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- SALERNO: American Operations From the Beaches to the Volturno 9 September - 6 October
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- Popular Wwii Sicily Italy Books
Invading the Italian mainland would maintain a second front against the Axis and continue to degrade the German military machine ahead of the Normandy attack. Salerno was chosen for the main assault due to its excellent sea approaches, lack of shoals, adequate underwater gradients, and relatively soft defenses. Hall, USN.
SALERNO: American Operations From the Beaches to the Volturno 9 September - 6 October
The force was divided into 16 different convoys, all of which sailed toward the Gulf of Salerno. While en route to Salerno, the convoys expected harassment from the Luftwaffe , but German air attacks proved much lighter than expected. Successful use of smoke disrupted the attackers and five or six Jus were shot down.
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Before the invasion could commence, the Navy had to clear mines from the Gulf of Salerno. The TG Troops reported that floating mines hampered efficient approaches to the shore and LST blew up after hitting a mine. Despite these complications, Admiral Hewitt commended the minesweepers in his action report, acknowledging flawless execution within their capabilities.
Intelligence on mined channels, landing points, and Axis defenses came from a variety of sources including interrogations of Italian prisoners, official service publications, aerial and submarine reconnaissance, and captured Italian charts. Walker, however, denied the NGFS request. Hoping to catch the enemy by surprise, the generals believed a pre-landing bombardment would be tactically imprudent. Despite the lack of preliminary bombardment, naval batteries supported troops on beaches as soon as they moved into their fire-control zones and established communications with shore parties.
Rear Admiral Lyal A. Savage counterattacks were coming. By 12 September elements of the 26th Panzer Division and the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, arriving from the south, had reinforced the 16th Panzer Division in the Battipaglia-Eboli area. These forces entered the battle of Salerno against VI Corps. From the north the Hermann Goering Division with detachments of the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division had also come to form another concentration in the Nocera district, facing 10 Corps.
Units from these divisions were preparing to counterattack the Fifth Army. From the mountains, the German forces could throw all their might down upon the allied troops spread throughout the plain of Salerno.
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A force composed of units from six divisions, completely motorized, and with heavy strength in fire power and in armor, was poised to strike against the beachhead. After preliminary attacks on the 12th regain Altavilla and Battipaglia, the main german strength was unleashed on the 13th in a drive through the 45th Division and down the Sele-Calore corridor.
The following day the germans attempted to push still farther south against with the possible intention of uniting forces south of the Sele River for a drive on the beaches. General Clark saw this pending disaster and made a great effort to scrape together any troops to hold the dike. He even made sure that the band traded their instruments for weapons and took positions at the front. In fact the line at Persano had been broken, and the only thing between the panzers and the beach were two American artillery battalions, the th, and the th.
Reprint of Schmidt, Robert H. Circles of Hell. The War in Italy Morris, Eric. New York, Crown Publishers, Inc.
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