Europa Games and Military History

Tag: Second World War (Page 1 of 3)

The Official Italian History of the Second World War

The History Office of the General Staff of the Italian Army (Stato Maggiore dell’esercito – Ufficio Storico) is responsible for official military history, and thus has published a series of monographs, illustrating various aspects of military history from Italy’s unification to the present. Of course the Second World War makes up a significant part of the available volumes. No official, complete italian history of the Second World War was ever written, but it is well possible to piece together a nearly complete picture from the monographies at hand.

In the Nineties,  fifty years after the war, a series of volumes reflected on the North African campaign, and these four books are probably as close to an official history as we will ever get. The author, Mario Montanari, is a respected historian better known for his mor general work on the Italian “Risorgimento”, the national unification moevement that resulted in the foundation of an Italian nation state in 1849 from various independent fiefdoms that had endured since the collapse of the western Roman Empire.

Translations of large parts of the Italian official histories have been uploaded to and will be linked here. This is even more laudable as the original works do not seem to be available in digital form. The quality of the translation is questionable in parts, which adds another reason to take the contents of the books with a grain of salt (the other one, of course, being that its an official history). Then again, undertaking the translation of what to the rest of the world must be an obscure topic indeed is imminently a work of love, and we are deeply grateful to Robert Denny II.
Thanks to Jim Broshot for finding and sharing those links with us.

L’Esercito Italiano Nella Campagna die Greca

Mario Montanari, Rome 1999.
Translation by Robert Denny II: Italian Army Official History The Greek Campaign

Le Operazioni Della Unita Italiane Al Fronte Russo (1941-1943)

Rome 1977
Translation by Robert Denny II: Italian Army Offical History Operations On The Russian Front

Le Operazioni in Africa Settentrionale

Volume I: Sidi Barani – November 1940 – März 1941; by Mario Montanari, edited by Edizione Ufficio Storico SME, 1989; 720 pages, 29 maps.
Translation by Robert Denny II.

Volume II: Tobruk  – March 1941 – May 1942; by Mario Montanari, edited by Edizione Ufficio Storico SME, 1990;709 pages, 88 maps.
Translation by Rober Denny II

Volume III:  El Alamein – May – November 1942; by Mario Montanari, edited by Edizione Ufficio Storico SME, 1992; 1036 pages.
Translation by Rober Denny II.

Volume IV: Enfiddaville- November 1942 – March 1943. by Mario Montanari, edited by Edizione Ufficio Storico SME, 1993; 820 pages, 90 maps.
Translation by Robert Denny II

Le Operazioni in Siculia e in Calabria, Luglio – Settembre 1943

written by Alberto Santoni, published by Stato Maggiore Dell’Esercito – Ufficio Storico, Roma 1989.
Translation by Robert Denny II: Italian Army Offical History Operations In Sciliy & Cambera, 2017

La Marina Italiana Nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale

The contribution of the Italian navy has often been belittled, ignored or played down. One of the worlds strongest Navy, the Marina Militare suffered from similar problems as the Army and Air force, namely the call to fullfil ambitions which were way beyond the the industrial and technical capabilities of italy’s industry, and therefor its quipment and weaponry. The Navy did its best with the ressources available, but modernization was slow. Italy could not react to the revolutionary impact of the airplane, which was theorized early on and clearly recognized by its brightest thinkers, to their deep and lasting frustration.

Thanks to the work of Robert Denny II a complete translation of the official work is available on archive org. Errors in the numbering of the volumes have not been corrected yet.

