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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

List of Maps
Foreword by Capt. (Ret). Roy M. Hanna, 3rd Battalion, 504th PIR
Introduction by Col. Colin P. Tuley, 1st BCT, 82nd Airborne Division

1 Entering a Ghost Town:
Naples, September 28–October 25, 1943

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

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

4 Breaching the Barbara Line:
Colli, Hill 1017, and Rocchetta, November 9–30, 1943

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

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

7 Planning Operation Shingle:
Naples, January 1–21, 1944

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

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

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

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

12 The Factory:
Anzio Beachhead, February 1–6, 1944

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

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

15 The Mussolini Canal:
Anzio Beachhead, February 1–15, 1944

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

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

18 Battle Experience:
Anzio Beachhead, March 10–21, 1944

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

20 Postscript: Postwar Careers

Appendix A: Distinguished Service Cross Recipients
Appendix B: List of Battlefi eld Commissions
Appendix C: Order of Battle for the Apennine Mountains Campaign, October 25, 1943
Appendix D: Order of Battle for Operation Shingle, January 22, 1944
Appendix E: Order of Battle for Operation Shingle, March 22, 1944
Appendix F: Order of Battle for the 24th Guards Brigade, February 7–8, 1944
Appendix G: Field Orders of the 3rd Infantry Division to Col. Tucker, January 1944

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