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Chapter 13
General Lucas at Anzio
by Martin Blumenson

(see end of file for information on author)

A commander can make a decision simply by ruling out what appears to him to be impractical or unfeasible. This was how Maj. Gen. John P. Lucas, commander of the VI Corps in Italy, viewed and resolved his command problem immediately after the Anzio landing in January 1944. He rejected a course of action that to him appeared unwise or imprudent.

Yet two alternatives were in fact valid and open to him, though neither satisfied him completely. One seemed to him to verge on recklessness, the other could perhaps be criticized as overcautious. With orders from the next higher echelon of command deliberately left vague, General Lucas was free to choose. Thus he alone would shape the pattern of events that was to develop at Anzio.

The responsibility was great. If he made his choice on the side of safety or security, he would lessen the risks of an inherently hazardous operation. By gambling, he might lose the entire force under his command. On the other hand, if he refused to gamble, he might throw away the opportunity to secure a strategic objective at little cost and in one master stroke bring to an end an arduous phase of the Italian campaign.

The issues of this, the most significant command decision at Anzio, were rooted in the Allied motives for waging war on the Italian mainland. According to the formal directive of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the object of invading the peninsula was to knock Italy out

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of the war and tie down as many German forces as possible. The Allies had achieved the first purpose even as they prepared to invade the Italian mainland at the toe and at Salerno: Italy had surrendered in September 1943. The Allies, therefore, in fighting up the boot of Italy, were serving the cause of the second, engaging German forces that otherwise might be employed in battle on the Russian front or in preparations to repel the Allied invasion of northwest Europe (OVERLORD) scheduled for the spring of 1944. [1]

While containing the maximum number of German forces in Italy by means of offensive operations, the Allies had their minds fixed on Rome. Though the Combined Chiefs had not mentioned Rome as a goal of the Italian campaign, Prime Minister Winston Churchill "passionately" desired to capture the Eternal City, and this fact was well known among the Allied echelons of command. [2] President Franklin D. Roosevelt also had his eye on Rome. "Keep on giving it all you have," he wrote to the commander of the Fifth Army in December 1943, "and Rome will be ours and more beyond." [3]

Liberating Rome would be a dramatic act. The first Axis capital to fall to the Allies, it would demonstrate irrefutably the progress of Allied arms on the European continent, perhaps stimulate revolt or increased guerrilla activity in German-occupied Europe, and without doubt strike a serious blow against German morale.

In support of the Allied predilection for Rome, military reasons could be marshaled. Nearby airfields were valuable. More important, Rome was the center of the Italian communications system. Through Rome passed the troops and supplies nourishing the implacable resistance that prevented the Allies from marching up the Italian boot. South of Rome the terrain was eminently suitable for the tenacious defense holding the Allies in check. North of Rome the first terrain on which the Germans could anchor a defense seemed no closer than the Pisa-Rimini line-which would represent a sizable Allied step

[1] The Italian campaign, from the autumn of 1943 to the spring of
1944, is covered in the author's forthcoming Salerno to Cassino, a 
volume in the series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. Accessible 
secondary sources on the Anzio landing include: Mark W. Clark, 
Calculated Risk (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950); 
Lieutenant Colonel Chester G. Starr, ed., From Salerno to the Alps: A 
History of the Fifth Army, 1943-1945 (Washington: Infantry Journal 
Press, 1948); Lt. General L. K. Truscott, Jr., Command Missions 
(New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., Inc., 1954); [Capt. John Bowditch, III, 
and 1st Lt. Robert W. Komer], Anzio Beachhead, AMERICAN FORCES IN 
ACTION (Washington, 1947).
[2] Summary Minutes of Meeting, Eisenhower's Villa, Algiers, 29 May-3 
June 1943, in ABC 384. Accounts of the Algiers conference may be found 
in Maurice Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 
1943-1944, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1959), 
Ch. VI, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (New York: Doubleday 
and Company, Inc., 1948), pp. 193-95. 
[3] Clark, Calculated Risk, p. 245.

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toward Germany and which would provide more than adequate depth and security for the important Allied air and ground installations in south Italy.

The desire for Rome, balked by successful German opposition in the intervening mountainous ground in southern Italy, led directly to the amphibious landing at Anzio. Even before the invasion of Italy, Allied leaders had recognized the difficulties of making swift overland advance in the troubled terrain south of Rome. Lacking numerically superior forces, constricted by the width of the Italian peninsula to a relatively short front, and limited by the mountains to well-defined corridors of advance, the Allied ground forces were restricted to frontal attack. Maneuver was possible only by means of sea-borne hooks-the Allies could envelop the enemy positions only by amphibious end runs. [4]

Though there had been talk in the theater of launching such operations on the Italian west coast, the necessity to do so became increasingly clear as autumn turned to winter. Not only did the Germans continue resourcefully to deny the Allies quick access to Rome, but the bitterly fought campaign in southern Italy seemed to be approaching a stalemate. In this context, a surprise amphibious landing behind the enemy lines appeared the only way of transforming the static warfare of the Italian campaign into a swift war of movement where the superior mechanized equipment of the Allies could be employed to advantage.

Within this frame of reference, two place names became prominent: Anzio and the Alban Hills. The beaches near Anzio, thirty-five miles due south of Rome, were suitable for amphibious landings, and the open terrain of the low, relatively level coastal plain around Anzio was favorable for maneuver. Good roads led to the Alban Hills, some twenty miles inland. The Alban high ground, fifteen miles southeast of the center of Rome, rises between the two main west coast highways leading to the capital. Dominating the southern approaches to the city, the hill complex was the last barrier the Germans could use to bar an Allied entry into Rome.

Early in October 1943, a month after the Salerno invasion, Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark was sufficiently interested in water-borne end runs to form a special amphibious planning staff and make it part of his Fifth U.S. Army G-3 Section. [5] The function of the special group

[4] Planning papers on the Italian invasion during the first nine 
months of 1943 refer often to the need not only for amphibious hooks but 
also for Rome. See Allied Force Headquarters (AFHQ) Microfilms.
[5] An excellent discussion of the early Anzio planning may be found in
[Capt. Harris G. Warren and Capt. John Bowditch, III] Fifth Army 
History, Part IV, 16 January 1944-31 March 1944, Cassino and Anzio
 (Florence, Italy: L'Impronta Press, n.d.) pp. 10-24. 

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was to investigate in detail all possible amphibious opportunities on the west coast of Italy, a task complicated by the lack of available troops and landing craft, the difficulty of finding suitable beaches within supporting distance of the main Fifth Army forces, and the generally unfavorable tactical situation.

During late October and early November, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean theater, discussed with his senior subordinate commanders the possibility of making amphibious landings on the west coast as a means of maintaining the momentum of the lagging offensive in Italy. The major problem was to secure enough landing vessels to make such an effort feasible. More than two-thirds of the ninety LST's then in the Mediterranean had to be released by 15 December for employment elsewhere in future operations already planned; until that date the landing ships were needed to transport ground troops and supplies, as well as Strategic Air Force units, from North Africa and Sicily into Italy to accelerate the build-up of Allied forces.

The senior commanders in the theater were in agreement that if enough landing ships and craft could be retained beyond mid-December, an amphibious operation ought to be mounted to support the main offensive oriented on Rome. General Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander, commander of the ground forces in Italy, felt that if the Allies could penetrate the main German defenses in south Italy, Allied troops landed on the enemy flank below Rome might so threaten German communications as to compel the enemy to retreat.

As the first step in clarifying the requirements of such an operation, Alexander on 8 November 1943 instructed the Fifth Army to draw a plan. To guide the army staff, Alexander's 15 Army Group headquarters set forth his general concept. As part of a drive on Rome, an amphibious operation south of Rome was to be directed on the Alban Hills; combined with a frontal assault on the main enemy line, the landing threatening the enemy rear was to dispossess the Germans of the last defensive position on the southern approaches to Rome. [6]

The Fifth Army drew an outline plan, and on 25 November General Clark approved what was code-named Operation SHINGLE. An amphibious landing at Anzio was to take place after the Fifth Army reached the Capistrello-Ferentino-Priverno line near Frosinone (about forty miles southeast of Rome) and was ready to institute an all-out drive toward the Alban Hills. The Anzio force was to be small and

[6] 15 Army Group Operations Instruction 31, 8 Nov 43. 

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its effort subsidiary. Its function was to assist the major Fifth Army forces in their main effort to capture the Alban hill mass. Link-up between the main and the Anzio fronts, it was assumed, would take place no later than seven days after the landing.

Though complying with Alexander's general desire, Clark's army plan reversed the roles of the participating forces. According to Alexander, the Anzio force was to capture the Alban Hills. According to Clark, the main Fifth Army forces were to seize the hill mass.

Reconciliation of the two concepts did not seem important for the moment, for it began to appear that SHINGLE was doomed to indefinite postponement. Though the theater received permission to retain sufficient landing ships and craft to make an amphibious operation feasible, enemy resistance, mountainous terrain, and bad weather so bogged down the Fifth Army advance to the north that the army could not get within supporting distance of the projected landing site.

SHINGLE gained a new lease on life on 10 December when General Clark suggested, despite little prospect of reaching in the near future positions from which to support a landing at Anzio, that the amphibious landing be mounted nevertheless. A strengthened Anzio force, if assured continuous resupply by water, could, he believed, consolidate a beachhead and remain separated from the main Fifth Army forces for more than seven days. Its mere presence deep in the German rear would constitute a considerable threat to German security and thereby facilitate the Fifth Army advance up the peninsula toward Rome.

The idea of making an amphibious envelopment at Anzio took concrete form on Christmas Day of 1943 at a conference in Tunis attended by Mr. Churchill and Generals Eisenhower and Alexander. General H. Maitland Wilson was also present, for he had been designated the successor to Eisenhower who was leaving the theater in a few days to assume command of the OVERLORD forces in England. With Eisenhower reluctant to influence the discussion because of his impending departure, and with Wilson virtually an observer, Churchill and Alexander decided in favor of SHINGLE. But instead of a landing to assist a main Fifth Army effort when the army was near Frosinone, SHINGLE was to be a larger operation launched regardless of where the Fifth Army stood in south Italy. (See Map IV, inside back cover.) Despite the opinion of the theater G-2 who opposed the operation on the basis that the Germans were too strong-the "seamier side of the question," as Mr. Churchill characterized the issue-Churchill and Alexander were convinced that an amphibious landing

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of not less than two assault divisions was "essential for a decision in Italy." [7]

Such an operation required further retention in the Mediterranean of landing ships and craft. Churchill and Alexander met at Marrakech, Morocco, on 8 January 1944 to discuss this problem. Shortly thereafter, the Combined Chiefs of Staff allowed the theater to hold through the month of February sufficient vessels to execute SHINGLE. [8]

According to General Clark, the Anzio landing was to "exercise a decisive influence in the operation to capture Rome." [9] The purpose of the amphibious venture was to outflank the enemy positions then established along the Garigliano and Rapido Rivers, some sixty miles south of Anzio. Whether the sixty miles between Anzio and the Garigliano was too great a distance for action on one front to influence the other was discussed, but it was accepted as an unavoidable risk. An amphibious landing in the Terracina area, closer to the main front, would permit better integration of amphibious and main front activities, but it would be too close to warrant hope of securing a strategic effect-a direct threat against Rome.

It was, of course, impossible to predict the exact German reaction to a landing, but the most probable reactions seemed desirable from the Allied standpoint. By cutting the enemy main line of communications immediately south of Rome, the Anzio force might provoke the Germans at the Garigliano and Rapido to withdraw. The threat alone of a large force in the German rear might compel German withdrawal. Or the Germans might find it necessary to weaken the Garigliano-Rapido front in order to meet the threat at Anzio, and in so doing open the gate to an Allied surge up the Liri Valley toward Rome.

To implement the strategic intent of the operation, the force scheduled to land far behind the enemy front had to be of sufficient strength not only to provoke a desired reaction but also to sustain

[7] Fifth Army History, Part IV, p. 15; Richard M. Leighton
and Robert W. Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1943-1945, 
a volume in preparation for UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II, MS Ch., 
"Scratch HERCULES and PIGSTICK; Enter SHINGLE"; Report by the Supreme 
Allied Commander, Mediterranean [General H. Maitland Wilson] to 
the Combined Chiefs of Staff on the Italian Campaign, 8 January 1944 to 
10 May 1944 (Washington, 1946), p. 6; Field Marshal the Viscount 
Alexander of Tunis, Despatch, 19 Apr 47 (published as "The Allied 
Armies in Italy from 3rd September, 1943, to 12th December, 1944," in 
the Supplement to the London Gazette of Tuesday, 6th June, 1950), 
p. 2909 (referred to hereafter as Alexander Despatch); Interv, 
Dr. Sidney T. Mathews with Brig. Gen. K. W. D. Strong (formerly AFHQ 
G-2), 30 Oct 47, OCMH files.
[8] Alexander Despatch, p. 2910. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff
believed an Anzio landing essential for a drive on Rome and a line north 
of Rome essential for an invasion of southern France later in 1944. 
Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics, MS Ch. cited n. 7.
[9] Cable, Clark to Alexander, 2 Jan 44, quoted in Fifth Army History,
 Part IV, p. 17.
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itself independently until the main Allied forces followed up the expected German withdrawal and made contact with the enveloping force. Yet the size and composition of the force was limited by the reservoir of Allied units available in the theater. The make-up of the force was also largely determined by the number of naval vessels on hand to carry out the amphibious landing. Furthermore, the operation had to be executed within a certain period of time so that landing ships and craft, as well as other naval vessels, could be released from the Mediterranean for the OVERLORD cross-Channel invasion of northwest Europe.

These factors determined the size of the Anzio force and the date of the amphibious operation. The VI Corps-originally with 2 divisions, 3 Ranger battalions, 2 Commando battalions, a parachute regiment, and an additional parachute battalion, plus supporting units and later augmented by an armored division (less a combat command) and an infantry regimental combat team-was to make an amphibious assault on the Anzio beaches on 22 January 1944.

According to General Alexander's final instructions, the Fifth Army was "to carry out an assault landing on the beaches in the vicinity of Rome with the object of cutting the enemy lines of communication and threatening the rear of the German 14 Corps [defending the Italian west coast along the lower Garigliano River]." In support of the landing, the Fifth Army was to make a strong thrust on the main front toward Cassino and Frosinone "shortly prior to the assault landing to draw in enemy reserves which might be employed against the landing forces and then to create a breach in his front through which every opportunity will be taken to link up rapidly with the seaborne operation." [10]

Unlike the theater G-2, intelligence officers of the 15 Army Group were rather optimistic. They judged that the enemy had the equivalent of two divisions in reserve near Rome, which was correct. And they felt that various troop movements and reliefs already in progress in January could increase the reserves able to oppose a landing at Anzio. But they counted on the effect of weather and on harassment by the Allied air forces to interfere not only with troop movements but with the German defensive dispositions. It seemed probable therefore that the Germans in the Rome area would lack balance and organization in their dispositions. Thus, there was good reason to hope for success at Anzio, where two divisions in the initial landing were to be reinforced by a strong and fully mobile striking force of armor and infantry. The object of the Anzio operation, Alex-

[10] Army Group Operations Instruction 32, 2 Jan 44. 

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ander repeated, was "to cut the enemy's main communications in the Colli Laziali [Alban Hills] area Southeast of Rome, and to threaten the rear of the 14 German Corps." The results, in Alexander's view:

The enemy will be compelled to react to the threat of his communications and rear, and advantage must be taken of this to break through his main defences [along the Garigliano and Rapido Rivers], and to insure that the two forces operating under Comd [sic] Fifth Army join hands at the earliest possible moment. Once this junction has been effected Comd Fifth Army will continue the advance North of Rome with the utmost possible speed. . . [11]

General Clark translated General Alexander's desires as follows: "Mission. Fifth Army will launch attacks in the Anzio area.... a) To seize and secure a beachhead in the vicinity of Anzio. b) Advance on Colli Laziali [Alban Hills]." [12] What seemed on the surface to be perfectly clear-a mission to be executed in two logically consecutive parts-was in reality deliberately vague on the second portion. The VI Corps was to establish a beachhead, but then was it to advance toward the Alban Hills or to the Alban Hills?