La Regia Aeronautica 1939-1945

Written by Nino Arena, published by Stato Maggiore Aeronautica

Volume 1: 1939-1940: Dalle Non Belligeranza All’Intervento. Roma 1981

Translated by Robert Denny II as: The Royal Air Force. Volume 1: From Non Belligerence to Participation, 2021

1945 May: Surrender

The house of cards finally collapses. The remnants of the Wehrmacht desperately tries to shore up its increasingly precarious position. Concluding that northern Germany is a completely lost cause Hanover is abandoned so its garrison can scramble southward to join the line protecting the northern side of the south German defensive position. With Vienna, Prague and Berlin in Soviet hands the only viable defensive position left is a lodgement running along the Rhine.River before turning toward Mannheim and encompassing Munich and the northern Approaches to Austria the Ruhr is now completely sealed off and half in American hands. The southern lodgement also must be defended from the East as American and British Armor had been running wild seizing one city after another. The eastern line is thin and most ominously Munich is only garrisoned by a number of assorted units, only one of which has any sort of intrinsic artillery support. The southern end of the German position is very vulnerable from both the east and the west where the defense line has already been compromised.

In Italy most of the Axis forces scuttle north to form a new line behind the Po in expectation of falling back to the Alpine passes in the second half of May.

The collapse starts at isolated and out of supply Hamburg. The northern section of the city is already in Allied hands with the surviving German units in the region taking refuge in southern Hamburg and Lubeck. Hamburg is stormed by a force built around an American airborne division and various other Allies units that have entered the region. The garrison is wiped out.

In the Ruhr the U.S. army attacks the northern and eastern ends of the German position In both cases the fighting is bloody with heavy losses for the American engineers and infantry, but retreat is impossible and the garrisons are destroyed. A American motorized infantry corps with two brigades of tanks storms Munich. Again the Americans take losses, but the German garrison is destroyed. The road to Stuttgart is open and the city’s garrison has been diverted to the frontline. Now a British armored division exploits its way into the undefended city.

The Allies are already negotiating their surrender with the Allies. Facing the destruction of what little they still hold on May 15 OKW agrees to unconditional surrender.

At the end of the May I turn, the Germans only held Mannheim and two completely surrounded hexes of the southern and western Ruhr. Since the government had already relocated falling below six major cities was sufficient to trigger German surrender. In the end the destruction or withdrawal to the East of most Germany’s mobile units made Wehrmacht’s defensive positions completely untenable.

1945 April

Command is shuffled again in the West.  After the American’s overran northern German Model took a Luger from his desk and ended his career before Hitler could do it for him.  Kesselring is brought up from Italy to take charge.  He throws together the paper thin North German Emergency line from garrison troops from Denmark and whatever odds and ends can be shifted into the area.  Even on the map it’s not very reassuring, more a series of disconnected strong points at major road junctions.  With some division covering almost fifty miles of front he knows it will not survive any serious attack.  A single panzer division was freed from the Italian Front and hurried by rail to Stuttgart, but soon it will turn out it’s services will be badly needed elsewhere.

The blows begin in the north.  Patton takes one look at the map and directs the tanks of the 6th Corps southeast.  They smash a blocking.force made up of a lone infantry division and a panzer brigade before thundering  into the heart of Germany.  A few days later OKW is getting a panicked phone call from the police chief in the town of Stendal, a major rail junction only about 50 miles from Berlin.

“There here,” says the chief

“Who there,” asks the duty officer in the OKW communications center.

“The Americans, and they have panzers, lots of panzers.”

Along the Dutch German Border another American corps .breaks through another hastily formed line wiping out a hodgepodge of resrvists and supporting units.  The Americans head south soon their tanks are driving past trams full of stunned workers in the suburbs of Dortmund, they encounter little resistance as they spread out to take control of barracks, communications and transit centers.  Other American mechanized units set up a blocking position in Dortmund.  The British break through the German center by finishing off two depleted infantry divisions before spreading out to seize Koln, Koblenz Frankfurt and Bonn.  Just north of the British breakthrough in the hills of Ardennes, two American corps with heavy air support fight it out with the 2nd SS Panzer corps, now really a single Panzer Grenadier Division with several assault gun and armored reconnaissance units in support.  After days of bloody fighting the survivors of the Panzer Grenadier division stagger off to the East.  American tanks push forward isolating one stretch of the Westwall between them and the British.

At the southern end of the Westwall another German corps is pulverized by American firepower and in the Blackforest the remnants of three German infantry divisions are hit hard by the advancing Americans.  Two of the divisions evaporate while a third falls back to temporarily block the Americans from bursting out onto open country and heading towards Munich.

In Italy the Germans take two heavy blows. The CEF continues its advance through mountains towards the Adriatic pushing the German and RSI defenders back until the French can see the Adriatic only 16 miles away.  Three German corps are now in danger of being cut off.  On the west side of the peninsula the American drove back another German corps clearing the wooded rough country southwest of Firenze.

April II

Kesselring is left to view the wreckage.  Many of his surviving troops have had their supply lines cut.  Even deep in Germany there are few reserves left ot be called up and the replacement system is rapidly falling apart.

The field marshall looks at the wall maps in his office in a former Innsbruck hotel, now OKW.  The pins marking the progress of the British, Americans and French forces multiple across the map of Germany.  The  pins marking the German forces form a series of disconnected blobs across the map.  The field marshall calls to his aid “Hans, you been saying I need to take some leave.”

“You are very stressed, Herr Field Marshal.  The doctor says your blood pressure is very high.”

The Field Marshal nods in response.  “I hear Argentina is beautiful at this time of year.”

“I will start packing our suitcases at once and call the airfield.”

“Be very discreet Hans>”

“Yes Herr Field Marshal.”

The German government has evacuated to Innsbruck with the increasingly incoherent Fuhrer being dragged off by his aides .  Hitler is in some sort of nervous breakdown that even Dr. “feelgood ” Morrel can’t cure.  The German army has broken up into a series of pockets. The northernmost around Hamburg is already in a state of collapse with American airborne troops seizing the northern half of the city from the remnants of a panzer training division that has retreated there earlier in the month.. A line of third division still stands south of the city, but the Allies came in from the north.

A hodgepodge of out of supply and isolated German units is halfway through being mopped up in the northeastern Netherlands.  Another pocket has formed around Hanover and includes some decent, intact divisions, but the Americans just keep going around them to seize real estate further south and east.

The Soviet assault on Berlin and the evacuation of the German Government has lead the hard charging US 6th Corps to shift south to roll into undefended Leipzig, Chemnitz and various smaller cities.  There is simply no one around to stop them as the last garrison troops were sent off to the front weeks ago.  The British have continued to push into west central German isolating the Ruhr from the south while continuing the smash up the hapless german infantry.

The Americans have.sealed the Ruhr pocket and cleared the northern half of it.  In the far south the Americans have broken out and thundered into undefended Nurnberg with a motorized infantry corps and two brigades of tanks.

In Italy the stalwart defence collapses in a welter of bloody disasters that lead to three German corps being wiped from the order of battle.  The only bright spot is Torinas defenders manage to fend off an attack by an Franco-American force coming down from the Alps.  Bologna is overrun by the British and Canadians who round up the rump of an infantry division and several squadrons of fighters with the bad fortune to be caught on the ground.  There are no more lines of fortifications.left to fallback on.

1945 March

Hans Dorfmann, a 58 year old Bremen Traffic cop scanned the sky over his native city.  The skies were  gray but clear of American bombers.  HIs attention was caught by a distant metallic clank.  The noise grew louder, new panzers headed for the front, he thought.  Which front, he wondered, they both seemed to be getting closer to Breman by the day.  A few minutes later he saw it , tanks, at least a company of them accompanied infantry filled half tracks.  He realized these were no Panzer, they were American Shemans.  The Americans were driving right into Breman and there was no one to stop them, even the Hitler Youth had been sent to the front.

All hell has broken loose in northern Germany.  In early March the few reconstituted units Had been strung out around the area where the American 6th Corps had crossed the border from the Netherlands.  Some units had been sent to block the road to the Ruhr, others the road towards the Baltic Coast and Germany’s Great ports of Breman and Hamburg.  The key position was a few miles west of the Ems River.  A single front line infantry division and a Panzer brigade, both hurriedly rebuilt with replacements took position with swamps on their left making it difficult for the Americans to bypass their position.  Instead accompanied by clouds of Jabos they came right at them.  In the heavy fighting the German defenders cracked, the badly outnumbered Panzers wiped out, but not before inflicting some losses on the attackers while the rump of the infantry division retreated to the east behind the Ems river hoping to block further movement eastward.  The Americans simply flowed around the survivors spreading out to seize Wilhelmshaven, Ems and Breman.  German demolition teams blew the port facilities before fleeing, but the undamaged airfields soon greeted clouds of  C-47s bringing SAS battalions, a Norwegian Mountain Brigade and anyone else within shouting distance of a British airfield.
Along the Westwall fighting continued.  The Americans made more breakthroughs in the Netherlands with armored forces streaming through gaps in the German lines flowing behind the segments of the broken German lines.  A second American attempt to seize Aachen failed with the American attackers retreating in disorder.  Further south the British and French captured another segment of the Westwall while at  the southern end the Westwall, the Americans destroyed another segment of the Westwall along with its defenders.  An American armored force begins to push through a gap in the German lines threatening to break out toward Stuttgart.  In Italy the CEF destroyed the remnants of a German RSI corps and threatened to cut off the eastern wing of the German army.  An American attack in the center failed to make headway.

1945 February

The new German defense line runs along the Albert Canal in the north through the eastern Ardennes, along the old maginot line defenses into the Vosges.  In places the Germans are defending the rebuilt Siegfried Line defenses in other they are defending a few miles forward of the line while it is rebuilt, it’s a desperate effort to buy time.

Things start to unravel almost immediately.  Two American armored corps teach through the very northern end of the German line and overrun the missile units right behind it.  Armored spearheads exploit all the way to Rotterdam where elements of two airborne divisions are flown into the newly captured airfields.  In front of Brussels the fight gets bloody with an understrength German corps being taken down at the cost of an American division and some supporting units.  A second stronger German corps including a panzer division manages to find off two American corps.

In the center of the old Maginot line the British roll through the German defenders then their armored divisions roll into unimproved sections of the Westwall overrunning an engineer regiment and an infantry division cadre.  The British have now captured a 32 mile stretch of the line.  A little further south the British cleaned up a static division and a static cadre that never made it back to the main German line.

At the southern end of the line the three American divisions supported by three powerful artillery brigades and two mechanized cavalry brigade move to finish off the defenders of the Belfort Gap. . Americans cross the Rhine eliminating the cadre of one of the divisions they had smashed at the end of January while the other cadre retreats a few miles up the Westwall.

In Italy the Americans break another German corps and now there is only a thin line of second rate units between the American spearhead and Firenze.

In the last weeks of February the Americans continue their offensive at the southern end of the Westwall.  They easily grind down a corps just north of their Rhine bridgehead. The single German corpse is flanked by Americans working their way through the Black forest and along the west side of the Rhine.  The Americans unleash more than two corps including six top of the line artillery brigades against the second rate German defenders.

In a stunning blow the Americans storm one of the strongest sections of the Siegfried Rhine smash the strongly built but undermanned fortifications at Aachen. Two American corps supported by hundreds of aircraft join the battle.  The Luftwaffe commits every fight and bomber they can find to the defense, but even with Jet fighters overhead the the Germans can barely make an impression on the waves of American aircraft.  When smoke clears the Germans have lost all the defenders at the cost of a cadres U.S. infantry division and a couple of supporting units.  For the moment the Rhineland is exposed to an American advance.

In the North, the Americans breakthrough a hodgepodge of German naval infantry and training units just south of Amsterdam.  The Germans fumble their efforts to flood the battle area. American armored forces exploit far to the east threatening to head down the undefended road to Breman.  In the meantime one of the German rearguards in the southern Netherlands is mopped up by the Americans.
In the Alps a Franco-American force captures the northernmost pass between France and Italy threatening Torino. RSI and Luftwaffe fighters disrupt, but don’t completely stop Allied air support for the attack.
In Italy the Americans and British launch separate assaults against the German line grinding down two German and RSI corps and pushing another few miles into the Axis defences.
Looking at the wreckage of the Western Front the only solace for the German command is it has a lot of “special replacements” to rebuild some of its shattered infantry divisions. Smart party officials are packing their suitcases and making discrete inquiries with Swiss bankers.

1945 January: A most unhappy of New Years

Early January 1945, it’s snowing and the Germans are shuffling their forces to fill in the gaps in their line. Just as the German command  was congratulating itself on constituting something looking like a front line in along the borders of Alsace and Lorraine the Americans pounded them at both ends of the front.  In the south a mixed group of American mechanized cavalry and tank destroyers stormed Belfort with heavy air support destroying the static division there and sending a training brigade running off to the east.  A German infantry division pinned against the Swiss Border is wiped out in a bloody battle with greatly superior American forces. The losses are heavy on both sides, but the German survivors can only choose between internment in Switzerland or an American Prison Camp. Near the Belgium coast the Americans stormed Ostend only manned by hapless Kriegsmarine gunners.  Thirty two miles to the South the American 22nd corps slammed into a German infantry corps inflicting heavy casualties and sending it staggering backward.  Another German corps, really a lone infantry division heavily reinforced with artillery, assault guns and anti-aircraft guns got hit by two U.S. armored corps.  The corps was overwhelmed with the non-division units all being destroyed and the infantry division being overrun by the American exploitation.  In the center, southeast off Paris the British continued to inflict slaughter on the slower moving elements of German army cadring several divisions.

The only good news comes from Field Marshal Kesselring, two American drives in Italy have stalled out just as it seemed the Americans might punch through the thinning German center.
In the aftermath of this debacle command of the Western Front was turned over to Field Marshal Model.
In the second half of January the German’s pull back towards the Reich frontier creating a more or less continuous line from the Swiss Border to the North Sea Coast.  The southern end of the line is at the Belfort gap then runs through the Vosges up the Moselle and the Meuse through Namur and Brussels. However the strength of the new line has been undermined by OKW’s increasingly desperate efforts to stabilize th eastern front by transferring east the bulk of the Panzers.  The remaining armor is concentrated in two reorganized Panzer Corps.
The Germans hope to withdraw some mechanized formations from.Italy to reinforce their forces in the west.  The forces can’t be pulled out until the Italian line is shortened.  The German line on Italy’s east coast has been almost impenetrable since June, but as the line in central and western Italy keeps getting pushed further north. As a result the north-south section of the line through the mountains has steadily absorbed more troops, although the Allies have failed to breach it.  Now the German command hopes it can pull the eastern end of the line back to the north and free up several divisions, but the clock seems to be working against them as they begin the first stage of the withdrawal.
In Belgium and France the Americans apply pressure to both flanks.  The battle of the Belfort Gap breaks down into two separate actions, both with disastrous results for the Germans.  Int he Gaps inself a bloody battle bits a strongly reinforced American corps with massive artillery  and air support against a newly arrived mountain and infantry division supported by a flak regiment and a training brigade.  The flak drives off almost half the supporting aircraft, but it’s not enough to prevent the defenders from being overwhelmed. The survivors of the two German divisions retreat back to Mulhouse and two American divisions are badly reduced, but the Americans are left in possession of the vital gap and a dangerous hole at the southern end of the line allows American mechanized cavalry to reach the western bank of the Rhine.  A few miles to the northwest an infantry corps that had been bridging up the rear of the German forces retreating from central France is hemmed in on three sides by their American pursuers.  The bloody fighting that follows the survivors of the three divisions manage to claw their way through a gap in the  near encirclement. The American take losses two with several smaller formations being knocked out of action, but the Americans can afford the losses and the Germans cannot..
In the ALlies center, the British are moving up trying to make contact with the German main lien of resistance.  The only force they can hit immediately is a lagging corps of static divisions and  French collaborationist militia.  In an indecisive action the Germans are pushed back to the East, but they are trying to go that way anyway.
Further north the Americans storm across the Meuse just north of Sedan.  Two armored corps, and an infantry corps smash an understrength German corps and then overrun the survivors.  A possible irreparable gap has been put through the German center.  The action around Brussels is intense.  North of the city an American corps pushes right through the German line, badly reducing the forces that tried to block their drive and opening a dangerous gap.  An infantry corps just west of the city is forced into headlong retreat and is forced to stagger right through the Brussels garrison until they come to a half in the positions of a reserve corps just to the southeast of the city.  Near the coast an infantry division and the battered cadre of a parachute division are surrounded by several American corps and wiped out.
By the end of the month 10 German front line infantry, parachute and mountain divisions have been reduced to cadre or entirely wiped out.  Field Marshal Model is now left to scramble to rebuild his line and make good his losses, and it is unclear how he will do either

