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World War II: North Africa and Italy Lesson 24. ID & SIG: Anzio, Clark, Gustav Line, Kasserine Pass, Kesserling, LSTs, Lucas, Montgomery, Operation Torch,

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Presentation on theme: "World War II: North Africa and Italy Lesson 24. ID & SIG: Anzio, Clark, Gustav Line, Kasserine Pass, Kesserling, LSTs, Lucas, Montgomery, Operation Torch,"— Presentation transcript:

1 World War II: North Africa and Italy Lesson 24

2 ID & SIG: Anzio, Clark, Gustav Line, Kasserine Pass, Kesserling, LSTs, Lucas, Montgomery, Operation Torch, Rome, Rommel, Salerno, Sicily, “soft underbelly”

3 North Africa

4 Italian Presence in North Africa Since before World War II, Italy had been occupying Libya and had over a million soldiers based there In neighboring Egypt, the British Army had only 36,000 men guarding the Suez Canal and the Arabian oilfields On Sept 13, 1940, the Italians advanced into Egypt but halted in front of the main British defenses at Mersa Matruh On Dec 9, the British counterattacked and pushed the Italians back more than 500 miles, inflicting heavy casualties British troops then moved along the coast and on Jan 22, 1941, they captured the port of Tobruk in Libya

5 Germany to the Rescue In the meantime, Germany sent forces across the Mediterranean to Tripoli –The Afrika Corps commanded by Erwin Rommel Italy’s disasters in North Africa and elsewhere (i.e., Greece) were threatening to undermine the Axis position in the Balkans and the Mediterranean

6 Rommel Characteristically Rommel attacked and drove the British Commonwealth forces out of Libya except for Tobruk With the situation in North Africa stabilized, Hitler turned his attention to shoring up Italy, leaving Rommel to deal with North Africa One of Rommel’s biggest challenges would be his long, tenuous supply line –Between Oct and Nov the Allies sank nearly 80% of Axis supply ships crossing the Mediterranean

7 Rommel Rommel pushed the British deep into Egypt but British General Bernard Montgomery stopped Rommel at El Alamein in July 1942

8 Operation Torch While this was going on in Egypt and Libya, Americans acquiesced to British pressure and began planning Operation Torch– landings to occupy Algeria and Morocco and co-opt the Vichy French –The “Vichy French” had reached an agreement with the Germans allowing a French government headed by Marshall Henri Pétain to govern the French colonies and those parts of France not occupied by the Germans –The “Free French” established their own government in exile led by Charles de Gaulle

9 Operation Torch The Anglo-American forces landed at Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers and then advanced by land and sea to Tunisia

10 Operation Torch At first the Vichy French resisted, but eventually surrendered Hitler began rushing troops to Tunis before the Allies could get there Hitler was successful in winning “the race to Tunis” and therefore denying the Mediterranean to Allied shipping –However, he did so at a great price, committing Italian and German troops to an ultimately hopeless fight when they could have been better used elsewhere Admiral Francois Darlan surrendered the Vichy forces in North Africa


12 Kasserine Pass After El Alamein, Montgomery had been unable to cut off Rommel and Rommel was able to retreat across Egypt, into Libya, and eventually reach Tunisia Rommel developed a plan to sweep up from southern Tunisia and destroy the Allied supply dumps in eastern Algiers Rommel attacked on February 14 and punched his way through the Kasserine Pass It was a tactical victory, but Rommel was unable to continue with his larger plan and began withdrawing on Feb 22

13 Germans Defeated Rommel then turned south against the British who were arriving from Egypt Montgomery dealt Rommel a stunning defeat and Rommel personally left Africa The Axis position in North Africa steadily deteriorated and in early May the Allies controlled Tunisia American soldiers enter Kasserine Pass

14 First Battle The Americans did not perform very well in their first combat experience and senior leadership was horrible –General Eisenhower was forced to relieve Lloyd Fredendall of command and replace him with George Patton Lloyd Fredendall, commander of the American II Corps

15 Results of North Africa The Germans had wasted valuable resources in an indecisive theater Mussolini was severely weakened domestically The Americans learned from their poor performance and made the necessary changes The British and American coalition weathered a potentially threatening storm

16 Casablanca Conference After the Axis surrender in Tunisia, the Allies began planning the next phase of the war Roosevelt and Churchill met in Casablanca, Morocco in January 1943 –Stalin had been invited, but declined to attend because of Stalingrad

17 Second Front Since July 19, 1941, Stalin had been demanding the Allies open up a second front to relieve the German pressure Russia was facing Invading Italy would help meet Stalin’s demand

18 Strategic Differences US advocated a cross channel invasion to directly attack Germany Churchill preferred an indirect approach, attacking through the “soft underbelly of Europe”

19 British Approach

20 American Approach

21 Casablanca Conference Jan 1943 Britain –“the control of the Mediterranean meant… control of the Western world.” –Had imperial fortunes in Egypt, the Middle East, and India –Felt it was the Axis’ vulnerable point Americans –“periphery pecking” would delay the cross- channel invasion that would strike the German jugular

22 What They Agreed On Forces from Operation Torch could continue on to Sicily once the North African Campaign was terminated –Churchill knew this would preclude a cross-channel invasion in 1943 At the end of the conference, Roosevelt announced that “peace can come to the world only by the total elimination of German and Japanese military power... (which) means unconditional surrender.”

