Encyclopedia of War

World War II 1944 Europe

Cassino

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The Allies launched an amphibious landing at Anzio on the 22 of January 1944,attempting to outflank German positions US 34th infantry division approached the town of Cassino on the road to Rome. The allies had to take Cassino to gain access to the Liri Valley and onwards to Rome. but the Germans were determined to deny them this route.

At first the Germans did not occupy the ancient monastery not because of its antiquity , but because it was considered too obvious a target. The US 34th Infantry division took days to move its tanks through the thick mud. Upon reaching Cassino, Us forces were met by very strong opposition and had to withdraw.
A second assault took place on February, this time with the New Zealand, Indian and British infantry divisions. German forces received paratroopers as reinforcements Freyberg commander of the New Zealand Corps ordered the bombardment of the monastery at Cassino though under protests from the US Lieutenant General Clark who received assurances by the Germans that they would not occupy it. the allies dropped hundreds of tons of bombs on the monastery,reducing it to rubble.
The bombarmnet6 had the opposite effect and German forces rushed to occupy the rubble which give them excellent cover.

On the night of 16 February,Royal Sussex Regiment stormed the monastery slopes, but a German paratrooper fired three green flares ,this was the signal for the British to withdraw,and so the British pulled back losing all gains made,Realizing their mistake the launched another attack but failed to take the positions. New Zealanders tried to take the town at the base of the hill, but were met by German tanks and were forced back. After three long days of fighting, Freyberg had to call off the attack.

On the 15th of march 1944 a third attack was planned,with a massive bombardment which left no building standing,the New Zealand and Indian joined forces,the allies pushed on only to be met with fanatical defence from German paratroopers who survived the bombardment and the allies came under fire from angle,again the massive bombardment caused more problems, it made it nearly impossible for admired units to support infantry,and the rubble give German troops more cover to harass the advancing forces. Some hand to hand fighting gained some position but in the end Freyberg had to admit defeat again.

By spring the weather improved and a major offensive was planned. On the night of 11 of may 1944, a massive barrage of artillery erupted and was followed by Allied forces moving along a line from Cassino to the sea. North African troops made the breakthrough into the Liri Valley and the Gustav line had been pierced. Cassino was left for the II Polish Corps to take the monastery. Fifty thousand strong and led by Lieutenant General Wladyslaw Anders. They were huger for vengeance against the Germans and were determined to take the hill.

12 of may, the poles pushed up the shell-scratered slopes.Ferice fighting began with close-combat and both sides not willing to give up. After five days of fighting the Polish Lancers reached the monastery on the 18 of may,the paratroopers had enough and withdraw,It was a sweet victory for the polish units and ended five months of fighting some 45,000 men had been lost in total. All along the Gustav Line German forces pulled back and opened the road foe the allies to push on to Rome.

 


D-DAY

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The Normandy landings (Operation Overlord) was the largest amphibious landing in history, Such a massive invasion wasn't going to be easy and the allies had to play a ruse to throw the Germans off there sent.
So a campaign of deception started called (Operation Bodyguard) the idea was to confuse the German intelligence, the Allies began construction of dummy installations and ships as well as fake information, The deception worked so well that hitler and his staff expected the main attack to come from the Pas De Calais.
The Atlantic wall was impressive obstacle with concrete bunkers and some 200,000 cubic metres of concrete used in per month until April 1944, It stretched from the Arctic circle to the Spanish border nearly 2,600km long.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel took charge of the defences in 1943, and decided to try and stop the invasion on the beaches and refuse to let the Allies to gain a beachhead. With over six million mines land thousands of obstacles called hedgehogs,they were large steel spikes sunk into the sand to try halt the progress of emeny tanks.

Delayed by poor weather, The invasion took pace on the 6 of June 1944, 4000 ships set sail carrying some 170,000 men.
The landing zones were giving code-names (Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword and Juno. facing the Allied forces was the German seventh Army which was made up of veterans and some less experienced troops from German allies.
Commanding the Allies were US General Eisenhower (Supreme Commander) and Britains General Montgomery was in command of ground forces.

The US first Army was to land at Utah and Omaha, under the command of General Bradley. Gold and Juno was to taken by the British Second army under the command of General Dempsey. if things went according to plan and if any gains were made on the first day some one million allied troops waiting to exploit any success. The amphibious landings was to be followed up by airborne drops behind enemy lines and a massive bombardment by Allied ships and aircraft. tho much of the artillery fell behind enemy lines and so much of the obstacles were left untouched, this failure was felt most at Omaha and US troops were met by a hail of machine gun fire and artillery, which fride straight down the beach at them.

The American landings turned into a disaster with 3000 soldiers lost by nightfall. The 2nd Ranger battalion under the command of Colonel Jim Rudder were to take gun batteries that overlooked Omaha by scaling the cliffs and knocking them out. Once the reached the shoreline they launched their grappling hooks, but the lines were too short and had to use ladders to scale the cliffs under heavy gunfire and artillery, they manage to reach the summit only to find the Gun positions were empty. Rudder sent out patrols to locate the Guns, Once located they were destroyed. The rangers came under heavy fire again as the Germans counter-attacked and the fighting lasted two days until the rangers received reinforcements.

The landings at Gold beach faced similar problems, As the British troops came under fire from strong defences and rough seas, but tanks came to their rescue, using flails to detonate mines and cleared the way for the British to push forward despite the fact the had suffered thousands of casualties. Juno beach this was the job of Canadians troops with revenge in their hearts for their comrades who had fallen at Dieppe, despite the fact the were greeted by mangled bodies and equipment they pushed inland further than any other Allied forces during the landings. Casualties for the Canadians also reached a thousand.

Sword beach claimed a further one thousand casualties, but allied troops broke through the German defences and advanced inland. with Allied forces gaining a beachhead they were determined to hold the line despite fierce counter-attacks from German troops. As the days past more and more Allied supplies and troops built up and the next step was to break out of the landing zones.