Armchair Dragoons Forums

News:

  • Connections Online 2024 will be held 15-20 April, 2024 ~~ More Info here
  • Buckeye Game Fest will be held May 2-5, 2024, with The War Room opening on 29 April ~~ More Info here

News

Connections Online 2024 will be held 15-20 April, 2024 ~~ More Info here

Author Topic: FOCUS ON...................All Roads Lead to Rome.  (Read 978 times)

bob48

  • Smeghead.
  • Warrant Officer
  • Lead Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 11727
on: February 07, 2024, 07:30:33 AM


Just like the actual campaign, games that cover the Italian Campaign have, in general, taken a bit of a back-seat in the wargaming world.

Certainly there have been a few games published over the years that deal with either Operation Husky (the invasion of Sicily), Avalanche (the invasion of mainland Italy) or both, and a few of specific operations such as Anzio (operation ‘Shingle) and of course, the battles for Cassino.
I’m not going to attempt to do a list, but feel free to add suggestions here.

Having said that, I can well remember playing a ‘Cassino’ game that came with an issue of S&T quite a bit, and that is quite a few years ago.

It does, however, seem that there is a bit more interest in the subject in recent years, with several new games being published.

My interest was recently piqued when I read the excellent ‘unboxing’ article by Ardwulf’ on the World at War magazine game ‘Kesselrings War, and that is now on my ‘want’ list.

https://www.armchairdragoons.com/articles/unbox/unboxingday-kesselrings-war/

Another reason why I’m interested in the campaign is because my dad served in the 5th Infantry Division and took part in the campaign, landing in all the amphibious ops including Anzio, although his unit was only assigned there quite late in the campaign to relieve the battered 1st Infantry Division.

I also had an uncle who was wounded at Cassino, and another relative who was a member of a mortar platoon and took part in the battle.

For anyone who is interested, a couple of highly recommended books are listed here;

Bitter Victory, by Carlos D’Este – maybe the definitive book on Operation Husky.
Fatal Decision – Anzio and the Battle for Rome, also by D’Este – an excellent read.
Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell, by Peter Caddick-Adams.

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'


bayonetbrant

  • Arrogance Mitigator & Event "Organizer"
  • Administrator
  • Staff Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 15459
  • Going mad, but at least going somewhere
    • Six Degrees of Radio
Reply #1 on: February 07, 2024, 08:14:03 AM
I've not looked into it in too much detail as a campaign.  I know a bit about a few specific battles, like Anzio or Cassino, but not the broader campaign.

That said, like Bob, I've got a familial connection to the campaign.  My grandmother's little brother fought in Italy, and was posthumously awarded a Silver Star when the Germans shot a bridge out from under his tank.  For a time, there was actually a building named after him at Fort Knox (then the home of the Armor school) that was later torn down as a part of the larger new building they built to support the Master Gunner course.

He was a graduate of the 9th class of the Armor Officer Basic Course, and 40-odd years later I was a graduate of the 109th class there.

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=++

Random acts of genius and other inspirations of applied violence.
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~
Six Degrees of Radio for songs you should know by artists you should love


Putraack

  • Jr. Trooper
  • *
  • Posts: 56
Reply #2 on: February 07, 2024, 05:46:26 PM
I've read James Holland's books on Sicily and Italy in 1943, as well as listening to his WW2 podcast, so the Italian campaign has been growing in my mental view. He's become a vocal defender of Mark Clark and his decisions in May 1944, so I am interested in gaming that period out, to see what I think.

I cannot contribute another game title to the list, so I will be looking here.

Another book to look at is Path to Victory by Douglas Porch, which covers the whole Mediterranean theater, including the southern French campaign.



bob48

  • Smeghead.
  • Warrant Officer
  • Lead Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 11727
Reply #3 on: February 07, 2024, 06:35:13 PM
Yes, Operation Dragoon - the invasion of the South of France is also a subject that has had very little (if any) games coverage.

A lot of resources were withdrawn from Italy for 'Dragoon', and its often said that this was why the Italian campaign dragged on longer than it should, and that the whole concept of the second invasion was a mistake and the benefits were questionable. However, opinion seems to be divided on this.

Again, the actions of Mark Clarke are controversial, although the fact remains that he did disobey direct orders in his desire to get to Rome, seemingly for his own personal aggrandisement.

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'


bayonetbrant

  • Arrogance Mitigator & Event "Organizer"
  • Administrator
  • Staff Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 15459
  • Going mad, but at least going somewhere
    • Six Degrees of Radio
Reply #4 on: February 07, 2024, 06:53:24 PM
Yeah, don't bring up Mark Clark in Texas at allllll

They *still* hate him for the idiotic meatgrinder he sent the 36th Division into along the Gustav Line in a failed attack

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=++

Random acts of genius and other inspirations of applied violence.
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~
Six Degrees of Radio for songs you should know by artists you should love


besilarius

  • Corporal
  • **
  • Posts: 1572
Reply #5 on: February 08, 2024, 07:49:25 PM
I thought Clark was almost universally criticized for going to enter Rome, instead of cutting off the Fourteenth army after Operation Diadem?
I recall in a newspaper interview about 1965, he was still railing about DDay pushing the seizure of Rome off the headlines.  He felt cheated of acclaim.

