By nightfall, Sieckenius had only 35 operational tanks, and decided to order his division into a defensive position well inland, where he could monitor the Allied build-up but stay out of range of their guns. Read more. Having driven the German and Italian troops from North Africa and Sicily, the Allies decided to invade Italy in September 1943. During the course of the fighting that day, Clark had received a call from General Dawley. All these forces were combined into the German Tenth Army under General Heinrich von Vietinghoff, a veteran of commands in Poland, Yugoslavia, and France. Finally, he emplaced his artillery on the high ground, where it could look down on any force hitting the beach. “Enemy resistance is collapsing,” he wrote. This was the crisis point for the Allies, but especially for the Americans. A number of ideas were floating in the air about how best to achieve surprise, which was considered essential to success. His blog, Front & Center, can be found here. They have faced accusations of cowardice and dishonour ever since. Many critics have accused him of having a case of the jitters, and maybe he did. At the same time, waves of Allied aircraft from Sicily and from five British aircraft carriers prowled the skies over the beachhead relentlessly. “I have no reserves. The German commander, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, was content to fight a defensive war of attrition, and the Allies were content to attack his defenses frontally. As reserve commander if Clark was incapacitated, Patton was briefed on the operation on September 2. You get a landing between Salerno and Paestum. Chuck Mangione, jazz musician, composer ("Feels So Good"). Janet Napolitano, politician, lawyer; first woman to serve as US Secretary of Homeland Security (2009-2013). Read more. Operation Avalanche seemingly had it all: initiative, supremacy at sea, dominance in the air, and a clear advantage in numbers. Add that up, and what do you get? When it was all over, this “secondary” theater would generate over 725,000 casualties for both sides combined. All I’ve got is a prayer.”. An officer of the Hermann Göring Division called it “especially unpleasant,” and XIV Panzer Corps commander Hermann Balck complained in his memoirs of naval gunfire “to which we had no answer.”. Now, at Salerno, it had come up against yet another army—clumsy and lacking finesse and elegance, but apparently in love with high explosives—that it could not vanquish. Just a few days into the operation, Clark—an experienced planner and staff officer now holding his first field command—was giving serious consideration to evacuating his beachhead and leaving sunny Italy altogether. They were arrested and shipped back to North Africa for court-martial. You get a beach with a meandering river right down the middle of it. Madeleine L'Engle, writer (A Wrinkle in Time). Sarah Jones, Tony and Obie award-winning playwright, actress, poet (Bridge & Tunnel). The intelligence was imperfect, however, and rather than being welcomed by the natives, the assault troops of Fifth Army ran into heavy German fire even as they approached the beach. It was yet another way of war for which the Wehrmacht could not formulate an effective response. Meanwhile, Allied armies were landing all over the place—Clark at Salerno, the British Eighth Army pushing up from Reggio di Calabria at the toe in Operation Baytown, and another British force landing at Taranto in the Apulian heel—the lamentably named Operation Slapstick. On September 9, the U.S. Fifth Army, under the command of Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, landed near Salerno, some 150 miles up the western coast of Italy and 40 miles south of Naples, with the goal of knocking Italy out of the war and shattering the Axis coalition. Sent back to the Germans recognized this gap and exploited it, faced! Beachhead was slackening perceptibly, he emplaced his artillery on the Salerno.. 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