his battered, mixed force of infantry, armored, Luftwaffe, and foreign units could halt any Allied thrust short of the GOTHIC Line north of Florence and the Arno.  His concern was exacerbated by the fact that the GOTHIC Line was not scheduled for completion until December 1944. Yet late in July and early in August Alexander, Clark, and Leese called a halt in offensive operations to allow Allied units to rest, refit, and prepare for a late-summer assault on the GOTHIC Line. The midsummer halt provided a much-needed breather for many units that had been in combat since May and also for the Germans as well.  The Germans now redoubled their efforts to complete their GOTHIC Line defenses. It was during this lull in activity that the Rome-Arno Campaign officially ended.   Both sides prepared for what would be the final battles of the war.

Color Legend
5th Army -  American units in Maroon
8th Army  -  British units in Blue
Green -
  German units in Green
Bold -  
Towns and rivers
{Blue} -  Comments & explanations in {brackets}

Pursuit To the Arno

Throughout the first day following Rome's capture, reconnaissance units ranged widely across the army's front to determine the extent of the enemy's withdrawal. Meanwhile, the 1st Armored and the 34th and 36th Infantry Divisions assembled in a bridgehead west of the Tiber. To maintain contact with the rapidly retreating Germans, Clark directed his corps commanders to form small, highly mobile task forces.

After clearing Rome by nightfall on 5 June, the 5th Army continued to advance at first on a two-corps front in the same order in which it had entered Rome: on the left, Truscott's VI Corps moving in two columns, one along the axis of Highway 1 (the coastal highway running northwestward toward Civitavecchia) and a second initially along the axis of Highway 2, roughly paralleling the coastal road some ten miles inland; on the right, Keyes' II Corps advancing to take over Highway 2 about seven miles north of Rome and continuing east of Lake Bracciano north to Viterbo. The II Corps' right boundary was also the inter-army boundary and ran almost due north from a point four miles east of Rome, through Civita Castellana, thence to a point just west of Orte, forty miles north of Rome on the Tiber. {See Map}

The farther the 5th Army moved beyond Rome, ever lengthening supply lines wreaked an inevitable burden on the hardworking trucks and drivers and exacerbated gasoline shortages at the front that could be alleviated only by opening the port of Civitavecchia. Narrow, winding secondary roads and frequent demolition of culverts and bridges by the retreating enemy contributed to delays and limited the number of troops that might advance along the axis of a single road.

Early on 6 June, General Harmon's 1st Armored Division, with Allen's CCB accompanying the 34th Division along the coastal highway toward Civitavecchia and CCA the 36th Division along Highway 2, took up the pursuit toward Viterbo. The 45th Division remained in corps reserve, while the British 1 and 5 Divisions withdrew into AAI reserve as soon as the bulk of the 5th Army moved beyond Rome.3 Each combat command formed a mobile task force composed of a medium tank battalion, a motorized infantry battalion, and attached engineer and reconnaissance units, as well as a battalion of self-propelled artillery. Because of difficulties involved in maneuvering and protecting the armor during the hours of darkness, motorized infantry led the way at night, armored units by day.

As night fell on the 6th, CCB had reached a point about seventeen miles southwest of Civitavecchia. Progress had been so rapid and resistance so light that Clark abandoned a plan to use the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion to block Highway 1 behind the retreating enemy. Meanwhile, the 34th Division's 168th Infantry, mounted on trucks, consolidated gains and r4unded up enemy stragglers bypassed by the tanks. Demolished bridges and culverts bore witness to the enemy's passage, but there was little physical contact with the foe. Throughout the night a motorized battalion of the 168th Infantry led the way, and by dawn on the 7th reached a point within three miles of Civitavecchia. Entering the port, the infantry cleared it by noon.

