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Author Topic: FOCUS ON...................All Roads Lead to Rome.  (Read 562 times)

bob48

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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.

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bayonetbrant

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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.

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Putraack

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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

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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.

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bayonetbrant

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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

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besilarius

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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.
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bayonetbrant

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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.

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bob48

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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'