September 1943 Alllies Invade Italy

Coming Ashore at Salerno
The Allies first landed on the southern tip of Italy. The landing was a signal to the Italians to surrender. The main Allied landing took place at Salerno on September 9th. The Germans fought hard to stop the Allies, but the overwhelming naval and air power of the allies overcame the German resistance.


After the Allies captured Sicily the Italian dictator Mussolini was overthrown.  The new government entered into secret negotiations to surrender to the Allies.  On September 3rd the first part of Operation Avalanche the invasion of Italy was launched when British troops landed on the very tip of the boot of Italy.  It was hoped that this would draw German troops to fight in that part of the Italy, however the German realized that they would not be able to defend all of Italy, and instead developed a defensive strategy that would delay the Allies. They therefore pulled the bulk of their forces Northward to await an expected larger landing.  Meanwhile the British forces which had landed were making very slow progress moving Northward. On September 8th Italy formally surrendered.

The German were expecting the Italian surrender and their troops were ready to take up key Italian defensive positions.  The main Allied landings took place at Salerno on September 9, 1943. It was commanded by Lieutenant General Mark Clark. It had been decided not to preceded the landing with the traditional air and sea bombing in the hope of surprising the Germans. However, the landings did not achieve tactical surprise and the Allies encountered stiff resistance.  The German challenged the American advance at every step and the Allies were unable to move inland quickly. On September 13th the Germans launched a major counteroffensive that was almost successful.  In the end however, the superior Allied air and naval support carried the day and they were able to stop the German assault. Once their counterattack was stopped the Germans moved to a defensive mode designed to slow the Allied advance. They were successful in doing that and the Allies made only slow progress Northward in Italy, only reaching Rome in June of the next year.