In the meantime, the 34th Division commander, General Ryder, ordered Col. William Schildroth's 133d Infantry to take up the advance in trucks along the coast toward Tarquinia, about ten miles northwest of Civitavecchia.  Allen's CCB, meanwhile, turned eastward to rejoin the rest of the 1st Armored Division south of Viterbo. Against little opposition, the 133d Infantry, as night fell, came within five miles of Tarquima, but the next morning, 8 June, in hilly country just south of Tarquinia the regiment encountered the first elements of the 20th Luftwaffe Field Division, a unit that Kesselring had sent south from Orvieto to reinforce the Fourteenth Army. The enemy infantrymen had established themselves on the sides of a ravine overlooking the highway. Backed by mortars and artillery, they held until shortly before dark, when the Americans, using newly issued 57-mm. antitank guns as direct fire weapons, blasted the positions. Instead of sending the 133d Infantry into Tarquinia that night, Ryder relieved it with an attached unit, Col. Rudolph W. Broedlow's 361st Regimental Combat Team, the first contingent of the 91st Division to arrive in Italy.

Early the next morning, the 9th, Truscott shifted the 36th Division, which had been advancing along the axis of Highway 2, from the VI Corps' right wing to relieve the weary 34th Division and take over the advance along the coastal highway. The 36th Division's place was taken by the 85th Division on the II Corps' left flank, which Clark had moved westward to include Highway 2. Ryder's division then retired into corps reserve in the vicinity of Civitavecchia. Two days later Crittenberger's IV Corps was to relieve the VI Corps and take command of the 36th Division and the advance along the coastal flank.

On the VI Corps' right wing Colonel Daniel's CCA, in the meantime, had advanced seven miles along Highway 2, then turned onto a good secondary road running through the corps zone west of Lake Bracciano before rejoining the main highway north of the lake. Daniel divided his unit into three small task forces, each built around an infantry and a medium tank company. Leap-frogging the task forces, Daniel, by nightfall on the 7th, had pushed his column to within fourteen miles of Viterbo. Resuming the advance the next morning, CCA headed for the point where the secondary road rejoined Highway 2. There the Germans had assembled a relatively strong rear guard from the 3d Panzer Grenadier Division, which managed to delay Daniel's task force for three hours, long enough for the enemy to evacuate the adjacent town of Vetralla. From Vetralla, Viterbo lay only a tempting seven miles away but within the adjacent II Corps zone of operations. Not one to be overly respectful of corps' boundaries when opportunity beckoned, General Harmon, the 1st Armored Division commander, told Daniel to go on into Viterbo. Task Force C continued until halted by enemy rear guards at midnight a mile and a half south of the town. Later that night, when it became evident that the enemy had withdrawn, the task force dashed unhindered into Viterbo.

Since the beginning of the pursuit on the 6th, the II Corps front had been echeloned somewhat to the right rear of its neighbor, which was why Task Force C found no II Corps troops at Viterbo. After leaving the 3d Division behind to garrison Rome, Keves selected the 85th and 88th Divisions to lead the II Corps along the axis of Highway 2 to the corps' objective, the road line Viterbo-Soriano-Orte. The VI Corps' units, which had been using the same highway for the first hours of their advance north of Rome, had already turned off onto a secondary road that would carry them west of Lake Bracciano. The II Corps, advancing along the axis of Highway 2, would pass east of Lake Bracciano.

Early on 6 June, the 85th Division, in a column of regiments with the 339th Infantry leading and elements of the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron screening the front and flanks, led the II Corps up Highway 2 to take over the advance on Viterbo from the 36th Division. A tank battalion and a tank destroyer battalion, attached from Task Force Howze, accompanied the lead regiment. Leapfrogging his regiments and alternating his forward elements between motorized and dismounted infantry, the division commander, General Coulter, kept his columns moving so rapidly that by dark on 8 June they had advanced to within six miles of Viterbo. There Coulter learned that the 1st Armored Division's CCA was already advancing on the town, which the army commander, General Clark, reacting to a fait accompli, shifted into the VI Corps' zone.

On Coulter's right, Sloan's 88th Division set out from Rome about the same time as its neighbor. Limited to secondary roads east of Highway 2, General Sloan deployed all three of his regiments. Their advance over these roads was more of a tactical march than an actual pursuit. Both to the front and on the right flank, a task force consisting of the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron with a battalion each of tanks and tank destroyers screened the advance while the regiments followed. After the task force passed through Civita Castellana, 45 miles north of Rome, which the 6th South African Armoured Division of the British 13 Corps had captured two days before, the continued advance of the South Africans pinched out the task force.

