Skip to comments.ITALY SURRENDERS, WILL RESIST GERMANS; ALLIED FORCES LAND IN THE NAPLES AREA (9/9/43)
Posted on 09/09/2013 4:08:41 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
The West Point Military History Series, Thomas E. Griess, Editor, The Second World War: Europe and the Mediterranean
The first excerpt below is continued from September 7. The short one at the end about Gen. Smuts is continued from September 5.
Winston S. Churchill, Closing the Ring
Allies establish beachhead at Salerno
Thursday, September 9, 1943 www.onwar.com
In Italy... Allied forces land at Salerno. The US 5th Army (General Clark) lands at on beaches to the south of Salerno. His forces include the British 10th Corps (General McCreery) — the Northern Assault force, and US 6th Corps (General Dawley) — the Southern Assault Force. Naval support for the operation is under British Admiral Cunningham and a covering force (4 battleships and 2 carriers) under Admiral Willis, a support group (5 small carriers) under Admiral Vian and Admiral Hewitt commands the landing ships. There is some resistance to the landings. To the north of the main landing, US Rangers and British Commandos land at Maiori and Vietri to secure mountain passes. In addition, the British 1st Airborne Division comes ashore at Taranto and seizes the port. To the south, the British 8th Army continues a slow advance. German forces near Rome engage the Italian garrison. The Italian government is forced to flee, leaving Rome under German occupation.
In the Mediterranean... The Italian battleship Roma is sunk by a German glider bomb; similar attacks damage other Italian ships attempting to reach Allied ports.
On the Eastern Front... Soviet forces capture Bakhmach, west of Konotop, after a sharp battle. In the Caucasus, in the Kuban Peninsula, the German 17th Army begins to pull back from its forward positions.
In New Guinea... Australian forces achieve minor bridgeheads over the Busu River.
September 9th, 1943 (THURSDAY)
On D-day for Operation STARKEY (a rehearsal for the invasion of France), the US Eighth Air Force in England dispatches a record number of 330 heavy bombers against various targets in France.
(1) 20 B-17s bomb the industrial area at Paris, at 0903 hours and 48 others hit the secondary target, the Beaumont Suroise Airfield; they claim 16-2-9 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2 B-17s are lost;
(2) 59 B-17 bomb Tille Airfield at Beauvais at 0816-0819 hours;
(3) 37 B-17s attack Nord Airfield at Lille at 0830-0833 hours;
(4) 52 B-17s bomb Vendeville Airfield at Lille at 0830-0840 hours;
(5) 51 B-17s hit Vitry-en-Artois Airfield at 0837-0840;
(6) 28 B-24s bomb Ft Rouge and Longuenesse Airfields at St Omer; and
(7) 35 B-24s attack Drucat Airfield at Abbeville. All missions except (7) above are escorted by 215 P-47 Thunderbolts that claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2 P-47’s are lost.
Operation STARKEY is a disappointment as the Luftwaffe refuses to commit fighter defenses on a large scale, thus preventing possible destruction of many of their aircraft, which Allied air forces hoped to accomplish.
The US VIII Air Support Command flies Mission 55 against coastal defenses around Boulogne, France; 202 B-26Bs hit the targets at 0745-0915 hours; 3 B-26’s are lost.
The Lockheed Ventura makes its last operation with RAF Bomber Command. (22)
Midget submarine “Welman 10” which was being operated by SOE sank alongside the depot ship HMS Forth. The commander (Lt B Pedersen of the Norwegian Army) makes an unaided escape to the surface. There are no casualties. (Alex Gordon)
Escort carrier HMS Arbiter launched.
FRANCE: Paris: A grenade is thrown into the offices of the PPF in the 18th arrondissement, in the rue Lamarck, while a meeting is in progress; there is one death, Madame Brunet and 20 wounded.
Corsica: Italian troops of the Cremona and Friuli Divisions drive off the Germans at Bastia.