The reason for the deliberate vagueness stemmed from the desire to keep the VI Corps flexible rather than to commit it to a single unalterable line of action. This in turn arose from the difficulty of judging the German reaction at Anzio.

The Fifth Army intelligence estimates, differing from those of the army group, were less optimistic, primarily because of belief that the seriousness of the threat carried by the landing would force the Germans into a violent reaction.

An attack on the coast line in the vicinity of Anzio by a force the size of a Corps will become an emergency to be met by all the resources and strength available to the German High Command in Italy. It will threaten the safety of the Tenth Army [controlling the defense in south Italy]. It will also threaten to seize Rome and the airfields in the vicinity thereof which are of such great importance. [13]

As soon as the Germans appreciated the magnitude of the Anzio landing and realized no other attacks would occur at other points along the coast, they would, the Fifth Army believed, have to concentrate forces to defeat the landing. If they were unable to do so because of Allied air action, other interruptions, or lack of available forces, they would have to isolate the landing force and try to-prevent further build-up and advance. If the Germans could not prevent the movement of Allied forces to the Alban Hills, the safety of the

[11] 15 Army Group Operation Instruction 34, The Battle for Rome, 12 Jan 
[12] Fifth Army FO 5, 12 Jan 44. See also, Annex 1, G-2 Plan, Outline 
Plan Operation SHINGLE, and overprinted maps.
[13] Fifth Army SHINGLE Intelligence Summary 4, 30 Dec 43. 
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Tenth Army would be seriously threatened to the extent of making withdrawal necessary and bringing to an end the successful defense in south Italy.

To defend against the landing, the enemy was judged to have immediately available near Rome a corps headquarters and two divisions, plus paratroop and armored elements. By the third day of the operation, the Germans could perhaps draw a division from the Adriatic front facing the British Eighth Army. Two additional divisions could probably be near Anzio no sooner than D plus 16. [14]

Despite the relatively few German units immediately available to defend at Anzio, the Fifth Army assumed that the VI Corps would meet strong initial resistance on the beaches; it expected the corps to receive heavy counterattacks as soon as the Germans became aware of the extent and the purport of the operation. Perhaps the lesson of having underestimated German strength at the time of the Salerno invasion had been too well learned. The Fifth Army-and with it the VI Corps-expected the same pattern of opposition to develop at Anzio as had come close to inflicting defeat on the Allies at Salerno.

The emphasis consequently turned toward defense. The corps at Anzio was to maintain a strong reserve. Troops were to dig in on initial objectives at once to hold the beachhead against armored counterattack. With additional landing craft becoming available, the Fifth Army decided to augment the Anzio force. In addition to the original units-the 3d U.S. and 1 British Divisions, the 504th U.S. Parachute Infantry Regiment, the 509th U.S. Parachute Infantry Battalion, a British Special Service Brigade of two Commando battalions, and the U.S. Ranger Force of three battalions-the army made available to the corps the 1st U.S. Armored Division (less Combat Command B), a regimental combat team of the 45th U.S. Division, and three more battalions of light and medium artillery than had originally been assigned. Should even more strength be necessary at Anzio, the remainder of the 1st Armored and 45th Divisions could be moved to the beach- head.

The result was a SHINGLE force that had grown from a tentative original figure of 24,000 men to an expected eventual strength of more than 110,000. From a subsidiary operation on the left flank of a nearby Fifth Army, the Anzio landing had developed into a major operation deep in the enemy rear. Assisting the landing was to be a major Fifth Army attack on the main front and a demonstration on the part of General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery's Eighth British

[14] Ibid.

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Army (deployed beside the Fifth), both designed to pin down the enemy troops in south Italy.

The Fifth Army effort along the Garigliano and Rapido Rivers was in direct support of the Anzio landing. Its primary purpose was to prevent the Germans from immediately reinforcing the defenders at Anzio. If Clark could at the same time break through the Garigliano-Rapido line, he might precipitate a German withdrawal which the Anzio invasion might well turn into a rout.

Toward these ends, Clark planned a three-corps assault across the Garigliano and Rapido. The attack was to begin on 12 January and to culminate on 20 January in a thrust by the II Corps across the Rapido in the shadow of the enemy-held height of Monte Cassino. The climax of these efforts was to come two days later far in the enemy rear as General Lucas' VI Corps landed at Anzio.

The Fifth Army expected the VI Corps to be ready to do one of two things upon landing. If the enemy reacted in strength, the corps was to take the defensive and assemble reserves to meet German counterattacks. If, on the other hand, the corps could take the offensive, it was to advance "on" the Alban Hills by one of two routes: directly up the Albano road to cut Highway 7; or by way of Cisterna and Velletri to cut not only Highway 7 but also Highway 6 near Valmontone. Whether the VI Corps assumed a defensive or offensive attitude after landing would depend on how General Lucas saw the situation and on how he decided to act.

What were General Lucas' qualifications for this difficult assignment? Well thought of by General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Lucas had commanded the 3d Infantry Division in training in the United States. He had been with the Seventh Army during the Sicily operation as General Eisenhower's deputy and "Personal Representative with the Combat Troops." At the end of the Sicily campaign, he had replaced Maj. Gen. Omar N. Bradley as the II Corps commander. On 20 September, eleven days after the Salerno invasion, he had been appointed commander of the VI Corps. [15] Since then he had competently directed the corps in the Italian campaign.

The mountain warfare in Italy had fatigued General Lucas, so that by the end of 1943 he sometimes appeared dispirited and perhaps even discouraged. In mid-January 1944, eight days before the Anzio landing, he became fifty-four years old. "I am afraid I feel every year of it," he wrote in his diary. [16] "I must keep from thinking of the fact," he wrote on the following day, "that my order will send these men into a desperate attack.... [17] Though some feeling of

[15] Lucas Diary (photostat copy in OCMH files), Part I, Sicily, and Part 
II, Italy. 
[16] Lucas Diary, Part III, Anzio, entry 14 Jan 44.
[17] Ibid., 15 Jan 44.
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this sort must almost always be present in the mind of a commander, the extent of General Lucas' feeling appears to have been more than normal. Indeed, before the Anzio operation he seemed more impressed by its difficulties than by its opportunities.

General Lucas first learned of SHINGLE in late December 1943, when General Clark informed him that the VI Corps would be relieved of responsibility for its front so that the corps staff and the units assigned could plan and train for the operation. Lucas' immediate reaction was to urge that his corps headquarters be relieved at once in order to ensure enough time for planning and training. [18]

The relief occurred on 3 January 1944, and General Lucas grappled with the problem of shipping. "Unless we can get what we want [in the way of vessels]," he confided to his diary, "the operation becomes such a desperate undertaking that it should not, in my opinion, be attempted." Otherwise, "a crack on the chin is certain." Lucas would do what he was ordered to do, "but these 'Battles of the Little Big Horn' aren't much fun and a failure now would ruin Clark, probably kill me, and certainly prolong the war." [19]

A "high-powered" conference, with General Alexander presiding, took place on 9 January, with staff members of the 15 Army Group, the Fifth Army, and the VI Corps in attendance. General Lucas' impressions revealed his own state of mind.

Apparently Shingle has become the most important operation in the present scheme of things. Sir Harold started the conference by stating that the operation would take place on January 22 with the troops as scheduled and that there would be no more discussion of these points. He quoted Mr. Churchill as saying, "It will astonish the world," and added, "it will certainly frighten Kesselring [the German commander in Italy]." I felt like a lamb being led to the slaughter but thought I was entitled to one bleat so I registered a protest against the target date as it gave me too little time for rehearsal. This is vital to the success of anything as terribly complicated as this. I was ruled down, as I knew I would be, many reasons being advanced as to the necessity for this speed. The real reasons cannot be military.

I have the bare minimum of ships and craft. The ones that are sunk cannot be replaced. The force that can be gotten ashore in a hurry is weak and I haven't sufficient artillery to hold me over but, on the other hand, I will have more air support than any similar operation ever had before. A week of fine weather at the proper time and I will make it.

