The day after Italy’s surrender on September 8, 1943, U.S. General Mark Clark’s 5th Army stormed ashore in Salerno Bay, just south of Rome and Naples. The invasion was expected to be quickly concluded, followed by a rapid dash up the coast to the Italian capital. In one fell swoop, the Allies were going to occupy Italy and trap large formations of occupying German troops in the southern part of the Italian peninsula.
But unknown to the Americans and British, the German Wehrmacht had already acted, with their customary efficiency and cold-bloodedness, disarming their erstwhile Italian allies and occupying key installations, air fields and road junctions. When the Allies started their advance, battle-hardened and experienced German divisions were lying in wait!