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Anzio Landings - (January 22nd - June 5th, 1944)


Timeline detailing the events of Anzio Landings in day-by-day format.
  Anzio Landings: British troops take cover at Anzio.  
Picture of the Anzio Landings

There was little progress for the Allies in the Italian Campaign to this point which prompted 'Operation Shingle' - establishing an all-important beachhead at Anzio.



With the Italian Campaign all but deadlocked, the road to Rome was far in the future 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 ranged and close-quarters engagements. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill understood the goals quite well and devised a plan all his own - to land a large and active force behind the entrenched enemy fronts and create havoc by disrupting supply and communication lines all the while encircling the remaining German forces on the Italian peninsula. Distractions would come in the form of Allied aerial bombardments as well as concentrated attacks along the stout Gustav Line - a defensive front arranged by the Germans to include a line running from coast-to-coast, denying Allied entry into the northern regions of Italy. Surprise of such an endeavor by the Allies was therefore 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 this led to a growing confidence among the landing forces as more and more men and machines made it ashore. However, Major-General John Lucas decided to concentrate all of the incoming forces at the beachhead instead of making headway 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 the defender's response. 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 would have cut the beachhead into two individual fighting forces if not for a valiant retaliatory action by the Allies. Worsening weather, and the growing position of a stalemate, brought the Anzio landings to a lull - neither side willing to give ground but paying a deadly price to hold 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 proven a disastrous failure akin to that of Gallipoli in World War 1.

This loss once again placed the Germans on retreat and the Road to Rome itself was now open for the taking. ©www.SecondWorldWarHistory.com


There are a total of (25) Anzio Landings events in the SecondWorldWarHistory.com database. Entries are listed below by date-of-occurrence ascending (first-to-last). Other leading and trailing events are also included for perspective.




January 21st
1944

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.

January 22nd
1944

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

January 22nd
1944

British forces hold the line at River Moletta.

January 22nd
1944

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

January 22nd
1944

American forces hold the line at Mussolini Canal.

January 23rd
1944

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

January 23rd
1944

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

January 23rd
1944

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

January 25th
1944

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

January 28th
1944

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

January 28th
1944

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

January 28th
1944

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

January 28th
1944

The Germans are driven back at Cisterna.

January 28th
1944

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.

January 30th
1944

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

January 31st
1944

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

February 12th
1944

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".

February 16th
1944

Kesselring launches a large counterattack against the invading Allied forces.

February 17th
1944

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

February 20th
1944

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

February 22nd
1944

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

February 29th
1944

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

March 1st - May 22nd
1944

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.

May 23rd
1944

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

May 25th
1944

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.