After the conference Alexander told him, "We have every confidence in you. That is why you were picked." Lucas was hardly reassured.

[18] Lucas Diary, Part II, entries 27 and 29 Dec 43. 
[19] Lucas Diary, Part III, entry 4 Jan 44. Unless otherwise noted, all 
quotations from General Lucas are taken from his diary. After the war
General Lucas added to his diary to fill in certain details, but he 
carefully distinguished between these later entries and his original 
remarks. Where later entries rather than the contemporary record have 
been used in this study, that fact is specifically noted. 

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To him, "the whole affair has a strong odor of Gallipoli and apparently the same amateur was still on the coach's bench."

What most troubled General Lucas during the preparatory period was the contrast between his own concern to ensure proper planning and training and what he considered nonchalance in the higher echelons of command toward these matters. His urgent demands for more training time were met with the statement that both divisions scheduled to make the initial assault were experienced in amphibious operations. Lucas was not so sure. The 1 British Division, he remarked in his diary, had landed on Pantelleria more than six months earlier against no opposition and had not been in action since. The 3d U.S. Division, which had landed in Sicily in July 1943 against opposition, had hardly been out of action since then, with the result that the turnover of infantry lieutenants totaled 115 percent of authorized strength-"The men that knew the answers were gone."

The potential of the troops in the two initial assault divisions impressed Lucas. Time was "so pitifully short," however, that all aspects of training required to realize this potential could hardly, he felt, be covered adequately. "The Higher Levels just can't see that."

A final landing rehearsal conducted on 19 January, three days before the Anzio operation, bore out General Lucas' pessimism. Everything went wrong. The British were bad, but the 3d Division was worse, in fact "terrible," for it lost some forty DUKW's and ten 105-mm. howitzers in the sea. [20] Yet Admiral Sir Andrew B. Cunningham, the Allied naval commander in the Mediterranean, assured Lucas that "the chances are seventy to thirty that, by the time you reach Anzio, the Germans will be north of Rome." Lucas commented in his diary, "Apparently everyone was in on the secret of the German intentions except me."

Lucas often wondered whether higher commanders had intelligence information not available to him. There must have been indications, he told himself desperately, that the enemy intended to pull out and move north of Rome. If so, he felt, all the more reason for making a strong end run with well-equipped forces that could intercept and destroy the withdrawing enemy units. But he believed his forces lacked the strength to do so, and he found only exaggeration, no ground for confidence, in Alexander's statement that Anzio would make OVERLORD (the cross-Channel invasion) unnecessary.

When Lucas learned that Clark was planning to establish an advance Fifth Army command post near him at Anzio, he was upset. "I wish to hell he wouldn't. I don't need any help." Yet he was far from confident. "Army has gone nuts again," he wrote.

[20] Clark, Calculated Risk, pp. 268-69. 

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The general idea seems to be that the Germans are licked and are fleeing in disorder and nothing remains but to mop up. The only reason for such a belief is that we have recently been able to advance a few miles against them with comparative ease. The Hun has pulled back a bit but I haven't seen the desperate fighting I have during the last four months without learning something. We are not (repeat not) in Rome yet.

They will end up by putting me ashore with inadequate forces and get me in a serious jam. Then, who will take the blame.

On 20 January, in an uncertain frame of mind, General Lucas boarded the USS Biscayne for the voyage to Anzio. "I have many misgivings," he wrote, "but am also optimistic." The weather was good, and if it continued that way for four or five days, Lucas felt, "I should be all right." The enemy did not seem to have discovered the SHINGLE intention. "I think we have a good chance to make a killing." Yet he was apprehensive because he believed that his assault troops still lacked training. "I wish the higher levels were not so over-optimistic. The Fifth Army is attacking violently towards the Cassino line and has sucked many German troops to the south and the high command seems to think they will stay there. I don't see why. They can still slow us up there and move against me at the same time."

General Lucas' uncertainty on the eve of the Anzio landing could be attributed not only to his own physical and mental fatigue but also to the inclination of a sensitive man to worry now that things were unalterably fixed-the preparations, for better or worse, were finished, and no deficiencies, imagined or real, could be remedied. There was nothing further to do but execute the mission. Under other circumstances, General Lucas might, on these very grounds, have dismissed worrisome thoughts. But part of his uncertainty arose from two events that had occurred shortly before the embarkation of his corps.

The first was the visit of the Fifth Army G-3, Brig. Gen. Donald W. Brann, to Lucas' headquarters on 12 January. Brann carried with him and delivered personally the newly issued Fifth Army order on SHINGLE in order to discuss with Lucas, his chief of staff, and his G-3 the vague wording of the projected advance "on" the Alban Hills. Brann made it clear that Lucas' primary mission was to seize and secure a beachhead. This was all Fifth Army expected. Brann explained that much thought had gone into the wording of the order so as not to force Lucas to push on to the Alban hill mass at the risk of sacrificing his corps. Should conditions warrant a move to the heights, however, Lucas was free to take advantage of them. Such a possibility appeared slim to the Fifth Army staff, which questioned Lucas' ability to reach the hill mass and at the same time hold the

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beachhead to protect the port and the landing beaches. It was perfectly obvious what the loss of the supply base would mean. If the enemy came to Anzio in strength and destroyed this base, the isolated Allied force would be in an exceedingly tough spot. [21]

The second event bolstered this line of reasoning. According to an early conception of SHINGLE, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment was to have been dropped at H minus 1 hour on the Anzio-Albano road about ten miles north of Anzio. [22] Such an operation was in accord with an offensive orientation, a reflection of the intent to reach and take the Alban Hills. Unfortunately, the British objected to the presence of paratroopers behind enemy lines. The British feared they might mistake the Americans for Germans and perhaps take them under fire. At the same time, Navy representatives pointed out that the paratroopers would be within range of naval guns supporting the landing. The relatively flat terrain of the Anzio coastal plain would offer little cover against naval shellfire. The result was cancellation of the parachute drop; the paratroopers were to come into Anzio across the beaches immediately after the infantry assault divisions.

The removal of a powerful incentive for pushing the corps out from the landing beaches in order to make contact with the paratroopers thus coincided with the doubts expressed on the army level that Lucas could do more than seize and secure a beachhead. Since Lucas himself had reservations on the strength and the training of the troops under him, a successful landing and a subsequent securing of the beachhead despite hardy opposition would to him represent a successful operation.

What everyone had overlooked, even while bending every effort toward that end, was the possibility of achieving complete surprise. No one had taken seriously the thought that the Allies might actually gain total surprise in the landing. Yet this is what happened. "We achieved what is certainly one of the most complete surprises in history," General Lucas wrote, ". . . practically no opposition to the landing.... The Biscayne was anchored 3 1/2 miles off shore, and I could not believe my eyes when I stood on the bridge and saw no machine gun or other fire on the beach." The fact was that the VI Corps had embarked at Naples for a water movement of 120 miles with an assault force of almost 50,000 men and 5,200 vehicles-a total of 27 infantry battalions comprising about the same strength as the force landed at Salerno-and arrived at Anzio without having been detected by the Germans.

[21] Lucas Diary, later addition to entry of 12 Jan 44. 
[22] Sun Force (504th Para Inf Regt) Outline Plan for Operation SHINGLE,
n.d., and 504th Combat Team Arty Outline Plan, 8 Jan 44, both in SHINGLE 
Correspondence File, Kansas City Records Center.

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American and British planes of the Mediterranean Air Forces flew more than 1,200 sorties on D Day in direct support of the Anzio landing; they were hardly necessary. The only resistance offered the landing came from a few small coast artillery and antiaircraft detachments. Two batteries fired wildly for a few minutes before daylight until they were quickly silenced by naval guns. A few other 88-mm. guns and miscellaneous artillery pieces of French, Italian, and Yugoslav manufacture near the beaches had no chance to fire.

Small scattered mine fields, mostly in the port of Anzio, proved the greatest hazard to the troops coming ashore. The only opposition to the push immediately inland came from elements of two depleted coast watching battalions which, along with two other battalions, had been recently relieved from the Garigliano front for rest and rehabilitation.

How had it happened? The Germans had always regarded the long sea flanks in Italy as being very much exposed to Allied amphibious attacks, and in December 1943 the German High Command, OKW, issued a directive on how to cope with possible landings on the Italian coast. In the event of an Allied invasion near Rome, OKW planned to reinforce Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, the commander in Italy, with two infantry divisions sent from France, two infantry divisions moved from the Balkans, and about the equivalent of a division dispatched from Germany. [23]

Kesselring and his Army Group C headquarters also made prior arrangements as to how to meet Allied landings, among them a possible descent on the coast near Rome. To deal immediately with such a landing, Kesselring counted on having in army group reserve a parachute division in the process of organization and one or two mobile divisions, plus a corps headquarters. To reinforce these elements, he expected to call upon the Tenth Army for a division to be pulled out of the active front in south Italy; he hoped to have the Fourteenth Army in north Italy move elements in process of activation, reconstitution, training, or rehabilitation-the equivalent of about one or two divisions.

Why then had the VI Corps found no German units of any importance in immediate opposition at Anzio? Despite Kesselring's intention to retain reserve units around Rome, he had sent them-only a few days before the Anzio landing-to reinforce the Tenth Army front. Fearing that the Fifth Army was about to make a breakthrough along the lower Garigliano River, feeling that the fate of the Tenth Army right flank "hung by a slender thread," Kesselring between 18 and 20 January yielded to urgent requests for additional

[23] Ralph S. Mavrogordato. The Battle for the Anzio Beachhead, OCMH MS 

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troops and dispatched from the Rome area the I Parachute Corps headquarters and the 29th and 90th Panzer Grenadier Divisions. These troops assumed responsibility for a portion of the XIV Panzer Corps front. [24] They had barely been committed along the Garigliano when the VI Corps came ashore at Anzio. As a result, there were no forces near Rome to counter the Anzio landings, there was no staff available to organize even an emergency defense. According to the first German estimate, the landing had a good chance of bringing the main front "to a state of collapse" because of the absence of immediate German reserves. [25] The troops in the coastal areas around Rome were so few that they could be counted on merely for coastal observation.

With German defense virtually nil, Allied troops quickly moved ashore. The 3d Division reached its initial objectives and made ready to repel a counterattack that did not come. All organic division light artillery and the combat elements of the attached tank and antiaircraft battalions were brought to land by DUKW's and LCT's before daylight. Patrols seized and destroyed four bridges across the Mussolini Canal along the division right flank. By midmorning the 3d Division commander radioed Lucas he was established and ready for further orders.

At the same time the Ranger Force seized the port of Anzio. The 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion occupied Nettuno. British troops, delayed somewhat by mines and shallow water, were two miles inland shortly after midday. Commandos established a roadblock across the Albano road just north of Anzio.

Meanwhile, Field Marshal Kesselring, as soon as he learned of the invasion at Anzio, assumed that the disembarking troops would probably try to seize the Alban Hills. At 0500, 22 January, three hours after the initial landing, he ordered the 4th Parachute Division, in the process of activation near Rome, and certain nearby replacement units of the Hermann Goering Panzer Division to block the roads leading to the Alban Hills and to Rome. An hour later, he reported the landing to OKW and requested troops. OKW responded that day by ordering the 715th Motorized Infantry Division to move from southern France to Italy, the 114th Light (Jaeger) Division from the Balkans, miscellaneous units in about division strength from Germany, and, furthermore, the 92d Infantry Division to be activated in Italy.

Since units outside the theater could not arrive near Anzio before a few days at the earliest, Kesselring at 0710, 22 January, ordered the Fourteenth Army to make forces available. The army ordered the

[24] Albert Kesselring, A Soldier's Record (New York: 
William Morrow and Company, 1954), pp. 230-31. 
[25] The German Operation at Anzio (German Military Documents Section,
Military Intelligence Division, Camp Ritchie, Md., 1946), p. 9.

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65th Division (less one regiment) at Genoa, the 362d Infantry Division (less one regiment) at Rimini, and the newly formed 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Division (with two regiments) to proceed immediately to the beachhead. Movement started that evening and continued through the following day.

At 0830, 22 January, Kesselring ordered the Tenth Army to transfer to Anzio a corps headquarters and all the combat troops that could be spared. The army pulled the I Parachute Corps out of the line and sent combat troops then in reserve-the 3d Panzer Grenadier Division (less one regiment), the 71st Infantry Division, and parts of the Hermann Goering Panzer Division, all of which began to move toward Anzio that day. From the Adriatic portion of the Tenth Army front were soon to come the 26th Panzer Division and elements of the 1st Parachute Division.

At 1700, 22 January, the I Parachute Corps headquarters took command in the Anzio sector and with arriving troops-miscellaneous battalions-as they became available established a defensive line around the beachhead.

Having acted with coolness and dispatch, the Germans were considerably reassured by Allied behavior at the scene of the landing.

The Allies on the beachhead on the first day of the landing did not conform to the German High Command's expectations. Instead of moving northward with the first wave to seize the Alban Mountains . . . as the target, the landing forces limited their objective. Their initial action was to occupy a small beachhead.... As the Allied forces made no preparations for a large-scale attack on the first day of the landings, the German Command estimated that the Allies would improve their positions, and bring up more troops.... During this time, sufficient German troops would arrive to prevent an Allied breakthrough. [26]

By the evening of 22 January Kesselring decided that the lack of VI Corps aggressiveness would permit him to fashion a successful defense. Despite recommendations by the Tenth Army and XIV Panzer Corps commanders, who advocated immediate withdrawal and shortening of the Garigliano-Rapido front in order to get two seasoned divisions to Anzio, Kesselring instructed them to stand fast. [27] This was a courageous decision and in the nature of a gamble, for the first strong contingents at Anzio would come from the Tenth Army, and the earliest they could be expected was 24 January. If the Allies launched an attack on 23 or 24 January, German forces, Kesselring estimated, would not be strong enough to hold. [28]

There was no major action at the beachhead on 23 January, and

[26] Ibid., pp. 12-13. 
[27] Ralph S. Mavrogordato, XIV Panzer Corps Defensive Operations Along 
the Garigliano, Gari, and Rapido Rivers, OCMH MS #R-78. 
[28] OCMH MS #R-124. See also Magna M. Bauer, Shifting of German Units 
... , CMH MS #R-75.

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that evening Kesselring told the Tenth Army commander that he "believed that the danger of a large-scale expansion of the beachhead was no longer imminent." [29]

Operations on 24 January were also uneventful. As the Germans hoped, "the Allied landing forces limited themselves to reconnaissance and patrol . . . as well as adjusting their artillery fire on German positions. By this time, the German defenses had been strongly reinforced, and the German Command considered the danger of an Allied breakthrough to be removed." [30] By restricting its forces to consolidation of the beachhead, the VI Corps restricted its efforts to local attacks, and with these, the Germans felt, they could cope.

On the Allied side, Generals Alexander and Clark had visited Anzio on D Day and both seemed satisfied. Alexander was very optimistic, Clark somewhat subdued. General Lucas thought Clark depressed by the offensive on his main Garigliano-Rapido front. The troops there had failed to breach the German line at Cassino, the entrance to the Liri Valley. Though the British 10 Corps had secured a bridgehead across the lower Garigliano, though the French Expeditionary Corps had made unexpectedly good progress fighting in the mountains near Cassino, the U.S. II Corps had been unable to get across and remain across the Rapido River in strength, the 36th Division in the attempt sustaining very heavy casualties in assault crossings on 20 and 21 January. "The last thing Clark said to me on D-Day before he embarked for [the return trip to] Naples," General Lucas later remembered, "was 'Don't stick your neck out, Johnny. I did at Salerno and got into trouble." [31]

General Lucas was not about to stick his neck out. Having gained surprise in the landing, he proceeded to disregard the advantage it gave him. Two days after coming ashore, on 24 January, he was thinking of pushing out from the beachhead. "I must keep in motion if my first success is to be of any value." But his push outward was in no sense an all-out drive toward the Alban Hills; it was no more than preliminary or preparatory movement.