1944 December: Two Marshals in France

The two field marshals met in for a hurried conference on the Platform of the Brussels central train station.

“The situation in France ” asks Von Rundstedt.  “I think it’s becoming desperate.  As you know Dunkerque fell to the Americans yesterday.  That man, General Muller assured me the defenses were in good order.  Less than 48 hours later his men have fled across.the Belgium frontier and the Amis are snapping at their heels.”

“You know  Hitler is going to have that man shot..”The Field Marshall nods.  “That one probably deserves it.  But it gets worse.  The tommies smashed the 3rd Third Panzer Corps.  Two of my best panzer divisions reduced to a rump, their supporting units are just gone.  The line north of Paris is almost gone. First SS is almost surrounded.  If they can’t pull back in the next day or two they’ll be wiped out.  I’m going to present it to Hitler like I’m just redeploying them a little further south, but it’s a retreat.

“Don’t worry, I’ll support that presentation.”

“Can you supply me with the men and panzers to rebuild the two Panzer divisions?”

“Maybe one, but there’s not enough for two, not this month.”

“Then there was that corps that was holding the southern end of the line.  Just low quality reservists and eastern troops, but the Tommies captured the lot of them.  They’ll retrake Dijon in a week or two, not unless you can give me some troops from Italy.  They’re still holding firm.”

A look of distaste crosses Von Rundstedt’s face.  “The Allies launched two attacks.  Kesselring held the British and French in the East.  Not the Americans in the west.  Most likely they’ll be in FLorence by the end of January. We’re going to have to abandon another defense line and I’m not sure where they’re going to find the troops to fill up the next one .  Each month it’s getting a little thinner down there.  Kesselring is asking for 40,000 replacements to bring broken formations back up the strength.  I’m not sure where Berlin is going to find that.  Well the train to Berlin is ready to go and since it’s getting dark we best be on it.  Better to chance the RAF at night than the Yankees in the day.  Good luck Herr Field Marshall.”

The level of crisis in the West is accelerating.  The German plan was to hold on in eastern France long enough to allow the West Wall to be strengthened.  The shortage of engineers and bad weather has been making this a slow process with only part of the wall being fully rebuilt..  The Americans hit the line just west of the Belgium border hard.and in multiple locations.  Along the coast they drove the northernmost German corps back into Ostend,  At the same time three U.S. corps with massive artillery, air and engineer support mauled the LIlle garrison destroying half the force and driving the survivors to the east.  About 30 miles southwest of Lille another German corps was driven back but remained intact.  This has the side effect of pushing the front line up against two cadred German panzer divisions that were supposed to be rebuilt at the beginning of January, but now find themselves plugging a hole in the front line. The British had planned a major attack against the I SS Panzer corps, but canceled the attack at the last minute.  At the southern end of the line the German position abruptly became unglued.  The 17th airborne division , two newly arrived U.S. infantry divisions with a plethora of engineers and artillery assaulted DIjon with clouds of Jabos overhead.  The city is defended by a weakest full strength panzer and panzer grenadier divisions in the German army.  The German defenders give way abandoning Dijon with the survivors retreating into the rough country just north of the city.  This turns out to be a horrible mistake.  A few miles behind the American attack force is a mobile group of several armored cavalry and tank destroyer units which exploit down the open road and do not stop until they reach the outskirts of Belfort.  The old french fortress is manned by a single training brigade which is now desperately hoping reinforcements will arrive from Germany before the Americans can assault the fortress.  The American mechanized groups have also effectively cut communications to the two southernmost German infantry groups defending the country between Dijon and the Swiss Border.

In Italy the Americans continue to punch their way towards Florence.  They evict a German infantry corps from a position near the center of the line sending it into retreat with heavy losses.

1944 October and November

October and November are going badly for the Germans in France.  The evacuation of western France was reasonably successful with a temporary line snaking from Calais to Lille than westward to the middle reaches of the Seine.  The Americans kept up steady progress in northern France pushing towards Lille.  Like clockwork the Americans launch two major attacks every two weeks, each time effectively breaking  two more German corps.  The Germans are pumping all their resources into replacing infantry divisions with no resources left to deal with the steady bleed of sub-divisional units.  In late October the Americans evicted the Germans from their positions south of Calais leaving only a narrow escape route to the East for the garrison.  The German command decides to remove all the division units from Calais leaving the port garrison supported by a couple of trapped railroad artillery units and a couple of other supporting units.  The division units cannot make all the way back to the new line in a single movement and are destroyed just east of Calais.  At the same time two American corps smash a German corps just in front of Lille, luckily for the Germans, they have been building a strong reserve force in the city as they have been using it as a depot for rebuilding shattered infantry divisions.  As a result there lots of damage but no break through.  South of Lille the Americans make progress in late November increasingly establishing themselves along the city’s southern perimeter.

The British and French are pushing strongly against the German line around Paris.  Despite the mud, progress is steady,even though two British armored divisions take enough abuse that they have to pull back to rebuild to full strength.  But they have fought their way across the Seine just north of Paris while a Franco-Canadian armored corps crushes an odd assortment of  German defenders just west of the city. At the end of November three quarters of Paris abruptly fall to the attackers with the German defenders of southern Paris withdrawing before they can be cut. off
The void in southern and western forces is rapidly being filled by the allies.  The American 17th airborne division seizes Dijon in late October while the French 2 Chock seizes Clermont-Ferrand and a small detachment of American paratroopers occupy vacant ports along the Mediterranean.  In November a steady flow of American and French forces land or are airlifted into southern France.  The only Germans left are the Kriegsmarine port garrisons who have been directed to hold on to the last round.  In the meantime British and American reconnaissance units flow into the area from the north.  The Germans hurriedly push a screen of troops into the void southeast of Paris.  They even launch a counterattack with a Panzergrenadier division and various odds and ends backed by the Luftwaffe.  The attack forces the 17th airborne out of Dijon, but looks as if it might only be temporary as the Allies are able to more quickly build up their forces in the region.
As December begins the Germans are increasingly fearing the Americans will cross the Belgium border and are steadily diverting their engineering resources to rebuilding the Siegfried line.
Italy continues its set pattern.  Each turn a German corps gets battered and the Germans abandon a section of their line, but always have new fortifications to fall back into

1944 September: A bad Fall

At the beginning of September the Wehrmacht could look on the situation in France and Italy with some degree of satisfaction.  Although Allied invasion of northern France had not been stopped it has been contained in a roughly dog bone shaped lodgement stretching from eastern Normandy to the Pas de Calais.  But disquiet was growing at OKW. Intelligence reports indicated the Allies now had a massive force ashore and if the Fall rains didn’t come soon the next blow might be too much to bear.  The German commanders in the west were also uncomfortably aware that their ability to hold the line had been made possible by Hitler’s emergency declaration that has diverted thousands of replacements to the western army, but soon the flow of replacements would have to shift back to the East.

