Salerno to the Gustav Line 1943-44...

 

...an Images of War book from Pen and Sword

 

Title: Salerno to the Gustav Line 1943-1944

Author: Jon Diamond

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-52670-734-5

I am a long time fan of the Images of War series of books from Pen and Sword, and this one is no exception.  It rings a personal bell for me as my late father was among the British troops who landed at Salerno back in 1943.  He was among the British units that having fought throughout the North African campaign then went from there to take part in the landings on the Italian mainland, at Salerno.

After Sicily had been taken, the next move was to invade the mainland.  A mix of both British/Commonwealth and US forces took part in the assaults.

The book is split into 5 chapters.  Each one has a few pages of introductory text to provide the background and set the scene for the sets of photos which follow.  It is also quite noticeable in this one that the captions for all of the archive photos are more extensive than usual so there is a lot more information contained within them.  The 5 chapters cover the Strategic Prelude to the Invasion; then Terrain, Fortifications and Weapons; Commanders and Combatants; Operations Baytown and Avalanche at Reggio Calabria and Salerno; and finally Allied Advances to the Gustav Line and Stalemate.  A closing Epilogue deals with the human cost of the campaign.

The Italian campaign had a lot of interesting factors, and these are well illustrated within this collection of photographs.  The Allies faced a capable enemy who became adept at fighting delaying actions while the terrain presented difficulties such as mountains, and of course in one instance, an erupting volcano at Vesuvius!  (a sight my father remembered)  Rivers also flowed across the country, presenting a series of obstacles that needed to be crossed.  Add the mix of weather, not always bright sunshine, but with heavy rains that turned tracks into thick mud.

The pictures illustrate all these elements, with an interesting mix of types, including artillery, the villages, the mountains, the bridging of many rivers and more.  There are of course plenty of details of uniforms and equipment for British, US and even German troops.  Plenty of interest then for the historian and the kind of detail that military modellers will find provide some great references.  A good addition to the Images of War series, and one that will be interesting for any whose family members also took part in the war in Italy.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin