Rome was declared open. News correspondent Alan Whicker raced into Rome with his team, in a Jeep.
Meanwhile Gen Mark Clark ignored orders to put a German Corps to the sword, and allowed them to escape. Instead, he and his entourage raced for Rome and glory.
Only to meet Whicker on his way out.
Alan Whicker on Clark: "After breaking out of Anzio, Alexander's plan was for the Fifth Army to drive east to cut Kesselring's escape route to the north and trap much of his Tenth and Fourteenth Armies. The operation started well, but then suddenly, when leading troops were only six kilometers from closing their trap at Frosinone, the Fifth Army was re-directed and sent north towards Rome. The trap was left open. General Mark Clark was so eager that the world should see pictures showing him as the liberator of Rome, that he allowed the armies of a delighted Kesselring to escape.
"He had ignored the orders of Field Marshal Alexander in a decision as militarily stupid as it was insubordinate. This, vain-glorious blunder, the worst of the entire war, lost us a stunning victory, lengthened the war by many months and earned Mark Clark the contempt of other American and British generals. They saw an operation that could have won the war in Italy, thrown away at the cost of many Allied lives, because of the obsession and vanity of one man.
"If General Mark Clark had been in the German Army, Hitler would have had him shot."
Whicker's War Part Two "The Survivor", Insight Television, 2004.
Whicker should have been given the sobriquet 'the Liberator', as he developed quite a penchant for it.
'Having photographed the American General Mark Clark’s entry into Rome, Whicker became fed up with waiting for the Allied advance, and set off for Milan, where he arrived without seeing a German until a crowd of partisans rushed to tell him that they had surrounded the SS headquarters. Striding past the silent black-uniformed guard posts, he entered to be greeted by a general, who clicked his heels, saluted and handed over his revolver, saying in English: “My men are at your disposal.” Soon Whicker was given a trunk containing the SS’s treasury, which he placed in his car ready for handing over to the Americans.
'For several hours he reassured both the nervous SS inside the building and the raging crowd outside that reinforcements were on the way. When an American tank regiment finally arrived, he realised that he had been the only person who had not believed his story.'
Alan Whicker, the interviewer and documentary maker, who has died aged 87, made highly influential and popular television programmes over a period of more than five decades.