Cover image for Backwater war : the Allied campaign in Italy, 1943-1945
Backwater war : the Allied campaign in Italy, 1943-1945
Hoyt, Edwin P. (Edwin Palmer), 1923-2005.
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2002.
Physical Description:
ix, 224 pages, 14 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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D763.I8 H66 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A year before the much-heralded second front was opened at Normandy in 1944, the Allies waged a campaign in Sicily and Italy--an assault that was marked by argument and dissent from beginning to end, highlighting the fundamental differences in strategic thinking between the Americans and the British. Winston Churchill favored scrapping what would become the Normandy invasion entirely, focusing instead on the soft underbelly of Nazi Europe, but American planners summarily rejected any plan that relied solely on a southern option. This is the story of this backwater campaign, a series of battles skillfully staged by the Germans and so botched by the Allies that their victory was achieved only as a result of German exhaustion.

During the hard-fought campaign, the Americans persisted in their suspicion that the British were trying to undermine the effort. For example, the imbroglio over the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino and the ineptness of the British assault, led by a commander already discredited by his role in the fall of Crete, would spur the Americans to overreact and destroy the monastery by bombing. This created a major propaganda victory for the Germans. Such incidents convinced both Washington and London that they were working at cross-purposes. Hoyt contends that, as the British argued at the time, Allied efforts would have been better-spent concentrating on the Balkans. The Normandy campaign was expensive, unnecessary, and ultimately lengthened the war.

Author Notes

Edwin P. Hoyt is an independent historian. He is the author of more than 150 books. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Hoyt turned his attention to journalism after service in the Pacific theater during World War II. He has written for the Denver Post, Collier's Magazine, American Heritage, and CBS news.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
1 The Anglo-American Military Alliancep. 1
2 The Allies Preparep. 9
3 The Axis Defenses of Sicilyp. 15
4 Invasionp. 19
5 The British Eighth Army's Drivep. 27
6 The U.S. Seventh Army's Drivep. 33
7 The Fall of Mussolinip. 37
8 Confusionp. 45
9 The Race for Messinap. 49
10 The Surrender of Italy and the Surprise That Wasn'tp. 57
11 Unrest at Quadrantp. 67
12 Salernop. 71
13 The Strategic Trapp. 81
14 A Series of Delaying Actionsp. 87
15 The Advance Is Stoppedp. 93
16 The Rapido River Fiascop. 101
17 Crossingp. 111
18 Anziop. 119
19 The Attack on Cassinop. 127
20 The Bombing of Monte Cassinop. 133
21 The Germans at Anziop. 141
22 Spring Offensivep. 145
23 The End of the Gustav Linep. 151
24 Breakthroughp. 157
25 The Fall of Romep. 163
26 North from Romep. 167
27 Cracking the Gothic Linep. 173
28 The Center of the Linep. 181
29 Winter Doldrumsp. 187
30 To the Bitter Endp. 195
Appendix A Order of Battle as of July 10, 1943, D Day--Invasion of Sicilyp. 201
Appendix B Order of Battle as of September 8, 1943, Salerno Landingp. 203
Appendix C Order of Battle as of January 22, 1944, Anzio Landingp. 205
Bibliographic Essayp. 209
Notesp. 211
Indexp. 213