One victory after another of the Allied forces in the North African and Mediterranean battlefields led to increasing tension in Italy and accelerated Mussolini’s downfall.
Less than half a year after Italy officially joined the war in June 1940, the public had an extreme aversion to the war.
The failure of the Italian army in Greece and Egypt made them no longer trust the so-called consistently correct leaders.
Three consecutive years of war and its defeat have brought the Italian economy to the brink of collapse.
Due to the British Maritime blockade of the Mediterranean, Italy’s long-term dependence on imported food has been reduced.
The ration of bread for ordinary Italians is only 150 grams per person per day, and daily necessities are often only seen on the black market.
People’s life is very difficult, they are increasingly dissatisfied with Mussolini’s fascist regime, and anti fascist and anti war activities occur frequently.
In March 1943, a mass strike involving 130000 people broke out in Milan and Turin, demanding “peace and freedom”.
Workers in Lombardy and Genoa responded immediately.
This was the first anti-government demonstration in Italy, which brought military production to a standstill.
Within the fascist group, many people realized that the war was unpopular and expressed dissatisfaction and contempt for Mussolini.
Ziano, the leading figure of fascism, and others planned to make peace with the allies at the end of 1942 and seek to get rid of the dilemma of war.
Mussolini then reorganized the cabinet in February 1943 and abolished the posts of Foreign Minister ziano and justice minister grandi, but still failed to save the crumbling fascist rule.
Under the pressure of foreign war and the impact of domestic political and economic crisis, Mussolini tried to shorten the front to avoid the failure of the war and the subsequent domestic revolution.
On April 7, 1943, Mussolini proposed in his meeting with the Soviet Union that Germany and the Soviet Union make peace separately, so as to free up troops to reinforce the southern European front.
This proposal was firmly opposed by Hitler.
Mussolini’s retreat, the sharp contradictions between the two sides on the Balkan issue, and Italy’s resumption of construction of fortifications aimed at Germany on its Alpine border worried Hitler, and the relationship between Italy and Germany gradually deteriorated.
In order to prevent Italy from withdrawing from the war alone, Hitler strengthened his close control over Italy and quickly transferred a large number of German troops to Italy.
Although Germany fully explained this move, it still aroused the suspicion of Italians.
This suspicion of Italy, in turn, increased Hitler’s distrust of Italy.
In mid May 1943, Hitler secretly formulated the military plan for occupying Italy – “axis” operation.
The Allied forces attacked Sicily on July 10, 1943.
Italy was in danger of being attacked, and Italy’s defeat was inevitable.
Three days later, Hitler secretly ordered the German commander in Sicily to “quietly crowd out the Italian command.
Take over all the command of the bridgehead in Sicily by himself”, and authorized the German commander in the Strait of Messina to occupy the position of the Italian coastal artillery company by the Germans as a last resort.
On July 19, Hitler and Mussolini met in fairtre, Italy.
Hitler once again encouraged Mussolini and promised to continue to provide him with assistance.
Although Mussolini agreed with the advisers that Italy could not continue to fight, he did not dare to put it to Hitler face to face.
In particular, abandoning the Germans meant surrender or the demise of fascism.
On the same day, more than 500 bombers from the 19th air force of the United States from North Africa and the Middle East bombed Rome for the first time.
1000 tons of bombs were dropped, killing about 2000 people, and the palace of San Lorenzo, a major building in the city, was also greatly damaged.
The bombing had a great impact on Italy.
Other leaders of Italian fascism are increasingly aware of the need to get rid of Mussolini.
At the proposal of the fascist leader headed by Roberto farinachi, the Italian “fascist grand committee” held a meeting on July 24.
At the meeting, Mussolini made a report on the domestic situation, the situation on the front line and the results of his meeting with Hitler, which was then sharply criticized by his fascist colleagues.
After 10 hours of debate, the resolution drafted by Grundy, one of the opposition leaders, was submitted to the general assembly for voting.
The bill requires Mussolini to return all the usurped legal rights belonging to the king, Parliament, ministers and High Commissioners stipulated by the law and constitution, hand over all the army to the king, and propose to the king to seek a more feasible policy to protect Italy from further destruction.
On July 25, Mussolini met with the king and asked him to punish those who voted against him, appoint a group of new ministers and continue the war.
However, the king said that in view of the defeat of the war and the low morale of the army, Mussolini had become the most hated person in Italy, so he had to resign.