The fact was that General Lucas showed more interest in building up his beachhead. Capturing the Anzio harbor intact and putting it into operation immediately to handle incoming troops and supplies was to him the most important achievement of the landing. He saw the port as his "salvation," the most significant part of the supply line stretching between Naples and Anzio, an umbilical cord tying the Anzio force to the Fifth Army. To keep the line intact, General Lucas personally supervised setting up an antiaircraft warning system,

[29] The German Operation at Anzio, p. 14.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Lucas Diary, later addition to entry of 24 Jan 44.

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building an airfield, clearing the clutter of supplies and equipment that jammed the beachhead back of the first row of dunes.

His concern with the logistical aspects of the landing came not only from prudence but also from apprehension that had been haunting him from the outset. He believed that the Germans using land communications could increase their build-up faster than he could with his reliance on water transport. And he feared that the Germans would stop his VI Corps before the corps could cut their lines of communication. His intelligence officers informed him that the Germans were taking troops from the Fifth Army main front to oppose him. This might permit the Fifth Army to advance to the north of Rome, but the Fifth Army, Lucas was certain, would still have to fight powerful rear guards. He expected no spectacular rapidity of movement on the part of the Fifth Army, and thus, harking back to an earlier conception in which the VI Corps landing was to assist the advance of the Fifth Army main front, he saw his force at Anzio consigned to at least temporary isolation. Consequently, he sought to build up his strength and his supplies to enable his force to remain intact even though isolated. "The strain of a thing like this is a terrible burden," he confessed. "Who the hell wants to be a general."

"My days are filled with excitement and anxiety," General Lucas wrote on 25 January, the fourth day of the landing operation, "although I feel now that the beachhead is safe and I can plan for the future with some assurance." A regimental combat team of the 45th Division was coming ashore that day, and Lucas expected the 1st Armored Division to arrive soon, to be followed by the remainder of the 45th. "That is about all I can supply but I think it will be enough." Meanwhile, the 1 British and 3d U.S. Divisions were advancing "to extend the beachhead a little."

General Clark visited Lucas that day and revealed that he was disturbed over developments on the main army front, "where the bloodiest fight of the war is in progress.... That situation," Lucas felt, "will not be resolved I am afraid until I can get my feet under me and make some further progress. I am doing my best but it seems terribly slow.... I must keep my feet on the ground and my forces in hand and do nothing foolish. This is the most important thing I have ever tried to do and I will not be stampeded."

General Alexander also paid Lucas a visit and complimented him. "What a splendid piece of work," he said. Lucas reminded him that the task was not yet finished, even though the beachhead was now nearly ten miles deep, not bad, Lucas though, for D plus 3. "I must hold it," he wrote, "and think I can."

While General Lucas was building up his beachhead, Field Marshal Kesselring came to the conclusion that the Allies were preparing a

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full-scale attack. The best defense, he felt, was an attack of his own. To prepare such an effort, he ordered the Fourteenth Army headquarters to move from north Italy and take command at the beachhead. At 1800, 25 January, the Fourteenth Army did so and began to plan an attack designed to throw the VI Corps back into the sea.

Rain, hail, and sleet came on 26 January to disrupt General Lucas' logistical efforts. "This waiting is terrible," Lucas wrote. "I want an all-out Corps effort but the time hasn't come yet and the weather will not help matters. Bad for tanks.... I hope to get moving soon. Must move before the enemy build-up gets too great." He thought he could attack in a few days, but he felt he needed to have the entire 45th Division on hand or on the way before he did.

Two heavy air raids occurred that night, doing considerable damage-trucks destroyed, ammunition exploding, people killed, fires everywhere, craters in the roads-but the port was still operating, the ships were unloading, "thank God."

Division commanders met with Lucas on 27 January to talk over future plans, and Lucas felt better about prospects. He expected 30 LST's to be unloaded at Anzio that day as compared with 7 the day before, and he looked forward to getting more than 30 unloaded on the following day.

Unknown to Lucas, General Alexander that day, 27 January, was expressing dissatisfaction to General Clark. Alexander thought the VI Corps was not pushing rapidly enough. This statement prodded Clark, who had vaguely felt also that progress was lagging. So he went to Anzio the next day and there received the impression that the outcome of the struggle depended on who could increase his forces more quickly. Though the situation was still not clear to Clark, he urged Lucas to take bold offensive action. As he remembered later, what he wanted Lucas to do was to secure Cisterna as a strong-point in a defensive line. [32]

But either Clark did not remember correctly or Lucas misinterpreted his remarks. For as the result of Clark's comments, Lucas that evening felt obliged to explain his whole course of action.

Apparently some of the higher levels think I have not advanced with maximum speed. I think more has been accomplished than anyone had a right to expect. This venture was always a desperate one and I could never see much chance for it to succeed, if success means driving the German north of Rome. The one factor that has allowed us to get established ashore has been the port of Anzio. Without it our situation by this time would have been desperate with little chance of a build-up to adequate strength. As it is, we are doing well and, in addition to troops, unloaded over 4,000 tons of supplies yesterday.

[32] Clark, Calculated Risk, p. 296.

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Had I been able to rush to the high ground around Albano and Velletri immediately upon landing, nothing would have been accomplished except to weaken my force by that amount because the troops sent, being completely beyond supporting distance, would have been immediately destroyed. The only thing to do was what I did. Get a proper beachhead and prepare to hold it. Keep the enemy off balance by a constant advance against him by small units, not committing anything as large as a division until the Corps was ashore and everything was set. Then make a coordinated attack to defeat the enemy and seize the objective. Follow this by exploitation.

This is what I have been doing but I had to have troops in to do it with.

By this time, on the seventh day of the operation, with more troops arriving on schedule-and to the point where Lucas could envisage holding some in corps reserve-he was ready to make his offensive bid. The effort was to start the night of 29 January with the 3d Division and Ranger Force attacking toward Cisterna, northeast from Anzio, to cut Highway 7 and be ready to advance toward Cori-in the direction of Valmontone and eventual control of Highway 6. The British were to attack to the north to seize the area near the juncture of the Anzio-Albano road and the Cisterna-Rome railway, which would represent not only a breakthrough of the German defenses around the beachhead but a foothold on the foothills of the Alban mass. Units of the 1st Armored Division were then to exploit to the northern slope of the hill complex. Since the attacks were divergent, Lucas kept tight control, for he feared that if his forces became overextended, the Germans would try to come between them and cut the beachhead in two.

Soon after the VI Corps jumped off, it was "engaged in a hell of 1 struggle.... There is never a big breakthrough except in story books.... The situation, from where I sit, is crowded with doubt and uncertainty. I expect to be counterattacked in some force, maybe considerable force, tomorrow morning."

General Clark came to Anzio on 29 January with the intention perhaps of remaining for several days. General Lucas was not entirely happy with the prospect.

His gloomy attitude is certainly bad for me. He thinks I should have been more aggressive on D-Day and should have gotten tanks and things out to the front. I think he realizes the serious nature of the whole operation. His forces are divided in the face of a superior enemy on interior lines and now neither of the parts is capable of inflicting a real defeat on those acing it. There has been no chance, with available shipping, to build "Shingle" up to a decisive strength and anyone with any knowledge of logistics could have seen that from the start. I have done what I was ordered to do, desperate though it was. I can win if I am let alone but I don't know whether I can stand the strain of having so many people looking over my shoulder. We must continue to push the Germans.

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Clark was still at Anzio on the last day of the month. "I don't blame him for being terribly disappointed," Lucas wrote. "He and those above him thought this landing would shake the Cassino line loose at once but they had no right to think that, because the German is strong in Italy and will give up no ground if he can help it."

It was clear by then that Lucas' attack had failed to accomplish much. (See Map V, inside back cover.) Furthermore, a disastrous engagement comparable to the 36th Division experience at the Rapido had occurred: the Ranger Force had lost two battalions-about 800 men-near Cisterna, having met unanticipated opposition at an unexpectedly strong and well-organized defensive position. It seemed clear also that the Germans had built up their forces around Anzio to the point where prospects of cutting the enemy lines of communication immediately south of Rome were fading rapidly.