Throughout September strong American forces threw repeated attacks against the eastern end of the German line slowly bleeding the infantry, but not outrunning the Germans ability to replace the losses and plug the holes as they appeared.  Some more ground was lost, but the situation remained stable.  An American attempt to punch a whole in the German center failed to make any headway.
The situation at the eastern end of the pocket decayed steadily throughout September.  The British slogged through the bocage clear the region around Caen and at the end of September the Germans decided to withdraw all their mobile forces from the Cotentin Peninsula before they could be trapped there.  One British spearhead was less than forty miles from the west side of the Peninsula. Just to the south on the edge of hedgerow country the British managed to punch through one German infantry corps and began to push through the whole.  By the end of the month a full-scale crisis was apparent.  The French 2ns Armored division and supporting units had rolled into Chartres and a British armored car battalion supported by airlifted American paratroops seized a key town on the railway approaching Paris from the southwest.
In the meeting with Hitler that followed the field commanders may have deliberately overstated the strength of the Allied force heading towards Paris, but it was clear to them the forces west of Paris needed to start moving now, or they could all be lost.  Hitler gave in and authorized the evacuation of western and southern France.  Within hours the commanders were issuing movement orders fearing that any delay might lead to Hitler changing his mind.  Long  lines of troops staggered eastward, grateful that Allied airpower was directed at pounding the front lines instead of stopping their withdrawal.
Finally, at the beginning of October the situation began to deteriorate much more quickly.  The British endeavored to turn the gap into a gaping hole.  They launched four attacks of varying success.  The French 2nd armored division continued its push towards Paris, pushing back an odd blocking force of German artillery and assault guns supported by VIchy Militia.  The blocking force gave ground but didn’t crack with French getting almost too within sight of their occupied capital.  It was now possible to hear the sound of guns in the Paris suburbs.  Just to the north, the British and Canadians began to roll up the German line pushing back a static division and virtually surrounding the reinforced panzer division that was holding the western Flank of the still intact portion of the German line.  After heavy fighting the hard fighting panzers and their supporting units were trapped and destroyed.  Another assault by British armor against the German infantry retreating from the bocage. was held off by a desperately reisting infantry corps..
At the American end of the lodgement two strong attacks punched holes in the German line. A mixed corps south of Calais was routed with two infantry divisions being reduced to cadres and the U.S. 4th corps with massive air support smashed a corps on the south-central section of the German line open9ing the Seine River Valley towards Paris.  The fall rains can’t come soon enough for the retreating Germans.
In Italy the fighting seemed to continue along a set pattern.  The Allies would aim two strong  blows at the German lines at once, one would succeed in taking a German position and the other attack would stall out.  The Germans would lose some troops and pull back to their next line.  The Allies would trundle forward and do the whole thing again.

1944 August

In the south Allies Progress in Italy has greatly slowed with only two major attacks in August.  The Americans managed to drive back a German Corpse pushing a wedge into the double line of German fortifications, but not breaking through it.  During the second half of August the Americans and CEF pinch out a German salient to the east of the wedge reducing to cadre strenth the two infantry and one panzer grenadier division that defended the position and forcing the defenders to retreat northward. With an line an intact line of fortification remaining and another one being built behind it Marshall Kesselring is optimistic he can hold the Allies south of Florence until the fall weather turns the landscape to mude.

In France the Allies continue to place pressure on the German forces containing the ever expanding beachhead.  In Normandy, the British drive the German defenders out of Caen with heavy losses, but not before the German engineers destroy the port.  Another British attack southward against a weak spot in the German line goes horribly wrong  with the attackers been forced to retreat with heavy losses, the first British failure of the campaign.  The Americans continue their push along the coast taking Boulougne at the beginning of August.  The German defenders manage to withdraw just to the east of the city leaving the harbor a smoldering wreck.  The Germans respond by patching holes in their line and reinforcing weak spots, but the estern end of the line is getting thinner as it gets longer and the state of the French rail network means only a trickle of reinforcements are reaching that end of the line.  The German command is increasingly relying on stripping garrisons out of the Norman and Breton ports to make good.  In the second half of August the Germans get hit hard at both ends of the front. the Americans smash a German infantry corps south of Boulougne leaving a dangerous gap in the German lines that an American armored corpse promptly occupies.  The German 83rd Corps, which has occupied territory after the July counterattack against the American beachhead, was evicted from the captured territory, but managed to withdraw to the south.  On the British twin attacks push back one defending corps and smash a reinforced division to the west of Caen.  These attacks along with the massive flow of reinforcements to the beachhead may well signal it’s time for the Germans to abandon western France


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