Marshal Baglio has been appointed to succeed him as prime minister.
Mussolini was arrested immediately after leaving the king and imprisoned on the island of Madalena.
On July 26, Badoglio formed a new cabinet excluding all Fascist leaders, and rafaele guarilla was appointed foreign minister.
The new Italian government dissolved the fascist party, declared a national martial law and banned all political gatherings.
The 21 year fascist rule of Italy came to an end.
After Mussolini’s fall, the new Italian government of Badoglio claimed that Italy was still an “active ally” of Germany and the war would continue in order to avoid retaliation for Germany’s occupation of Rome.
On the other hand, he wanted to secretly seek a way out of the war without suffering the humiliation of formal surrender.
At the end of July 1943, the new Italian government asked the British minister to the Vatican and the personal representative of the president to the papal office whether they could transmit the Italian secret peace proposal to their respective governments.
The United States and Britain rejected this temptation because they did not understand the real intention of the Badoglio government at that time.
On August 15, general Giuseppe Castellano, chief of staff of general Ambrosio, chief of general staff of Italy, went to Spain to visit the British ambassador to Madrid and handed him a letter from marshal Badoglio.
The letter indicates that Italy is willing to surrender unconditionally – if Italy can join the allies.
Once the Allied forces landed in Italy, the Italian government immediately prepared to join the Allies against Germany.
In view of the intention of the new Italian government to surrender, Roosevelt and, who were meeting in Quebec, ordered to send their chief of staff, American wall, on August 18General t.
bidell Smith and British general Kenneth strong, director of the intelligence service of the Allied Mediterranean command, went to Lisbon, Portugal to start negotiations with general Castellano, special envoy of Italy.
They brought the conditions of military surrender decided after full discussion at the Quebec conference: including the immediate cessation of military operations by Italy.
The Navy and air force shall withdraw to the place designated by the allies and accept the command of the allies.
Immediately withdraw troops fighting in foreign battlefields.
The right to use Italian airports and allied military bases.
On August 19, the two sides met at the British Embassy in the Portuguese capital.
The representatives of the Allies handed over an ultimatum and informed Castellano that General Eisenhower would accept the unconditional surrender of the Italian government in accordance with the conditions now handed to him.
The Italian representative was given a 10 day period to inform the Italian government of this decision.
On August 31, General Smith met with Castellano again in Sicily.
The latter said that since Italy was under German control, the armistice could not be announced at the time required by the allies, that is, before the Allies completed their landing in Italy.
After being rejected by the allies, Castellano returned to Rome that night to ask his government for instructions.
On the afternoon of September 3, in Sicily, the representative of the Allied forces, General Smith, and the representative of Italy, general Castellano, signed a short-term armistice agreement with an effective date of saleno landing day.
At that time, Italy will announce its surrender and withdraw from the war.
Thus, one of the main objectives of the Allied attack on Italy – to drive Italy out of the war – was achieved before the attack began.
Hitler had expected that the new Italian government might make peace with the allies and abandon Germany, and took timely countermeasures.
On July 26, the day after Mussolini’s downfall, the German Supreme Command ordered Rommel, who had planned to take command in Greece, to “assemble troops in the Alps and be ready to march into Italy”.
On August 16, Hitler ordered Rommel and his general command to cross the border and enter northern Italy on the pretext that the burden of the Italians defending the northern territory would be reduced so that they could reinforce the south, because the allies would land in the south at any time.
The Italian government, which has not yet publicly defected, cannot refuse.
In this way, at the beginning of September, eight German divisions led by Rommel took a foothold in the Alps border of Italy and effectively supported the kesselin troops in the south.
By September 3, Italy had signed the unconditional surrender.
There were 16 German divisions in Italy, which were divided into group B in the north and group C in the middle and south.
The two army groups are responsible for two tasks: first, once Italy surrenders, the two army groups will disarm the nearby Italian forces and seize their equipment.
Second, the group army group is responsible for keeping the alpine pass unblocked so that kesselin’s forces will not be surrounded, and the group army group is responsible for defeating the landing of the allies.
Based on the experience of Sicily’s counterattack, kesselin was convinced that Allied landing operations must be defeated during Allied landing or inland, outside the range of their naval guns.
Therefore, he deployed his troops around the beaches where the Allies were most likely to land.
