Easter came early in April of '44. Some of our group went ashore to the services being held in an Army bivouac. While waiting for the LCVP to come in to bring them back, they played a game of touch football on the beach.

Monday, I went in to the beach to cannibalize one of the two disabled LCTs which had been driven ashore. Working away there , my back to the shore, I was startled by a tremendous explosion. I swung around in time to see a soldier and a section of track come crashing to the ground. He kicked a couple of times, like any animal, and his war was over. The place was the exact spot where the football game had been played yesterday, hi the U. S. Army picture, taken some years later, you can see one of the craft still there.

There have been reams of Military analysis written about this operation, much of which questions its worth. Winston Churchill called it a stranded whale. Gen. Lucas was replaced because, as his superiors claimed, he was more concerned with logistics than aggression. I am inclined to agree with Lucas. Most of our landing craft were in England for the Northern France invasion and these were the only vessels that could get into Anzio. We were small in number and well worn. Laying in a good supply was all important.

In the ridiculous movie version which magnified the ill-fated role of Darby's Rangers, Gen. Patton made some kind of snide remark to Lucas. If Gen. Patton had been in charge and proceeded to the Alban Hills as his temperament seems to indicate he would, he would have become the Custer of WWII. There was no Red Ball Express here to bail him out as it did in France when he ignored logistics. A supply line to the Alban Hills simply could not have been defended . As it was ,we were barely able to hold a 6 by 9 mile area. During the vicious counterattacks of February when Hitler decreed we should be driven into the sea, the beach head shrank to a mere 3 by 6 mile area. The 3rd division which suffered 3000 casualties in its first 10 days at Anzio, plugged the gap.

Most of the critics have ignored an obvious lack of air support. Germany was able to move 100,000 men and supplies down the narrow Italian Peninsula within a few days. Where were our fighters which should have been destroying bridges and railroads?

The author, Gheski and Joe Di Panfilio

The answer to this lies in a well hidden disaster which took place at Bart. In December of '43, the harbor at Bari was glutted with ships containing Gen. Doolittle's air command from North Africa. Add to this a number of tankers, a shipload of mustard gas and a negligent British commander, and you have a duck shoot for about a hundred German bombers. It has been called America's second Pearl Harbor.

Was Anzio worth it? Yes! While we did not relieve the pressure at Cassino as much as hoped, the 100,000 German troops there were not at Normandy on D-Day. We were horribly out positioned at Cassino and could not prove ourselves. At Anzio, we met the best that Germany could muster, on even terms, and beat them soundly. The loss of the beach head probably would have affected the timetable for the invasion of Normandy. Germany already had jet planes, rockets and were well on their way to a nuclear bomb. The ease with which they detected night troop movements such as the 36th's Rapido crossing and the advance of Darby's Rangers along the Mussolini Canal, lead me to believe they were well ahead of us in infra-red detection. I can personally attest for the accuracy of the radio controlled bomb which struck the "Elihu Yale." With a little more time, the cost of victory would have been much dearer.

Field Marshall Albert Kesselring in an interview printed in The Washington Post said, "If you had not pitted your strength against us at Anzio-Nettuno, you would never have landed in Northern France."

Hats off to Major General John P. Lucas who laid a firm foundation and to that dog faced soldier boy that did the job!

The beachhead from the air

This picture taken much later, shows one of our LCTs still there


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