The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (The Liberation Trilogy)
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Majestic... Atkinson's achievement is to marry prodigious research with a superbly organized narrative and then to overlay the whole with writing as powerful and elegant as any great narrative of war." ―The Wall Street Journal
In An Army at Dawn―winner of the Pulitzer Prize―Rick Atkinson provided an authoritative history of the Allied triumph in North Africa during World War II. Now, in The Day of Battle, he follows the strengthening American and British armies as they invade Sicily in July 1943 and then, mile by bloody mile, fight their way north toward Rome.
The decision to invade the so-called soft underbelly of Europe was controversial, but once under way, the commitment to liberate Italy from the Nazis never wavered. The battles at Salerno, Anzio, the Rapido River, and Monte Cassino were particularly lethal, yet as the months passed, the Allied forces continued to drive the Germans up the Italian peninsula. And with the liberation of Rome in June 1944, ultimate victory at last began to seem inevitable.
Drawing on a wide array of primary source material, written with great drama and flair, The Day of Battle is a masterly account of one of history's most compelling military campaigns.
every fifteen minutes and pilots in the tiny Piper L-4 Grasshopper spotter planes known as Maytag Messerschmitts took occasional potshots with their .45-caliber pistols. By dusk on Tuesday, German commanders reported that movement during the day had become “almost impossible” without attracting Allied artillery, naval shells, bombs, mortar rounds, or tank fire—and sometimes all five. Having seen such firepower in Tunisia and again in Sicily, Kesselring now doubted that Tenth Army could mass
to consider disobeying orders. “The attack I would like to make under proper conditions is right out toward Route 6, to cut it,” Clark told the scribes. He gestured on the map toward Valmontone. “Rome is of political value and we hope to take it,” he added, with studied nonchalance. “But our first mission is to kill as many Germans as we can.” General Alex would be pleased. The Americans had fallen into line. Albert Kesselring knew nothing of the dispute within the Allied high command, but
19, 1943, NARA RG 226, E 99, OSS History Office, box 48; Virgil, The Aeneid, trans. Robert Fagles, 181 (“white with the bones”). Others forever remembered deep-chested Darby: Wood, “The Landing at Salerno,” 16–19; Downes, 142–49 (“Snow White”); Burrage, “See Naples and Die!,” 15 (San Francisco Hotel); Tregaskis, 133 (“hell of a pasting”). “We are sitting pretty”: Shapiro, 133; Molony V, 286; Malcolm Munthe, Sweet Is War, 167 (“Corpses lay on the sand”). “In the land of theory”: Molony V, 325.
Dear Folks, 177 (“report any poison gas leaks”). Later investigations found little German appetite for another chemical war against Allied forces. more than 200,000 gas bombs: “Implementation of Theater Plans for Gas Warfare,” Aug. 18, 1043, WD; also, memos and draft memos dated Aug. 30, Sept. 7, 1943, Jan. 12, Feb. 14, March 11, July 15, 1944; memo, “Report by Assistant Chief of U.S. Chemical Warfare Service,” Oct. 27, 1943, all in NARA RG 492, MTO, chemical warfare section, 381, box 1706;
MFM. “Finally he put the hand down”: Pyle, 107; Lee G. Miller, The Story of Ernie Pyle, 297 (“I’ve lost the touch”). Mark Clark had proposed using tanks: StoC, 277–79. This time the attack would be filmed: Marco Pellegrinelli, La Battaglia di S. Pietro di John Huston, 7–10; Bertelsen, “Texans at San Pietro” (“triumphant entry”); Ray Wells, “Battalion Commander,” Fighting 36th Historical Quarterly, spring 1992 (“a large mower”). loaders with asbestos gloves: John E. Krebs, To Rome and Beyond,