If the water defense fails, a series of defensive positions will be arranged across the Italian peninsula to resist until the German army completes the concentration of troops and launches a counter attack.
However, if the Italians fell to the allies, the German army would not be able to prevent the powerful landing of the allies.
In this case, kesselin planned to withdraw his troops to the Pisa Rimini line.
The troops stationed in southern Italy are the tenth group army of German group C army group, and the commander is general von fittinghoff Schell.
Apart from the troops against the Italian army, the group army has only six divisions to prevent the Allied landing.
Among them, the “Herman Goering” division and the 15th armored division are in the stage of reorganization and training after withdrawing from Sicily.
Only one unit of the 14th Panzer Army reached the full strength standard and was deployed on the hills around saleno Bay.
The “Herman Goering” division has only five battalions and one company to fight.
In addition, the German army has only 120 fighter planes and 50 fighter bombers to cover central and southern Italy.
At 4:30 a.m. on September 3, 1943, under the cover of naval and air force fire, the British eighth group army troops carried out operation “Bay City” and landed smoothly in the Reggio area of Calabria without resistance.
The Fifth Division pushed along the west coast and the first division of Canada pushed along the east coast without obstacles.
That night, the main force of the British army occupied Reggio, katona and San Giovanni, pushed 160 kilometers in seven days and reached the front line of katanzaro on September 10.
Due to the shortage of troops, kesselin could not stop the troops from advancing northward from the “toe” of Italy.
At the same time, he also judged that the “Bay City” operation was a support operation, so he only sent two divisions to block the British army and protected Rome and Naples with the rest of the divisions.
In addition, the 16th regiment deployed its artillery on the beach of Sano and laid an umbrella on the beach of Sano Bay.
In addition, it also ordered the 16th regiment to lay its artillery on the beach of Sano Bay.
Kesselin also drew up a plan to quickly mobilize troops to saleno, ready to make a lasting resistance in the south.
However, Rommel advocated abandoning southern and central Italy and making the final defense on the Apennine defense line in the south of the Po River Basin, because this defense line shortened the coastal defense line, and the defense can win more with less.
Hitler accepted Rommel’s and kesselin’s proposal in a compromise way, ordered kesselin to resist in southern Italy, but did not send him enough troops to defend saleno and Naples, which affected kesselin’s preparation for counterattack.
From September 3 to 6, the troops participating in the saleno landing assault set out from Oran, Algiers, biseida and Tripoli respectively, joined the troops from Palermo and telmini north of Sicily, and then drove into saleno on September 8.
At 18:30 p.m. on September 8, when the northern and southern assault forces of the Allied forces arrived in saleno bay along two parallel lines, General Eisenhower radioed the armistice notice and announced Italy’s unconditional surrender: the Italian government had ordered its troops to surrender unconditionally.
Hostilities between the United Nations and the Italian armed forcesThe operation is terminated immediately.
Now, all Italians who took action to expel the German invaders from Italian territory will receive the assistance and support of the United Nations.
About two hours later, Italian government head marshal Badoglio announced the armistice declaration through radio Rome.
After the armistice agreement between Italy and the Allies was made public, Germany immediately paid attention to the implementation of the “axis” plan prepared a few weeks ago: disarming the Italian army and taking over all Italian political institutions and communication facilities.
The plan stipulates: defeat the Italian motorized army, disarm, capture or disband the Italian army in Italy, southern France and Southeast Europe, then occupy Rome and redeploy 10 additional German divisions to Italy.
On the night of September 8, the German army began to surround Rome.
The Italian government and royal family left Rome in two submarine driven speedboats.
On September 10, after a small and short battle with the Italian army, the German army occupied Rome and took over the Vatican City.
Germany claimed that Italian troops from northern Italy, southern France and Balkan countries had surrendered.
On the same day, the Italian government and members of the royal family arrived in Brindisi, Italy, occupied by the Allied forces, and quickly established an anti fascist Italian government agency.
Two days later, under the command of Colonel Otto skolzne of the SS, the German paratrooper team landed near the hotel on the top of the great SASO peak in the Abruzzi mountains of Italy by a transport glider and rescued Mussolini who was detained there.
All 250 Italian gendarmes guarding Mussolini surrendered within minutes.
On September 14, Mussolini met Hitler at the “wolf’s Den” base camp in rastenberg and acted as the head of the puppet government in northern Italy.
