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Illustrated with 28 maps and 35 Illustrations.
THE WINTER LINE operations, lasting from 15 November 1943 to 15 January 1944, continued the Allied campaign to drive the Germans out of southern Italy. The underlying plan was to keep pressure on the enemy and, if possible, to break through toward Rome. Both the terrain and the season reduced the chances for effecting a breakthrough. By maintaining pressure, however, the Allies would prevent the Germans from, resting and refitting the tired and depleted divisions which they might hold as a mobile reserve for the close defense of Rome in the event of a new Allied landing on the west coast or for use in a possible counteroffensive in the opening months of 1944. Then too, the fighting in Italy had its effects on the over-all military situation in Europe. As long as the Germans were actively engaged on the Italian front, they would be forced to feed in men and supplies which would otherwise be available for the war in Russia or for strengthening their Atlantic Wall against an expected Allied invasion in 1944. Continuation of the Italian campaign was not in question; the problem was how best to carry it on.
The Allied effort was therefore maintained in an offensive planned to break the enemy’s Winter Line, a series of well-prepared positions along the shortest possible line across the waist of Italy-from the Garigliano River on the west through mountains in the center to the Sangro River on the east. For the individual soldiers of the Fifth Army, the attack resolved itself into the familiar pattern of bitter fighting from hill to hill.