Second World War History Logo

Italy WW2 Timeline

Authored By Dan Alex | Last Updated: 7/29/2014

Led by the charismatic Benito Mussolini, the Italians forge into the terrible war, making up one-third of the major Axis players.

Tweet

There are a total of 142 WW2 Italy Timeline Events. Entries are listed below by date of occurrence ascending and are gathered from the overall SwwH site database as they relate to their particular series events.


Text ©2003-2015 www.SecondWorldWarHistory.com. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Permitted. Email corrections/comments to SecondWorldWarHistory at Gmail dot com.

1940
Sunday
September 1st - September 30th

Italian forces, led by Marshal Graziani invade Egypt. During the month, the Italian army sets up a series of six defensive positions south of occupied Sidi Barrani known simply as Nibeiwa, Tummar East, Tummar West, North Sofafi, East Sofafi and West Sofafi.

1940
Monday
October 21st

Operation Judgement - the Allied attack on the Italian naval base at Taranto - is postponed due to mechanical issues aboard the carrier HMS Eagle and a fire aboard the carrier HMS Illustrious.

1940
Monday
October 28th

An Italian force of 70,000 soldiers invades Greece.

1940
Saturday
November 9th

The HMS Illustrious moves on Taranto.

1940
Saturday
November 9th

A Swordfish biplane torpedo bomber is lost to engine failure.

1940
Sunday
November 10th

An Italian bomber is downed in the fighting near Malta.

1940
Sunday
November 10th

The Italian invasion force is in full retreat, repelled by a combined Greek resistance and RAF effort after just two weeks.

1940
Sunday
November 10th

Another Swordfish torpedo bomber is lost to mechnical failure.

1940
Sunday
November 10th

The British naval force moving against Taranto comes under attack from Italian aircraft near Malta.

1940
Monday
November 11th

A third Royal Navy Swordfish aircraft is lost to engine malfunction. A bad batch of gasoline is centered on as the source of the Swordfish issues.

1940
Monday
November 11th

At 10:58 PM, signal aircraft lead the first wave over Taranto, marking torpedo targets as they pass.

1940
Monday
November 11th

At 11:14 PM, the Italian battleship Cavour is struck by a Royal Navy torpedo delivered via Swordfish L4A. L4A is later downed by anti-aircraft fire, though both crewmembers survive.

1940
Monday
November 11th

At 11:15 PM, the Italian vessel Doria is struck twice by torpedoes in her forward section.

1940
Monday
November 11th

The Italian ship Littorio is struck by a torpedo along her starboard side. Swordfish L4M follows with another strike to the same side.

1940
Monday
November 11th

A Swordfish torpedo meant for the Vittorio Veneto fails to reach its mark, exploding harmlessly on the sea floor.

1940
Monday
November 11th

The Libeccio is hit by a Royal Navy torpedo but the munition fails to explode.

1940
Monday
November 11th

At 11:35 PM, the second wave of Royal Navy torpedo-laden aircraft moves into position.

1940
Monday
November 11th

Once again, the bombing wave is led by signal aircraft marking targets with flares.

1940
Monday
November 11th

Two signal aircraft attack the oil depot at Taranto but fail to produce much damage.

1940
Monday
November 11th

The Italian battleship Caio Duilio is struck at her bow by a Royal Navy torpedo.

1940
Monday
November 11th

At 10:00 PM, the first wave of Swordfish bombers is launched from HMS Illustrious, now stationed off of Cephalonia.

1940
Tuesday
November 12th

Swordfish E4H is downed by enemy anti-aircraft fire, killing her co-pilot.

1940
Tuesday
November 12th

Swordfish E5H misses her mark against the Vittorio Veneto.

1940
Tuesday
November 12th

By 3:30 AM, all but two Swordfish aircraft are accounted for.

1940
Tuesday
November 12th

By 1:22 AM, the attack on Taranto harbor is officially over.

1940
Tuesday
November 12th

At 1:01 AM, The sinking Littorio is struck by another torpedo.

1940
Tuesday
November 12th

Swordfish L5F scored a direct hit via bomb on the Trento.

1940
Friday
December 6th - December 8th

The Western Desert Force in Egypt, under the command of Major-General Richard O'Connor, set up pre-assault positions. The force includes 36,000 total men from the 7th Armored Division, 4th Indian Division and the New Zealand Division. They set up their initial position southeast of the Italian fort at Nibeiwa.

1940
Sunday
December 8th - December 9th

Aircraft of the Royal Navy are put into action against Italian forces dug in at Maktila and Barrani. Bombers are sent in to soften targets for the initial ground assault.

1940
Monday
December 9th

The British 7th Tank Regiment, along with the 4th Indian Division, attack Italian positions at Tummar West and Nibeiwa.

1940
Monday
December 9th

The British 7th Armored Division launches attacks on the Italian camps positioned near Sofafi and Rabia and makes its way toward the critical ocean-side road near Buqbug.

1940
Monday
December 9th

Operation Compass is officially launched.

1940
Tuesday
December 10th

The Italian camps at Tummar East fall to the Allies.

1940
Tuesday
December 10th

Some 38,000 Italian soldiers are taken prisoner by the Allies.

1940
Tuesday
December 10th

The Italian XXI Corps is in full retreat.

1940
Tuesday
December 10th

Selby Force sets its eyes on Sidi Barrani.

1940
Tuesday
December 10th

Italian forces stationed at Sidi Barrani are all but surrounded by the Allies.

1940
Tuesday
December 10th

Selby Force has removed the Italian 1st Libyan Division out of Maktila.

1940
Wednesday
December 11th

Royal Navy bombers begin attacks on Italian-held Sollum.

1940
Wednesday
December 11th

The Italian Catanzaro Division is captured, delivering another 30,000 Italian prisoners of war.

1941
Wednesday
January 22nd

Operation Compass is effectively over, netting some 130,000 total Italian prisoners.

1941
Wednesday
January 22nd

The Allies take Tobruk, a key port city vital to North Africa operations.

1941
Saturday
April 12th

German forces launching from Romania, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria along with an Italian contigent from Albania capture and secure the Yugoslavian capital of Belgrade.

1941
Sunday
April 20th

The Greek Army surrenders to the Germans and Italians.

1941
Sunday
April 27th

Axis forces officially occupy Athens, effectively signaling the end of Greek resistance.

1941
Thursday
December 11th

As expected, Germany and Italy side with Japan and officially declare war on the United States

1942
Tuesday
May 26th

Rommel begins his offense against the Gazala Line, made up of some 50 miles of British defenses.

1942
Tuesday
May 26th

Beginning at 7:00PM, the German 90th Infantry Division, the 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions and the Italian XX Corps under Rommel launch their offensive along the southern portion of the Gazala Line.

1942
Tuesday
May 26th

Group Cruewell, made up of the Italian X and XI Corps, launches an assault on the northern portion of the Gazala Line in an attempt to divert Allied forces from the real attack coming from the south.

1942
Monday
June 1st

Nearly 30% of German tanks have been lost in Rommel's offensive.

1942
Wednesday
July 1st

German General Erwin Rommel attempts to break through the Allied defensive perimeter at El Alamein.

1942
Wednesday
July 1st - July 22nd

The First Battle of El Alamein takes place with Erwin Rommel hoping to put a dent in the Allied defense near El Alamain. Rommel's forces consist of his Afrika Corps and three Italian troop corps.

1942
Friday
July 3rd

The Allies put up a stubborn defense, repelling Rommel's offensive.

1942
Saturday
August 1st - August 30th

German forces are strengthened by the arrival of another Italian division, a German parachute brigade and more tanks.

1942
Sunday
August 30th

Rommel begins a new offensive starting from Bab el Qattara that becomes the Battle of Alam Halfa near El Alamein. The objective is the high ridge at Alam Halfa some 13 miles through the Allied defensive perimeter in the south.

1942
Friday
October 23rd

XXX and X Corps begin their assault on Axis nothern positions.

1942
Friday
October 23rd

At 10:00PM, British XIII Corps hits the German 21st Panzer Division and Italian Brescia and Folgore Divisions in the south of the German defensive wall as a diversion to its north-bound actions.

1942
Sunday
October 25th

Allied mine-clearing operations begin while combat continues

1942
Sunday
October 25th

Four Allied brigades have managed to break through the German defensive lines.

1942
Sunday
October 25th

Montgomery enacts Operation Supercharge and pulls some diversionary forces from his southern attacks to reinforce the north where losses continue to mount.

1942
Monday
November 2nd

As more and more Allied armor crosses through the German perimeter, Rommel orders his battle-weary forces on an eastward retreat, keeping his forces within easy access to the North African coast.

1942
Wednesday
November 4th

British X Corps makes a substantial gain in capturing Tel el Aqqaqir, running straight through the beleagured Axis lines, effectively ending the Battle of El Alamain in favor of the Allies. The victory is a major one for the Germans are in full retreat throughout North Africa. The action officially ends all Axis presence on the continent.

1943
Friday
July 9th

The Allied invasion fleets sail out to Sicily.

1943
Saturday
July 10th

Operation Husky begins. Target - German-held Sicily. Some 2,590 naval vessels take part in the invasion which encompasses two army groups of American and British forces invading at two different coasts of the island.

1943
Saturday
July 10th

US 82nd Airborne Division and British 1st Airborne Division paratroopers land at strategic locations across Sicily prior to the invasion force's arrival.

1943
Saturday
July 10th

15th Army Group begins their initial assault to the south.

1943
Saturday
July 10th

The British 5th Division takes Cassibile.

1943
Sunday
July 11th

The Hermann Goring Panzer Division engages the US 1st Infantry Division at Gela. US forces are assited by offshore bombardment from Royal Navy ships and repel the German attack.

1943
Tuesday
July 13th

Allied airborne elements parachute into Sicily and capture key bridges. However, a German counter-attack drives back any gains of the day.

1943
Tuesday
July 13th

By this date, some 478,000 Allied troops have landed on Sicily.

1943
Wednesday
July 14th

The Allies control key airfields across the island, allowing air support more resources from which to work with.

1943
Wednesday
July 14th

German Paratroopers repel Allied forces from the Primasole bridge.

1943
Wednesday
July 14th

British and American forces finally meet at Comiso and Ragusa.

1943
Saturday
July 17th

The Primsole bridge is recaptured from the Germans.

1943
Thursday
July 22nd

US General George C. Patton and his fabled 7th Army move along the west of the island at speed, claiming the Sicilian capital of Palermo in the process.

1943
Sunday
July 25th

With Mussolini deposed back in Rome, Hitler has few options but to plan a retreat for his overwhelmed forces in Sicily. As such, he orders an official withdrawel.

1943
Thursday
August 5th

After some time, the British finally capture the port at Catania. Though a vital and strategic victory, their advance delays the operation some.

1943
Sunday
August 8th

In an attempt to cut off the retreating Germans, the US 7th Army conducts a flanking amphibious attack.

1943
Wednesday
August 11th

The US 7th Army undertakes another amphibious jump to head off the German retreat.

1943
Wednesday
August 11th

The evacuation of Axis forces from Sicily begins.

1943
Thursday
August 12th

Some 100,000 Axis soldiers are successfully rescued from Sicily. The rest are captured by advancing Allied forces.

1943
Sunday
August 15th

One last amphibious assault by the 7th Army is conducted. The Germans now in full retreat to the northern tip of Sicily.

1943
Tuesday
August 17th

The US 3rd Division gives the official "all clear" from their position in Messina. Operation Husky is a success and Sicily is firmly in Allied hands.

1944
Tuesday
January 11th

The first major Allied offensive to take Cassino is launched.

1944
Tuesday
January 11th

French Expeditionary Corps assail the outer defences at Cassino, achieving modest gains.

1944
Sunday
January 16th

The US IC Corps and the French Expeditionary Corps arrive at Rapido River.

1944
Monday
January 17th

The US is involved in their first major assault on Cassino.

1944
Tuesday
January 18th - February 9th

US forces begin making headway through the Liri Valley, capturing ground at Monte Calvario.

1944
Friday
January 21st

In the afternoon hours, an Allied convoy of 243 ships sets sail from the Bay of Naples for the beaches at Anzio and nearby Nettuno.

1944
Saturday
January 22nd

Operation Shingle, the amphibious landings at Anzio, is enacted by the Allied. In lead is the US VI Corps under Major-General John Lucas.

1944
Saturday
January 22nd

British forces hold the line at River Moletta.

1944
Saturday
January 22nd

American forces hold the line at Mussolini Canal.

1944
Saturday
January 22nd

By 12AM midnight, some 45,000 Allied troops and 3,000 vehicles are on the beaches.

1944
Sunday
January 23rd

The German Luftwaffe begins heavy strafing attacks and bombardment of Allied forces.

1944
Sunday
January 23rd

German Colonel-General von Mackensen takes control of the new 14th Army headquartered 30 miles west of Rome.

1944
Sunday
January 23rd

The Anzio beachhead is consolidated into a concentrated pocket on the orders of Lucas.

1944
Tuesday
January 25th

The Anzio beachhead continues to grow with Allied troops and equipment, making it a prime target for the regrouping Germans.

1944
Friday
January 28th

The US 1st Armored Division captures the town of Aprilia.

1944
Friday
January 28th

Hitler delivers an ultimatum to supreme commander-in-chief over Italy operations, Field Marshall Kesselring, to fight to the death and drive the invading Allied forces into the sea.

1944
Friday
January 28th

By this date, some 70,000 men, 27,000 tons of goods, 508 artillery guns and 237 tanks are ashore on the beachhead.

1944
Friday
January 28th

Von Mackensen moves six divisions to Anzio, some ten miles of the Allied beachhead.

1944
Friday
January 28th

The Germans are driven back at Cisterna.

1944
Sunday
January 30th

The Allies suffer some 5,000 casualties in the Anzio action by this date.

