Allied Invasion of Italy

US #2765f from the WWII: Turning the Tide sheet.

On September 3, 1943, the Allies launched their invasion of Italy during World War II.

The main wartime disagreement among the Big Three – Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt – concerned the Allied invasion of Western Europe. Although it was agreed a second fighting front should be established in Western Europe, Roosevelt and Churchill could not agree on when and where to invade.

US #2765c pictures Allied troops in Sicily.

FDR wanted to take northern France as soon as possible; Churchill felt an invasion of France before Allied forces were fully prepared would be disastrous, and opted for invading Italy instead. In January of 1943, the two met in Casablanca, where they agreed to invade Sicily. It was hoped that this move would make the Mediterranean safe for Allied ships, as well as drive a war-weary Italy out of the war.

US #2765c – Fleetwood First Day Cover.

On July 10, 1943, Allied forces embarked on “Operation Husky,” the largest amphibious operation in history. Ignorant of the enemy’s plans to attack Sicily, the Axis forces were ill-prepared on that fateful day. Coastal defenses, manned mainly by Sicilians unwilling to turn their homeland into a battleground, rapidly collapsed.

On July 25, Mussolini fell from power and Italy’s new premier Pietro Badaglio began secret peace talks with the Allies. Meanwhile, the Germans had retreated and escaped to the mainland. Spurred on by the success of the Sicilian campaign, Eisenhower favored an amphibious assault on the Italian mainland.

US #2765f – Fleetwood First Day Cover.

Although Mussolini’s successor, Pietro Badoglio, was secretly holding peace talks with the Allies, Albert Kesselring, Commander of German Forces in the Mediterranean, was prepared to fight for control of Italy. On September 3, Allied troops landed in Italy though they faced little opposition. Many of the Italian units surrendered quickly.  That same day, Badoglio secretly surrendered to Allies in the Armistice of Cassible.  Fearing German retaliation, the Italians asked that the surrender be kept quiet until the larger Allied attack a few days later. Hoping to surprise the Germans, Eisenhower agreed.

Canada #1506a includes a stamp honoring the Italian Campaign.

On September 9, Allied forces swarmed onto the beaches of Salerno, which was secured after nine days of fighting. Encouraged, the Allies pushed north to Naples. Although they met little resistance, they found the port in shambles. Following Hitler’s orders, German troops had demolished the city, reducing it to a mere shell of its former self.

US #2838f honors the liberation of Rome and Paris in 1944.

Believing the Germans would continue to steadily retreat north, Eisenhower decided to go for the glittering prize of Rome. However, German forces south of the city held the Allies at bay for months.  Rome was finally liberated in June 1944.

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  1. I thank you Mystic Stamp for this important reminder of what was happening in the world during the WW II years. What an important part this country played in removing evil from the world. It should never be forgotten.

  2. I can only echo “Dorothy’s” comments. This historical struggle against evil should never be forgotten!! We must try to ensure the history books do not completely erase this truth. Mystic, you might consider publishing a book of your “This day in history” series. I am one who would eagerly buy such a treasure trove of illustrated, detailed info with wonderful philatelic honoring (plus 7 adult kids & 11 grandkids = 19 preorders). Mystic, you do us all proud!!

  3. A wonderful lesson in WWII history. As always Mystic you outdo yourselves… 🙂
    A consolidated tome of all your ‘This Day in History’ articles, would indeed be most welcome.

  4. Two points.

    I lost a great uncle at Anzio when the resistance stiffened with the Nazis in charge.

    I agree with the idea of publishing a book with these “Days of History”. I would buy several copies for sure

  5. So much of this important article I have either forgotten or never knew . I was a young child during these times. Also, I love reading the different comments, brings everything from the then to the now. Thank you Mystic.

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