GERMANY: U-1191 commissioned.
BULGARIA: With the death of King Boris III, the Bulgarian parliament approved a Council of Regency composed of Prince Cyril (Simeon II’s uncle), Bogdan Philov (a Bulgarian statesman), and General Nokola Michov.
U.S.S.R.: The Russians take Bakhmach after an advance west from Konotop. The German 17th Army begins to pull out of its forward position in the Kuban.
Polar Fleet and White Sea Flotilla: Submarine “K-1” - wrecked close to Novaya Zemla. (Sergey Anisimov)(69)
Moscow: The Red Army has set out on another stage of its inexorable march to the west with a powerful thrust towards Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, which the Germans have turned into a major base. This follows the storming of the railway junction at Bakhmach after two days of fighting. Red Star, the army’s newspaper, says today “we feel the beginning of the end.”
NORWAY: SPITZBERGEN: The pride of the German fleet battered the shore installations here today and succeeded in putting the radio station out of action when troops of the German 349th Grenadier Regiment land and blow up the Allied installations.
The attacking force comprised two battleships, TIRPITZ and the Scharnhorst , and ten destroyers. The TIRPITZ is Germany’s most powerful battleship, yet today’s action is the first time that her heavy guns have been in action since she was built two years ago.
The modest target chosen is a measure of the Royal Navy’s success in keeping this powerful force holed up in Altenfjord, in the north of Norway. The ships will need to race back to Altenfjord and anchorages at Langfjord to avoid a confrontation with Britain’s Home Fleet.
ITALY: The Italian mainland is invaded in Operations AVALANCHE and SLAPSTICK. Under protection of the USN’s Task Force 80 (Vice Admiral H. Kent Hewitt), the Allied Fifth Army (Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, USA) lands on the assault beaches in the Gulf of Salerno in Operation AVALANCHE. Salerno had been chosen as the site for the invasion because it was the northern-most point to which the Allies could provide air cover from bases in Sicily. On the left flank, British Commandos and U.S. Rangers land at Vietri and Maiori respectively with orders to advance northward and capture passes through the hills. The British 46 and 56 Divisions land south of Salerno meeting strong German resistance but manage to get ashore. The U.S. 36th Infantry Division lands north and south of Paestum and have heavy casualties because of strong German resistance. Once ashore, the Americans meet less resistance. Meanwhile, the British launch Operation SLAPSTICK. The British 1 Airborne Division makes an amphibious landing at Taranto and then captures the airfield at Foggia.
King Victor Emmanuelle and Prime Minister Field Marshal Pietro Badoglio flee Rome and set up a Government in Brindisi. The Italian Armed Forces become confused and leaderless and do not know whether to fight the Germans or not. Badoglio orders his military to stop any hostilities and the Germans begin to disarm the Italian Army; over 615,000 Italian soldiers are taken prisoner. Many Italian officers protest this disarming and are shot. Only 1% of the soldiers offer to join the Germans.
The anti-Badoglio, German-allied Italian government, the Republican Fascist Government of Salo, is formed in northern Italy.
German troops try to occupy Bari harbor. Major General Nicola Bellomo, commander Commander in Chief IX Territorial Defence Command, forms a group of about 100 men and counter-attacks the German position, with himself personally leading the action. After two hours of fighting, the Germans are ousted out of Bari.
The Germans have unleashed a new weapon of warfare which claimed as its first victim one of the Italian ships heading here to surrender. The battleship ROMA was hit by a “glider bomb” in the Gulf of Asinara off Sardinia and blew up soon after firing her first and last shots in battle. The ship was en route to Malta from the Italian naval base at La Spezia.
The Germans have two types of glider bomb - the Ruhrstahl SD-1400 and the Henschel HS-293 - which are released from the air to hit targets on the ground. In effect, they are unmanned missiles which can be used against targets on land as well as at sea.
Amongst the 1,523 dead on the ROMA is Admiral Carlo Bergamini, commander of the Italian combined battle fleet (hence senior naval commander afloat in the Italian forces.) (Michael F. Yaklich)
One of the clauses of the armistice between the Allies and Italy specified that the ships of the Italian Navy, bearing black circular panels in sign of surrender, would sail to Malta to await their final destiny. The Italian ships sail but do not bear the black circular panels. At 0300 hours local, three battleships, the Roma, the Vittorio Veneto and Littorio, leave La Spezia along with 3 cruisers and 8 destroyers. Instead of sailing for Malta, they head for the naval port of La Maddelena on Sardinia and are sighted by Allied aircraft at dawn. At 1340 hours, the Italians learn that the port had been occupied by the Germans and they turn south and head for Malta. At 1400 hours, German aircraft sight the fleet and attack but miss. At the same time, 6 Dornier Do 217K-2s of II Gruppen, Kampfgeschwader 100 (II/K.G. 100) take off from Istres, France, armed with Ruhrstahl/Kramer X-1 (Fritz X) remote control bombs with a 320 kilogram (704 pound) warhead. The first attack comes at 1530 hours, while the ships are about 14 miles (22.5 kilometres) southwest of Cape Testa, Sardinia. The first Fritz X is directed toward the Littorio and it falls near the battleship temporarily blocking the rudder; the crew goes to auxiliary rudder and continues. At 1545 hours, a Fritz X strikes Roma on the starboard side, goes through the hull and explodes in the water reducing the ship’s speed to 10 knots. A second Fritz X hits Roma at 1550 hours and explodes in the forward superstructure starting a fire. The ship lists to starboard and sinks at 1612 hours with 88 officers and 1,264 sailors. Other Italian ships lost are the cruiser Taranto, destroyers Maestrale, Corazziere, Nicole Zeno and FR 21 (Former French destroyer Lion) and Torpedo Boats Antonio Cascino and Procione, all of which are scuttled in various ports to prevent German capture. The destroyer Antonio Da Noli sinks off Corsica after hitting a mine.
In the air, USAAF Ninth Air Force B-24s hit the satellite airfield at Foggia in support of British airborne landings. The USAAF Twelfth Air Force sends 100+ B-17s to bomb bridges at Capua and Cancello Arnone, and 240+ B-25s and B-26s to hit railroad-bridges at Potenza and landing ground at Scanzano. XII Air Support Command fighters maintain patrols over Salerno, and other Northwest African Tactical Air Force planes bomb and strafe motor transport, roads, and other targets in the Catanzaro-Auletta-Rogliano area and north-northwest of Salerno.
During the night of 9/10 September, 52 RAF Liberators of No. 205 (Heavy Bomber) Group bomb the marshalling yard at Grosseto while three others drop leaflets over the country.
Allied landings occur at Salerno and Taranto, Italy. The British 1st Airborne Division lands by sea at Taranto with little opposition. The US forces at Salerno, from General Clark’s US 5th Army and General McCreery’s British X Corps, meets stiffer resistance. Both landings are successful.
Taranto: In the hastily-improvised Operation SLAPSTICK, six British warships entered this port today to land 3,600 British paratroopers on Italian soil. No Germans were to be seen, and the Italian garrison cheered as the British came ashore. Taranto was beyond the range of air fighter cover from Sicily, but the Allies wanted to secure a port to supply advances up Italy’s eastern flank. They also wanted to ensure that Italian warships did not fall into German hands; but the Italian fleet is already under way to surrender at Malta.
Salerno: No invasion has started in such a holiday spirit. Soldiers in this huge convoy were tensed for the start of Operation Avalanche when the voice of their commander-in-chief, General Eisenhower, came over the ships’ tannoys announcing the Italian surrender. The announcement was greeted with cheers and whoops and talk of the signorinas in Naples tonight. Officers did issue warnings, but the atmosphere was dangerously relaxed as Americans and Britons clambered into their landing craft soon after midnight. Some, like the American Rangers and British Commandos have landed on darkened beaches and have met no resistance until well ashore. Not even the commanders knew that the retreating Germans had shrewdly placed three Panzer divisions and the 29th Panzergrenadier Division in the Salerno area.