At dawn on 9 June the French Expeditionary Corps began relieving the II Corps, whose zone of operations had been greatly reduced by the presence of the South African armor on Highway 3, temporarily assigned to use of the 8th Army. By midmorning the 3d Algerian Infantry Division on the left and the 1st Motorized Division on the right completed relief of the 85th Division. Meanwhile, the 88th Division, pinched out by the South Africans, had also pulled out of the line.

The 5th Army front on 11 June thus described a wide arc extending westward from Viterbo to Tuscania, thence southwest to a point just north of Tarquinia on Highway 1. Thus far casualties had been exceptionally light, each division seldom exceeding a daily average of ten in all categories.

Map Trasimeno
From Rome to the Trasimeno Line   -   June 5 - 20, 1944  -   5th Army
  II & IV Corps -  85, 88, 34, 36 Infantry Divisions,
1 Armored Division, & Task Force Ramey [R]
Regiment (36 Div), 
361 Regiment (91 Div) and 117 Recon Troop
   French Expeditionary Corps - 1, 2, 3  Moroccan Divisions
    ---- TRASIMENO Line shown as  Red dashed line 

 Eighth Army Joins the Pursuit

East of Rome, the 8th Army on 6 June crossed the Tiber and its tributary, the Aniene, on a two corps front, the 13th Corps on the left, the 10th Corps on the right. The former had the 6th  _________________
     {Insert a summary from this section}

 Kesselring Outlines His Strategy

Even as the U.S. 5th Army passed through Civitaveccia and Viterbo, and the British 8th Army closed in on Orte, Narni, Terni, and Rieti, Field Marshal Kesselring began to prepare his superiors for the eventual loss of all central Italy between Rome and the Arno. On 8 June he informed the OKW that he might be able to delay the Allied armies forward of the GOTHIC Line for only three more weeks, and for that long only if the Allies made no attempt to turn Army Group C's front with an amphibious landing on either the Tyrrhenian or Adriatic coasts, which Kesselring saw as a possibility at any time.

Both the Tenth and Fourteenth Armies were to fight delaying actions while bringing reserves from the rear and flanks, closing newly opened gaps, and establishing firm contact along the inner wings of the two armies. Loss of terrain was less important to Kesselring than overcoming the manpower losses suffered in the defeat south of Rome by rehabilitating severely mauled divisions.

Compared with several delaying lines south of the Arno, the GOTHIC Line appeared on the map to offer a secure refuge for the German armies in the mountain fastness of the Northern Apennines, but in reality the line was far from complete. Construction of fortified positions in the relatively impregnable western sector, toward which the U.S. 5th Army was advancing, had progressed satisfactorily, but little had been accomplished in the more vital and vulnerable central and eastern sectors, where the British 8th Army's objectives lay. Although OKW had sent Field Marshal Kesselring additional engineer, fortification construction, and mountain battalions in order to complete the line before Army Group C withdrew beyond the Arno, the High Command was unable to afford him what he most needed: time. Kesselring could gain that only with his own skill and the steadfastness of his troops. While he was determined to hold the Allies as far south of the Arno as possible, unremitting pressure, especially against the Fourteenth Army on his right wing, delays in the arrival of reinforcements, and increasing difficulties in maintaining contact between his two armies across the barrier of the Tiber would, in Kesselring's opinion, leave little alternative to a fighting withdrawal.

Hitler disagreed. Even as Kesselring prepared on 9 June to issue new strategic guidelines to his army commanders, Hitler ordered him to stand and fight. Three days later the Fuehrer's written instructions pointed out that since another seven months were needed to complete the GOTHIC Line, the army group commander, if forced from his first defensive position, the Dora Line, had to be prepared to stabilize his front on the Frieda Line, forty miles farther north. Hitler also insisted that Kesselring should quickly disabuse his troops of any notion of the existence of a secure haven in the Northern Apennines into which they might eventually withdraw. The GOTHIC Line offered no advantages, Hitler added, for combat conditions there were less favorable than those south of the Arno. Furthermore, the hazards of flanking amphibious operations by the Allies were even greater. As if further to downgrade the importance of the GOTHIC Line in the eyes of both friend and foe, Hitler ordered the name of the line, with its historic connotations, changed. He reasoned that if the Allies managed to break through they would seize upon the more pretentious name as ground for magnifying their victory claims. Kesselring renamed it the GREEN Line.

