Allied Armies in Sicily and Italy 1943-1945...

 

...an 'Images of War' title from Pen & Sword

 

Title: Allied Armies in Sicily and Italy 1943-1945

Author: Simon Forty

Publisher: Pen & Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52676-620-5

 

An addition to the well known Images of War series, this time from author Simon Forty. Some helpful background details to start off with, and some reasoning behind the ongoing offensives in Italy even after the Normandy invasion of NW Europe. The German army in North Africa had been beaten, and this led in to the invasions of Sicily and then Italy itself in 1943.
Having set the scene, chapter 2 tackles the invasion of Sicily, and the competitive nature of both the US and British advances, with the rivalry between Montgomery and Patton. It is supported by a good selection of archive images, all with additional detail held within their captions. This is followed by the invasion of Italy itself, and the landings at Salerno, a battle my own father was a part of. After Patton and Montgomery were withdrawn to go back to the UK in preparation for D-Day, it left Mark Clark in command of the US 5th Army and Harold Alexander commanding the British 8th Army. In chapter 4 it moves on to Cassino and the Gustav Line, as the German defence lines across the Italian peninsula made good use of the physical geography of the Italian mainland, with mountainous central spine and plenty of rivers coming down from them to the coast on both sides. The German forces under Kesselring proved adept at avoiding defeat, and withdrawing to the next prepared defence line. Next comes Anzio and Rome, which fell on 5th June 1944, though even this success has been overshadowed by the D-Day landings in Normandy the day after. This leads us into the next defences, the Gothic Line and the Advance to Bologna, and then the whole story rounded off with the final chapter, Endgame.
Many nationalities took part in the campaign, not just British and American, but on the Allied side there were French, Polish, Indian, South African, New Zealand and Australian troops, as well as one of the least known expeditionary forces of the war, from Brazil, among others. The selection of images throughout the book is very good indeed, and very few I remember seeing before. They illustrate the men in many different circumstances and weathers, the equipment they used, the destruction caused to towns and villages throughout the country along with the mountainous countryside it was fought in. It is a neat addition to the Images of War series, and puts some focus onto a campaign that cost so many lives in the liberation of Europe. The troops in Italy were sometimes known quite unfairly as the D-Day Dodgers, and this does a good job in helping set the record straight. My own father returned home to the UK in June 1944, having been away in North Africa since 1940. He went on to land in Normandy on D+26 and he went on across NW Europe into Germany in 1945. I am quite sure he would have been interested to see this one, had he still been with us.
 

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin