In mid-September 1943, at the opening move of the Allied campaign to liberate the mainland of Italy, an Anglo-American invasion force landed on the beaches of the Gulf of Salerno only a few dozen miles to the south of Naples. Italy had just surrendered and the soldiers in the landing craft prayed that the invasion would be unopposed. It was not to be. The Germans had seized control of the Italian-built beach defences and were ready and waiting. The ferocious ten-day battle at Salerno was eventually decided by a combination of Allied reinforcements and secondary landings in support of the beleaguered bridgehead.
Osprey Publications Ltd has released Salerno 1943 – The Allies invade southern Italy as Number 257 in their Campaign series. It is a paperback book with 96 pages. Included with the text are black and white and color photographs, black and white and color illustrations, color maps, informational charts, 3-D bird’s-eye-views, author’s notes and detailed captions. It has a 2013 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-78096-249-8. As the title states, the book details the command strategies, tactics and battle experiences of the opposing forces throughout the crucial stages of Salerno 1943 – The allies invade southern Italy during World War II.
The Strategic Situation
- German commanders
- Allied commanders
- German forces
- Allied forces
- Orders of battle
- The landings
- Expanding the bridgehead
- The left flank
- Battle along the Tusciano
- The struggle for Altavilla
- The Tobacco Factory
- ‘Black Monday’
- The tide turns
The Battlefield Today
Angus Konstam has done a wonderful job of detailing the events surrounding the fighting at Salerno in 1943 during the Second World War. The contents portion where I listed the contents of the book is accurate as to what is discussed. Angus Konstam is able to place the reader where the action is by detailing every minute detail leaving nothing to guess as to what took place by whom and when. Specific military units such as armored units, key individuals, commanders, and various dates and day by day actions are all listed providing all of the details the reader would want and or need when studying this key event at Salerno in 1943 during the Second World War. Angus Konstam covers both sides of the conflict with equal detailing so that the reader is supplied with a non-biased narrative and informative history. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors throughout the book. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone interested in World War II history, military warfare and weaponry and the fighting at Salerno itself will find this excellent book very informative and interesting and will leave the reader with no doubt as to what took place during this famous historical event.
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.
There are a total of 61 black and white photographs and 3 color photographs shown throughout the book. The photographs range in subjects such as armor, artillery, troops, small arms, lend-lease vehicles from the United States, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, German of war (POWs), casualties, landing ships and landing craft, barrage balloons and many other subjects of similar composition. Most of the photographs are nice, clear, centered and focused images and are of a good quality and will benefit the scale modeler and military enthusiast and historian. Angus Konstam has stuck with photographs that I refer to as even specific meaning that they are of or in relation to the fighting at Kharkov and not just random World War II photographs that were used as filler. I appreciate the fact that a majority of the photographs were of the “in-action” variety which I feel helps place the reader in the action of the conflict itself.
Some of the photographs that I found interesting were:
- A Sherman tank of the US 2nd Armored Division entering Palermo on 22 July 1943
- Landing ships of TG 81.3 using barrage balloons for air protection
- A camouflaged German Stug III assault gun of the 16th Panzer-Division on the move
- An American M1 155mm howitzer in action
- An aerial view of the Salerno plain
- British Universal Carriers of the 6th Lincolnshire Regiment of the British 46th Division disembarking from an American LST on Uncle Red Beach
- A US Ranger patrolling near the Chiunzi Pass
- An American DUKW disembarking from a LST near a crew manning a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun
- A British M4A3 Sherman tank belonging to the Scots Greys
- A British PIAT team
- American truck loaded with equipment and supplies being loaded onto a tank landing ship from a transport ship via a crane An Aerial view of the Fiocche Tobacco Factory
Some of the key individuals shown are:
- Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring
- General der Panzertruppen Heinrich von Vietinghoff
- General der Panzertruppen Traugott Herr
- General Sir Harold Alexander
- General Bernard Montgomery
- Lieutenant-General Mark W. Clark
- Lieutenant-General Richard McCreery
- Major-General Ernest J. Dawley
There are 3 color illustrations and 3 accompanying black and white illustrations by illustrator Steve Noon. Each color illustration is accompanied by a black and white copy of the same illustration that describes the scene and points out and describes key areas of interest. The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:
The Battle For ‘Lilienthal’, Uncle Beach, 0630HRS, D-Day
A rifle section from the 2/5th Queen’s Regiment taking cover from machine-gun fire on the southern bank of the River Asa.
The Fight For The Tobacco Factory, VI Corps Sector, D 3, 1330HRS
American GIs of the 1/157th RCT (Regimental Combat Team) hold a shell-damaged warehouse on the western edge of the large circular Tobacco Factory complex.
Kampfgruppe Von Doering’s Attack, Sele-Calore Corridor, D 4, 1830HRS
German LXXVI Panzer Korps under fire from the American 158th and 159th Field Artillery battalions while approaching the River Calore.
There are 6 color maps included in this volume which are well done, nicely detailed and are of:
- The Allied invasion of southern Italy
- The Gulf of Salerno and its environs
- British X Corps area of operations
- US VI Corps area of operations
- The German counter-attack, 12-14 September 1943
- The German withdrawal and the Allied pursuit, 15 September-8 October 1943
There are 3 ‘birds-eye-view’ 3-D color maps also included in this volume which are well done, nicely detailed and are of:
- The British Left Flank, 9-16 September 1943
- The River Tusciano, 10-16 September 1943
- The Battle Around Altavilla, 12-13 September 1943
THE INFORMATION CHARTS:
There is 1 informational chart provided which provides information on:
Key to military symbols and unit identification
The captions are very nicely written and contain a wealth of detail and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place. The captions go into very specific detail as to specific individuals, soldier’s military affiliation, dates and locations, weapon types such as artillery and tanks as well as small arms, specific military units and the results of the actions that are shown, and other such pertinent information. As I read through the captions I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. I did find one error in the form of a missing word in the caption accompanying the Plate C illustration. As I stated before, grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I did find one error in the form of a missing word, but it is minor. The captions themselves are basically miniature history lessons as they detailed what is happening, or happened, in the photographs and give specific detail as to the who, what, when, why and where. I was pleased with Angus Konstam’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.
There are 3 notes included in this volume:
The Woodland Trust
This is a very nice reference book that contains many nice illustrations, photographs and well written and detailed text and captions. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library. An excellent well written and researched reference and history book of the actions at Salerno in 1943 during the Second World War that will benefit the scale modeler as well as the military enthusiast and historian.
This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.
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