The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. It is estimated that between September 1943 and April 1945, some 60, 000–70,000 Allied and 60, overall Allied casualties during the campaign totaled about 320,000 and the corresponding German figure was well over 600,000. Fascist Italy, prior to its collapse, suffered about 200,000 casualties, mostly POWs taken in the Allied invasion of Sicily, including more than 40,000 killed or missing. Besides them, over 150,000 Italian civilians died, as did 15,197 anti-Fascist partisans and 13,021 troops of the Italian Social Republic. The campaign ended when Army Group C surrendered unconditionally to the Allies on May 2,1945, the independent states of San Marino and the Vatican, both surrounded by Italian territory, also suffered damage during the campaign. Even prior to victory in the North African Campaign in May 1943, the British, especially the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, advocated their traditional naval-based peripheral strategy. The United States, with a larger army, favoured a more direct method of fighting the main force of the German Army in Northern Europe. The ability to such a campaign depended on first winning the Battle of the Atlantic. There was even pressure from some Latin American countries to stage an invasion of Spain, the British argued that the presence of large numbers of troops trained for amphibious landings in the Mediterranean made a limited-scale invasion possible and useful. A contributing factor was Franklin D. Roosevelts desire to keep US troops active in the European theatre during 1943 and it was hoped that an invasion might knock Italy out of the conflict, or at least increase the pressure on them and weaken them further. A combined Allied invasion of Sicily began on 10 July 1943 with both amphibious and airborne landings at the Gulf of Gela, the land forces involved were the U. S. Seventh Army, under Lieutenant General George S. Patton, the original plan contemplated a strong advance by the British northwards along the east coast to Messina, with the Americans in a supporting role along their left flank. The defending German and Italian forces were unable to prevent the Allied capture of the island, but succeeded in evacuating most of their troops to the mainland, the Allied forces gained experience in opposed amphibious operations, coalition warfare and mass airborne drops. Forces of the British Eighth Army, still under Montgomery, landed in the toe of Italy on 3 September 1943 in Operation Baytown, the armistice was publicly announced on 8 September by two broadcasts, first by General Eisenhower and then by a proclamation by Marshal Badoglio. Although the German forces prepared to defend without Italian assistance, only two of their divisions opposite the Eighth Army and one at Salerno were not tied up disarming the Royal Italian Army, on 9 September, forces of the U. S. Fifth Army, under Lieutenant General Mark W, although none of the northern reserves were made available to the German 10th Army, it nevertheless came close to repelling the Salerno landing, due mainly to the cautious command of Clark. As the Allies advanced, they encountered increasingly difficult terrain, the Apennine Mountains form a spine along the Italian peninsula offset somewhat to the east, the rivers were subject to sudden and unexpected flooding, which constantly thwarted the Allied commanders plans. This would make the most of the natural geography of Central Italy, whilst denying the Allies the easy capture of a succession of airfields
British infantry marching through the town of Noto, Sicily, 11 July 1943.
Artillery being landed during the invasion of mainland Italy at Salerno, September 1943.
The situation south of Rome showing German prepared defensive lines.