Four days of Naples
The Four days of Naples refers to the popular uprising in the Italian city of Naples between 27 and 30 September 1943 against the German forces occupying the city during World War II before the arrival of the first Allied forces in Naples on 1 October. The attacks by the townsfolk and the Italian Resistance on the occupying forces, despite limited arms and planning, disrupted German plans for mass deportations, large scale destruction and resistance to Allied forces approaching the city and, for these actions, the city was awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valor. From 1940–43, Naples suffered heavy Allied bombing raids, which caused much damage and heavy losses among the civilian population, it has been calculated that 20,000 of its inhabitants fell victim to these indiscriminate attacks: over 3,000 died in the raid of 4 August 1943 alone, while around 600 were killed and 3,000 injured by the explosion of the ship Caterina Costa in port on 28 March. The city's artistic and cultural heritage suffered damage, such as the partial destruction of the Chiesa di Santa Chiara on 4 December 1942.
With the Allied advance in southern Italy, anti-Fascists in the Naples area began to establish closer contacts with the Allied commanders, requested Naples' liberation. From 8 September 1943, the day in which the Cassibile armistice came into force, the Italian Army forces in the area drifted toward Naples. Things there were difficult, thanks to the unceasing bombing raids and the imbalance in forces; the situation in Naples soon turned into chaos, with many higher officials deserting the city, followed by the Italian troops. Those escaping included Riccardo Pentimalli and Ettore Del Tetto, the generals entrusted with military responsibility for Naples, who fled in civilian clothing. Del Tetto's last actions before fleeing had been to hand the city over to the German army and to publish a decree banning assemblies and authorising the military to fire on those who flouted that ban. So, sporadic but bloody attempts at resistance arose throughout the Zanzur Barracks, as far as the Carabinieri barracks at Pastrengo and at the 21st "Centro di Avvistamento" of Castel dell'Ovo.
In the days following the armistice, the episodes of intolerance and armed resistance toward the German occupiers in Naples intensified, more or less organized, including the 1 September student demonstration in Piazza del Plebiscito and the first meeting of the Liceo Sannazaro at Vomero. On 9 September, some citizens met with German troops at Palazzo dei Telefoni, managing to escape, in Via Santa Brigida; this latter episode involved a Carabiniere, who opened fire to defend a shop from German soldiers attempting to loot it. On 10 September, between Piazza del Plebiscito and the gardens below, the first bloody clash occurred, with the Neapolitans succeeding in blocking the path of some German motor vehicles; the occupiers managed to free some of those imprisoned by the rioters, thanks to an injunction by an Italian official, who summoned his countrymen to surrender some of their hostages and all their weapons. The retaliation for the Piazza del Plebiscito clashes came quickly: the Germans set fire to the National Library and opened fire on the crowd that gathered there.
On 12 September, numerous soldiers were killed on the streets of Naples, while about 4,000 Italian soldiers and civilians were deported for forced labor. An announcement of the prefect on 22 September decreed compulsory labor for all men from 18–33 years of age and set their forced deportation to work camps in northern Italy and Germany; the population rose up. The same day, Colonel Walter Schöll assumed command of the military occupiers in the city, declaring a curfew and a state of siege, with orders to execute all those responsible for hostile actions against German troops, up to 100 Neapolitans for every German killed; the following proclamations appeared on the walls of the city on 13 September: With immediate action from today, I assume the absolute control with full powers of the city of Naples and the surrounding areas. Every single citizen who behaves calmly will enjoy my protection. On the other hand, anyone who or surreptitiously acts against the German armed forces will be executed.
Moreover, the home of the miscreant and its immediate surroundings will be destroyed and reduced to ruins. Every German soldier wounded or murdered will be avenged a hundred times. I order a curfew from 8 pm to 6 am. Only in case of alarm will it be allowed to use the road in order to reach the nearest shelter. A state of siege is proclaimed. Within 24 hours all weapons and ammunition of any kind, including shotguns, hand grenades, etc. must be surrendered. Anyone who, after that period, is found in possession of a weapon will be executed; the delivery of weapons and ammunition shall be made to the German military patrols. People must act reasonably; the orders were followed by the shooting of eight prisoners of war in via Cesario Console, while a tank opened fire against students who were beginning to gather in the nearby University and several Italian sailors in front of the stock market. A young sailor was executed on the stairs of the headquarters, while thousands of people were forced to attend by German troops.