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


bayonetbrant

  • Arrogance Mitigator & Event "Organizer"
  • Administrator
  • Staff Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 15459
  • Going mad, but at least going somewhere
    • Six Degrees of Radio
Reply #6 on: February 08, 2024, 07:57:56 PM
I thought Clark was almost universally criticized for going to enter Rome, instead of cutting off the Fourteenth army after Operation Diadem?
I recall in a newspaper interview about 1965, he was still railing about DDay pushing the seizure of Rome off the headlines.  He felt cheated of acclaim.

Yep, let the Germans escape and was blatantly insubordinate to the overall commander in Italy, who was British

But along the way, he also completely f'ed the 36th Div by throwing them into an unnecessary frontal attack across a river that he wouldn't've need to do if he's lopped behind the Germans and never let them get across the river in the first place.

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=++

Random acts of genius and other inspirations of applied violence.
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~
Six Degrees of Radio for songs you should know by artists you should love


bob48

  • Smeghead.
  • Warrant Officer
  • Lead Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 11727
Reply #7 on: February 09, 2024, 07:27:58 AM
Gen. Alexander gave him far too much leeway, and let him get away with too much, so he must bear at least some of the blame.

I remember reading that at one point, Ike made him get rid of the huge press corps that used to follow Clark around, and one one point numbered around 20 reporters and photographers.

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'


Putraack

  • Jr. Trooper
  • *
  • Posts: 56
Reply #8 on: March 08, 2024, 02:05:58 PM
A few of James Holland's podcasts recently have been taking on the 36th ID's crossing of the Rapido, as well as sometimes returning to Clark and post-Anzio breakout, and the myths & legends thereafter. Again, he's become a defender of Clark, and I am willing to entertain his ideas, at least for purposes of exploring the campaigns.

Gen. Alexander gave him far too much leeway, and let him get away with too much, so he must bear at least some of the blame.

What I've been hearing is that once Alexander had talked to Clark after the Anzio breakout and heard his rationale, he was fine with those decisions. It seems it's only Truscott who argued postwar for sticking to the Valmontone/Rte 6 plan. Holland keeps coming back to the point that the Germans didn't escape to the north up that road, they were already running directly east, as Fifth Army + VI Corps had outstripped the Eighth Army that was supposed to be the eastern half of the pincer. I want to look at some books with more detailed situation maps before I make up my mind on this one.

Also, why does Walker not get more blame than Clark (or his corps commander) for a failed river crossing? John McManus points out that the 3d Division made a successful similar crossing just weeks before, with similar or fewer assets.

Going back to games on table, I have "Kesselring's War" set up now, and may do some solitaire this weekend. It stops well before Anzio or the Rapido battles, so it's not too germane to that discussion.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2024, 02:13:02 PM by Putraack »



bob48

  • Smeghead.
  • Warrant Officer
  • Lead Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 11727
Reply #9 on: March 08, 2024, 02:13:00 PM
You raise some interesting point.

I do like the look of Kesselrings War, so I'll be very interested to see what you make of it  :bigthumb:

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'


besilarius

  • Corporal
  • **
  • Posts: 1572
Reply #10 on: March 09, 2024, 07:18:08 PM
Clark was a very confusing legend.
The evening before Salerno he was relaxing by playing bridge.  Meanwhile junior staff officers labored on logistics problems through the night.
Was he wise to unwind right before the invasion of Italy, should he have worked to clear up the pre-invasion problems?
Should more attention been given to these issues weeks before?
After Kesselring stabilised the front north of Rome, and there was a new stalemate, he put out feelers to Tito to land in Yugoslavia.  This would have caused a number of issues.  The terrain was very limiting and would favor the defence (like in Italy).  Considering that large number of German troops already there to fight the partisans it wouldn't be easy or simple.  Bedell Smith read the proposal and thought it would make one stalemate into two weaker stalemates.

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


Putraack

  • Jr. Trooper
  • *
  • Posts: 56
Reply #11 on: March 10, 2024, 09:25:11 PM
First 2 turns of K's War were a learning experience (duh).

The sequence of play is the intriguing bit,  a little like a CDG: one player moves a stack (or so), then the other might, and so on. A 3-unit amphibious invasion is one such move, and an airborne drop is another, so just the Allied landings in Sicily take place over 3 moves (US, British, airborne), with possible Axis responses in between. That took some puzzling over.

It might have been my dice, but the Allied airforces came out much worse in their attempts to drive away the Axis air.

I did clear most of Sicily of Axis forces in one (monthly) turn-- the lone holdouts were dug in south of Messina. I tried the Patton option of landing the Americans against Palermo while the British went for Syracuse & Augusta. The Americans then rolled hotter dice and rushed the north coast to get into Messina in 4 (I think) moves.

I probably made some mistakes, which I expected at the first turns of something solitaired.



bob48

  • Smeghead.
  • Warrant Officer
  • Lead Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 11727
Reply #12 on: March 11, 2024, 07:03:00 AM
 :bigthumb:

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'