THE WAR IN ITALY 1943-1945

The Alps and Kampfgruppe Monterossa

The Alps and Kampfgruppe Monterossa

Decima Mas volunteer with Luftwaffe General

The Gothic line and unit designations

The Gothic line and unit designations

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On September 8th 1943 the Royal Government of Italy signed an Armistice with the Western Allies. This was after three  long years of war  and after losing campaigns and holdings in North Africa.  Italy also was suffering  severe setbacks and great losses on the Russian front  along with her Axis partners Germany, Hungary, Rumania and Finland.  In July the Allies had already landed and achieved victory by occuping the Italian Island of the Sicily.   Benito Mussolini , the Fascist Dictator who shared power with the King had just been deposed and arrested after this culmination of events by King Victor Emmanuele .  Although Italy had promised her Ally Germany that she would remain in the war.  King Emanuel and Field Marshal Pietro Badaglio were secretly planning Italy’s exit from the war. On September the 7th 1943 and on the eve of an Allied Invasion Force steaming toward the mainland of Italy. The Government of Italy unconditionally surrendered to the Allies and concluded an Armistice with the Allies.

At the time of the Armistice. The new Italian Government failed to issue clear orders to her Troops on their conduct when the Allies reached her shores.  The Germans had already suspected after Mussolini’s arrest that the new Government would change their position. The Germans sent thousands of Troops into Italy in preparation for the Allied landing. When the Armistice took effect, the Germans were already in place in key positions and set into motion an occupation of the Northern half of Italy. Ineffective Italian Troops without orders were disarmed by the Germans within two weeks. Some of the Italian soldiers  just deserted and returned to their homes . Others headed into the hills joining the new Partisan Movement to fight the Germans and remaining Fascist Troops .  Some of the Army resisted the Germans but failed when timely help from the Allies never came. Many were sent to Concentration Camps by the Germans.  The Italians still in the south and now in the Allied zone of influence made themselves available to the British and Americans to fight against their former Ally Nazi Germany.

Many other Italians were disgraced by their countries actions  and felt the Armistace was a stab to the back to their former German Allies . This Group presented themselves to the Germans to continue fighting on the side of the Axis. Some had come forward even before Mussolini had been freed from his Italian captors by a daring raid by German Luftwaffe and SS Commandos. Mussolini was then set up in a new Fascist Government in the north. These Italians formed the nucleus of the Soldiers of the new born Italian Social Republic.  Italy had for all intents and purposes just entered into a bloody Civil War. The war would include Italians fighting Italians.

The Allies would now fight a long bloody campaign for every inch of Italian soil held by the Germans and to a lesser extent the soldiers of the new Italian Social Republic. The fighting officially ended with the surrender of all German and Fascist forces in Italy on April 28, 1945 , six hundred days after the September the 8th 1943 Armistice .

The Gothicline will explore the men, their uniforms , Insignia, decorations and equipment of both the Axis and Allies during this time in Italy.

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