Italy War Engagement During the Second World War Part 5

Italy War Engagement During the Second World War Part 5

Since the beginning of the invasion, violent air attacks on Italian cities, railways and roads and industrial plants had intensified; on 12 and 13 July all the bridges over the Po were destroyed with the exception of that of Ostiglia. These attacks continued to escalate as the Allied forces moved northward, and did not end until April 25, 1945.

While the allied forces reached the Apennines, the reconstitution of the Italian army on new bases was authorized, and in August 1944 the formation of a nucleus of “combat groups” (Cremona, Folgore, Friuli, Legnano, Mantua, Piceno) and the establishment of a training organization for the preparation of accessories. The Italian contribution, which had already established itself (divisions 205th, 209th, 210th, 227th, 228th, 230th, 231st and various elements) thus grew (regular and irregular forces of partisans, some gathered in divisions) and reached a coefficient considerable, which allowed the Allies to move part of their forces to other chessboards.

Reached the Gothic line, the Germans provided for its strengthening by deploying the available forces. From the Lunigiana to the Adriatic, the defensive concept was to stop the Allies by parrying a strong offensive on the front and any contemporary landings on the coasts. Concept formulated and imposed by Hitler, but which in practice presented serious shortcomings due to the lack of armored vehicles, aviation, mobile reserves and stocks of ammunition and fuels; the troops were worn out, supplies from the rear no longer possible for the actions of the allied bombers. A first experience was drawn from August to December 1944: the assault on the Gothic line, in fact, which began on 25 August, had given moderate results (occupation of the Futa and M. Belmonte pass) despite the tenacious resistance of the Germans, assisted by units of the fascist republican army. However, the positions were deeply affected: the offensive on Rimini, occupied by the Greeks on 21 September, and on Cesenatico, which created favorable conditions for the 8th army, not exploited; the Germans were unable to re-establish the situation and the Allies stopped at just under 20 km. from Bologna. The autumn offensive in which, in the Garfagnana sector, the 1st Brazilian division had participated under the orders of gen. JB Mascarenhas, was suspended on October 26 and postponed to 1945; further progress was made by the 8th army which occupied Forlì (9 November), Ravenna (5 December), Faenza (16 December) and which reached the Senio and Reno rivers on 31 December. At that date the most advanced positions passed through the margin south of the town of Massa, north of S. Marcello Pistoiese, in M. Grande, in Casola, in Val Senio, in Faenza, in Val Lamone, in Ravello. Local actions took place in Gallicano and Barga in December 1944 and in M. Castello (February 21, 1945), but the situation was quickly re-established by the Allies. Incessant aerial bombardments further devastated the Italian cities and railway centers, without discrimination, causing very serious damage and many human losses. Nevertheless, the defense was perfected and organized with a character of resistance to the bitter end and with the criterion of opposing infiltrations in correspondence with the large rolling stock, from the Aurelia to the Adriatic.

According to ELAINEQHO.COM, the partisan activity, previously sporadic but then rampant and more intense, was added to the gravity of the situation, even among the troops deployed, in the rear, on the most distant supply lines. Accentuating at first in Tuscany, it flared up in Emilia and forced the Germans to watch their backs and flanks, to escort supply convoys, to watch road and railway junctions, bridges and viaducts, to divert troops for extensive and frequent sweeping operations. In addition to the acts of sabotage and organized armed resistance, there had also been blatant acts of disobedience to the ordinances, which required makeshift measures and made the rear less and less peaceful;

At the beginning of the final offensive, the gen. Kesselring was destined (April 2, 1945) in France, and the command of the German forces was assumed by gen. H. von Vietinghoff. The Germans could oppose the 10th and 14th armies (4 corps, 27 divisions over the 5 Italian divisions, with just over 1000 pieces, 200 tanks and 60 aircraft). Of the divisions, 18 were deployed, 3 were in reserve in the north, 3 in Veneto and Istria, 3 in Piedmont. Most of them were veterans of the Italian campaign; for about a year they had neither added accessories nor materials for completion. Various divisions were reduced in strength; but since the front had been shrinking, it happened that the preparation of strong defensive positions allowed a deployment capable of achieving economy in the forces to build up some local reserve. However, it was not possible to establish a general reserve, and this deficiency had serious repercussions. The fascist republican divisions were deployed as follows: Val d’Aosta-Val di Tenda (Littorio and Monte Rosa), Alassio-Voltri (S. Marco, minus some rates), Lunigiana and Garfagnana (Italy and S. Marco) and in the Veneto (X Mas).

Italy War Engagement During the Second World War 5

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