|Decisive Battles In History|
1st Phase. 1944 - THE BATTLE OF RIMINI
Rimini, a very ancient Etruscan-Celtic-Roman town, where in 49 B.C. the Eagles of Julius Caesar started their imperial flight, where in 359 A.D. a "diabolical" Council gave temporarily the Christian Church to the heretical Arians, where in 1226 the Emperor Friedrich the 2nd Hohenstaufen gave birth to the modern Germany with the Gold Bulle von Rimini, where in 1300 Dante sang the everlasting tragedy of Paolo and Francesca and in 1450 Sigismondo Malatesta started the Italian Renaissance in 1944 was again in the focus of History.
25 Aug - 30 Sept '44
The Battle of Rimini
" Now we begin the last lap. Swiftly and secretly we have moved an Army of immense strength and striking power to break the Gothic Line. Victory in coming battles means the beginning of the end for the German Armies in Italy." (Gen. Leese)
The Gothic Line (rechristened "Green Line" in June '44) was a fortified
line, running Km 320 from Pesaro on the Adriatic to Massa Carrara on the
Tyrrhenian sea., thick with Panther gun turrets, steel shelters, rock
tunnellings of defence positions, deep minefields, etc. From the left bank
of the river Foglia it had 2.376 machine-gun posts, 479 antitank guns,
mortar and assault guns positions, 120.000 metres of wire and many miles
of antitank ditches. Before there was a Security Line and behind, at 20
Km., the Gothic Line n.2. Alexander's offensive was launched by Churchill
himself. Its first phase, "the battle of Rimini", "the biggest battle of
materials ever fought in Italy", was one of the most crucial (and
unknown) battles of the 2nd World War, fought by 1.200.000 men and thousands of
guns, tanks and aircraft. It was a giant pincer manoeuvre fought by the
British 8th Army on the Adriatic and by the US 5th Army in the Apennines.
Against Rimini, already ruined by 92 air raids, the Allied Artillery fired
1.470.000 rounds (1.200.000 at El Alamein, 500.000 at Cassino), not
counting the British Navy and the German Artillery. The aircraft flew
11.510 sorties (486 only on Sept.18). Casualties until 21.09.1944 amounted
to around 80.000, civilians inclusive, and to more than 754 armoured
vehicles destroyed or damaged only in the Adriatic sector. In the whole
battle, casualties were around 100.000, Italians inclusive. (On 7 Oct.
Alexander assessed 30.000 allied and 42.000 German casualties) The battle
climaxed in the last days of September 1944. Breached the Gothic Lines.1
and n.2, captured Rimini gateway to North Italy and to the Balkans, cut
the German defences in the Apennines, Kesselring was menaced with being
surrounded. He felt to be defeated and asked Hitler twice to evacuate
Italy. The victory for the Allies was within grasp, but soon disappeared
when the Americans were stopped at Mount Battaglia. Kesselring, the winner,
was later rewarded with the command of the German Armies in the West.
2nd Phase. The Battle of rivers. Op.
In October the Gothic Line offensive starts again with
" the battle of rivers' in preparation of the "Operation Gelignite" which
should have driven the Americans beyond Bologna whilst the British should
have landed in Dalmatia. But the Operation failed just before starting.
The Americans were stopped before Bologna and the British at the river
Senio, soon after the liberation of Forlì, Ravenna and Faenza. Tito withstood the British landings at Zadar,
Split and Sibenik. The British then landed in Greece whilst the Germans
ended the allied offensive with small counterattacks in the Tuscan
Garfagnana region and at Ravenna.
Opposite orders of battle from Adriatic to Tyrrhenian sea - 25 august 1944
ALLIED ORDER OF BATTLE
GERMAN ORDER OF BATTLE