Allies Land at Salerno and Taranto

Sep 9, 1943:

Allies Land at Salerno and Taranto

 

On this day in 1943, Operation Avalanche, the Allied land invasion of Salerno, and Operation Slapstick, the British airborne invasion of Taranto, both in southern Italy, are launched.

The U.S. 5th Army under Lt. Gen. Mark Clark landed along the Salerno coastline while British Commando units and their American counterparts, the U.S. Rangers, landed on the peninsula itself. Salerno had been chosen as the first site for invasion of the peninsula because it was the northern-most point to which the Allies could fly planes from its bases in Sicily, which they had already invaded and occupied. Rockets launched from landing craft provided cover, and the beach landings went relatively smoothly. It wasn’t until two days later that the Germans, with some Italian troops coerced into service, mounted a heavy counterattack on the beachhead. But Clark called in the 82nd Airborne for support, and by the 15th, Salerno was in Allied hands.

Meanwhile, the British 1st Airborne Division, having successfully landed at Taranto, captured the airfield at Foggia.

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Italian Surrender is Announced

Sep 8, 1943:

Italian Surrender is Announced

 

On this day in 1943, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower publicly announces the surrender of Italy to the Allies. Germany reacted with Operation Axis, the Allies with Operation Avalanche.

With Mussolini deposed from power and the earlier collapse of the fascist government in July, Gen. Pietro Badoglio, the man who had assumed power in Mussolini’s stead by request of King Victor Emanuel, began negotiating with Gen. Eisenhower for weeks. Weeks later, Badoglio finally approved a conditional surrender, allowing the Allies to land in southern Italy and begin beating the Germans back up the peninsula. Operation Avalanche, the Allied invasion of Italy, was given the go-ahead, and the next day would see Allied troops land in Salerno.

The Germans too snapped into action. Ever since Mussolini had begun to falter, Hitler had been making plans to invade Italy to keep the Allies from gaining a foothold that would situate them within easy reach of the German-occupied Balkans. On September 8, Hitler launched Operation Axis, the occupation of Italy. As German troops entered Rome, General Badoglio and the royal family fled Rome for southeastern Italy to set up a new antifascist government. Italian troops began surrendering to their former German allies; where they resisted, as had happened earlier in Greece, they were slaughtered (1,646 Italian soldiers were murdered by Germans on the Greek island of Cephalonia, and the 5,000 that finally surrendered were ultimately shot).

One of the goals of Operation Axis was to keep Italian navy vessels out of the hands of the Allies. When the Italian battleship Roma headed for an Allied-controlled port in North Africa, it was sunk by German bombers. In fact, the Roma had the dubious honor of becoming the first ship ever sunk by a radio-controlled guided missile. More than 1,500 crewmen drowned. The Germans also scrambled to move Allied POWs to labor camps in Germany in order to prevent their escape. In fact, many POWS did manage to escape before the German invasion, and several hundred volunteered to stay in Italy to fight alongside the Italian guerillas in the north.

The Italians may have surrendered, but their war was far from over.

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German Airship Hits Central London

Sep 8, 1915:

German airship hits central London

On September 8, 1915, a German Zeppelin commanded by Heinrich Mathy, one of the great airship commanders of World War I, hits Aldersgate in central London, killing 22 people and causing £500,000 worth of damage.

The Zeppelin, a motor-driven rigid airship, was developed by German inventor Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin in 1900. Although a French inventor had built a power-driven airship several decades before, the von Zeppelin-designed rigid dirigible, with its steel framework, was by far the largest airship ever constructed. However, in the case of the zeppelin, size was exchanged for safety, as the heavy steel-framed airships were vulnerable to explosion because they had to be lifted by highly flammable hydrogen gas instead of non-flammable helium gas.

The Germans enjoyed great success with the Zeppelin over the course of 1915 and 1916, terrorizing the skies over the British Isles. The first Zeppelin attack on London came on May 31, 1915; it killed 28 people and wounded 60 more. By May 1916, the Germans had killed a total of 550 Britons with aerial bombing.

One of the best-known Zeppelin pilots was Heinrich Mathy, born in 1883 in Mannheim, Germany. Flying his famed airship L13 on September 8, 1915, Mathy dropped his bombs on the Aldersgate area of central London, causing great damage by fire and killing 22 people.

The following summer, Mathy piloted a new Zeppelin, the L31 in more attacks on London on the night of August 24-25, 1916. His ship was damaged upon landing; while he was waiting for repairs to be made, Mathy received word that the British had managed for the first time to shoot down a Zeppelin, using incendiary bullets. Shortly after that, Mathy wrote pessimistically: “It is only a question of time before we join the rest. Everyone admits that they feel it. Our nerves are ruined by mistreatment. If anyone should say that he was not haunted by visions of burning airships, then he would be a braggart.” True to his prediction, Mathy’s L31 was shot down during a raid on London on the night of October 1-2, 1916. He is buried in Staffordshire, in a cemetery constructed for the burial of Germans killed on British soil during both World Wars.

 

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Update 9-2 : New Pictures Added to the Website

New pictures have been added to the following pages:

  • Tiger 2 – King Tiger
  • Sd.Kfz. 2, 4, 6-11, 222, 231-232, 234, and 250-254
  • Specialized Vehicles or Odd Devices and Equipment
  • Field Marshall Walter Model
  • War Medals and Decorations
  • German WW2 Medical Korps
  • Bundeswehr
  • Luftwaffe – After WW2
  • December 44 Historical Museum – La Gleize, Belgium
  • La Roche-en-Ardenne 44 Museum
  • Normandy 70th Anniversary of D-Day- Dog Green Camp at Omaha Beach -2014
  • Heinkel He 115 Recovery
  • A WW2 German Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer, tank destroyer recovered from the Baltic Sea
  • Militracks Overloon 2012 – Oorlogsmuseum Overloon, Netherlands.

Enjoy!

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Update 9-1 : New Pictures Added to the Website

 

New Pictures have been added to the website on the following pages:

  • Field Marshall Erwin Rommel
  • General Heinz Guderian
  • World War 2 Field Marshalls
  • World War 2 Generals
  • SS Officers, NCOs, Etc.
  • War Medals and Decorations
  • Fortress Europe – The Atlantic Wall
  • German WW2 Medical Korps
  • Bundeswehr
  • Panzer IV
  • Tiger 1
  • Tiger 2 – King Tiger
  • Panther
  • Jagdtiger
  • StuG III
  • Sd.Kfz. 2, 4, 6-11, 222, 231-232, 234, and 250-254
  • Pak Anti-Tank Guns – 37 MM Pak 36, 50 MM Pak 38, and 75 MM Pak 40
  • The Tank Museum (Formerly Bovington Tank Museum) – England
  • Baugnez 44 Historical Center – Belgium
  • War and Peace Revival Event – England
  • Special Collection of Photos from Boelcke’s Grandfather

Enjoy!

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