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Second World War History > Landings at Anzio Timeline

Landings at Anzio Timeline

There was little progression for the Allies concerning the Italian Campaign so they enact Operation Shingle with the target beachhead to center at Anzio.

Authored By Staff Writer

With the Italian Campaign all but deadlocked, the path to capture Rome was far in the futures of the invading Allied forces. The Germans were not about to gift Italian ground to the British and the Americans and each yard was fought for in grueling bloody engagements.


British Prime Minister understood the goals quite well and devised a plan all his own - to land a large and active opposing force behind the entrenched enemy fronts and create havoc by disrupting supply and communication lines all the while encircling the remaining German forces within the Italian peninsula. Distractions would come in the form of Allied bombardments as well concentrated attacks along the stout Gustav Line - a defensive front developed by the Germans to include a line running from coast to coast, denying Allied entry into the upward regions of Italy. Surprise was of the essence.


The Allied force sailed on January 21st, 1943 and were ashore at Anzio and Nettuno by midnight. Little to no enemy resistance was encountered and Allied confidence grew. More and more men and machines made it ashore but Major-General John Lucas decides to concentrate all of the incoming forces at his beachhead instead of making way inland. By January 28th, some 70,000 men had come ashore.


The landings at Anzio were wholly unexpected by the defending Germans but the delay to action on the part of Lucas played well into a response from the defenders. The Germans built a defensive ring around the beachhead and were shelling it from far away positions within the week.


Subsequent pitched battles saw lines wavering for both sides and the Germans nearly cut the beachhead in two forces if not for a valiant repel. Worsening weather and the growing fact of a stalemate brought the Anzio landings to a lull - either side unwilling to give ground but paying a deadly price for holding it.


Winston Churchill wrote the supreme Allied commander over operations in Italy, Sir Harold Alexander, with the critical words "I expected to see a wild cat roaring into the mountains - and what do I find? A whale wallowing on the beaches!" Such was his unhappiness with the progression of the battle.


Were it not for the Allied breakthrough at the Gustav Line followed by the capture of Monte Cassino on May 17th, 1944, and the meeting up of Allied forces near Terracina, the Anzio landings would have proved a disastrous failure.


Once again the Germans were on the retreat and the Road to Rome itself was now open for the taking.

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Total Landings at Anzio Events: 25

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

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

1944
Saturday
January 22nd

American forces hold the line at Mussolini Canal.

1944
Sunday
January 23rd

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

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

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

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 US 1st Armored Division captures the town of Aprilia.

1944
Friday
January 28th

The Germans are driven back at Cisterna.

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
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
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
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
Sunday
February 20th

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

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
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.
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