23 Trident Conference May 1943 Americans accepted the strategic goal of eliminating Italy from the war but demanded that the forces involved consist only of those already in the Mediterranean Americans and British also agreed that planning begin for a cross channel invasion in May 1944 The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, DC, site of the Trident Conference

24 The Italian Campaign Three amphibious operations –Sicily (Operation Husky) –Salerno (Operation Avalanche) –Anzio (Operation Shingle)

25 Sicily, 1943 Failure to Plan Ahead

26 The Commanders General Sir Harold Alexander, 15 th Army Group General Mark Clark, American Fifth Army General Bernard Montgomery, British Eighth Army

27 General George Patton, Seventh Army, coming ashore in Sicily General Omar Bradley, commander II Corps

28 Sicily Allies enjoyed great tactical success in capturing the island of Sicily but did not have a good plan for what to do next Germans were able to escape to the Italian mainland The King placed Mussolini under arrest but the Allies were slow to exploit this diplomatic opportunity and Hitler shored up his defenses in Italy

29 Messina: With Mainland Italy in the Distance

30 So What Next ?…. “We can’t win a war by capturing islands.” –General Mark Clark, Fifth Army commander One down, two to go: Cartoon on jeep shows Mussolini crossed out with Hitler and Hirohito next

31 Salerno, 1943 Invading the Italian Mainland

32 The Commanders: Allies General Sir Richard McCreery, British X Corps General Ernest Dawley, American VI Corps

33 The Commanders: Axis Albert Kesserling –A Luftwaffe officer –Supreme Commander “South” or O.B.S. (Oberbefehlshaber Süd) –One of Germany’s best generals

34 Salerno With the Italian Army on the verge of disintegrating, the assault on Salerno was designed to seize the port of Naples and the airfields of Foggia, followed by a drive to Rome The Germans were ready for the invasion and the battle was a close call for the Allies –Massive naval gunfire, strategic bombers, and determined Allied ground forces saved the day

35 Gustav Line The Germans withdrew to a defense centered on Monte Cassino astride the Liri, Sangro, Rapido, and Garigliano Rivers –Major position from which to defend Rome Exposed the Allies to costly and slow mountain fighting that was getting them nowhere –Allies needed a way to alleviate the stalemate

36 Anzio, 1944 Missed Opportunity

37 Strategic Situation in late 1943 Campaign stalled about 80 miles short of Rome and was beginning to resemble the trench warfare of World War I A landing at Anzio would bypass German defenses around Cassino and put the Allies just 35 miles south of Rome Gustav Line Anzio Salerno Rome

38 New Commander Major General John Lucas replaced Dawley as VI Corps commander after Salerno Would prove to not be the right man for the job –Tired from mountain warfare in Italy; appeared dispirited and discouraged.

39 Ghost of Salerno “Don’t stick your neck out, Johnny (new VI Corps Commander John Lucas). I did at Salerno and got into trouble.” –Mark Clark, Fifth Army commander Landing at Salerno

40 Anzio The Allies surprised the Germans at Anzio and had immediate success However the close call at Salerno had left them with an overly cautious attitude and they let the Germans recover “I had hoped we were hurling a wildcat into the shore, but all we got was a stranded whale.” –Winston Churchill

41 Anzio Alexander’s guidance was to “Carry out an assault landing on the beaches in the vicinity of Rome with the object of cutting the enemy lines of communication and threatening the rear of the German 14 Corps” –“Cut the enemy’s main communications in the Colli Laziali (Alban Hills) area southeast of Rome, and threaten the rear of the 14 German corps”

42 Anzio Instead Lucas cautiously built up the beachhead which gave the Germans rush in reinforcements “On January 22 and even the following day, an audacious and enterprising formation of enemy troops… could have penetrated into the city of Rome itself without having overcome any serious opposition” –Siegried Westphal, German Chief of Staff Alexander had told Lucas to advance “on” the Alban Hills –Did that mean “to” or “toward”? –What was the commander’s intent?

43 Legacy of Anzio It wasn’t until June 4 that the Allies finally reached Rome in “a hollow triumph” –By then the decisive Allied effort had shifted to France Most of the German Tenth Army escaped Clark at Rome and the Germans established a strong defense along the Gothic Line –Kept the Allies away from the Italian industrial area and the Alpine approaches to Germany Rome Gothic Line

44 Summary of the Italian Campaign Through the summer of 1943 it was an excellent training ground for Anglo-American forces Casualties the Allies inflicted on German ground and air forces in Tunisia and Sicily were a significant return on the investment “After that point, however, Italy cost more than it gained.” –Robert Doughty, American Military History and the Evolution of Western Warfare

45 Next Student Presentations Normandy

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