Essentially, despite Hitler's insistence on a stand and fight strategy, it developed rather that under Kesselring's command the German armies in Italy adopted a 20th-century variation of the delaying strategy associated with the name of the Roman general Quintus Fabius Cunctator, who, during the Punic War of the 3d century, B.C., had worn down the Carthaginian armies by a series of delaying actions. How effective was the German adaptation of that strategy twenty-one centuries later remained to be seen.

To the Trasimeno Line

As both the Fifth and Eighth Armies completed their regrouping on 11 June, the Allied front extended from a point on the Tyrrhenian coast about 20 miles northwest of Tarquinia, northeastward some thirty miles to the vicinity of Fontanile Montefiascone, thence in a southeasterly direction to Narni and Rieti, passing south of L'Aquila on the southern edge of the Gran Sasso, and on to Chieti and the Adriatic coast about seven miles south of Pescara. The Allied armies at that point were in contact with the first of the enemy's delaying lines north of Rome. 

On the 5th Army's left, Crittenberger's IV Corps held a 30-mile front between the coast and the hills overlooking it from the east and, on the right, the FEC's front stretched across twenty miles of the Umbrian highlands dominating the Tiber valley from the west. The intercorps boundary extended in a northwesterly direction from Tuscania.

General Crittenberger planned for the 36th Division to make the main effort along the axis of the coastal Highway 1. To give Walker's division more punch, Crittenberger reinforced it with Broedlow's 361st Regimental Combat Team and the 753d Tank and 636th Tank Destroyer Battalions. The 117th Reconnaissance Squadron was to screen the corps front, with corps artillery to follow in general support. Two combat engineer regiments, the 36th and 39th, were also available. For the time being, the 34th Division was to remain in army reserve near Tarquinia.

On the Corps' right wing in the vicinity of Canino, eight miles southwest of Valentano, Crittenberger created a task force under the command of Brig. Gen. Rufus S. Ramey, with the mission of screening that flank and maintaining contact with the French Expeditionary Corps. The 1st Armored Group headquarters and headquarters company formed the command group for Ramey's task force, which included the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron, the 3d Battalion of the 141st Infantry, the 59th Field Artillery Battalion, an engineer battalion, and a medical company.

The 36th Division's immediate objective was Grosseto, a provincial center approximately sixty miles northwest of Civitavecchia. Situated just north of the Ombrone River near the junction of Highways 1 and 73, Grosseto lies in the middle of a broad, flat valley formed by the Ombrone as it nears the sea. Almost fifteen miles wide, the valley is scored by a gridiron of small drainage ditches and canals.

Six miles beyond the 36th Division's front and twenty three miles south of Grosseto lay the town of Orbetello, located at the mainland end of a causeway linking the rocky peninsula of Monte Argentano and the port of San Stefano with the mainland. San Stefano was the first of a series of small ports beyond Civitavecchia dotting the Tyrrhenian coast as far as Leghorn. The Allied command, especially the 5th Army, hoped that with San Stefano's large liquid storage facilities in Allied hands, it would help solve the growing fuel supply problems. The gasoline shortage had been aggravated a week earlier when fire in the 5th Army dumps near Rome destroyed large quantities of fuel.

The tactical problems to be solved by the 36th Division resembled those which had been faced by the 85th along the coastal highway south of Terracina during the drive to link up the southern front with the Anzio beachhead. Between Orbetello and Grosseto the Umbrian hills stretch almost to the coast and just east of Orbetello form a defile through which Highway 1 passes.  Since the defile had been incorporated into the enemy's DORA Line, the Germans could be expected to put up a stiff fight for the feature.

