Summary of U.S. 5th Army Operations, Italy 12 October to 15 November 1943
This article is about defensive position in Italian Campaign of World War II.
Breakthrough of the Volturno Line – Offensive Anglo-American troops during the Italian Campaign of World War II.
After the Allied landing in Italy, German troops slowed their advance in organized several defensive positions stretching across Italy from coast to coast. Volturno Line (also known as the “line of Victor”) was the most southerly of them. It ran from Termoli to the east along the river through the Apennine Mountains Biferno, and further west along the river Volturno.
At 2 hours and 15 minutes October 3, 1943, British commandos landed at Termoli, and at dawn of the 11th, brigade of the British 78th Infantry Division crossed the river Biferno. Soon the two bridgehead joined, and in the evening in Termoli it is able to land the 36th brigade of the 78th Division. However, supply problems and bad weather conditions prevented them to quickly build a bridge across Biferno, and tanks remained on the south coast.
Upon learning of the Allied landings in Termoli, the commander of all troops in Italy, the Axis Marshal Albert Kesselring ordered the 16th Panzer Division to switch to the Adriatic sector of the front, creating a serious threat to Allied infantry, which had no support. With October 4 information about the arrival of German tanks, commanding the 78th Division, Major-General Abel (Evelegh) demanded that the speedy construction of the bridge for his division would receive priority in the 8th Army in the allocation of resources. As approaching the German tank units, the Allied forces on the northern shore Biferno were forced into a defensive position. By noon on October 5, they had already been pushed back so much that there were only a mile from Termoli. However, at this moment, superhuman efforts had been successful from Allied engineers, resulting in the British and Canadian armored units rushed to the northern bank of Biferno Svezhevozvedennomu Bridge. In the evening, Termoli 38th (Irish) Brigade 78th Division was delivered by sea, and held the following morning the German attack was repulsed. The morning on October 6, the Allies themselves took the offensive, and in the afternoon the Germans began to retreat to a defensive line along the river Trino – the so-called “Lines, Barbara.”
On the other coast, the U.S. 5th Army crossed the Volturno on the night of October 12. The Germans, using easy-to defend the area, with the rearguard fighting retreat to the next line of defense (“Line of Barbara”), to which the Allies arrived on November 2.