On the right flank of the British X Corps the 56th British Infantry Division met no opposition as it disembarked on empty beaches, but has come under fierce counter-attacks from tanks as it advances on Montocorvino airfield. Others from the division reached the village of Battipaglia, but - despite the aid of naval gunfire - could not dislodge the Germans. Troops from the 46th Division are driving northwards along the coast road to Salerno itself.
To the south of the Sele river - which divides the two Allied beach-heads - two regiments of the US 36th “Texas” Division were wading ashore when flares lit the entire scene. The Americans - many facing their first battle - came under withering fire from unseen German defenders and threatened to panic. Weeks of careful planning and rehearsal were forgotten as soldiers dived for cover and landing craft turned back towards the transports out at sea.
While the Texas Division sorted itself out - making its way eventually to its first objective, one-and-a-half miles inland - three battalions of US Rangers succeeded in taking Chiunzi Mount during the night. By dawn today they had taken the twin peaks overlooking the pass and the main highway to Naples.
The huge Allied army is ashore; but the two beach-heads north and south of the Sele remain separated by a seven-mile gap. At sea, General Mark Clark, the US Fifth Army commander, has little idea of what is happening on land. His view of the battle is obscured by smoke, and radio communication is patchy. A German reinforcements race towards Salerno, the holiday is over.
Minelayer HMS Abdiel mined and sunk in Taranto Bay.
Sardinia: USAAF Twelfth Air Force P-40s fly an uneventful sweep over the island.
IRAN: Tehran: Iran declares war on Germany.
CHINA: 8 USAAF Fourteenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells and 11 P-40s attack the White Cloud Airfield at Canton; 4 P-38 Lightnings bomb the docks at Whampoa; and 8 P-40s and P-38s hit shipping on the Yangtze River shipping near Chiuchiang, Kichun, Wusueh, Ocheng, and Changanyi, and strafe targets of opportunity in the general area.
BURMA: US Tenth Air Force B-24s again mine the Rangoon River during the night of 8/9 September.
EAST INDIES: USAAF Fifth Air Force B-25 Mitchells bomb Selaroe Aerodrome on Selaroe Island, Netherlands East Indies, located about 259 nautical miles (480 kilometers) north of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.
NEW GUINEA: In Northeast New Guinea, Major General Edward Milford, General Officer Commanding Australian 5th Division, order the American and Australian troops in the Salamaua area to advance tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Japanese XVIII Army is ordered to withdraw their troops in Salamaua to Lae. The Australian troops in the Lae-Nadzab area cross the Busu River and holds a bridgehead against counterattacks.
Four USN high-speed transports bombard Lae.
In the air, USAAF 5th Air Force B-25s attack the coastal area from Alexishafen to Finschhafen. Heavy bombers attack Garove Island.
PACIFIC OCEAN: The USN submarine Grayling (SS-209) is sunk, possibly rammed by the Japanese transport SS Hokuan Maru in the South China Sea west of Luzon, Philippine Islands.
The USN submarine USS Harder (SS-257) sinks a Japanese merchant cargo ship southeast of Tokyo, Japan.
The Japanese submarine I-182 is sunk by the USS Trout (SS-202) off the Philippine Islands. (Mike Yared)(144 and 145)
SOLOMON ISLANDS: USN Admiral William F. Halsey, Commander of the South Pacific Ara and the Third Fleet, proposes that the Treasury Islands and Choiseul Bay be secured as bases from which the southern Bougainville Island-Shortland Islands area can be neutralized. The suggestion is not accepted by General Douglas MacArthur, Commander of the South West Pacific Area.
12 US Thirteenth Air Force B-25s and 50+ SBD Dauntless dive bombers pound Vila Airfield on Kolombangara Island and barges at Disappointment Cove on New Georgia Island. 18 B-24s, with fighter escort, bomb Kahili Airfield on Bougainville Island; 2 nearby coastal guns are also hit.
BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: USAAF Fifth Air Force B-24 Liberators attack Garowe Island in the Witu Islands located about 118 nautical miles (218 kilometers) southwest of Kavieng, New Ireland Island.
CANADA: HMC ML 111 commissioned.
U.S.A.: Two motion pictures are released today.
* The 11-minute war documentary film “The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith,” directed by Harold S. Bucquet, film stars George Reeves, Lionel Barrymore, Walter Brennan, Barbara Britton and Walter Abel; Fred MacMurray is the uncredited narrator. The plot concerns Tom Smith, an American pilot shot down and captured by the Japanese. While awaiting execution, he recalls his life in the U.S.
* “So Proudly We Hail!,” directed by Mark Sandrich, stars Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard, Veronica Lake, George Reeves, Barbara Britton, Walter Abel, Sonny Tufts and John Litel; Yvonne De Carlo appears in an uncredited bit part. This war drama is about U.S. Army nurses in the Philippines in 1941/42 and is nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Supporting Actress for Goddard.
Destroyer escorts USS Coffman, Baker and Hodges laid down.
Heavy cruiser USS Helena laid down.
Minesweeper USS Incredible laid down.
Submarines USS Ronquil, Redfish and Razorback laid down.
PANAMA: The German submarine U-214 lays mines off Colon, Canal Zone.
Page 8 regarding the funeral in Ireland for the Navy commodore? last paragraph. I s that “the” Frank Sinatra? I wish I had time to look it up but I’m already running late this morning. I recall the Foxhole had a thread many years ago on Hollywood during WWII but I don’t remember Frank being one of the people we mentioned.
"Italy has been knocked out.
But it is only one down and two to go."
Success leads to a loss of public support?
I did a double take myself when I saw that. It must be a different Frank. The singer is from Hoboken, not Brooklyn. (The article is on page 7, btw.)
The singer got himself a 4-F and avoided the draft. Had to be a different guy.
a great day for news!
After repairs in Genoa through all of July and part of August, Roma was deployed as the flagship of Admiral Carlo Bergamini in a large battle group that eventually comprised the three Littorios, eight cruisers and eight destroyers. Their stated intent was attacking the Allied ships approaching Salerno to invade Italy (Operation “Avalanche”) but, in reality, the Italian fleet was sailing to Malta to surrender following Italy’s September 8, 1943 armistice with the Allies.
While the force was in the Strait of Bonifacio, Dornier Do 217s of the German Luftwaffe’s Kampfgeschwader 100armed with Fritz X radio-controlled bombsthe pioneering deployment of any sort of unpowered, free-fall precision-guided munition in military historysighted the force. The first attack failed, but the second dealt Italia (ex-Littorio) and Roma much damage. The hit on Roma caused water to flood two boiler rooms and the after engine room, leaving the ship to limp along with two propellers, reduced power, and arc-induced fires in the stern of the ship. Shortly thereafter, another bomb slammed into the ship which detonated within the forward engine room, causing catastrophic flooding and the explosion of the #2 main turret’s magazines, throwing the turret itself into the sea. Sinking by the bow and leaning to starboard, Roma capsized and broke in two, carrying 1253, including Bergamini and the ship’s captain Adone Del Cima, down with her.
The Fritz X was a further development of the high-explosive bomb SD 1400 (Splitterbombe, dickwandig, 1400 kg[Note 1]). It was a penetration weapon intended to be used against heavily protected targets such as heavy cruisers and battleships. It was given a more aerodynamic nose, four stub wings, and a box shaped tail unit, consisting of a roughly 12-sided annular set of fixed surfaces, and a cruciform tail with thick surfaces within the annulus, which themselves contained the aerodynamic controls.
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