FROM THE VOLTURNO TO THE WINTER LINE PDF

This crossing of the Volturno opened the second phase of the Allied campaign in Italy. Five weeks earlier the Fifth Army had landed on the hostile beaches of the Gulf of Salerno. Now it was attacking a well-defended river line. Along the Volturno the Germans had entrenched themselves in the first good defensive position north of Naples. Under pressure from the Fifth Army, commanded by Lt. Mark W.

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Strangle German-prepared defensive lines south of Rome. The primary Gustav Line ran across Italy from just north of where the Garigliano River flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, through the Apennine Mountains to the mouth of the Sangro River on the Adriatic coast in the east. The centre of the line, where it crossed the main route north to Rome Highway 6 which followed the Liri Valley, was anchored around the mountains behind the town of Cassino including Monte Cassino , on which was situated an old abbey that dominated the entrance to the Liri Valley a main route to Rome , and Monte Cairo which gave the defenders clear observation of potential attackers advancing towards the mouth of the Liri valley.

On the western side of the Apennines there were two subsidiary lines: the Bernhardt Line in front of the main Gustav positions and the Hitler Line some 5 miles to the rear. The Winter line was fortified with gun pits, concrete bunkers, turreted machine-gun emplacements, barbed-wire and minefields. It was the strongest of the German defensive lines south of Rome.

About 15 German divisions were employed in the defence. It took the Allies from mid-November to late May to fight through all the various elements of the Winter Line, including the well-known battles at Monte Cassino and Anzio. Some authorities define the Bernhardt Line as crossing Italy from coast to coast following not just the western defensive positions described above but incorporating also the eastern defences of the Gustav Line. Other authorities use the Winter Line name interchangeably with the Gustav Line as defined above.

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From the Volturno to the Winter Line

However, logistical problems had prevented the Allies building a heavy duty bridge across the Biferno and when the bulldozed fords were washed away by heavy rains that evening there remained no way to get tanks across the river to support the infantry. On hearing of the landings at Termoli, the German supreme commander in Italy— Generalfeldmarshall Albert Kesselring —ordered the 16th Panzer Division to switch to the Adriatic front, presenting a major threat to the unsupported Allied infantry. By the afternoon of 5 October, they had been squeezed back to within. By late morning on 6 October, the Allies were on the attack and by late afternoon the Germans had started to fall back to the next prepared defences on the River Trigno , the Barbara Line.

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Volturno Line

Strangle German-prepared defensive lines south of Rome. The primary Gustav Line ran across Italy from just north of where the Garigliano River flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, through the Apennine Mountains to the mouth of the Sangro River on the Adriatic coast in the east. The centre of the line, where it crossed the main route north to Rome Highway 6 which followed the Liri Valley, was anchored around the mountains behind the town of Cassino including Monte Cassino , on which was situated an old abbey that dominated the entrance to the Liri Valley a main route to Rome , and Monte Cairo which gave the defenders clear observation of potential attackers advancing towards the mouth of the Liri valley. On the western side of the Apennines there were two subsidiary lines: the Bernhardt Line in front of the main Gustav positions and the Hitler Line some 5 miles to the rear. The Winter line was fortified with gun pits, concrete bunkers, turreted machine-gun emplacements, barbed-wire and minefields.

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Bernhardt Line

Water-soaked and chilled to the bone, our troops fought their way through enemy machine-gun pits and fox holes to establish a firm bridgehead. This crossing of the Volturno opened the second phase of the Allied campaign in Italy. Five weeks earlier the Fifth Army had landed on the hostile beaches of the Gulf of Salerno. Now it was attacking a well-defended river line. Along the Volturno the Germans had entrenched themselves in the first good defensive position north of Naples Map No. At Salerno they had fought for each foot of sand and counterattacked repeatedly, but after our beachhead was secure, they had carried out an orderly withdrawal.

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