The Italian campaign in September 1943, spearheaded by the US 5th and British 8th Armies, is one of the most dramatic campaigns of the entire Second World War - it was here that Hitler’s ‘Fortress Europe’ would finally be pierced. The first, tentative steps to total Allied victory. But lacking the sheer scale of the war in the East, or the immediacy of D-Day - the Italian Campaign is often overlooked and forgotten.
But now historian and broadcaster James Holland wants to redress the balance as he heads to Italy himself to retrace the steps of the men who fought here. Travelling from the tip of Italy's toe, over the landing beaches of Salerno and Anzio, into the high mountains around Monte Cassino, and finally into Rome itself. James has just written his own history of the campaign and his knowledge and understanding of the battlefields is outstanding.
In this first episode - "Invasion" - James travels from the southern city of Reggio Calabria all the way to Salerno. On the way he explores the dramatic opening days of the invasion of Italy.
He will find out that the biggest enemy of the Allies was not always the enemy forces - but the rugged Italian terrain. He visits the precise locations where the men of the US 5th and British 8th Armies made their dramatic landings, and walks the ground to discover exactly where the battle for Salerno was won and lost.
For further reading:
James Holland, The Savage Storm: The Battle for Italy 1943. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Savage-Storm-Battle-Italy-1943/dp/1787636682