The landing force of saleno allied forces is the fifth group army of the United States under the command of general Clark, which governs the Sixth Army of the United States and the tenth army of the British army.
The landing front is about 96 kilometers wide, including saleno and the coastal areas of the Gulf to the South and West.
At 3:30 a.m. on September 9, the battle of saleno began.
The three infantry divisions of the first echelon of the Allied forces operate in two ways.
The main landing site of the British Army on the north road is the beach several kilometers south of saleno.
The German troops were heavily shelled at the beginning of the landing.
Despite the fire support of allied naval guns, the first landing shock wave was still tenaciously resisted by the German army.
In the first day, the vanguard troops advanced 3 kilometers inland, but suffered heavy casualties and failed to occupy the main targets scheduled for the first day – saleno Bay, montekovino airport and the intersection of roads.
The U.S. Army on the South Road landed on four beaches near Peston.
Without the support of naval guns and aircraft fire, the troops braved the heavy German artillery fire and approached the coast.
The first batch of shock wave troops bypassed the solid German positions and concentrated in the designated meeting area.
Then, the amphibious truck carried the howitzer and ammunition ashore.
The landing troops trapped in the German fire net used these weapons to fight German tanks and infantry at direct range.
At noon, although some beaches had been tightly blocked by German fire, the US Army established an unstable foothold in its landing area.
In the evening, the left wing of the US Army pushed inland for about 8 kilometers, and the right wing was still blocked near the beach.
Although the fifth group army occupied all the scheduled beaches on the first day, the landing sites in the South and North landing areas are still very unstable.
In the early morning of the next day, the 56th British division occupied the airport and highway intersection, and the 16th German armored division transferred most of its troops north to the British theater.
The US military took the opportunity to expand the bridgehead and landed with the 45th division of the reserve force.
With the fire support of allied naval guns and aircraft, before the evening of September 11, the US 36th Division advanced 15 kilometers, and several British divisions occupied Salerno and its south coast.
The Germans found that the Allied support ships played a major role and immediately turned the focus of air attack to warships, wounding one of the Allied battleships and one of the cruisers.
On September 12, the landing site of the fifth group army was slightly expanded, but it has not yet reached the specified scope.
At the same time, the four allied divisions that have landed are still contained in two shallow and deep beachheads separated from each other.
Hopes of arriving in Naples on the third day were dashed.
So far, five German divisions have arrived in the dasaleno area.
They have gathered 600 tanks and mobile guns to prepare for a comprehensive counterattack downstream along the seley River, the boundary of the Allied landing area.
The German army’s attempt was to annihilate the fifth group army separately, smash them one by one, concentrate on attacking one landing area, and then attack another landing area.
On September 13, the reinforced German army launched a strong counterattack, rushed into the gap between the US and British forces and cut it into two parts, forcing the allies to retreat to a place within 3 kilometers from the coast, which was in great danger.
General Clark had to ask Hewitt to draw up a plan to withdraw northern or southern allied forces and resume the landing, and asked the allied command for reinforcements.
In order to keep the landing site, the Allies immediately took emergency measures to quickly reinforce the shore troops.
The Allies parachuted the 82nd US Airborne Division to the landing site.
On September 14, all allied planes on the Mediterranean battlefield sent out to bomb the German army and its transportation lines.
At the same time, the fierce and accurate artillery fire launched by more than 10 warships effectively prevented the German army from advancing to the beach.
On September 15, allied forces consolidated their positions.
On the morning of September 16, the German army gathered forces and launched another offensive against the British theater in two ways in an attempt to reverse the situation.
It was violently attacked by Allied artillery, naval guns, tanks and aircraft.
The losses were heavy, and the counterattack failed.
On the same day, the eighth group army of Britain, which pursued the German army, joined the fifth group army of the United States 60 kilometers southwest of Salerno.
So far, the 15th group army group of the Allied forces has formed a united front on the Apennine peninsula.
Kesselin realized that the cost of recapturing the landing site was too high, and the German army did not have enough troops and weapons to continue to resist, so he decided to give up saleno and Naples and withdraw northward to an existing defense line behind the voltuno river.
While carrying out the saleno landing battle, the British first airborne division was ordered to occupy the port of Taranto and attack the “heel and shin” of the Italian peninsula in the direction of Foggia.
On the afternoon of September, two British destroyers and the first squadron of the British destroyer took cover,.