AMERICAN FIGHTING DIVISIONS IN ITALY 1943-45, WWII. The Allied campaign in Italy began in early July 1943 with two months of intense combat in Sicily, and the fighting continued unabated northward through Italy until Germany's surrender in May 1945. This 3-DVD-R set follows the American divisions fighting in the two-year campaign to free Italy. A Special introductory commentary is provided by historian Frank R. Cambria, Captain, US Army (Retired)
Spearheaded by the 36th Infantry Division, the U.S. invasion of mainland Italy began along the Salerno beachhead. Within three weeks, the 3rd Infantry Division, 34th Infantry Division, 45th Infantry Divisions, the 1st Armored Division and the 82nd Airborne Division joined the battle, paying with sweat and blood as they pushed out of the beachhead to take their first objective, Naples and its vital harbor, about 30 miles north of Salerno.
Six divisions of the U.S. Fifth Army battled their way north, foot-by-foot for four months, to move only 80 miles from Salerno to German Field Marshal Kesselring's Gustav Line. Defended by eight German divisions, the Gustav Line blocked the southern approach to Rome. Before the Americans could reach Kesselring's Gustav Line, they had to run the six-mile gauntlet of the Mignano Gap, capture San Pietro, and break through the fortifications at Cassino.
As the year 1943 drew to an end, the Nazi barrier between the Allies and Rome appeared to be impregnable. Battle casualties for the Fifth Army alone were nearly 40,000, with 50,000 more casualties caused by a devastating winter.
Disk one brings you three films, including the battle for Sicily and ferocious war footage from the Academy Award winning BATTLE OF SAN PIETRO by director John Huston. The battle took place near a small village in Italy's Liri Valley where elements of the 36th Infantry Division fought a battle to the death.
The American divisions continue its relentless drive north up the rugged boot of Italy towards the Gustav Line. On Part Two, you will see amazing battlefield photography from American cameramen, and witness an outstanding testament to the valor of U.S. Infantrymen as the intrepid Americans close on the Battle of San Pietro and make the incredible assault on Monte Cassino. But the Gustave Line held.
In a brilliant tactical maneuver, General Eisenhower made a bold amphibious attack at Anzio on January 22 1944 behind the Gustav Line, catching the Germans by surprise as the 3rd and 45th Infantry Divisions and the elite U.S. Rangers stormed ashore. The second segment of this DVD examines the lost opportunity at Anzio as the highly successful landing at Anzio quickly turned into a sad and notorious quagmire when it failed for months to break out of Anzio to continue on to Rome.
Meanwhile south of the Gustav Line, the 36th Infantry Division assaulted the along the bloody Rapido River, and the 34th Infantry Division clawed its way up Monte Cassino. The Gustav Line along the Rapido had become a meat grinder, and in March 1944, the 85th Infantry Division joined the battle.
Part Three follows many of the American battles of northern Italy as elements of the 1st Armored Division, the famed 4-4-2 Japanese-American Infantry Regiment, the 34th, 85th, 88th, 91st and 92nd Infantry Divisions pound their way through the Arno Line and past Florence, to charge against the fortress-like defenses of the Gothic Line, and finally drop into the German strongholds of the Po Valley. The last segment features the elite U.S. 10th Mountain Division that joined the bitter fighting at the Gothic Line. This final presentation includes interviews with German and American commanders and solders.
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