On the same day, 500 people were forcibly deported to Teverola, near Caserta, forced to watch the execution of 14 policemen, who had offered armed resistance
Allied invasion of Italy
The Allied invasion of Italy was the Allied amphibious landing on mainland Italy that took place on 3 September 1943 during the early stages of the Italian Campaign of World War II. The operation was undertaken by General Sir Harold Alexander's 15th Army Group and followed the successful invasion of Sicily; the main invasion force landed around Salerno on 9 September on the western coast in Operation Avalanche, while two supporting operations took place in Calabria and Taranto. Following the defeat of the Axis Powers in North Africa in May 1943, there was disagreement between the Allies as to what the next step should be; the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in particular wanted to invade Italy, which in November 1942 he called "the soft underbelly of the axis". Popular support in Italy for the war was declining, he believed an invasion would remove Italy, thus the influence of Axis forces in the Mediterranean Sea, opening it to Allied traffic; this would reduce the amount of shipping capacity needed to supply Allied forces in the Middle East and Far East, at a time when the disposal of Allied shipping capacity was in crisis, increase British and American supplies to the Soviet Union.
In addition, it would tie down German forces. Joseph Stalin, the Premier of the Soviet Union, had been pressing Churchill and Roosevelt to open a "second front" in Europe, which would lessen the German Army's focus on the Eastern Front, where the bulk of its forces were fighting in the largest armed conflict in history against the Soviet Red Army; however the U. S. Army Chief of Staff, General George Marshall, much of the American staff wanted to avoid operations that might delay an invasion of Europe, discussed and planned as early as 1942, which materialized as Operation Overlord in 1944; when it became clear that no cross-channel invasion of occupied France could be undertaken in 1943, it was agreed to invade Sicily, with no commitment made to any follow-up operations. However, both Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the U. S. President, accepted the necessity of Allied armies continuing to engage the Axis in the period after a successful campaign in Sicily and before the start of one in northwest Europe.
The discussion continued through the Trident Conference in Washington in May but it was not until late July, after the course of the Sicilian campaign had become clear and with the fall of Benito Mussolini, the Italian Prime Minister and fascist leader, that the Joint Chiefs of Staff instructed General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, to go ahead at the earliest possible date. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters were operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, it was they who planned and commanded the invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland; the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943, codenamed Operation Husky, was successful, although many of the Axis forces managed to avoid capture and escape to the mainland. The Axis viewed this as a success. More in late July, a coup deposed Mussolini as head of the Italian government, which began approaching the Allies to make peace, it was believed a quick invasion of Italy might hasten an Italian surrender and produce quick military victories over the German troops that could be trapped fighting in a hostile country.
However, Italian resistance proved strong, fighting in Italy continued after the fall of Berlin in April 1945. In addition, the invasion left the Allies in a position of supplying food and supplies to conquered territory, a burden which would otherwise have fallen on Germany; as well, Italy occupied by a hostile German army would have created additional problems for the German Commander-in-Chief, Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring. Prior to Sicily, Allied plans envisioned crossing the Strait of Messina, a limited invasion in the "instep" area, advancing up the toe of Italy, anticipating a defense by both German and Italian forces; the overthrowing of Mussolini and the Fascisti made a more ambitious plan feasible, the Allies decided to supplement the crossing of the British Eighth Army, under General Bernard Montgomery, with a seizure of the port of Naples. Although the Americans favored Napoleon's maxim that Italy, like a boot, should be entered from the top, the range limits of Allied fighter planes based in Sicily reduced Allied choices to two landing areas: one at the Volturno River basin and the other at Salerno.
Salerno was chosen because it was closer to air bases, experienced better surf conditions for landing, allowed transport ships to anchor closer to the beaches, had narrower beaches for the rapid construction of exit roads, had an excellent pre-existing road network behind the beaches. Operation Baytown was the preliminary step in the plan in which the British Eighth Army would depart from the port of Messina on Sicily, to cross the Straits of Messina and land near the tip of Calabria, on 3 September 1943; the short distance from Sicily meant landing craft could launch from there directly, rather than be carried by ship. The British 5th Infantry Division of XIII Corps, under Lieutenant-General Miles Dempsey, would land on the north side of the "toe" while its 1st Canadian Infantry Division would land at Cape Spartivento on the south side. Montgomery was opposed to Operation Baytown, he predicted it would be a waste of effort since it assumed the Germans would give battle in
Operation Slapstick was the code name for a British landing from the sea at the Italian port of Taranto during the Second World War. The operation, one of three landings during the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943, was undertaken by airborne troops of the British 1st Airborne Division, commanded by Major-General George Hopkinson. Planned at short notice, the mission followed an offer by the Italian government to open the ports of Taranto and Brindisi on the heel of Italy to the Allies; the airborne division was selected to undertake the mission, but at the time they were located in North Africa. A shortage of transport aircraft meant the division could not land in their traditional way by parachute and glider, all the landing craft in the area were allocated to the other landings: Operation Avalanche at Salerno on the western coast, Operation Baytown at Calabria. Instead, the division had to be transported across the Mediterranean by ships of the Royal Navy; the landing was unopposed and the airborne division captured the ports of Taranto, Brindisi on the Adriatic coast in working order.
The only German forces in the area were elements of the 1st Parachute Division, which engaged the advancing British in ambushes and at roadblocks during a fighting withdrawal north. By the end of September, the British 1st Airborne Division advanced 125 miles to Foggia. Reinforcements from two infantry divisions had by been landed behind them, which allowed the airborne troops to be withdrawn to Taranto. Soon after, the division, minus the 2nd Parachute Brigade, sailed for England in preparation for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. In May 1943, the Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were defeated in the North African Campaign. Two months the Allied powers of Great Britain and the United States launched their invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky; the island being occupied by the end of August, the Allies next turned their attention to the invasion of Italy. On 3 September 1943, the British Eighth Army, under the command of General Bernard Montgomery, crossed the Straits of Messina from Sicily and landed in Calabria during Operation Baytown to seize the ports of Reggio and San Giovanni.
The main invasion was planned for 9 September, with the U. S. Fifth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Mark Clark, landing at Salerno on the western coast in Operation Avalanche, with Naples as their immediate objective; the Allies hoped. If they did, the five Italian divisions in France and the twenty-nine in the Balkans would have to be replaced by German formations. If the Germans decided to continue the fight in Italy, they would have to redeploy some of their troops engaged on the Eastern Front or on occupation duties in France. During secret surrender negotiations with the Allies in early September, the Italian government offered to open the ports of Taranto and Brindisi on the eastern coast. German forces in that area were weak and would be expected to withdraw rather than fight if the Allies landed there. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean planned a third landing, codenamed Slapstick, to take advantage of the offer. Slapstick was in part an operation of deception, to divert German forces away from the main Allied landings at Salerno on the same day, while attempting to capture Taranto and Brindisi intact.
The main value of Taranto was its large port. Its seizure would, with the expected capture of Naples in the west by the Americans, give the Allies supply points on both Italian coasts; this military operation had a major political role, since the leaders of the government, including King Vittorio Emanuele III and his family, Prime Minister Badoglio, fled from Rome to Brindisi after the surrender. Brindisi at the time was controlled only by the Italian Army, but its quick occupation by British troops secured the safety of the Italian leaders and allowed the declaration of war by Italy against Germany. Taranto is the capital city of the Province of Taranto in the region of Apulia and has a large harbor, it includes the two islets of St. Peter and St. Paul, which protect the bay, called the Mar Grande, where the commercial port is located. After the unification of Italy, Taranto became the main base of the Italian Navy; the military port was located in the Mar Piccolo. In November 1940, the Royal Navy attacked the naval base in Taranto, sinking some Italian battleships.
