IntoductionSalerno 1943 The Allies Invade Southern Italy
by Osprey Publishing LTD
is the 257th book in their series Campaign. Authored by Angus Konstam and illustrated by Steve Noon, it presents the perilous invasion of mainland Italy through 96 pages. The book Is catalogued by Osprey as CAM 257 and in the ISBN as 9781780962498.
Salerno was selected because it had beaches and room to expand the beachhead, roads to breakout of it from, and because it was in range of Allied aircover. It was launched during a period that the Nazis were on their heels and Italy was all but out of the fight. Yet it turned into a vicious battle which saw German tanks and halftracks rampaging through Allied positions and chasing routed formations down the road – even marauding onto the landing beaches – as well as factory complexes changing hands time after time. A battle for mountain passes held by American Rangers, close-combat fighting through a hospital, battalions cut off and lost, and naval gunfire firing over the heads of friendlies to save the hour. A fight involving unique units like British Commandos, US Rangers, and the Panzer-Division ‘Herman Göring’. Indeed, the German war machine showed time and again that even if it was on its heels, it could still inflict fatal kicks.
In mid-September 1943, as the opening move of the Allied campaign to liberate the mainland of Italy, an Anglo-American invasion force landed on the beaches of the Gulf of Salerno, only a few dozen miles to the south of Naples. Italy had just surrendered, and the soldiers in the landing craft prayed that the invasion would be unopposed. It was not to be. The Germans had seized control of the Italian-built beach defences, and were ready and waiting. The ferocious ten-day battle at Salerno was eventually decided by a combination of Allied reinforcements, and secondary landings in support of the beleaguered Salerno bridgehead. Using documentary records, memoirs and eyewitness accounts from all sides, Angus Konstam recreates the battle day by day, hour by hour. His methodically researched account offers a fresh perspective on a decisive battle that has largely been neglected by British and American historians in recent years. - Osprey
is recounted through six chapters in 96 pages:
The STRATEGIC SITUATION
• Allied commanders
• German commanders
• Allied Forces
• German forces
• Orders of battle
• German plans
• Allied plans
• The landing
• Expanding the bridgehead
• The left flank
• Battle along the Tusciano
• The struggle for Altavilla
• The Tobacco Factory
• 'Black Monday'
• The tide turns
THE BATTLEFIELDS TODAY
I found the book to be easy to read. For me it has a good mix of narrative and information. I know of Salerno, of Darby’s Rangers, Panzers on the loose, etc., but did not know much about the details. The author describes the decisions that went into picking the site and the planning and equipping for it. He describes the German reactions and their seemingly hopeless situation. Those facts and the German resistance made the book all the more fascinating to read.
The generals and political considerations are covered in good detail. If there was a “hero” of the battle, he was on the German side, Generalfeldmarschall “Smiling Al” Kesselring, the infantry officer turned Luftwaffe general turned theater commander. Allied supply and support situations are also addressed. Salerno was an epic fight where the Allied navies were called upon time after time to stop Germans close to pushing the Allies back into the sea.
The book is not perfect and has at least two typos: pg. 64 – February should be September; Pg.93 – “of the human cost” printed twice. Regardless, this well detailed book should inspire modelers, enlighten historians, and satisfy enthusiasts.
Photos, Graphics, Art
Artist Steve Noon enhances the book with three of his excellent paintings:
1. The Battle for ‘Lilienthal’, Uncle Beach, 0630Hrs, D-Day: 2/5th Queen’s Regiment dueling with ‘Lilienthal’, an interlocking series of strongpoints guarding the beach along the river Asa.
2.The Fight for the Tobacco Factory, VI Corps Sector, D 3, 1330Hrs: GIs of the 1/157th RCT engaged in a firefight with Panzergrenadiers of 1/Panzergrenadier-Regt. 79 across the plaza of the Fiocche Tobacco Factory, seen from behind the GIs.
3. Kampfgruppe Von Doering’s Attack, Sele-Calore Corridor, D 4, 1830Hrs: 16. Pzr-Div. attack towards the beachhead, encountering US artillery along the river Calore.
Osprey selected a gallery of fine photographs to support the text. Most are high quality professional shots. There are several that amateur or lesser quality yet they are also very useful. Several should inspire modelers and artists looking for source material.
Quality graphics include table and data sources, as well as color maps:
I. US VI Corps area of operations
II. Bird’s-eye map The British Left Flank, 9-16 September 1943: keyed to 18 events between three British brigades and Kampfgruppen of four German divisions.
III. Bird’s-eye map The River Tusciano, 10-16 September 1943: keyed with 13 events involving the British 56th Infantry Div. and Kampfgruppen of 16. Panzer-Division.
IV. Bird’s-eye map The Battle Around Altavilla, 12-13 September 1943: keyed with 12 events involving the US 36th Infantry Div. and 11/Panzergrenadier-Regt. 15.
V. The German counter-attack, 12-14 September 1943.
VI. The German withdrawal and Allied pursuit, 15 September-8 October 1943.
Together, the art, maps and photographs enhance the text with visual images that help to orient and display the action. The graphics are exceptionally good in that Mr. Noon’s colors and attention to detail create an impressive resource for modelers and artists, and many photographs are just screaming to inspire dioramas.
I thoroughly enjoyed Salerno 1943
. The war in 1943 was still a tentative time when the Allies’ industrial potential was not yet overwhelming and the Wehrmacht was still composed of veteran units able to wield what weapons they had; the book reveals that climate. It revealed the campaign to be a near-run affair that perhaps was only salvaged for the Allies by naval fire support.
The book contains gripping text plus excellent photos and art. It does have some typos but those should not confuse the reader.
Modelers and historians of the MTO should find this book to be an excellent resource of knowledge and inspiration. I recommend it.