Did the invasion of Italy achieve anything?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by angular, May 9, 2008.

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  1. Did the Allied invasion o Italy in WW2 bring the end of the war any closer? I can't think that it did. The diversion of German effort was small, and the 'soft underbelly' was anything but.

    Can anyone see any positives to that campaign?
  2. Sixty

    Sixty LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. ARRSE Cyclists and Triathletes

    It kept the really quite able Kesselring tied up which is a positive I think.
  3. Brought about the surrender of the Italians and tied up large amounts of the German Army for starters
  4. Despite being excellent practice, invading Italy took the Italians out of the equation (as well as many Germans stationed there).

    If we had gone straight for Germany then it is conceivable that the Italians would have flanked the allied advance across France and into Germany.

    Also eliminating the Italians was the best thing we could do for our own men and people at home due to the morale boost that must have been created by elimating a member of the Axis forces.
  5. The Americans were always lukewarm about Italy and would have preferred the south of France - which might have been a better option, with hindsight. Churchill really wanted Italy with Alexander as CinC and the yanks under command - the only time (I think) that happened at Army level

    It was a much tougher nut than anyone anticipated and the Gustav Line, particularly Cassino, really buggered things up.
  6. Sixty

    Sixty LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. ARRSE Cyclists and Triathletes

    Sadly from what I've read, Alexander was far too much of a gentleman and had his orders ignored by the likes of the American General Mark Clark.
  7. I agree with Fusil89, it was great practice invading because problems encountered in Sicily/Italy invasion helped with the success of Overlord in June 1944; how to conduct airborne operations being one of the key (if not costly) lessons learned.

    The US finally were allowed, alongside the French, to invade southern France on the 15 of August.

    I think the threat of the Italians (if you could call it a threat, they failed to even take Greece in 1940) in the Mediterranean would have meant that the Allies would have invaded Italy anyway.

    [Edited to add 15 of August - awaits incoming for stupid mistake] :roll:

  8. eh?

    15th Aug 1944 more like
  9. It was my understanding that Churchill wanted to secure Italy as a stepping stone into the Balkans so as to prevent large Soviet gains in Eastern Europe.
  10. Yes, the old chestnut of whether Clark should have broken out of Anzio and cut the German retreat along Route 6 at Valmontone, as Alexander had planned, or swing north with a dash for glory and the first to enter Rome.

    Actually, Alexander never openly critised Clark - but perhaps he was too much of a gent. Clark has nothing but praise for Alexander in his autobiography.
  11. I believe you do have a point (Churchill didn't trust the Russians) but that is not relevant to the question of whether it aided the progress of the war. Technically that helped the cold war. The points I made are still valid, problems encountered in Italy helped overcoming similar situations on the road to Berlin because it gave valuable experience to the troops on the ground.
  12. well i think it stopped italy falling to comunism after WW2.
  13. Italy is a fascinating campaign at the strategic level, it was always seen as one of Churchill's "babies" (as well as the Balkans and Turkey) and therefore something that the US would not support as a matter of principle. Their focus was on OVERLORD, however following the sucesses of North Africa, where better to continue the momentum than Italy, which could cause their capitulation and would also severely limit the German's ability to influence the Med. Southern France was off the cards due to being outside of fighter cover (although island hopping - Sardinia, Corsica, etc was considered).

    In the end it did tie up Kesselring (arguably the best defensive general of the war) and a significant proportion of German troops (between Italy itself and the former Italian garrisons elsewhere). But the key benefit of the campaign was opening a second front to satisfy Stalin, while ensuring that OVERLORD was not rushed into early by an ever eager US.

    Sixty - you are partly correct, Alexander was a complete gentleman who did a fantastic job heading up a multi-national coalition (with each nation having the ability to produce its own red cards - the ANZACs, French and Poles). No other general could have held it together as well as he did. As for Clark, while he was widely lauded at the time, he is now completely discredited.
  14. Sixty

    Sixty LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. ARRSE Cyclists and Triathletes

    I agree entirely. Sorry if it read like I was criticising him; I was simply remarking that it was sad that people chose to disregard the orders he gave rather than saying he was wrong to be a gentleman.

    Damn you t'internet and your lack of inflection!
  15. Wot Dropshort wrote. Clark, Like Ike was grossly over promoted (what are you gonna do with a tiny army in 1941) and had a narrow vision. He failed, whilst Alex largely made do with a Hornby 00 when he needed something with more punch.

    Truth is, Alex distracted OKW enough to hold Kesselring's forces down and prevented redeployment.