The German High Command expected Italy to surrender and, in preparation, had secretly established a new Army group headquarters commanded by Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel at Munich. Rommel would have six divisions transferred from the Eastern Front, two divisions from France that had just been reformed, two parachute divisions based in Germany in his new command. However, a Russian offensive in the east prevented the release of all the units promised. Adolf Hitler came to the conclusion that, without the backing of the Italian Army, it would be impossible for the Germans to defend the whole of Italy. In Italy, German Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring, unaware of what was happening in Germany, had been building up the strength of his forces, he was aided in this by the escape from Sicily of three divisions, which managed to cross the Straits of Messina without serious loss of men or equipment. In August, five infantry and two panzer divisions moved into northern Italy. After the loss of Sicily, Hitler amended the German plans, deciding to hold the Salerno-Naples area with five infantry divisions, while the 1st Parachute Division was ordered to the Apulia region.
Commanded by Generalmajor Richard Heidrich
Operation Herring was the last World War II airborne combat drop in Europe. The Allied April 1945 offensive on the Italian front, to end the Italian campaign and the war in Italy, was to decisively break through the German Gothic Line, the defensive line along the Apennines and the River Po plain to the Adriatic Sea and swiftly drive north to occupy Northern Italy and get to the Austrian and Yugoslav borders as as possible. However, German strongpoints, as well as bridge, road and dike blasting, any occasional determined resistance in the Po Valley plain might slow the planned sweep down. Allied planners felt that dropping paratroops onto some key areas and locales south of the River Po could help wreak havoc in the German rear area, attack German communications and vehicle columns, further disrupting the German retreat, prevent German engineers from blowing up key structures before Allied spearheads could exploit them. Lieutenant General Sir Richard McCreery, commander of the Commonwealth 8th Army, had a number of Italian paratroopers at hand for the task.
In March 1945, the whole 114-strong Italian paratroops "F" Recce Squadron, 112 volunteers – four platoons, each made up by three squads, led by Lieutenant Guerrino Ceiner - from the Italian Nembo Paratroops Regiment, were picked for Operation Herring. They received a rapid but thorough training update under the supervision of the British paratroops Major Ramsay, pleased by the paratroopers' excellent performance; the mission would entail eight battle drops on as many areas south of Po River, southeast of Ferrara, the Mirandola area, Poggio Rusco and the Modena-Mantua highway. It would last 36 hours; every paratrooper would be equipped with an Italian Beretta MAB submachine gun with 400 rounds, high explosive charges, four hand grenades, dagger and foodstuff for 48 hours. On the night of 19–20 April 1945, the Italian paras jumped from 14 Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft of the U. S. 64th Troop Carrier Group and on their drop zones. Scattering was considerable, but it did not hinder the paratroops' effectiveness.
A few were captured upon their landing, but their comrades proved aggressive – even too much as several German prisoners were murdered in cold blood by their captors, a cruelty the Germans reciprocated in kind by killing some Italian prisoners as well as a few civilians. 16 paras surrounded by German forces and barricaded inside a farmhouse died - all but two - fighting to the last round. Other groups were more successful, suffering light casualties. Two F Squadron squads seized two little towns and Stuffione, capturing 451 Germans and holding out until the arrival of Allied ground forces. Operation Herring lasted over 72 hours instead of the 36 foreseen, but it turned out to be a success. With some help on the part of the local partisan groups, according to some sources 481 German soldiers were killed, 1,083 surrendered, 44 vehicles were destroyed and many captured including some tanks, armored cars and guns, 77 telephone lines severed, three bridges taken intact, an ammunition storage site blown up.
The price the Italians paid for the success was 10-12 wounded. An Italian lieutenant and a private were posthumously awarded the Gold Medal for Valor. Airborne forces William Fowler: The Secret War in Italy.
Moro River Campaign
The Moro River Campaign was an important battle of the Italian Campaign during the Second World War, fought between elements of the British Eighth Army and LXXVI Panzer Corps of the German 10th Army. Lasting from 4–26 December 1943, the campaign occurred in the vicinity of the Moro River in eastern Italy; the campaign was designed as part of an offensive launched by General Sir Harold Alexander's Allied 15th Army Group, with the intention of breaching the German Army's Winter Line defensive system and advancing to Pescara—and Rome. Beginning on 4 December, four infantry divisions—one British, one Canadian, one Indian and one New Zealand —and two armoured brigades of V Corps and XIII Corps attacked defended German positions along the Moro River, achieving several exploitable bridgeheads by 8 December. Throughout the next week, nearly continuous combat operations by both sides—designed to keep one another pinned down—created stagnated defensive positions near Orsogna and a narrow pit known as "The Gully".
After being held at the Gully for 10 days, the Canadians succeeded in outflanking German defences, forcing a German withdrawal to the Ortona–Orsogna Line. On 20 December, the line was attacked by both corps. By 26 December, strong German defences had stalled Canadian forces during the Battle of Ortona and British and New Zealand forces in Orsogna. Although both Ortona and Villa Grande were captured by the end of December, general exhaustion among the Allied forces prevented the capture of Orsogna and an advance to Pescara; when harsh winter weather set in, it became clear to the Allied commanders that no further progress would be made and General Alexander called off the offensive. In late 1943, the 15th Army Group under General Sir Harold Alexander were fighting their way northward in Italy against determined German opposition, commanded by Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring, whose forces had prepared a succession of defensive lines. East of the Apennine Mountain spine was the British Eighth Army, under General Sir Bernard Montgomery.
In October, the Eighth Army had crossed the Bifurno river and pushed the German defenders from the Volturno-Viktor Line defences. Delayed by logistical problems, they were not able to attack the next line of defences behind the Trigno river until 2 November. However, by 9 November forward elements of the Eighth Army were in contact with the forward defences of the German Winter Line, set on the high ground north of the Sangro River; the main attack across the Sangro by V Corps, comprising the British 78th Infantry Division and 8th Indian Infantry Division with supporting and diversionary attacks further inland by the 2nd New Zealand Division and XIII Corps was delayed by bad weather until late November. After several days of hard fighting, the Germans withdrew to the defences they had prepared on the high ground to the north of the Moro river; the Moro River runs from the central mountain spine of Italy to the Adriatic coast south of Ortona. The German defences on the Moro were a centerpiece of the Winter Line, which guarded the eastern side of the Apennines along Route 5.
Montgomery hoped to capture Ortona and Pescara and advance to Rome. The British 78th Infantry Division, spearheading V Corps since the Volturno Line actions and had sustained over 7,000 casualties in less than six months, was relieved by the fresh 1st Canadian Infantry Division, ready to renew the offensive on 5 December 1943; the 78th Infantry Division was sent into the mountains on the quiet left wing of the army, joining the British 5th Infantry Division under XIII Corps. Montgomery's plan was for the 1st Canadian Division to attack across the Moro in the coastal lowlands to take Ortona first and Pescara. Inland, in the jagged hills above the headwaters of the Moro, the fresh 2nd New Zealand Division would attack toward Orsogna, while between these two the 8th Indian Infantry Division would hold the centre of the front in a static role. Facing the British V Corps was the 1st Parachute Division under Brigadier General Richard Heidrich on the coast, to their right stood the 90th Panzergrenadier Division under Major General Carl-Hans Lungershausen succeeded by Colonel Ernst-Günther Baade on 20 December, further inland of them was the 26th Panzer Division under Brigadier General Smilo Freiherr von Lüttwitz with their right flank on Orsogna.