Although the 361st Infantry had been held up for most of 10 June by fire from near the defile carrying Highway 1 through the Umbrian Hills, the 141st Infantry--its 1st Battalion advancing before the 2d -- encountered no opposition as it began moving up the highway shortly before dawn on the 11th. Yet just as the Americans had begun to suspect that the enemy had withdrawn from the defile, out of the half-light of early morning heavy automatic weapons and artillery fire stabbed at the head of the column. The lead battalion quickly deployed off the road to set up a base of fire, while the next battalion in line turned off the main road to scale the high ground flanking the roadblock to the east.

Full daylight found the 1st Battalion astride the highway, and the 2d Battalion well up the 700-foot Poggio Capalbiaccio, commanding the enemy's defenses; but during the morning two companies of German infantry, infiltrating through wheat fields east of the feature, outflanked and overran the 2d Battalion's leading company and forced the Americans to fall back to the base of the hill. Not until the afternoon, and with the help of division artillery, was the battalion on Poggio Capalbiaccio able to restore its lines. That evening, reinforced with a battalion from the 361st Infantry, the 2d Battalion once again started up the high ground. Throughout the night, fighting flared across the hillside, but dawn of the 12th found the 2d Battalion on top of Poggio Capalbiaccio and overlooking the enemy roadblock along the coastal highway.

This feat, in conjunction with a resumption of the 1st Battalion's attack along the highway during the afternoon of the 12th, was sufficient to force the Germans to yield the Orbetello defile and fall back toward Grosetto. At that point General Walker relieved the 141st Infantry with the 143d, which had been in reserve east of Nunziatella. The 141st Infantry then shifted to the right to join Task Force Ramey and the regiment's 3d Battalion on that flank of the corps.

That night engineers accompanied the infantry across the causeway to San Stefano, where the Americans found to their delight that the fuel storage facilities were still intact, thanks to Italian engineers who had failed to carry out German orders to destroy them. An Italian diver provided information concerning the location of underwater mines placed in deep moats surrounding the tanks.

At San Stefano the Americans also discovered underground storage facilities for an additional 281,000 barrels of gasoline.  Yet before the first tanker could enter, the harbor had to be cleared of sunken ships and the docks repaired. That was difficult work under wartime conditions, so that not until 1 July was the first tanker to dock, but the port soon became the main POL terminal for the 5th Army.

While the 143d Infantry cleared Orbetello and occupied San Stefano, the 142d Infantry, accompanied by tanks, crossed the hills on the division's right wing toward the village of Capalbio. The regiment brushed aside a weak counterattack by elements of the 162d Turkomen Division to occupy the village before noon on the 11th. That afternoon and throughout the next day the troops continued to advance-the infantry across the hills and the tanks through the narrow valleys-northwest to high ground just south of lateral Route 74.

By the evening of 12 June, Walker's 36th Division was within sight of the Albegna River, which parallels Route 74 and enters the Tyrrhenian Sea five miles northwest of Orbetello. The general had planned crossings of the river that night, but it turned out that all bridges were destroyed and that the water was too deep for fording. Postponing the attack until morning, he put his engineers to work constructing footbridges in the darkness. Shortly before dawn on the 13th, the 143d Infantry, followed by the 143d on the left, began to cross.

The 143d Infantry encountered little opposition until reaching the village of Bengodi on the banks of the smaller but deeper Osa River, three to four miles north of the Albegna.  Not so with the 142d Infantry on the right.  As that regiment neared the village of Magliano, five miles north of the Albegna, heavy fire from that village and the hills to the north brought the men to a halt. They attempted to outflank the village to the east, but resistance was firm there as well. Nevertheless, by 1500 the 2d Battalion, supported by tank and heavy artillery fire directed against the enemy in the hills to the north, managed to win a foothold in the outskirts of Magliano. During the rest of the afternoon and throughout the night the infantry inched into the village, house by house and street by street. The village's fall opened a road along which the division could outflank Grosseto from the southeast, as it had done earlier at Orbetello. Throughout the afternoon the 142d Infantry continued to move up until its leading battalions occupied high ground flanking the Magliano-Grosseto road. That night the 361st Infantry came forward to spell the 142d.

Meanwhile, throughout the 14th, the 143d Infantry continued to forge ahead astride the coastal highway. Attacking at dawn, the 2d and 3d Battalions required five hours to drive the enemy from the flanking high ground north of Bengodi, in the process capturing fifty prisoners and five artillery pieces. For the rest of the afternoon the two battalions advanced against slackening opposition, as the Germans, having lost Magliano, fell back across the corps front toward Grosseto. By dark the regiment had come within twelve miles of Grosseto and the Ombrone River.