What the Allies did not know was how close they came to breaking out of the beachhead. The Germans repulsed the large-scale attack of the VI Corps, but only with the greatest exertion. Not only did they have to postpone their own offensive preparations but they had to go over entirely to defense. They maintained their defensive line by a desperate juggling of forces and the commitment of all reserves, even those being held for the all-out counterattack (principally the 26th Panzer Division). The 715th Division arrived from France in time to enter the battle piecemeal near Cisterna.

What to Allied intelligence officers seemed like overwhelming German strength was in reality what Kesselring characterized as "a higgledy-piggledy jumble-units of numerous divisions fighting confusedly side by side." [33] Identifying many different divisional units, Allied intelligence officers had to assume, by the very nature of their profession, that each of those divisions was present in entirety. Total numbers then, like total units, they guessed, outnumbered the VI Corps. Yet actually, opposing the approximately 100,000 men of the VI Corps, of which about 25,000 were service troops, were less than 90,000 of the Fourteenth Army, of which probably 30,000 were noncombatant.

Though numbers were almost equal, the VI Corps enjoyed a distinct advantage. Whereas by comparison the VI Corps amphibious operation had been thoroughly planned and prepared, the German countermeasures were taken on the spur of the moment in time of stress and emergency. The German defenders at Anzio had been hastily assembled, the defenses hastily established. For the most part, fragments, remnants, and splinters of divisions, depleted units, recently organized units, provisional commands, barely trained troops manned

[33] Kesselring, A Soldier's Record, p. 233.

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the line. Because the great majority of the German troops at Anzio were unseasoned, the fact that they held was rather miraculous from the German point of view. [34]

General Alexander arrived at Anzio on 1 February, and General Lucas found him

... kind enough but I am afraid he is not pleased. My head will probably fall in the basket but I have done my best. There were just too many Germans here for me to lick and they could build up faster than I could. As I told Clark yesterday, I was sent on a desperate mission, one where the odds were greatly against success, and I went without saying anything because I was given an order and my opinion was not asked. The condition in which I find myself is much better than I ever anticipated or had any right to expect.

When Clark and Alexander both departed Anzio, Lucas felt somewhat reassured. He had suspected they had come to see whether he should be relieved of command. He was pleased they had been at Anzio, for at least, he felt, his superiors had seen the desperate nature of the fighting and could appreciate the rapidity of the German buildup opposite the VI Corps. Also, he was proud to show that the port and the beaches were working at capacity. Supplies amassed at the Beachhead were fully ten days ahead of schedule.

The supply situation was so favorable that Lucas thought he could support two more divisions in the beachhead. When he broached the matter to Alexander, he received only an enigmatic smile in reply. [35]

He did not know that Alexander and Clark had already decided on 1 February that the enemy build-up on the Anzio front dictated a switch to defensive tactics. Security of the beachhead became the overriding priority. In an order dated 2 February, Alexander instructed Lucas to hold his front with a minimum number of troops and prepare reserve positions to stop large-scale penetrations by the enemy. He was to protect the main approaches to the beachhead by establishing strong-points reinforced by mines and wire in depth. The VI Corps was to turn its attention to active patrolling, to forming small but highly mobile reserve forces, to rehearsing defensive arrangements. [36]

Lucas received the same order from Fifth Army early on 3 February. He was to cease offensive action and consolidate his positions. "I hate to stop attacking," Lucas wrote. "We must keep him [the enemy] off balance all we can." [37]

By that time, keeping the enemy off balance was a forlorn hope.

[34] Ibid.; OCMH MS #R 124. 
[35] Lucas Diary, later addition to entry of 2 Feb 44. 
[36] ACMF [15 Army Group] Operations Instruction 37, 2 Feb 44. The 15 
Army Group headquarters had been renamed Allied Central Mediterranean 
[37] Lucas Diary, entry of 3 Feb 44. For the text of the Fifth Army
message, see later addition to entry of 3 February. 

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The initiative had passed to the Germans, and the VI Corps was about to start fighting for its life, seeking to preserve the precious ground it held. "Things get worse and worse," Lucas wrote on 10 February. Five days later, "I am afraid the top side is not completely satisfied with my work.... They are naturally disappointed that I failed to chase the Hun out of Italy but there was no military reason why I should have been able to do so. In fact, there is no military reason for 'Shingle.' "

Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers, deputy theater commander to General Wilson, visited Lucas on 16 February. He seemed to think that as soon as Lucas was ashore he should have gone on as fast as possible to disrupt enemy communications. He intimated that higher levels thought so and still did. "Had I done so," Lucas wrote, "I would have lost my Corps and nothing would have been accomplished except to raise the prestige and morale of the enemy. Besides," he added, "my orders didn't read that way."

The Germans launched their all-out effort on 16 February to drive the VI Corps back into the sea, and on the following day the commander of the 3d Division was appointed Lucas' deputy. "I think this means my relief and that he gets the Corps," Lucas wrote. Still, "I hope that I am not to be relieved from command. I knew when I came in here that I was jeopardizing my career because I knew the Germans would not fold up because of two divisions landing on their flank.... I do not feel that I should have sacrificed my command [by driving on to the Alban Hills]."

General Lucas was relieved from command of the VI Corps on 22 February, one month after the landing-not because he had failed to take the Alban Hills, but because Alexander thought him exhausted and defeated, Devers thought him tired, and Clark believed he was worn out. Explaining that he, Clark, "could no longer resist the pressure . . . from both Alexander and Devers," Clark relieved Lucas without prejudice. He had not lost confidence in Lucas, for he felt that Lucas had done all he could have at Anzio. Lucas, though shocked by the actual occurrence, was not entirely surprised by his relief. What bothered him most: "I thought I was winning something of a victory." [38]

General Clark, as a matter of fact, thought so too. He felt that Lucas could have taken the Alban Hills but could not have held them. Had Lucas moved immediately to the hill mass objective, he would have so extended his force that the Germans would have cut it to pieces. This was why he had seen to it that his order to Lucas had

[38] Lucas Diary, later addition to entry of 22 Feb 44; see also, 
Interv, Mathews with Clark, 20 May 48, OCMH files.

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been carefully phrased-so that the VI Corps would not be assigned a "foolhardy mission." Clark had not thought it wise to tell Lucas before the operation, "You are to take the Alban Hills." For Lucas would then have been obliged to push to the objective before he secured his initial beachhead line.

Clark completely approved Lucas' course of action during the first few days of the operation; he was not disappointed. Alexander, Clark felt, was disappointed, but Clark thought that the reason for his disappointment was "British G-2 intelligence sources which were always overoptimistic about the German resistance in Italy." The Germans built up their defenses at Anzio much faster than the British had believed possible, though Clark himself had always felt that Anzio had had little chance of success because it was not mounted in sufficient strength. [39]

Quite some time after the event, General Clark, thinking about the blood spilled along the Garigliano and at Anzio, came to the conclusion that it might better have been spilled entirely at the main front rather than on a "dangerous and unorganized beachhead" where a powerful counterattack could well have wrecked the entire Italian campaign. It was true that by the end of January Clark was disappointed by Lucas' lack of aggressiveness. Where Lucas was at fault, Clark believed, was in having failed to make a reconnaissance in force at once to capture Cisterna and Campoleone, an effort, Clark thought, not incommensurate with the strength of his forces. [40]

Others felt much the same way about the strength available to Lucas. General Marshall was of the opinion that Lucas could have managed to get to the Alban Hills, but he thought Lucas acted wisely-"for every mile of advance there were seven or more miles [to be] added to the perimeter." Lucas, Marshall believed, did not have enough men to get to the hills, to hold them, and also to hold the beachhead and the Anzio port.[41]

Such was the opinion of the theater G-2 who had opposed the operation at the Christmas day conference at Tunis. The Anzio force could have advanced to the Alban Hills the first day or two, he was sure, but the force would then have been in a bad way without a concurrent Allied breakthrough on the main front. The Allies were unable to keep the Germans from shifting forces to Anzio from south as well as from north Italy, from southern France and the Balkans. [42]

Brig. Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, General Alexander's American deputy, also felt the Allies did not have the strength to hold the Alban

[39] Clark Interv.
[40] Clark, Calculated Risk, p. 296.
[41] Interv, Mathews and others with Marshall, 25 Jul 49, OCMH files.
[42] Interv, Mathews with Strong. 

