“ There is no way of conveying the enormous size of the fleet. (…) It covered half of the skyline (…) like a solid formation of uncountable structures blending together”. Ernie Pyke, the war correspondent describes the history’s largest invasion fleet in Sicily on July 1943, the operation Husky.
An immense push of British, American, Canadian and Polish armies tried to make their way northward, blocked by the Germans, having Italy surrendered in September 8th, 1943.
This landing, led by General George S, Patton and General Sir Bernard L: Montgomery brought to the liberation of Sicily in few weeks.
Now the Allies had to go north, fighting a fierce and desperate enemy, the German elite corps like the Hermann Goering Division through mountains and forests along Calabria, the point of the “Boot”.
The second landing was in Salerno , a port south of Naples, being the main target the symbolic liberation of Rome, the Capital of Italy. But the resistance of the German Grune Teufels (“the Green Devils”), the renowned paratroopers stopped the Allied armies in Montecassino.
To overtake this formidable obstacle, another landing was planned in Anzio, 40 miles south of Rome. But the great generals like Patton were no more in Italy, preparing the landing in Normandy. A less determined General Lucas spoiled the huge effort in Anzio, waiting too long before pushing against a weak enemy. This gave time to the Germans to reach Anzio from all over Central Italy and block for months the landing on the beachhead of Anzio.
When Rome was liberated at last, Italy had become a secondary theatre of war, and the Allied were more concentrated in attacking Germany from the North.
Many troops were moved from the Italian front, leaving the rest to advance slowly to reach the Northern Italian industrial cities like Milano, Genua and Turin.
It was the moment for the exhausted German soldiers to go back home to defend their Heimat, their homeland from the combined attack from West and East.