Abstracts from the War Diary of Heeresgruppe C Part 304 Dec 2014 0
We continue the Battle for Italy as Gary Grigsby's War In The West is released today.
March 22nd, 1944: the enemy mechanized units have launched themselves in pursauit of our withdrawing units, forcing some of them to fight rearguard battles; an enemy mixed force has even approached Lesina on the Adriatic coast, threatening to cut the retreat of the Hauck Korps. In the South the XIV Panzerkorps sustains the enemy attacks inflicting them heavy losses.
March 25th, 1944: the 14. Armee has reached the Biferno river line and the high course of the Volturno, while the 10. Armee holds a line in front of Benevento, Avelllino and Salerno.
March 29th, 1944: the enemy has entered in contact with the northern defence line, and continues its vain assaults south.
April 3rd, 1944: the enemy has been attacking in several places, looking for a weak spot in our defences.
April 6th, 1944: the Anglo-Americans succeeded in damaging the fortification in front of Campobasso, held by the 362. Infanterie.
April 8th, 1944: the 65. Infanterie is sent to reinforce the weakened line in front of Campobasso.
April 12th, 1944: the Anglo-Americans have been attacking continuously along the entire front, accepting heavy losses to break the resistance of our troops; finally the 94. and 715. Infanterie divisions holding Termoli have been forced to retreat, conceding to the enemy the left hinge of our defence line.
April 15th, 1944: in order to improve our response to the enemy attacks, the Hermann Göring Panzer-Division is recalled from the first line and put in reserve; the 15. Panzergrenadier and the 135. Festung-Brigade are ordered to withdraw from their advanced positions and join the 334. Infanterie in order to straighten the front north of Salerno. The arrival as reinforcement of the fresh 92. Infanterie is a little but appreciated help.
April 19th, 1944: with the improving weather conditions the enemy assaults are becoming more and more determined and bloody; they manage to severely weaken our defences north of Salerno and in front of Benevento, and to expand their bridgehead South of Termoli.
April 22nd, 1944: our troops fight strenuously to plug the holes in the front.
April 26th, 1944: the crisis deepens; the 5th Canadian Armoured Division has broken through our lines and has advanced deep towards Isernia; the defences in front of Benevento are severely weakened and a series of furious assaults have broken the resistance of the LXXV and XIV Panzer Corps. The Anglo-Americans have taken Salerno and are pointing towards Naples.
April 29th, 1944: while the 10. Armee withdraws its southern wing to Naples and the nearby mountains, Generaloberst von Mackensen desperately launches a counterattack that plugs the hole in the front and cuts off the Canadians.
May 3rd, 1944: the enemy advance appears unstoppable; Commonwealth and Polish units have lifted the encirclement of the Canadian armoured unit which then continued its advance taking Isernia. Also the positions of 10. Armee are severely hit and forced to give ground.
May 6th, 1944: the 10. Armee has abandoned Benevento and Avellino and is slowly withdrawing covering the 5. Gebirgs-Division that is delayed in its retreat by the difficult terrain. Stubbornly the 14. Armee plugs the hole in its front, again pocketing the 5th Canadian Armoured Division at Isernia.
May 10th, 1944: the enemy continues its costly assaults, but has not been able to lift the encirclement of the Canadians at Isernia. In the South they are approaching Naples, having taken Piazzolla di Nola.
May 13th, 1944: our units, although weakened, attack the encircled enemy, who continue to resist.
May 17th, 1944: North of Naples the enemy continue to advance, countered with extreme difficulty by the 10. Armee; also the left wing has suffered heavy attacks, that have again lifted the encirclement of Isernia.
May 20th, 1944: the 10. Armee has retreated behind the Volturno River, leaving the 135. Festung-Brigade at Naples to delay the enemy advance. A combined operation of the XIV and LXXVI Panzerkorps once more closes the Isernia pocket, while the Hauck Korps retreated behind the Trigno river.
May 24th, 1944: Naples has fallen; the 135. Festung-Brigade managed to escape destruction fighting a brilliant rearguard action. Repeated enemy assaults against our positions in the Apennines allow them to again open the supply route to Isernia.
May 27th, 1944: the 162. (Turkistan) Infanterie arrives as much needed reinforcement; the Hermann Göring Panzer-Division is sent to reinforce the crumbling defences of Grazzanise. The I Fallschirmkorps counterattacks and again cuts out the Canadians at Isernia, while the 10. Armee abandons the mountains South of Campobasso to straighten the front.
May 31st, 1944: with the coming of the fair weather the numerical and material superiority of the enemy becomes more and more evident and critical. A heavy offensive has been launched all over the front, and our units, notwithstanding heroic resistance, are forced to retreat almost everywhere.
June 3rd, 1944: alarmed by the ever increasing risk of an invasion of France, the OKW has stripped our Luftflotte 2 of all its Kampfgruppen, so we can only count on a handful of Jabo and fighters. The front is crumbling and it is necessary to retreat to the ?Gustav? line (Garigliano-Cassino-Sangro) to at least delay the enemy advance towards Rome and then northern Italy.
The withdrawal is completed successfully, without any unit remaining left behind, but specially the forces of 14. Armee on our left wing are too weak to resist even there, and the arrival of the 278. Infanterie comes probably too late to save the Sangro line.
June 6th, 1944: the Anglo-Americans have landed in Normandy! This will make even more questionable our possibility to receive reinforcements. In Italy, contrary to our expectations, the Schwerpunkt of the enemy efforts has been at the centre of the front, in the Cassino area.
June 10th, 1944: the 20. Luftwaffen-Sturm-Division arrives as reinforcement and is attached to Withoft Korps on the Apennines, where together with the I Fallschirmkorps is trying to hold the Cassino area.
June 14th, 1944: it seems there is no way to stop the enemy advance on the Apennines; our troops have been again forced to retreat under heavy attacks, and the Cassino area is now lost, with serious risks for our right wing holding Gaeta.
June 17th, 1944: our units adjust their position along the central front to try to withstand the enemy assaults.
June 21st, 1944: the Apennines front is definitively broken, with the Anglo-Americans reaching Aquino and even Frosinone, and pointing towards L?Aquila. The resistance of our units near to the coast is now futile, as they will soon be risking being cut off by the enemy advance.
June 24th, 1944: the collapse of the front at centre has forced Generalfeldmarschall Kesselring to order the withdrawal of both Armies; the 14. Armee is in condition to withdraw rather orderly, although slowly, while the situation of the 10. Armee is quite critical and its units retreat in confusion. The 71. Infanterie, delayed by the enemy actions, is forced to seek refuge at Gaeta, from where there is a small chance of being evacuated by sea in case of encirclement. A series of fortification is being prepared in depth behind the Arno and Cesano rivers, from Pisa to Fano.
June 28th, 1944: the enemy has taken Pescara and is advancing, although slowly, towards Rome. Also Gaeta has fallen, but the 71. Infanterie could retreat.