Further inland, facing the British XIII Corps, was the 65th Infantry Division under Brigadier General Hellmuth Pfeifer supported by elements of 1st Parachute and 5th Mountain Division under Brigadier General Julius Ringel. Together, these units formed Traugott Herr′s LXXVI Panzer Corps, the part of Joachim Lemelsen's 10th Army responsible for the front line to the east of the Apennines. On 6 December 1943, Canadian forces began a series of large-scale assaults on major crossing points along the Moro River with the objective of securing a large bridgehead along the defensive line. Three primary points of attack were chosen: Villa Rogatti, along the western edge of the Canadian sector. Five primary infantry battalions were selected to assault these positions with the objective of crossing the Moro River; the offensives were
Operation Fustian was an airborne forces operation undertaken during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 in the Second World War. The operation was carried out by Brigadier Gerald Lathbury's 1st Parachute Brigade, part of the British 1st Airborne Division, their objective was the Primosole Bridge across the Simeto River. The intention was for the brigade, with glider-borne forces in support, to land on both sides of the river, they would capture the bridge and secure the surrounding area until relieved by the advance of British XIII Corps, which had landed on the south eastern coast three days previously. Because the bridge was the only crossing on the river and would give the British Eighth Army access to the Catania plain, its capture was expected to speed the advance and lead to the defeat of the Axis forces in Sicily. Many of the aircraft carrying the paratroopers from North Africa were shot down or were damaged and turned back by friendly fire and enemy action. Evasive action taken by the pilots scattered the brigade over a large area and only the equivalent of two companies of troops were landed in the correct locations.
Despite this and the defence by German and Italian forces, the British paratroops captured the bridge, repulsed attacks and held out against increasing odds until nightfall. The relief force led by the 50th Infantry Division, under Major-General Sidney C. Kirkman, short of transport, were still 1 mile away when they halted for the night. By this time, with casualties mounting and supplies running short, the parachute brigade commander, Gerald Lathbury, had relinquished control of the bridge to the Germans; the following day the British units joined forces and the 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, with tank support, attempted to recapture the bridge. The bridge was not secured until three days after the start of the operation, when another battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, led by the paratroopers, established a bridgehead on the north bank of the river; the capture of Primosole Bridge did not lead to the expected rapid advance, as by this time the Germans had gathered their forces and established a defensive line.
It was not until early the following month. By this time the 1st Parachute Brigade had been withdrawn to Malta and took no further part in the conquest of Sicily. Lessons were put into practice in Allied airborne operations. After the Axis powers were defeated in North Africa, the Allied armies' next logical objective was to cross the Mediterranean, landing in either the south of France, the Balkans, Sicily or Italy; the objective chosen was Sicily, with the landing scheduled for 10 July 1943. The Allied 15th Army Group, commanded by General Sir Harold Alexander, consisted of the American Seventh Army, commanded by Lieutenant General George Patton, which would land in the west between Licata and Scoglitti, the veteran British Eighth Army, commanded by the experienced General Bernard Montgomery, which would land in the south east between Cape Passero and Syracuse. In addition to the seaborne landings, there were airborne landings during the invasion; the U. S. 82nd Airborne Division, under Major General Matthew Ridgway, would land in support of the Seventh Army, while the British 1st Airborne Division, under Major General George Hopkinson, conducted brigade-sized landings along the eastern coast to support the Eighth Army.
The first British airborne landing was Operation Ladbroke, carried out by the 1st Airlanding Brigade, under Brigadier Philip Hicks, during the night of 9–10 July. Their objective was to hold the Ponte Grande bridge just outside Syracuse; the second British airborne mission, Operation Glutton, was to have been undertaken by the 2nd Parachute Brigade, under Brigadier Ernest Down, on the night of 10–11 July, aiming to capture a bridge beside Augusta. However circumstances changed and the second operation was cancelled; the third British airborne mission planned was Operation Fustian, to be carried out by the 1st Parachute Brigade, under Brigadier Gerald Lathbury, scheduled for the night of 13–14 July. The 1st Parachute Brigade's objective was the Primosole bridge, crossing the Simeto River, south of Catania; the bridge was a vital objective. Its capture would give the Eighth Army access to the Catania plain, to enable them to continue their advance northwards. Once the parachute brigade had captured the bridge, they would have to defend it until relieved by units of the Eighth Army advancing from the landing beaches.
