Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Anzio Beachhead

Mr. H. is a 91 year old male who has some dementia but still has FULL recall of his 4 months (22 January-24 May 1944), at age 23, serving as a platoon leader in the Allied (British and American) VI Corps, during the Anzio Beachhead (Italian beach) Campaign.

His wife had mentioned he was part the Anzio Beachhead invasion.

I let him know I couldn't recall anything about it.

He gave me a brief history lesson.

"We (The Allied forces) were quickly pinned down and contained within the small beachhead (by the Germans) and rendered almost incapable of conducting any sort of major offensive action for four months before a "breakout" on May 24th to join and become the left flank of the Fifth Army that was moving south.

During the Anzio campaign we (the Allied VI Corps) suffered almost 30,000 combat casualties.

While the campaign was controversial, it did accomplish several goals. The mear presence of the Allied force behind the German main line of resistance, uncomfortably close to Rome, represented a constant threat that the Germans couldn't ignore. The beachhead helped to be a steady drain on scarce German troops, equipment and resources that couldn't be moved to reinforce other locations.

The Normandy invasion, of course, occurred on June 6, 1944."

I let Mr. H. know that I VERY much appreciated the history lesson.

It was an honor to get it from an eye witness.

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