The Gothic LIne. The Green Line II in the sector of 5th Army
A look back to the Italian Tuscan-Emilian Apennines between 1944 and 1945.
In the second half of 1944 the smell of defeat was already wafting over Germany from the Battle of Stalingrad, between September 19, 1942 - February 2, 1943, which soon transformed to certain defeat. The German army was defending all fronts: to the East the battle of Kursk, from July 5 -August 23, 1944 the Soviet Army made a hard strike on the Wehrmacht and advancing towards the German borders; on the western front, after the Normandy landings on June 6,1944 the Allied divisions advanced towards the German borders with an imposing deployment of men and vehicles and went on to liberate Paris on August 25, 1944; on the southern front the Allies landed in the south of France on August 15, 1944 and, in Italy, preparations were made to attack the Gothic Line on August 25, 1944 where 20 German divisions were amassed. They were commanded by Field Marshall Albert Kesselring and after the March 9, 1945 by Heinrich von Vietinghoff. They were positioned against the US 5th Armed Force and the 8 th British Armed Force, deployed to the right of the front towards the Mediterranean Sea, under the command of the British General, George Alexander.
Between November 28 - December 1, 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin met in Tehran to define their strategy and discuss the re-organization of Europe after the end of the war.
During 1944 Stalin requested renewed Anglo-American forces from the Allies for the southern and western fronts to distance German divisions to the eastern front where the Soviet army was advancing but resulted in heavy losses to men and equipment. Roosevelt, strategically, considered the Italian front to be secondary in relation to the efforts that were being developed in Normandy towards the Ruhr, the heart of German industry. Churchill considered the political possibility of reaching the Balkans vital, retracing the Italian peninsular and crossing over through Lubiana and Trieste, before the Soviet Union can influence the region. For their part the Germans considered it very dangerous that the Allies could occupy the Po Valley, which included Italian industry, and access to the Brenner Pass on to the south borders of the Third Reich.
From the German point of view, Adolf Hitler had ordered Kesselring to slow the Allied advances as much as possible on the Italian Peninsular, in anticipation of the new army, the V1 and V2 as well as the ME262 the first jet in history, which the Third Reich scientists had developed in Germany and which, according to Hitler, would have overturned the fate of the conflict.
After the opening of the Italian front, which started with the Sicily landings on July 9, 1943, the Allied Armies moved north through the Italian peninsula, towards the battlefields on the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Seas. The bloody battlefields on the Gustav Line, near Cassino, held the Allied Armies back from January 12 to May 18, 1944. The break-through of this defense line, following the liberation of Rome on June 4, 1944, brought the 5th and 8th Armies into close proximity with the Gothic Line during the second half of August 1944.
Since 1943 the Gothic Line had been developed by Organization Todt, it was made up of over 330 miles of land mine fields as well as trenches and bunkers which housed men, artillery and machine guns. The morphological characteristics of the mountains and the natural barrier of the Apennines covered the Italian peninsula from the city of Massa Carrara, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the city of Pesaro, on the Adriatic Sea. The Germans called this defense line, which in some areas had a depth of 30 miles, the Gothic Line (Gottenstellung). In the summer of 1944, with the advancement of the Allied Armies, Kesselring renamed it the Green Line (Grüne Linie).
The attack to the Gothic Line began on August 25, 1944 and broke through to the second defense line (Gothic Line 2) at many points during September and October of 1944 but the mounted Allied Armies waited out the winter between 1944 and 1945 on the Winter Line.
This theatre of battle saw, during the month of January 1945, the 10th American Mountain Division enter the front line in sight of Monte della Riva and Monte Belvedere all of which were in the hands of the Germans army. The offensive, destined to take Monte della Riva and then Monte Belvedere, began on February 18, 1945 saw the three regiments of the 10th Mountain Division follow the mountainous crests of the Apennines. The hill town of Castel d’Aiano was reached at the beginning of March.
The front, at the dawn of the Spring Campaign during April 1945, saw the IV United States Armed Corps, commanded by General Wills D. Crittenberger, lined up between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Reno River. The 10th Mountain Division was waiting between Monte Grande d'Aiano, Monte della Spe and Monte della Castellana.
On the April 14, 1945 started the offensive which was able to break through the German defensives bringing the men of the 10th Mountain division to the Brenner Pass where they were able to take control of its access points and subsequently controlling the Lake Garda area.
The Second World War end in Italy on April 28, 1945 whilst the Allied troops pushed swiftly forward towards Trieste, Gorizia and Monfalcone, which were occupied by Yugoslavian Tito partisans. After a struggle between the Allies and Tito, in which Churchill authorized General Alexander to use all the Allied forces available in Italy to force the occupation from Italian cities, Tito's forces withdrew on June 12, 1945 even though the fate of Trieste would remain unresolved until 1954.