Beyond Rome to the Alps...

 

...Across the Arno and Gothic Line 1944-45, more Images of War from Pen and Sword

 

Title: Beyond Rome to the Alps

Author: Jon Diamond

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52672-709-1

This new addition to the extensive Images of War series is another from author Jon Diamond.  It moves the story of the war in Italy on from Rome through to the end of the war.  Rome was liberated on 5 June 1944 and the day after was of course D-Day in NW Europe.  For many that story of the war in NW Europe rather overshadows events in Italy after Rome.  The fighting in Italy continued, involving both the British 8th and US 5th Armies.

There are 7 chapters, starting out with some helpful backgrounds and then the story of the different stages as the war moved up the northern half of Italy.  Each chapter starts with a few pages of text, and in the later ones some useful maps, and then features a selection of photos which illustrate the appropriate period.  These in turn all have informative captions which add to the story of events.  So it all starts with a Strategic Background to the Campaign Beyond Rome, then Terrain, Fortifications and Weapons as well as Commanders and Combatants.  Then the sequence of the campaign with From Rome to the Armo, Assault on the Gothic Line, Advance and Stalemate in the Northern Apennines and finishing with Po Valley to the Alps & Victory in Italy. All is rounded off with a closing Epilogue.

The pictures show the conditions the soldiers had to cope with, the uniforms and equipment they used as well as some of the commanders and personalities of the conflict.  It also gives a good indication of the number of troops involved from a wide variety of nationalities.  These include US, British and German of course, but also Canadian, New Zealanders, Indian Army, Poles and even a contingent from Brazil among others.  It does also cover casualties and a number of photos do include the dead which I think does give an indication of how soldiers and civilians alike might become hardened to the sights of war.  The Epilogue does consider the role of the war in Italy, the 'soft underbelly of Europe' as Churchill put it.  It did draw troops and equipment away from NW Europe for the German army as well as the allies but it wasn't a simple campaign.  The German general Kesselring fought a fine defensive campaign as he retreated in good order back towards the Alps, from one defensive line to another.  I found this another good book in the Images of War series from author Jon Diamond and one that does well to help remember those troops who fought and in many cases died as the war was in it's final stages.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin