Anzio, Italy, 1944 – The German 10. and 14.Armies – Part Four
February 8 1944
Due to the strong enemy resistance and our heavy losses, the main attack on Aprilia, which had been planned for 0600 on February 8 1944, had to be postponed. The attack will take place during the night of February 8 to 9 after the troops regroup in the dark due to increased enemy activity. The attack will begin at 0000.
Continued tank-supported counterattacks during the whole day were repulsed. Tank supported enemy attacks recaptured the cemetery in the Kampfgruppe Graser sector, northeast of Aprilia. On the right flank of the 26.Panzer-Division an advanced company was cut off about noon, but was relieved at 2300 by our tank attack. In the morning an enemy attack against Ponte Rotto was smashed by artillery fire. Four enemy tanks that were feeling their way forward towards our outposts were forced to turn back by our infantry gunfire. Our artillery laid harassing fire on an important enemy supply route and engaged enemy artillery with counter-battery fire with observed results.
The harbor of Nettuno and the airport east of it were shelled by 170-MM cannons and railway guns. The Commander in Chief Southwest has ordered the 14.Army to exchange elements of the 71.Infantry-Division and of the 15.Panzer-Grenadier-Division for the 29.Panzer-Grenadier-Division, currently with the 10.Army. The march order for the transferred units follows. During the night of February 8 to 9, at least two infantry battalions and one artillery battalion will move to their new positions. During the night of February 9 to 10, two infantry battalions and two artillery battalions; and the remainder of the 71.Infantry-Division and the 15.Panzer-Grenadier-Division will move in the night of 10 to 11 February. The 114.Jager-Division, previously employed in the sector north of Spalato, Yugoslavia, will soon arrive in the sector south of Rome. It will be attached to the LXXVI Panzer-Corps as of 0000, February 9. The 14.Army will determine the employment of this division.
The attacking troops were weakened not so much by enemy infantry defense as by heavy artillery fire, which, supported by naval artillery, has increased to barrage strength. An infantry battalion attacking Aprilia from the north suffered heavy losses in a mine field 1000 meters north of Aprilia. A captured enemy situation map gave the extent of the minefield so that a large number of mines could be removed during the day and a new attack was prepared. The mines, British contact mines, are comparatively easy to find. Most of them have been laid openly without camouflage. The supply of rations and ammunition for the attacking unit was brought up regularly in spite of heavy fire by enemy artillery and air attacks on the supply routes.
Information from captured documents indicates that the 1st Regiment of the 1st Special Service Force (US) is near l’Osteriacoia. According to statements made by prisoners, the 3rd Regiment, and parts of the 2nd Regiment of this unit are also on the beachhead. The remainder of the 2nd Brigade is expected to arrive. The alleged mission of this unit is an attack against Littoria. According to our air reconnaissance, outside Nettuno harbor lie 1 aircraft carrier, 5 tankers, 1 large transport, 40 large and numerous small ships.
German losses : (less Kampfgruppe Graser and 65.-Inf-Div) 29 killed; 98 wounded; 26 missing.
Allied losses : 791 British prisoners. Most of the prisoners are from the 5th Grenadier Guards, 3rd Staffords and Irish Guards. None from the 1st Scots Guards have appeared.
February 9 1944
At midnight the left flank of the 1.Fallschirmjäger-Corps and the right flank of the LXXVI Panzer-Corps resumed the attack, according to plan. During the night, the 725.Grenadier-Regiment of Kampfgruppe Graser advanced toward the northeast town limits of Aprilia after by-passing an enemy mine field north of the town. Before noon, the southern part of the town was taken in heavy fighting and a defensive front to the south was established. Several enemy counterattacks, with heavy tank support (20 to 30 tanks) and some by single tanks, were repulsed by artillery, assault guns and the Hornets.
The 65.Infantry-Division attacked Cle. Carroceto at 1400. After heavy fighting during the day the Germans succeeded in occupying the railway line southwest of Cle. Carroceto and south of Hill 80. The Allies put up a stubborn defense in strong points. Numerous counterattacks were launched by the Allies with tank support. For the first time, bomber units supported the ground forces. It was difficult to bring forward artillery since the streets leading to Cle. Carroceto from the west and northwest were heavily mined and subject to shelling. It is planned to attack again and take Cle. Carroceto during the night of February 9 to 10 in order to establish contact with Kampfgruppe Graser in Aprilia. Even though enemy artillery was relatively light, due to the scarcity of ammunition, it was compensated for by heavy bomber and fighter activity.
For political reasons, elements of the Italian-Parachute-Regiment Nembo will be attached to the 4.Fallchirmjäger-Division and employed at the front. Upon arrival at the beachhead, the following troops will be attached to the units designated : Artillery Demonstration Regiment and 56.Projector-Regiment to the 65.Infantry-Division, Infantry Demonstration Regiment to the 3.Panzer-Grenadier-Division, staff of the 69.Tank-Regiment with the 216.Tank-Battalion, the 301.Tank-Battalion and the 508.Tank-Battalion, as well as the 1.Bn of the 4.Tank-Regiment, to the LXXVI Panzer-Corps.
The following units, now employed with the 14.Army, will be transferred to the 10.Army. During the night of February 9 to 10 the staff of the 194.Grenadier-Regiment, the 1.Bn of the 194.Grenadier-Regiment, and one artillery battalion, all of the 71.Infantry-Division, will be transferred; in the night of February 10 to 11 the fusilier battalion of the 356.Infantry-Division, and the 104.Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment of the 15.Panzer-Grenadier-Division.
By February 14 the 2.Bn of the 71.Grenadier-Regiment (motorized) of the 29.Panzer-Grenadier-Division must be moved. Reserves of the LXXVI Panzer-Corps include the 67.Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment (less the 1.Bn) located in the sector 1000 metrs south of Ariccia (near Lake Albano), and the 2.Bn of the 194.Grenadier-Regiment, in the woods 1000 meters northeast of Aprilia.
First order by the 14.Army for the attack to wipe out the Nettuno beachhead (code name Fischfang). During the last days the enemy has brought to and employed on the beachhead fresh replacements. The 56.Infantry-Division (UK) has just been identified. More reinforcements can be counted on. After the seizure of Aprilia, heavy enemy attacks against the sector are expected. The 14.Army will attack the enemy beachhead on X Day, February 15 at Y Hour, with its main effort between 1500 meters west of the Aprilia – Nettuno Highway and the Fosso di Spaccasassi. The front will be pierced and the attacking forces will push through to Nettuno and destroy enemy forces on the beachhead. Orders to the Corps :
(1) 1.Fallachirmjäger-Corps (4.Fallschirmjäger-Division and 65.Infantry-Division) will concentrate all available forces on its east flank. It will attack from the sector west of Cle. Carroceto in a southerly direction and will cover the west flank of the entire attack.
(2) LXXVI Panzer-Corps (3.Panzer-Grenadier-Division, Infantry-Demonstration-Regiment, 114.Jäger-Division and the 715.Mecanized-Infantry-Division) will attack in the first wave. It will break through the enemy lines in the sector stretching from west of the Aprilia – Nettuno Highway to Fosso di Spaccasassi and will advance to Nettuno.
(3) 29.Panzer-Grenadier-Division and the 26.Panzer-Division, including the 1.Bn of the 4.Panzer-Regiment and the 508.Tiger-Battalion, will be held in readiness. They will be positioned so that they can be employed for a further thrust on Nettuno after a successful breakthrough or for mopping-up operations on the flanks. The sector east of Fosso di Spaccasassi will be held with a minimum of troops. Full use must be made of our strong artillery and armored forces. The date of the attack will be set later.
1.Fallschirmjäger-Corps will be organized as follows :
1. Large units
– a. 4.Fallschirmjäger-Division (only elements ready for action)
– b. 65.Infantry-Division (less the 146.Grenadier-Regiment, and the 4.Bn of the 165.Artyllery-Regiment)
– c. Commander of Rome :
— Tome SS-Police-Battalion
— Withdrawal of forces will be made only with Army approval.
2. Army troops
– a. 1027.Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment
– b. 590.Tank-Destroyer-Battalion
– c. 1.Co, 525.Tank-Destroyer-Battalion (Hornets)
3. Luftwaffe Troops
– a. Assault Gun Battalion, XI Air Force Corps
– b. 22.Luftwaffe-Engineer-Battalion
The organization of the LXXVI Panzer-Corps is listed below :
1. First Combat Wave
– (1) 3.Panzer-Grenadier-Division (less 103.Panzer-Recon-Battalon)
– (2) 114.Jager-Div
– (3) 715.Motorized-Infantry-Division
– (4) Panzer-Division Herman Goering (temporarily less the bulk of the Panzer-Regiment and the staff of Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment)
– (1) 1.Fallschirmjäger-Division; 3.Bn, 1.Fallaschirmjäger-Regiment
– (2) 16.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment; 2.Bn, 35.SS-Grenadier-Regiment; reinforced 2.Bn, 36.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment.
– (3) 362.Fusilier-Battalion
– (1) Infantry-Demonstration-Regiment (horse-drawn)
– (2) 1028.Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment
– (3) 216.Assault-Panzer-Battalion
– (4) 301.Radio-Controlled-Demolition-Tank-Battalion
– (5) 525.Tank-Destroyer-Battalion (less 1.-Co)
– (6) 60.Engineer-Battalion (motorized)
– (7) 811.Armored-Engineer-Company (Goliath tanks)
– (8) Staff, 543.Engineer-Regiment
– (9) 813.Armored-Engineer-Company (Goliath tanks)
– (10) 840.Heavy-Armored-Bridge-Column
– (1) Fallschirmjäger-Battalion
– (2) 7.Luftwaffe-Field-Battalion (unattached)
1. Second Combat Wave (a. Large units)
– (1) 26.Panzer-Division
– (2) 29.Panzer-Grenadier-Division
– (1) Staff of the 69.Panzer-Regiment
– (2) 1.Bn, 4.Panzer-Regiment (Panther)
– (3) 508.Panzer-Battalion (Tiger)
Full support by Air Force and Navy is requested for the impending attack. We must deceive the enemy as to the sector of our main effort. To accomplish this it is ordered that :
(1) the entire enemy front must be constantly raided, especially in the area of the Panzer-Division Herman Goering and the 4.Fallschirmjäger-Division
(2) the 26.Panzer-Division will be assembled in the area of Cisterna – Doganella – Casale della Castalle after they are withdrawn from the front line. The 29.Panzer-Grenadier-Division will be assembled in the area Velletri – Lanuvio – Genzano (towns excluded). Raids by this division will be made in the sector southwest of Cisterna.
(3) the 26.Panzer-Division and the 29.Panzer-Grenadier-Division will conduct reconnaissance, wearing black tank corps uniforms to deceive the enemy that motorized forces are preparing attacks in this area.
(4) motorized troops from assembly areas in the rear will be transferred only after the beginning of the attack to positions of readiness behind the point of main effort.
Baker Co, 2nd Foresters of the 1st Infantry Division (UK) is again in the sector southwest of Cle. Carroceto. The other companies of the battalion are in the same sector. The 24th Brigade is on the right of the 2nd Foresters. The 191st Tank Battalion (US GHQ troops) has been established at Cle. Carroceto pursuant to prisoner of war reports. Prisoners of war further report that the 1st Irish Guards and 1st Scots Guards of the 24th Brigade are located in the Cle. Carroceto sector. The recon from the employment of the 80th Medium Artillery Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division (UK) west of Cle. Carroceto.
The following American units are known to be on the beachhead : 45th Infantry Division, the 3rd Infantry Division, the 1st Armored Division, the 82nd Airborne Division (504-PIR), the 1st Special Service Force Regt, the 1st Ranger Battalion, the 3rd Ranger Battalion, the 4th Ranger Battalion, the 191st Tank Battalion (GHQ), the 751st Tank Battalion (GHQ), the 894th Tank Destroyer Bn (GHQ) and the 601st Tank Destroyer Bn (GHQ). In addition, these British units are also present : the 1st Infantry Division, the 168th Brigade of the 56th Infantry Division, and the 46th Tank Battalion (GHQ troops). These forces are reinforced, particularly by GHQ artillery units. At this time, there is no confirmation of the employment of the 88th Infantry Division. Eight warships, 3 transports, 5 small vessels, and 10 LST’s were observed in the harbor of Anzio – Nettuno.
The enemy situation
As the major enemy attack of January 30, with main emphasis at Aprilia and Cisterna, has failed, the tactical initiative is now in our hands. Our main line of resistance of January 30 has been restored by our counterattacks. The enemy has taken up defensive positions and is endeavoring to hold the beachhead by fortifying his positions. He has attempted to recapture Aprilia. Continued attacks in the area of Aprilia and Cisterna must be expected. Enemy positions around Aprilia and Cisterna are fortified in depth with mines and obstacles. The enemy keeps his local reserves near the front lines, presumably to launch immediate counterattacks.
With the exception of the 1st Armored Division (US), he does not appear to have any reserves for immediate employment. Generally, the counterattacks have been supported by tanks. However, tank attacks are not probable since the present situation does not favor such operations. Enemy forces which landed on the beachhead have not succeeded in reaching their first objectives, Via Appia, near Albano, and Cisterna. The enemy is now awaiting our major attack. He has detected our troop concentrations partly by air reconnaissance. This and terrain conditions lead him to expect our main blow from Aprillia and Cisterna. Aware of the tactical and political significance, the enemy will attempt to hold the beachhead positions by all possible means.
Stubborn infantry defense, extensive antitank gun positions, and superior artillery fire is expected. The bulk of the artillery is in the woods 5000 to 10000 meters south of Aprilia. Our repeated attacks with accentuate the enemy’s shortage of personnel and material. His supply situation is worse than ours because it depends largely on the weather, and is affected by our artillery fire. A withdrawal by the enemy is not possible. However, in such a case, our air force and artillery will make the evacuation very costly. Part of the enemy forces, particularly the 1st Infantry Division (UK) and 3rd Infantry Division (US), have suffered heavy losses, but they defend their positions stubbornly. According to a prisoner, the combat strength of the 3rd Infantry Division (US) has been reduced considerably, and it has been necessary to send rear echelon troops to the front. Our attacks, particularly at Aprilia, resulted in the enemy’s confusion and disorganization.
German losses : 17 killed; 66 wounded; 2 missing.
Allied losses : 30 killed; 29 British prisoners (including 3 aviators); 15 Americans prisoners; 8 tanks destroyed; 5 airplanes downed by antiaircraft.
February 13 1944
During the night of February 12 to 13, Kampfgruppe Graser regained our former position at the Railroad embankment and Hill 80, thus pushing forward the main line of resistance. This area, southwest of Carroceto, was lost to the enemy the previous day. Only active scouting and assault detachment activities on both sides occurred in the other sectors. An assault detachment of the 26.Panzer-Division attacked Isola Bella and encountered strong enemy resistance. Two assault detachments of the Panzer-Division Herman Goering and of the 4.Fallschirmjäger-Division silenced three machine gun positions and took prisoners.
During the night, the Luftwaffe raided the harbor of Anzio – Nettuno. By order of Army Group C, the 1. and 2.Cos of the 763.Artillery-Battalion (170-MM) are allocated to the 14.Army for employment on the beachhead. By order of the 14.Army, the LXXVI Panzer-Corps attaches one company of the 129.Assault-Gun-Battalion to the 1.Fallschirmjäger-Corps for the planned major attack. The Fusilier Battalion of the 362.Infantry-Division is being placed under the command of the LXXVI Panzer-Corps. The reinforced 954.Infantry-Regiment, previously employed in the coastal defense of northeastern Italy, is being transferred to the area of Pescara as Army Group Reserve. For the month of February the 14.Army will receive the following replacements :
Order Number 2, issued by the Commanding General of the 14.Army, directing an attack against the Nettuno beachhead. No essential changes have been made in enemy dispositions, as far as known. To a great extent, bad weather conditions have prevented the reinforcement of the beachhead forces. However, under more favorable weather conditions, we expect a great number of fresh troops to be brought up. The 14.Army will attack on February 16, concentrating mainly along the highway leading from Aprilia to Nettuno, and eastward on this highway. In this sector, the Army will force its way through the main enemy defense area and then push onward to Nettuno.
The main assault will be launched on February 16 at daybreak (0630). The exact hour will be given later. On February 16 at 0400, strong assault detachments will push forward along the entire front line of both Corps to cut the enemy defenses. Simultaneously with the main attack, the LXXVI Panzer-Corps will mount an attack in the sector of the Panzer-Division Herman Goering. Strong forces of this division will push forward in the direction of Borgo Montello, with Isola Bella as the first target. By an increased use of artillery to support this attack we intend of give the enemy the impression that a decisive battle is to be expected at this point. The following points are of decisive importance :
(1) the main attack of the 1.Fallschirmjäger-Corps’s east flank, and particularly the LXXVI Panzer-Corps’ west flank, must be supported effectively by coordinated and accurate artillery fire. Due to ammunition difficulties, the artillery will be unable to fire rolling barrages. Therefore, in supporting the infantry it will be necessary for all artillery, including antiaircraft, to shift to observed fire after short preparatory fire on recognized points of resistance.
(2) the armored units to be employed in the attack will be echeloned in depth. The first wave will consist mainly of infantry and the second of motorized units. Detached tanks of the Tiger type will be required to support the assault howitzers. The enemy’s air superiority when weather conditions are favorable will prevent our transporting motorized units over long distances. Therefore, the first wave of the two motorized divisions and the attached tank units must be deployed close to the assaulting infantry. The entire operation, especially date and time of attack, is to be considered a top secret. Telephone calls revealing our intentions are prohibited. Officers of the Army High Command who are here in an advisory capacity will be forbidden to communicate with their headquarters by telephone. The forward Army Command Post will be located 4000 meters west of Lake Nemi, effective February 16 at 0600.
The location of Service Co, 2nd Foresters Regiment at the hill 3000 to 4000 meters northeast of Cle. Buonripso, has been reconfirmed. A prisoner identified the unit at the crossing of the Fosso della Ficoccia to the be 2/180th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division. According to another prisoner of war, the whole regiment is in this area. The 39th Infantry Regiment was located near Ponte Rotto as confirmed by 2 wounded soldiers. Charlie Co, 3rd Regiment of the 1st Special Service Force was 1500 meters southwest of Borgo Piave. The 1st Special Service Force, consisting of 3 regiments (6 companies each) and a Headquarters company with 3 platoons (25 men each), had been deployed on the beachhead for ranger tanks since February 2. This information was from prisoners of war. Although the enemy situation in general was unchanged, local attacks at Aprillia and an attack near Cisterna are possible. The enemy appeared reforming and regrouping his forces near Aprilia.
German losses : 42 killed; 121 wounded; 26 missing.
Allied losses : 14 prisoners (5 British, 9 American); 1 aircraft downed by antiaircraft; 2 tanks; 2 ammunition carriers; 1 heavy machine gun and 3 light machine guns; 5 vehicles; 3 ammunitions dumps shot afire.
February 14 1944
Except for reconnaissance and raids by both sides, no particular activities took place during the day. The enemy was observed reinforcing his main line of resistance opposite the sectors of the 4.Fallschirmjäger-Division and Panzer-Division Herman Goering. Our long-range artillery forced 2 destroyers to leave the harbor of Anzio. The harbor and the airfield east of Nettuno were placed under artillery fire. The 26.Panzer-Division was withdrawn to the rear of the eastern flank of the LXXVI Panzer-Corps. This division will constitute the Corps Reserve for the proposed attack. In addition to its own area, the Panzer-Division Herman Goering took over the sector of the 26.Panzer-Division. The greater part of the 29.Panzer-Grenadier-Division, previously employed with the 10.Army, has arrived and will be placed under the command of the LXXVI Panzer-Corps.
According to prisoner of war statements, the organization of the 89th Tank Destroyer Battalion (GHQ troops) includes one reconnaissance battalion, equipped with 12 antitank guns (76.2-MM). The 1st Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1 Infantry (UK), has been filled up to table of organization strength. The 1st Scots Guards, 24th Brigade, received 360 men as replacements. Previously, the strength of its individual companies was only 40 men. The fact that the enemy is entrenching suggests that they plan further defenses. Increased traffic of the beachhead could be due to the movement of replacements and supply. Greater debarkation was observed. However, local attacks, especially in the area south of Ardea, at Aprilia and Cisterna, were possible.
German losses (less Kampfgruppe Graser) : 18 killed; 82 wounded; 24 missing.
Allied losses : 11 prisoners (UK, Duke of Wellington); 1 aircraft downed by antiaircraft; 2 light machine guns captured; 1 antitank gun (75-MM) captured
February 15 1944
With the exception of combat and reconnaissance patrols, there was no activity during the day. Around noon, our artillery fired on enemy tank concentrations and gun emplacements south of Aprilia. The enemy fired a large quantity of smoke and phosphorous shells. In the morning, the 14.Army Headquarters made the following additions and rescissions to the attack order dated February 13 :
(1) It has to be assumed that the enemy expects our attack. His superior air force will enable him to ascertain our main points of effort. Special orders to assault detachments, as per order of February 13, are hereby rescinded. Assault detachment activity during the night prior to the attack must be the same as usual. In order to achieve surprise, orders providing for the elimination of certain enemy combat outposts and advanced strong points are rescinded. Our attack must be sudden so as to be a surprise. H-Hour will be given later.
(2) The commander of the air-ground support of the 2.Luftwaffe will drown out the noise of the tanks by the use of airplanes the night before the attack, between 0000 and 0400. As the sound made by the planes will be insufficient, it must be improved by artillery harassing fire. However, this fire must be the same as usual, in volume and type, in order not to alert the enemy. H-Hour for the main attack of February 16 is fixed at 0630 and will be announced to the subordinated units by Army. The 71.Infantry-Division withdrew from the beachhead from and moved to the 10.Army. The 114.Jager-Division (less 1-Bn of 114.Artillery-Regiment) arrived at the beachhead front. The 1.Bn, 114.Artillery-Regiment, is south of Rome for refitting. The bulk of the 956.Grenadier-Regiment (362.Infantry-Division), previously assigned to coast defense, arrived at the LXXVI Panzer-Corps and took over the sector of the 721.Infantry-Regiment. The reinforced 10.Fallschirmjäger-Regiment has, in addition to its own area, taken over the former sector of the 147.Grenadier-Regiment (65.Infantry-Division). The attachment of the 715.Motorized-Infantry-Division to Kampfgruppe Graser is rescinded. The 715.Infantry-Division will assume command of the adjoining sector on the left of the 3.Panzer-Grenadier-Division.
Pursuant to prisoner of war statements, Charlie Co, 6th Gordons of the 2nd Brigade (1st Infantry Division UK) is employed on the road 3000 to 4000 meters south of Cle. Carano. Up to 2 days previously, which was dissolved to provide replacements for other heavily weakened companies of the battalion. The officers of Charlie Co do not believe that a decisive operational success will result form the beachhead. The continuous disembarkation and direct commitment of troops and material in the front emphasized the enemy’s intention to reinforce his defense as soon as possible. Until the present, there has been no confirmation that severely weakened units of the 1st Infantry Division (UK) in the Aprilia area have been replaced by units of the 45th Infantry Division (US). Enemy entrenchments, naval activity, and his reassignment of replacements indicate that he expects our attack with the main point of effort in the Aprilia area.
German losses (less 3.-Pzr-Gren-Div and 715.-Inf-Div) : 18 killed; 47 wounded; 3 missing.
Allied losses : 3 prisoners (UK) (C Co, 6th Gordons); 2 prisoners (US) (504th Prcht Regt)
February 16 1944
Our attack with the purpose of eliminating the enemy beachhead began. The Commander in Chief of the 14.Army, with his Chief of Staff, moved at 0615 to the forward command post, located in a house 2500 meters southwest of Genzano. During the night of February 15 to 16, our assault detachments engaged the enemy along the entire army sector. The left flank of the 1.Fallschirmjäger-Corps and the right flank of the LXXVI Panzer-Corps began the attack at 0630, after a short concentration of artillery and rocket projector fire. The Panzer-Division Herman Goering, having been detached at midnight from the LXXVI Panzer-Corps and placed under the direct command of the Army, joined in the attack.
The 65.Infantry-Division and the 4.Fallschirmjäger-Division seized the ridge south of Cle. Buon Riposo and the Carroceto Valley against strong enemy resistance, including flanking fire, which prevented a further development of the attack. In order to pin down the enemy and diffuse his artillery fire, increased scouting and raiding was continued. The attacking 3.Panzer-Grenadier-Division and 715.Motorized-Infantry-Division progressed rather slowly due to strong enemy resistance and artillery fire, supported by naval guns. The tanks, assault howitzers, and Goliaths employed to support the attack could only advance along roads and paths, as the terrain was not sufficiently hardened by the night frost. Furthermore, the advance on this terrain was obstructed by ditches extending perpendicularly to the direction of the attack. As a result, the brunt of the attack was borne by the infantry supported by artillery fire. Advanced units suffered considerable losses from enemy artillery and sniper fire.
The Panzer Division Herman Goering attacking under support of heavy artillery fire, gained 1000 meters or ground, but was then forced to dig in because of effective enemy defensive fire, which caused heavy losses. Combat-Training-Units of the Panzer-Division Herman Goering and the Fallschirmjäger-Demonstration-Battalion were wiped out. The first unit had 80 and the latter 110 casualties. Heavy, concentrated fire of enemy artillery and fighter-bombers shelled and raided our points of attack, supply lines, artillery positions and reserves. This action occurred mainly in the area of Aprilia.
Toward evening, the Infantry-Demonstration-Regiment, which had lost a large number of officers and noncommissioned officers, fell back about 500 meters without permission. It was employed at the right flank of the 3.Panzer-Grenadier-Division. Throughout the night the enemy maintained observation of our rear area by dropping parachute flares, and bombed observed traffic. Although Army Group C had suggested commitment of the 26.Panzer-Division and 29.Panzer-Grenadier-Division, until now held in reserve, the Commanding General of the 14.Army, at 1825, claimed the time had not yet come to employ these vitally important forces. It was originally intended to weaken the enemy with the divisions now in combat and to push forward with the mobile reserve divisions when the enemy began to fall back. Not all forces of our engaged divisions were as yet in combat. The 3.Panzer-Grenadier-Division and 715.Infantry-Division each kept one regiment in reserve.
In the evening, the 14.Army issued the following additional combat orders to its subordinate units :
Enemy strongholds still maintain a main line of resistance. From reliable sources we learned that in some sectors our attack brought the enemy considerable confusion, and that he frequently called for reinforcements. It is assumed that the enemy suffered heavy losses. No counterattacks have as yet been made due to the shortage of forces on the beachhead. Reserves have not been brought up and tank reserves have not yet been committed. It is possible that the enemy resistance will weaken on February 17. Today, the 14.Army has thrown back the enemy combat outposts, and captured the advanced strongholds along the entire front of attack. The Army will continue the attack on the night of February 16 to 17. It is of decisive importance during that night that the attack be continued along the entire eastern flank of the 1.Fallschirmjäger-Corps and in the sector of the LXXVI Panzer-Corps. Where conditions permit, armored vehicles must support the attacking infantry along all roads and paths.
The objective of the attack is to establish a line running from Fosso Michele via Carrocetello Creek to the southern edge of the small wood 2500 meters southeast of Aprilia. Bridgeheads across the Carrocetello Creek should be extended as far as possible. The Panzer-Division Herman Goering will continue the attack on its west flank. Strong assault detachments must attack the enemy along the entire beachhead front, except at the center of main effort. The enemy must be engaged throughout the night. He must not be allowed to gain time, which would permit him to strengthen his defense.
The objective of the 1.Fallschirmjäger-Corps is the ridge west of Riserva Nuova. The main effort of the LXXVI Panzer-Corps is to be along the border of the 715.Infantry-Division and the 114.Jager-Division. The initial objective for the assault elements of the 1.Fallschirmjäger-Corps and the LXXVI Panzer-Corps is Highway Number 82 S-Lorenzo Cle. Torre di Padiglione. The LXXVI Panzer-Corps must have the 26.Panzer-Division in readiness to exploit a point of penetration. This division will not be committed without permission of the Army Commander. The 29.Panzer-Grenadier-Division is to advance east of the 26.Panzer-Division towards the Campoleone – Cisterna railroad. An advance over the railroad will only be extended on army orders. Guns listed below were available on February 16 for the attack :
114 howitzers 105-MM
46 howitzers 150-MM
39 guns 100-MM
6 guns 170-MM
3 howitzers 210-MM
2 railway guns 210-MM
2 railway guns 240-MM
54 rocket launchers 150-MM
14 rocket launchers 210-MM
172 antiaircraft guns 88-MM
Total : 452
Ammunition expenditure of long-range artillery on February 16 :
– 454 rounds caliber 170-MM
– 50 rounds (railway guns) 210-MM
The Army Command believes that the unauthorized withdrawal of the Infantry-Demonstration-Regiment was due to unusually heavy artillery fire, which this regiment has encountered after having lost a great number of officers and non-commissioned officers. Although 50 percent of the men in this regiment have already been in combat, they have not been in action for a long time. The regiment is expected to show an improved combat spirit and to prove its courage in further actions.
The Commanding General of the 14.Army visited the regimental commander at his Command Post during the afternoon of February 16, and ordered an investigation of this incident. Despite increased enemy air activities, such as the dropping of parachute flares throughout the night of February 16, our troops succeeded in reaching their initial positions without heavy losses. The reconnaissance activity and raids carried out in the sector of the 4.Fallschirmjäger-Division divided the enemy defense, and considerably relieved our attacking forces. Our heavy losses were due to insufficient training or troops, heavy enemy artillery fire, frequent fighter attacks, and enemy sniper activity. Because of tank losses, 14.Army ordered that tanks are to operate only within our lines, and under no circumstances in front of them. Our artillery could not completely neutralize the enemy artillery due to lack of ammunition.
Able, Baker, and X-ray Companies of the 9th Royal Fusiliers and the 8th Royal Fusiliers, both of the 167th Brigade of the 56th Infantry Division (UK), were established in the area north of Cle. Carano. Both battalions relieved American units two days ago. Able Co of the 9th Royal Fusiliers was brought up to strength by inexperienced troops which arrived from England via Naples. The 3/179th Infantry Regiment (45th Infantry Division) (US) was placed southeast of Aprilia, according to prisoners of war of Mike and Nan Cos. Through prisoner of war interrogation and captured documents, it was ascertained that Baker Co, 1/15th Infantry Regiment was 2000 meters east of Isola Bella and that Easy Co, 2/7th Infantry Regiment was west of Ponte Rotto.
As expected, enemy resistance was strong and determined. The enemy prevented a breakthrough despite several crises which arose during the morning at Aprilia and southwest of Cisterna. The enemy made no attempt to recapture his positions except southeast of Aprilia. It is assumed that he will not commit his small local infantry reserves until his former combat positions are threatened with a breakthrough. Although we may assume that the enemy has suffered losses, strong enemy resistance and counterattacks along the entire front during February 17 must be anticipated.
German losses (less the 715.-Inf-Div) : 324 killed; 1207 wounded; 146 missing.
Allied losses : 224 prisoners (141 British, 60 American and 23 nationality not yet determined); 7 tanks destroyed.
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Gunter ‘Doc Snafu’ Gillot
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