Moving before dawn on the 15th, a battalion on each side of the highway, the 143d Infantry encountered no resistance in occupying the high ground overlooking the Ombrone and in flanking the highway near Collecchio, a village six miles south of the river. As the men descended into the river valley and worked their way across the network of small streams and drainage ditches scoring the valley floor, sporadic machine gun and mortar fire picked at them, but there were few casualties.  Locating a ford a mile east of the main road, the troops waited until dark before attempting to cross the river. Thereupon one battalion proceeded quickly into Grosseto. The Germans had already left.

To the right of the 143d, the 361st Infantry operating south and west of Istia d'Ombrone, four miles northeast of Grosseto, had more trouble in crossing the river. Unable to locate a ford, engineers toiled through the night to construct a footbridge. When the men began crossing at daylight on the 16th, enemy artillery inflicted a number of casualties. It was early afternoon before all three battalions were across the river and astride high ground overlooking the valley from the northeast.

On the division's right flank Task Force Ramey had been held up since early on the 14th by resolute defenders south of Triana, a small, walled town at a road junction twenty-two miles east of Grosseto. Instead of a direct confrontation, General Ramey concentrated on clearing the neighboring villages of Santa Caterina, Vallerona, and Roccalbegna. That so threatened the enemy's line of communications to the strong-point at Triana that the town's garrison soon withdrew.

On the morning of the 16th Ramey's men entered Triana. The fall first of Grosseto on the night of the 15th and then of Triana meant that the VI Corps was well past the Dora Line and two-thirds of the way to the FRIEDA Line.

Early next day, 17 June, a 9,700-man French amphibious landing force attacked the island of Elba, seven miles off the coast. Composed of two regimental combat teams from the 9th Colonial Division and a commando battalion with a group of goumiers attached, all supported by an American air task force, with a British naval task force in general support, the French approached the island over a calm, fog-shrouded sea from a base in nearby Corsica. Despite some early resistance by a 2,500-man enemy garrison, 550 of whom were Italian Fascist troops and the rest Germans, the French quickly established two secure beachheads. The next day virtually all resistance ceased. Other than to boost French morale, the capture of Elba had little immediate significance for the Allies, yet for the Germans the operation again raised the specter of an Allied amphibious operation to the German rear and made Kesselring pause before committing his reserve, the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Division.

The IV Corps, meanwhile, continued to move northwestward, paralleling the coast beyond Grosseto. On the left wing along the coast, the 36th Division advanced on a 15-mile front to clear all the high ground southeast of Route 73. On the right wing, Task Force Ramey, with the 141st Infantry attached, cut Route 73 below the town of Roccastrada, ten miles north of the coastal highway, there to await relief by the 1st Armored Division.

In ten days the IV Corps had progressed but twenty-two miles on a 20-mile front, a rate imposed by persistent German delaying action and one hardly characteristic of a rapid pursuit. Yet it then appeared that even firmer German resistance might be in the offing, possibly sufficient even to halt the pursuit; for as the corps prepared to cross Route 73, intelligence officers identified prisoners from the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Division.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  End of Part 1 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Page Selection
Page 1 - selected
Got to Page 2
Go to Page 3

  Return to Top of Page

Events that occurred during June, July & August, 1944:

Maj. Gen. Paul W. Kendall took command of 88th Division at Arno, replacing General Sloan.
Brazilian Expeditionary Force arrived in Italy.
23 July 1944:  34th "Red Bull" Division pulled out of the line for rest.
361st Infantry Regiment(91st Division) first entered combat as an attached unit of the 34th Division.
VI Corps were pulled out of Italy for amphibious assault training.  On August, they VI Corps, still under the command of 5th Army, landed in Southern France.


Return to Top of Page of WW2 Books.

See also my Library Books on WW1 Aviation.

Return to The Italian Campaign Main Menu.

Go to History of Italian Campaign.

Go to Site Map for quick search of contents.
Contact Webmaster at