Cisterna di Littoria A Brave Yet Futile EtTort
Anthon y J. Abilti
This uS/ly WOII the Cemcr', /990 Military lfisfDrJ
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$pCC tiveoommandersoflhe U.S. Army VI Corps and 3d In· fantry Division violated the fundamental principles of offensiv<: ..:tion. mass. mel surprise.
a majunouthem offengivc, Allied fullXs OOIIld canOy degr.1llc Gennany'save ralL ClpabiIilY10 defend
the haLian peninsula.
thereby. lderulrocd Lhcir potcllial VIIlnel'llbility 10
a result, significant planning
time and material resoun:cs wen: devoted to Haly's OOlISlal defcnse. Although Gennan Intelligence could not fOTtcast an c_act future landing slle. it did desig
To n:oognile the lessoRS of CiSlema dl uUoria,
nate fivc likely areas.
Itll1'5 Pftvalling strategic
and opcrationalsctling. ARcr the
vasion gfSalemolheGcnnanlligt\ command ordered lIS to conduct bloody delaying llCtiOll$ 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
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
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
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