By the end of the first week of August 1944 members of the British Eighth Army stood on the Ponte Vecchio, bridging the Arno River in recently liberated Florence, Italy. The Eighth Army had just completed a campaign, in conjunction with the U.S. Fifth Army, that had kept Axis forces in Italy in full retreat, unable to halt the Allied drive north of Rome that had begun with Operation DIADEM the previous May. For the first time since the Italian campaign had begun, Allied leaders were optimistic that they were on the verge of pushing the Germans out of the northern Apennines and sweeping through the Po Valley beyond. After that, many hoped for a rapid advance into the Alps, the Balkans, and perhaps into Austria, before winter and the enemy could stem their advance.
Nation in war: