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Cisterna di Littoria A Brave Yet Futile EtTort

Anthon y J. Abilti

This uS/ly WOII the Cemcr', /990 Military lfisfDrJ

Writillg COIIIfSl.

diminish ilS upaclty 10 defend haly's northern and cenll'lIl coastline.



IITlphibiouslSSIult of cell...1lul y with

On 30 JIUVJJry 1944, Gcnnan forces


M 15th Ranger force (ProvIsional) outside !he small It.tlian \Own of Ci'5tCm.1 eli L1nari•. This tJ1lg)t loss of approximately niroc: hundred highly tr.1ined iIOldlers ....as the dim:! re5111t ofqlJ(':Stionabk tactical decisions by IICnior American leaders. Spco;:irocally.1hc: TC$pCC tiveoommandersoflhe U.S. Army VI Corps and 3d In· fantry Division violated the fundamental principles of offensiv<: ..:tion. mass. mel surprise.

a majunouthem offengivc, Allied fullXs OOIIld canOy degr.1llc Gennany'save ralL ClpabiIilY10 defend

the haLian peninsula.


recogoi«d this


thereby. lderulrocd Lhcir potcllial VIIlnel'llbility 10

amphibious l5S3ull.

a result, significant planning

time and material resoun:cs wen: devoted to Haly's OOlISlal defcnse. Although Gennan Intelligence could not fOTtcast an c_act future landing slle. it did desig

To n:oognile the lessoRS of CiSlema dl uUoria,

nate fivc likely areas.

five SCCloB-ct'ntered



Itll1'5 Pftvalling strategic

and opcrationalsctling. ARcr the

Allioo in·

vasion gfSalemolheGcnnanlligt\ command ordered lIS to conduct bloody delaying llCtiOll$ across JOU1hc:m IUJy's mountain regions. (1) This defensive tactic provlded the Gcnn<U'l Army with time and sub sequcnUy enabled the fg niIlcaLion and manning of the GUSlav/Bcmtwd Line. (2) lJy nrty Noycm!x.. nine eno:my divisions occupied this Slr.uegic mountain position, while another division was located between AlI1.1o and Rome. (3) n..:se fon:es wc:recommandOO

by the

Tclllll Army and t;ui<N to prevent fur

:unund Rome, Germ.. Llvomo. Rimini·R.avenna, and lsula-weresubsoqllenlly fonilied and reinforced ,,"'iih available fO=5,

S h o n a g c s o f I n _ c o o n t r y p c r s o M I I : 1 s i g n i l i c a n u y

degraded 1hc: Germans'

10 man coastal de


(S) In fact, to effectively \'OITlh.11 an

Allied ;unph ibioUs landinll, n:i nforce!llC1llS wou kI havc 10 be di.,.,..chc:4 from adjaa:J1t thcalCn anti Gc:nnany

itself. Recognizing this, the

lIigtl Command

issued dClailed I;Of1lingency plans 10 sevcral major commands. (6) These plans dcsigrwed reinfom"i units, spocilicd primary and ahem:uc relnfonxmcnt

ther Allied JlCnetr.1tlon8 of Italy's 5O\lthem fn:m1.

mute!, and provl(!cd for at) emergency

and r.lil

Ttlltlt Mmy's n:.<:pOnSibili\y inclu.ded the dcfrnsc of Rome and all poim1ial amphibiOll$ toiles IIOUth of /"iombioo and PUno OvitarlOVa. To defend ccnl.r.\l

and r1Qrthem hal y. 8(\diliunal

units were su


relNir capacity_ Addiliooally. to diminish the time between invuiOll nnlifiCllion and suhf,equcnt deploy ment oflroops and eqUipment. only combat forces and essential sc,.."ic(: support troops WQUld be disp;uchcd

lioncd nonh of Ihc Tt:"q, Army. These LrOOp:I were under lhecommand oflht FowfluII,h Army and COII_ sisted of nine divisioll5-only tWO of ....hich wen: QUaliliN forcombM . FoartulllllArmy's missionwas 10 cl'lIdielle panlun activity within iUi zone. eslablish



Opposing 1he Gcnn:tl1 fnrces ....as lht Allied 15th Anny Group, consisting of the: Amcric;m fifth Ann y on Iht: we§( m;j lhe Briti5ll Eighth Annyonthe CUI. (7)

TIlroughnullhc wintet months of 1943


strong points for

securily. and tJain and relit


their way across Italy's VUI



units for deployment to other operat1orW. areas.

Army GrOlql C commandOO !helle tWO and controlled allintenhcatcr oper;tliolU. (4)

10 Ihc event of a major ADied orrcnsivt' along Ihc $<)Uthcm front. Fourtumlt Army wl5dim:ted imme diately 10 dispatCh fresh to Telllh Army's opera tional area. Sueh. transfer would n:dIlCC Ihc Four ltellth A"",,'s .vailable troop Sln:ng\h and. COI'\'Ie-

mnunlain ranges and appn)K:hcd !he Gennans' main ddcmlv<: .rea. During this perlud Gennan defense! and COUnICI'lItl3Cks "'cre hic:hly effective, .s Allied progress was slow II best. Bytarly January IhcAllics had finally reached the: Gustav Liroc:, To the west. !he Amcrican fifth Army occupied Ihc heights ahove the Gari&liano mel Rapido rivCB. Dirc:ctly xross their

lly Monte ClISSillQ and the nanow mountain


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