Italian Campaign Facts

Italian Campaign Facts
The Italian Campaign refers to the Allied invasion of Italy in July 1943 and the later battles and eventual occupation of the country until the war ended in 1945. The campaign was part of a strategy to attack the "soft underbelly of Europe," by focusing on the weakest link in the Axis powers - Italy. Although there was fierce resistance in Italy to the Italian Fascists and the Italian troops were inferior in equipment and training to the Germans, the Fascists didn't go quietly and the Germans sent an entire army group - Army Group C - along with the very able General Albert Kesselring to defend the peninsula. The result was often civil war among Fascist and leftist Italians and heavy casualties for both the Axis and Allied forces. It was the most costly campaign in the west, as the Allies suffered more than 335,000 causalities (killed and wounded), while the Axis took more than 1.5 million casualties. The campaign ended when the Axis commanders agreed to an unconditional surrender on May 2, 1945, one week before Germany surrendered completely.
Interesting Italian Campaign Facts:
Planning for the campaign was a bit of a compromise. The British wanted to use naval supremacy for a long-term piecemeal strategy, while the Americans wanted to attack the continent immediately. Commanders from the two nations agreed to first invade North Africa and then Italy.
The campaign began with the invasion of Sicily on July 9, 1943 and ended on August 17 with an Allied victory. The invasion of Sicily was codenamed "Operation Husky."
The Allied victory in Sicily led to the collapse of Fascist Italy and opened the door for the invasion of mainland Italy.
The Germans occupied mainland Italy and declared the "Italian Social Republic" on September 23, 1945. Mussolini was still the head of this new government, but it was based in the northern Italian city of Salo.
As the Allies worked their way north up the Italian peninsula, leftist partisans began assassinating Fascists and Fascist sympathizers they had on lists. On the other side, the Blackshirts were Fascist paramilitaries that formed to fight the partisans.
Before the Allies landed in southern Italy, the Germans began digging elaborate fortification systems across central Europe.
Since the Italian peninsula is only 150 miles wide at its widest point, the Germans created defensive lines that stretched across the peninsula.
The Battle of Anzio, which lasted from January 22 to June 5, 1944, was an Allied amphibious invasion that was intended to flank most of the German defensive lines. Although successful, it was quite costly.
Benito Mussolini was captured by leftist partisans as he attempted to flee to Switzerland. The partisans then quickly executed Mussolini and his mistress on April 28, 1945.
The Allies had about twice the men, but perhaps more importantly they had complete air superiority by the end of the campaign. The Germans had less than eighty aircraft in April 1945 versus more than 4,000 Allied airplanes.

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