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Campaign 155: Anzio 1944, The beleaguered beachhead

by Steven J Zaloga, illustrated by Peter Dennis

Published by Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-84176-913-4, 96 pages.

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When students of military history analyze the Allied sea-borne envelopment of Germany’s Gustav Line in Italy, at Anzio, the failure to exploit the landings are at the core of all discussions. The blame for that is usually laid solely on the shoulders of the VI Corps commander US MajGen John Lucas, which is the conclusion that I have always subscribed to. However, in this new treatment of the subject, Mr. Zaloga has demonstrated quite convincingly that there was plenty of blame to go around, starting with Churchill, working its way down to Alexander and Clark. In fact, Lucas was known to have so little confidence in the operation that some Allied commanders asked Alexander to replace him prior to the landings. Likewise, the Allied plan was flawed since it did not take into account the need to seize certain key areas near the beaches as a spring-board for later exploitation, or for a defense if the Germans managed to contain the landings. There were also not enough forces available to seize and maintain positions in the Alban Hills, which would have allowed control of the vital highways to Rome. Finally, once Cassino and the Gustav Line collapsed, Clark was widely criticized for going for the “prestige” objective of Rome, instead of cutting off and destroying the retreating German 10th Army.

All of this is recounted in excellent fashion by one of the most prolific authors in the Osprey stable. The text is supported by detailed order-of-battle information as well as a fine chronology, an annotated bibliography (for those who wish to go into more detail) and conventional maps. The 76 B&W photographs chosen by the author all directly pertain to the actions described in the text. And, of course, there are ample photos of AFVs, ordnance, ships, men, equipment, localities and aircraft to inspire many a modeler. The captions are uniformly excellent. The 12-pages of color art are evenly divided by battle scenes from Mr. Dennis, which depict a ground action at “The Factory”, an air action conducted by guided-missile-armed He-177 bombers against the Allied invasion fleet, and German troops, panzers and demolition vehicles deploying during “Operation Fischfang”. These are followed by 3-D CAD maps, which depict the initial landings (Operation Shingle), the ouster of Allied units from “The Thumb”, and “Operation Fischfang”. All have detailed comments with numbered call-outs, which will bring everything together for the astute reader.

This is yet another well-written, excellently illustrated and economical treatment of one of the crucial incidents in the Italian Campaign. Students of the campaign will appreciate this “fresh” look at it, while modelers of several disciplines ought to find excellent background information for their next project.

Highly recommended.

Frank De SistoMore details from Osprey Publishing

Read an extract at Osprey Publishing

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