Spearhead of the Fifth Army: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio

Spearhead of the Fifth Army: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio

by Frank Van Lunteren


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Spearhead of the Fifth Army: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio by Frank Van Lunteren

This work is the third book by Frank Van Lunteren on the 504th P.I.R. in World War II, focusing on their role in the Italian theater.

Upon the completion of the Sicily and Salerno Campaigns in 1943, the paratroopers of Colonel Reuben Tucker’s 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment were among the first Allied troops to enter Naples. A ghost town at first sight, the residents soon expressed their joy at being liberated. Four weeks later the 504th—upon the special request of General Mark Clark—spearheaded Fifth Army’s drive through the notorious Volturno Valley—the Germans’ next stand.

January 1944 seemed to promise a period of rest, but the landing at Anzio meant deployment for the paratroopers again, this time by ship. A bombing raid during their beach landing was a forecast of eight weeks of bitter fighting. Holding the right flank of the beachhead along the Mussolini Canal, the paratroopers earned their nickname “Devils in Baggy Pants” for their frontline incursions into enemy lines, as well as their stubborn defense of the Allied salient.

In this work H Company’s attachment to the British 5th Grenadier Guards are painted in comprehensive light for the first time. Using war diaries, personal journals, letters and interviews with nearly 80 veterans, a close-in view of the 504th P.I.R. in the Fifth Army’s Italy Campaign is here provided in unsurpassed detail.

This work is the third by Van Lunteren on the 504th P.I.R. In World War II following The Battle of the Bridges and Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper. As readers will see, however, the Italian theater held second place to none in terms of grueling combat and courage against formidable odds, and an extremely expert enemy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612004273
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Publication date: 09/16/2016
Sales rank: 654,719
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Frank van Lunteren was born and raised in Arnhem, the Netherlands. His interest in military history dates to the 1980’s, when as a child he first visited the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. He went on to study political history at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, while privately researching the exploits of the paratroopers, and at the 61st convention of the 82nd Airborne Division Association in Harrisburg, PA in August 2007, he was Guest Speaker at the 504th Regimental Dinner.

He originally conducted research on the wartime service of Ted Bachenheimer (1923-44), the famous top scout of the 504th PIR during World War II. But his contacts proliferated, as did his project, and he eventually met and interviewed so many veterans that the present work – on the entire 504th PIR’s service in Market Garden – is the Result.

Table of Contents

List of Maps ix

Foreword Capt. (Ret). Roy M. Hanna, 3rd Battalion, 504th PIR x

Introduction Col. Colin P. Tuley, 1st BCT, 82nd Airborne Division xi

Acknowledgments xii

1 Entering a Ghost Town: Naples, September 28-Octobcr 25, 1943 1

2 Across the Matese Mountains: Valle Agricola, Letino, and Gallo, October 26-November 3, 1943 18

3 Conquering the Volturno Valley: Macchia, Fornelli, Isernia, November 4-8, 1943 32

4 Breaching the Barbara Line: Colli, Hill 1011, and Rocchetta, November 9-30, 1943 43

5 Battle for the Bernhard Line: Hills 610, 687, 877, 950, and 954, December 1-31, 1943 70

6 Reaching the Breaking Point: Hills 710 and 1205, December 9-31, 1943 87

7 Planning Operation Shingle: Naples, January 1-21, 1944 106

8 Landing on Red Beach: Anzio Beachhead, January 22, 1944 114

9 Battle at Bridge No. 2: Anzio Beachhead, January 23-24, 1944 126

10 Disaster at Borgo Piave: Anzio Beachhead, January 25-27, 1944 138

11 Last Attempt to Break Out: Anzio Beachhead, January 28-31, 1944 152

12 The Factory: Anzio Beachhead, February 1-6, 1944 164

13 The Grenadier Guards Gully: Anzio Beachhead, February 7-8, 1944 183

14 Battle for Carroceto: Anzio Beachhead, February 8-10, 1944 193

15 The Mussolini Canal: Anzio Beachhead, February 1-15, 1944 208

16 Operation Fischfang and Deadly Patrols: Anzio Beachhead, February 16-29, 1944 219

17 Journey to the Line: Anzio Beachhead, March 1-9, 1944 231

18 Battle Experience: Anzio Beachhead, March 10-21, 1944 251

19 Relief at Anzio: Anzio Beachhead and Naples, March 22-April 9, 1944 260

20 Postscript: Postwar Careers 273

Appendix A Distinguished Service Cross Recipients 275

Appendix B List of Battlefield Commissions 276

Appendix C Order of Battle for the Apennine Mountains Campaign, October 25, 1943 277 Appendix D: Order of Battle for Operation Shingle, January 22, 1944 279

Appendix E Order of Battle for Operation Shingle, March 22, 1944 281

Appendix F Order of Battle for the 24th Guards Brigade, February 7-8, 1944 283

Appendix G Field Orders of the 3rd Infantry Division to Col. Tucker, January 1944 285

Acronyms and Abbreviations 287

Notes 290

Contributing Veterans 311

Selected Bibliography 313

Index 319

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Spearhead of the Fifth Army: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This account is written with way too many names. After several chapters I gave up. Of the hundreds of WWII books I've read, this is by far one of the worst.