Italian Campaign

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(July 1943–May 1945)

The World War II military campaign in which Allied troops liberated Italy. Following the North African Campaigns, Montgomery and Patton prepared British and US troops to invade Sicily. The landing was launched (July 1943) from Malta, and by the end of the month both the island's principal cities, Palermo and Catania, were captured: on the mainland Mussolini was deposed and arrested. The German army under Kesselring was withdrawn from Sicily and British and US forces landed in southern Italy (September 1943). An armistice was signed, ending hostilities between the Anglo-American forces and those of the new government of Badoglio. A third surprise Allied landing on the “heel” of Italy captured the two ports of Taranto and Brindisi, and on 13 October 1943 Italy declared war on Germany. A large and well-organized partisan force now harassed the Germans, but reinforcements successfully reached Kesselring, who took a stand at Monte Cassino (late 1943), site of the ancient monastery of St Benedict. The Allies decided to by-pass this, landing 50,000 men at Anzio (January 1944), south of Rome, while also bombing the monastery, which was finally captured (May 1944) by Polish troops. Rome fell (June 1944), and Florence was captured after bitter fighting (August 1944). The Germans consolidated in the River Po valley and fought a hard battle through the autumn of 1944. In April 1945 the Allied armies launched their final attacks, and on 2 May Alexander accepted the surrender of the whole German army group serving in northern Italy and southern Austria.

Subjects: Second World War.

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