1944
Monday
January 31st

Von Mackensen's forces now number some eight divisions in strength.

1944
Friday
February 11th

US and Indian losses mount in the offensives against German positions in Calvario, the town of Cassino and Monte Cassino itself.

1944
Friday
February 11th

The entire US 142nd Regiment is destroyed.

1944
Friday
February 11th

The 4th Indian Division reports unacceptably high casualties when coming up against the stout German defenders.

1944
Friday
February 11th

The 34th and 36th US Divisions both report a high number of casualties from the ensuing offensives.

1944
Friday
February 11th

A blanket retreat is enacted by the Allies in an attempt to regroup and plan a new strategy to take Cassino.

1944
Saturday
February 12th

Winston Churchill pens a critical letter to supreme commander-in-chief of Allied operations in Italy. In his writings he claims he expected to see "a wild cat roaring" and has seen nothing but a "whale wallowing on the beaches".

1944
Tuesday
February 15th - February 18th

The 4th Indian Division is charged with taking both Monte Calvario and Monastary Hill.

1944
Tuesday
February 15th

In an effort to destroy the believed German defensive positions atop Monte Cassino, Allied bombers numbering 229 strong, lay waste to the monestary.

1944
Tuesday
February 15th

German forces, having never held a defensive position in the monestary proper, move into the resulting debris from the surrounding mountain slopes and set up solid defensive positions within the rubble.

1944
Tuesday
February 15th - February 18th

The 2nd New Zealand Division is charged with taking the railway station at Cassino.

1944
Tuesday
February 15th

Following the Allied aerial bombardment, the second major Allied offensive to take Cassino is launched.

1944
Wednesday
February 16th

Kesselring launches a large counterattack against the invading Allied forces.

1944
Thursday
February 17th

The Allies lose some four miles of territory but stand fast outside of Anzio.

1944
Saturday
February 19th - March 13th

The Italian winter makes its arrival and postpones any further Allied offensives for the next month.

1944
Sunday
February 20th

The German attack is more or less repelled, at the cost of 5,500 German casualties.

1944
Tuesday
February 22nd

American bomber groups begin medium bombing operations from bases within Italy.

1944
Tuesday
February 22nd

The Allies replace the ineffective Major-General Lucas with Major-General Lucius Truscott.

1944
Tuesday
February 29th

Von Mackensen cancels the German offensive amidst mounting casualties and little gain.

1944
Wednesday
March 1st - May 22nd

The Anzio engagement is limited to minor activity for the time being, with the Allies dug in and the Germans trying to dislodge the invaders by limited means.

1944
Wednesday
March 15th - March 21st

Positions on Monte Cassino are officially in Allied hands.

1944
Wednesday
March 15th - March 21st

The 78th British Division makes headway thanks to the support of Allied armor.

1944
Wednesday
March 15th - March 21st

The 2nd New Zealand Division captures German-held position with the help of Allied armor support.

1944
Wednesday
March 15th

A third major Allied offensive is put into action.

1944
Wednesday
March 15th

Artillery guns open up on Cassino while 600-plus Allied bombers attempt to shake the German defenders.

1944
Wednesday
March 15th - March 21st

Against mounting casualties but with tank support, the 4th Indian Division gains ground.

1944
Wednesday
March 22nd

With mounting losses in both manpower and tanks, further Allied thrusts are called off.

1944
Thursday
March 23rd - May 10th

A lengthy six-week period allows the Allies to rebuild their forces - though this period allows the Germans to increase their defensive foothold.

1944
Thursday
May 11th

Approximately 2,000 Allied artillery guns open up on Cassino.

1944
Thursday
May 11th

A combined British, Polish and American assault converge on Cassino involving the British 13th Corps, the Polish II Corps and the US 5th Army.

1944
Thursday
May 11th

The fourth offensive to take Cassino is put into action.

1944
Saturday
May 13th

German paratrooper forces defending Cassino being their evacuation.

1944
Wednesday
May 17th

German paratrooper forces exit the Cassino region.

1944
Thursday
May 18th

Monte Cassino falls to the Allies, costing some 50,000 casualties along both sides of the battlefield.

1944
Thursday
May 18th

The British take the town of Cassino.

1944
Thursday
May 18th

The Poles take Monte Calvario.

1944
Tuesday
May 23rd

The US VI Corps breaks out of the Anzio perimeter and takes ground well into the Alban Hills.

1944
Thursday
May 25th

The US VI Corps continues its gains and eventually combines with the arriving UU Corps. The road to Rome is now in the hands of the US Army and steps are taken for the final assault on the capital.

1944
Friday
August 11th

Sensing complete destruction of Warsaw and its people, the Pope himself appeals to the Allies for help.