Allied forces conquered Sicily in the summer of 1943, securing the island by August 17. This defeat precipitated the fall of Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini, and the new Italian government negotiated an armistice with the Allies. The Allies resolved to intervene in Italy to guarantee this liberation from Fascist rule, and to pursue their strategic objectives. Adolf Hitler’s German Army invaded Italy rather than let it come to terms with the Allies, and overran much of the country. Fierce fighting ensued as the Allies landed and pushed their way up the boot of Italy towards Rome. Italy joined the Allies, and the intervention became a campaign of liberation. To further tell this story, the American Battle Monuments Commission has released Entering Italy: The Naples-Foggia Campaign. This free, digital tool allows the user to follow the path of Allied forces from the first crossings on September 3, 1943 through January 21, 1944, the eve of subsequent amphibious landings at Anzio and Nettuno.
Including dynamic maps showing the locations of units over time, narrative text, and an encyclopedia of people, places, organizations and equipment involved, the Entering Italy online interactive provides comprehensive insights into this critical World War II campaign.
Having announced the armistice, the Allies met stiff German resistance when they landed at Salerno on September 9, 1943. They fought for days to secure the beachhead. Meanwhile, the British Eighth Army pushed its way north from landings in Calabria and at Taranto to link up with the American and British forces battling around Salerno. By mid-October 1943 Allied forces had taken Naples and Foggia, and secured Italy south of these critical cities.
As the cold weather of winter began to set in, the Allies found themselves struggling to advance between Naples and Rome. They encountered successive German defense lines that artfully incorporated the difficult Italian terrain. The formidable Gustav Line, featuring defenses in depth and incorporating the slopes of Monte Cassino, brought them to a stalemate. During November, December and early January, the Allies inched forward, but casualties were heavy and breakthroughs non-existent. The Allies planned for an amphibious invasion to land at Anzio and Nettuno on January 22, 1944. This would put them behind enemy lines, and turn the Gustav Line.
The fighting in Italy proved to be long and hard. Thousands of Americans lost their lives, along with thousands of their Allies. Over 10,000 are buried or memorialized at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery.