Along with the 3rd Division, which had just landed, and, as one of the few “fresh” units available, 2nd Battalion was given the task of pushing inland out of the beachhead in pursuit of the retreating enemy. They moved through Battipaglia, a town totally destroyed in which each single building had been reduced to flat, dusty rubble. Eboli a few miles away was almost as badly devastated.
Above Eboli, at the dead end of a winding mountain road in an oppressive cul-de-sac between ridges, we liberated the village of Campagna, which had been used as an internment camp for political prisoners. There, huddled together in miserable squalor, we found almost a thousand civilians from southern and eastern Europe, most of them Jews.
The main invasion at Salerno by the U.S. 5th Army – began on 9 September, and in order to secure surprise, the decision had been taken to assault without preliminary naval or aerial bombardment. However, tactical surprise was not achieved, as the naval commanders had predicted. As the first wave of the U.S. 36th Infantry Division approached the shore at Paestum a loudspeaker from the landing area proclaimed in English: “Come on in and give up. We have you covered.” The Allied troops attacked nonetheless.
On the road to Salerno the Rangers met no opposition and with support from the guns of HMS Ledbury seized their mountain pass objectives while the Commandos, from No. 2 Commando and No. 41 (Royal Marine) Commando, were also unopposed and secured the high ground on each side of the road through the La Molina Pass on the main route from Salerno to Naples. At first light units of No. 2 Commando moved towards Salerno and pushed back a small force of tanks and armoured cars from 16th Panzer Reconnaissance battalion
Unexpectedly the half-track drove around the corner in the dark in Vietri and was quickly taken under fire by No. 8 Section of Q Troop. The driver and the others who sat in the front seat were killed. The dozen Germans in the back were all captured.
Punta dei Malati – 3 Commando Bridge. July 14th/15th 1943. Underneath the story about the forgotten bridge at Lentini. This story comes from the BBC initiative to preserve WW2 stories written by the public. You can find this story and many others here.
Three kilometres north of Lentini near to the city of Syracuse on the island of Sicily, lies the Malati Bridge. Today it is now on a minor road, overshadowed by an autostrada on massive concrete piles. This was not so in 1943.
The Casablanca Conference in January 1943 attended by Churchill, Roosevelt and their military and civil advisers, decided that on victory in North Africa the next step in the war against the Axis forces would be the invasion and reduction of the island of Sicily. The “return to Europe”. Timed to take place in mid 1943 and code-named “Husky” the D-Day for this operation would be the 10th of July 43. The British and Commonwealth 8th Army and the US 7th Army, along with allied naval and air arms would make up the invading forces, landing by sea and air.