Italian Campaign (Summary)

The Italian Campaign was a World War II Allied military campaign to conquer German-held Italy. It was carried out by the British Eighth Army, under Bernard Montgomery, and the US Fifth and Seventh Armies, commanded by General Mark W Clark and George S Patton respectively. It started on July 10, 1943, with the invasion of Sicily, which was called Operation Husky, after the British victory over the German Afrika Korps, under Rommel, at the Battle of El Alamein on November 11, 1942, during the Western Desert Campaign in North Africa. Field Marshal Albert Kesselring was the commander of the German 10th and 14th Armies defending the Italian Peninsula from the Allies.

Conducted by elements of the British Eighth Army and the American Seventh Army, the invasion of Sicily was concluded in thirty eight days and began with Allied landing on the southern beaches of the island on July 10, 1943. The American took Palermo on July 22 and the British brought the city of Messina under control on August 16. However, the fighting in continental Italy would be fiercer and harder, with the British Eighth Army landing in Calabria in Operation Baytown and the US Fifth Army at Salerno on September 9, 1943. In January 1944, marching through the Liri valley, British and American forces reached the Gustav Line, where the German paratroopers fought ferociously at the Battle of Monte Cassino, with Allied troops suffering heavy casualties as they tried to capture the German-held monastery crawling up the steep hillside. At the eastern end of this German defensive line, the 1st Canadian Infantry Division had already taken the city port of Ortona after fierce fighting. Meanwhile, US Ranger units would land behind enemy lines at Anzio in Operation Shingle on January 22, 1944, and meet stiff German opposition.

By May 1944, the German lines had been breached at several points as US General Clark entered the city of Rome, without opposition, in June 1944. By mid-April 1945, the Allies armies had reached northern Italy, mopping up the last pockets of resistance as the Polish 3rd Division secured the city of Bologna on April 21.

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