The 1st Parachute Brigade, under Brigadier Lathbury, comprised the 1st, the 2nd and 3rd Parachute Battalions, the 16th Field Ambulance, the 1st Squadron, Royal Engineers and the 1st Anti-Tank Battery, Royal Artillery. The airlanding anti-tank battery were equipped with the 1st Para Brigade's only anti-tank guns, the British 6 pounder. Despite the formation being a parachute brigade, the only way to transport the anti-tank guns and the jeeps required to pull them when they had landed, was by glider. Transporting artillery by air was something new to the British or any other army, this would be the first time that any artillery guns had been flown into combat; the 1st Parachute Brigade was an experienced formation under command of the 1st Airborne Division before being detached from the division to fight in North Africa. The brigade had taken part in the landings in Algeria in November 1942 and the subsequent Battle of Tunisia, during which each of the brigade's three parachute battalions had taken part in their own battalion-sized parachute landings.
It was during this campaign that the 1st Parachute Bri
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area. Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era, it is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the established Kingdom of Italy; the Florentine dialect forms the base of Standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini. The city attracts millions of tourists each year, the Historic Centre of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982; the city is noted for Renaissance art and architecture and monuments.
The city contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, still exerts an influence in the fields of art and politics. Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Florence is an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked in the top 15 fashion capitals of the world. In 2008, the city had the 17th highest average income in Italy. Florence originated as a Roman city, after a long period as a flourishing trading and banking medieval commune, it was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, it was politically and culturally one of the most important cities in Europe and the world from the 14th to 16th centuries; the language spoken in the city during the 14th century was, still is, accepted as the Italian language. All the writers and poets in Italian literature of the golden age are in some way connected with Florence, leading to the adoption of the Florentine dialect, above all the local dialects, as a literary language of choice.
Starting from the late Middle Ages, Florentine money—in the form of the gold florin—financed the development of industry all over Europe, from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon and Hungary. Florentine bankers financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War, they financed the papacy, including the construction of their provisional capital of Avignon and, after their return to Rome, the reconstruction and Renaissance embellishment of Rome. Florence was home to the Medici, one of European history's most important noble families. Lorenzo de' Medici was considered a political and cultural mastermind of Italy in the late 15th century. Two members of the family were popes in the early 16th century: Leo X and Clement VII. Catherine de Medici married King Henry II of France and, after his death in, reigned as regent in France. Marie de' Medici married Henry IV of France and gave birth to the future King Louis XIII; the Medici reigned as Grand Dukes of Tuscany, starting with Cosimo I de' Medici in 1569 and ending with the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici in 1737.
The Etruscans formed in 200 BC the small settlement of Fiesole, destroyed by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 80 BC in reprisal for supporting the populares faction in Rome. The present city of Florence was established by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for his veteran soldiers and was named Fluentia, owing to the fact that it was built between two rivers, changed to Florentia, it was built in the style of an army camp with the main streets, the cardo and the decumanus, intersecting at the present Piazza della Repubblica. Situated along the Via Cassia, the main route between Rome and the north, within the fertile valley of the Arno, the settlement became an important commercial centre. In centuries to come, the city experienced turbulent periods of Ostrogothic rule, during which the city was troubled by warfare between the Ostrogoths and the Byzantines, which may have caused the population to fall to as few as 1,000 people. Peace returned under Lombard rule in the 6th century. Florence was conquered by Charlemagne in 774 and became part of the Duchy of Tuscany, with Lucca as capital.
The population began to grow again and commerce prospered. In 854, Florence and Fiesole were united in one county. Margrave Hugo chose Florence as his residency instead of Lucca at about 1000 AD; the Golden Age of Florentine art began around this time. In 1013, construction began on the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte; the exterior of the church was reworked in Romanesque style between 1059 and 1128. In 1100, Florence was a "Commune"; the city's primary resource was the Arno river, providing power and access for the industry, access to the Mediterranean sea for international trade. Another great source of strength was its industrious merchant community; the Florentine merchant banking skills became recognised in Europe after they brought decisive financial innovation to medieval fairs. This period saw the eclipse of Florence's powerful rival Pisa, the exercise of power by the mercantile elite following an anti-aristocratic movement, led by Giano della Bella, that resulted in a set of laws called the Ordinances of Justice.
Of a population estimated at 94,00