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Hills. General Alexander had hoped, as Lemnitzer understood the idea, that the threat posed by the operation, coupled with the attack on the main (Garigliano-Rapido) front, might force the Germans to withdraw. The Fifth Army order for Lucas to advance "on" the hills was exactly what Alexander thought possible. And when Alexander visited the beachhead on D Day, he was in full agreement with Lucas' decision not to push out far from Anzio. He thoroughly approved Lucas' caution.

What inclined Alexander toward relieving Lucas, Lemnitzer thought, was his feeling that Lucas was unequal to the physical strain of the critical Anzio situation, not any feeling that Lucas had done anything wrong. Alexander, according to Lemnitzer, sensed that Lucas, "harried looking and under tremendous strain, would not be able to stand up physically to the hard, long struggle which by that time it was clear the Anzio operation would involve." [43]

It would seem then that Lucas' course of action during the first few days of the Anzio landing was justified. The Germans facing the main Fifth Army front along the Garigliano and Rapido showed no signs of withdrawing, and consequently the Allies saw no immediate prospect of forcing a general retreat and quickly linking the main front with the beachhead. It became far more likely that the Germans would move in strength against the VI Corps at Anzio. If the VI Corps went too far inland, it might be so extended as to risk annihilation. So Lucas had consolidated his positions, awaited reinforcements, and probed along the two main axes of advance toward the intermediate objectives of Cisterna and Campoleone to secure pivots for the advance on the Alban Hills. When he was ready to make his major effort, the Germans by then-after a week-had assembled sufficient forces to repel his attack.

Sufficient forces, but not overwhelming strength as pictured by Allied intelligence during the battle and by Allied participants later. That the Germans were skillful at Anzio, no less in their build-up than in their actual defense, would be an understatement. Yet it would seem that Allied hesitation on the Anzio shore came from an appreciation of German invincibility that was little more than an apparition bred of doubt and uncertainty both before and during the operation, a myth to explain afterward a course of events that seemed inevitable because it happened that way. The opportunity for doing something else had come and gone, and after the first few days it was too late to do otherwise. And this was how General Lucas saw it.

The only thing that ever really disturbed me at Anzio, except, of course, my inability to make speedier headway against the weight opposing me, was the necessity to safeguard the port. At any cost this must be preserved

[43] Interv, Mathews with Lemnitzer, 16 Jan 48, OCMH files.

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as, without it, the swift destruction of the Corps was inevitable.... My orders were, to me, very clear and did not include any rash, piece-meal effort. These orders were never changed although the Army and the Army Group Commanders were constantly on the ground and could have changed them had they seen fit to do so. [44]

Despite his feeling that he could not have done otherwise, the alternative course of action open to General Lucas immediately after the landing remained a disturbing possibility to him. He could see many things that could have been done differently. A mass of armor and motorized infantry, he admitted, might perhaps have been able to make a sudden raid inland on D Day and reach the Alban Hills. But in his final analysis, Lucas was sure he could not have maintained the force there. The Germans had moved so swiftly that any force that far from home would have been in the greatest jeopardy. Lucas did not see how such a force could have escaped annihilation. "As it turned out," Lucas wrote, "the proper decision was made and we were able to reach and establish ourselves in positions from which the enemy was unable to drive us in spite of his great advantage in strength." [45]

The whole idea of the Anzio operation, General Lucas continued to believe, was a mistake. If anyone expected him to push to the Alban Hills, he was bound to be disappointed. Lucas had never expected to push to the hill mass with the troops he had. He had seen his main mission as taking the port and securing the area around it. Perhaps part of his preoccupation with the port came from the Navy. "Make it clear to the Commanding General," Admiral Cunningham had advised the Anzio task force commander, "that no reliance can be placed on maintenance over beaches, owing to the probability of unfavorable weather." [46] As for the idea of taking Rome, General Clark had told him, "You can forget this goddam Rome business." [47]

If security rather than an offensive intention had become the most important aspect of the operation, the Alban Hills still figured prominently. The capture of the Anzio port was an obvious objective. But because of the commanding position of the Alban Hills, early occupation of this terrain feature was vital to secure a limited force landed in a beachhead. [48] The VI Corps forces that remained isolated in the Anzio beachhead for four long months of agony were to appreciate the importance of the dominating terrain. German observers enjoyed

[44] Lucas Diary, later addition to entry of 27 Jan 44. 
[45] Lucas Diary, later addition to entry of 29 Jan 44. 
[46] Cunningham to Rear Adm. F. J. Lowry, Directive to the Naval
Commander, Operation SHINGLE, 29 Dec 43, in SHINGLE Correspondence File, 
Kansas City Records Center. 
[47] Interv, Mathews with Lucas, 24 May 48, OCMH files. 
[48] Fifth Army Tactical Study of the Terrain Anzio-Nettuno-Colli-
Laziali-Rome, 17 Nov 43; Fifth Army G-2 Estimate, App. 1 to Annex 1 to 
Outline Plan SHINGLE 22 Nov 43.

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an excellent view over the entire beachhead, a view obscured occasionally by atmospheric haze, more frequently by a heroic Allied expenditure of smoke, and German artillerymen found all parts of the beachhead within range of their guns. [49]

Was then General Lucas completely justified in building up the beachhead for seven days before starting his offensive? Or could he have got away with the gamble of an immediate drive to the Alban Hills? Certainly the complete surprise achieved at Anzio could have been exploited. And according to Tenth Army estimates, only a quick cutting of the lines of communication would have led to major Allied success, a success more than likely encompassing the capture of Rome. [50] According to Kesselring's chief of staff, "The road to Rome was open, and an audacious flying column could have penetrated to the city.... The enemy remained astonishingly passive." [51]

What if General Lucas had taken advantage of the surprise gained? Suppose he had not waited but had instead made an immediate aggressive move to the heights dominating the southern approaches to Rome? Could the Germans have massed enough forces to withstand a dynamic front as they did against the static front at Anzio? In view of the greater mechanization and mobility of Allied forces, would the Germans have dared to hold on to both the Anzio and Garigliano fronts if threatened by the much greater menace that an Allied force ensconced on the Alban Hills would have posed?

The answers may be found within the realm of speculation only. But the wisp of a nagging doubt remains. According to General Alexander, an aggressive commander at Anzio would have given the Fifth Army order to advance "on" the Alban Hills an interpretation different from that of General Lucas. Seizing upon the surprise attained, he would have-and could have-pushed patrols and light forces in perhaps regimental strength to the Alban Hills. The shock of finding Allied troops directly threatening Rome and the vital lines of communication might have so demoralized the Germans as to make possible Allied retention both of the hill mass and of a corridor between Anzio and the hills. A bluff, if prosecuted with imagination and daring, if carried through with vigor, if executed with the intention of raising havoc in the German rear, might have worked. Suppose, for example, General Patton had commanded the corps that came ashore at Anzio. . . .[52]

[49] See Britt Bailey, The German Situation in Italy, OCMH MS #R-50. 
[50] CSDIC/CMF/M296, n.d. [c. Aug. 45], Intelligence Activities, in File 
383.4, Kansas City Records Center. 
[51] Siegfried Westphal, The German Army in the West (London: 
Cassell & Co., Ltd., 1951), t. 158.
[52] Intervs, Mathews with Alexander, 10-15 Jan 49, OCMH files; see also 
Alexander Despatch, pp. 2909-10.

MARTIN BLUMENSON, Historian with OCMH since 1952. M.A., Bucknell University; M.A., Harvard University. Instructor: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy; Hofstra College. Historical Officer, European theater, World War II; Commanding Officer, 3d Historical Detachment, Korean War; Historian, Joint Task Force SEVEN. Bronze Star Medal, Commendation Ribbon. Captain, USAR. Author: Breakout and Pursuit and Salerno to Cassino (in preparation), UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II; Special Problems of the Korean Conflict (Washington, 1952); Operation REDWING: The Atomic Weapons Tests in the Pacific, 1956 (Washington, 1957); and numerous articles in military and historical journals.