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Anzio Link-up Italy 1944

During the Allies breakout of the Anzio beachhead on 23 May 1944, two small task forces participated in the link-up between the US VI Corps (at Anzio) and the US II Corps along the Adolf Hitler line southwest of Cassino. For four long months, the Anzio beachhead had been isolated being supplied by sea and by air. On 25 May 1944, the link-up was finally made and the Anzio beachhead ceased to exist. Lieutenant General Mark Wayne Clark, commander of the US 5th Army, made a personal appearance at the link-up location for official photographs of the event.

From September to December 1943, the US VI Corps fought in a bloody slow advance from Salerno up the Italian peninsula against the German 10th Army. At the end of December, after heavy fighting on the Bernhardt Line (the forward defenses of the formidable Winter Line defenses) without a breakthrough, the VI Corps was pulled off the front line to participate in Operation Shingle, the amphibious assault at Anzio, south of Rome. On 22 January 1944, the VI Corps landed at Anzio which was to threaten the rear lines of supply and communication of the German 10th Army. At first, German resistance around the beachhead was negligible. However the VI Corps commander, Major General John Porter Lucas wanted to consolidate and build up the beachhead before breaking out. Meanwhile, the Germans rushed all available units to repel the Allied forces coming ashore. As one Allied division landed, a German unit soon arrived to oppose it. The situation became a stalemate where both sides shelled each other and heavy fighting resulting in losses lasted for months for little or no gains.

“I had hoped we were hurling a wildcat onto the shore, but all we got was a stranded whale.”

Winston Churchill

An incident occurred early on the morning of January 28. Motor torpedo boat PT-201 transporting General Mark Clark to the Anzio beachhead, 6 days after the landings, was mistakenly fired on by minesweeper USS Sway (AM-120) which was alerted of a German attack. Clark narrowly escaped death or serious injury but one officer and one sailor were killed and two sailors were wounded during the incident.

The Breakout

In early May 1944, the situation had changed where the balance of strength had swung in favor of the Allies. The Allies finally had more troops and materials ashore than the German units opposing them. On May 23, Operation Buffalo, the breakout from the Anzio beachhead, began with a massive artillery and naval gunfire barrage. Major General Lucian Truscott, who had replaced General Lucas as commander of US VI Corps, launched a two pronged attack using 5 (3 US and 2 British) divisions. The German 14th Army facing this assault was lacking armor support because General Kesselring, the German commander in the Mediterranean theater, had ordered most of the armor south to aid the battered German 10th Army.

The southeastern boundary of the beachhead ran along the Mussolini Canal and to the east of the canal was the Pontine Marshes. In Italy, the Germans used flooding, land mines, and the destruction of vital infrastructures such as bridges and tunnels to impede the Allied advances. During the winter of 1943, the Germans stopped the pumps and opened the dikes, flooding the Pontine Marshes with brackish water. The flooding had increased mosquito breeding in the area which resulted in malaria spreading among the civilian population and the troops on both sides. The flooding also made the area unsuitable for major armor operations restricting tanks to only good roads especially during the winter months. To avoid detection by the Allies, the Germans concealed panzers, SPs and other vehicles in or near buildings in the area. The Pontine Marshes had became no man’s land.

Famous American journalist Ernie Pyle wrote: “On these little farms of the Pontine marshes Mussolini built hundreds of … stone farmhouses … Now and then I saw a farmer plowing while German shells landed right in his field. We tried to evacuate people … But some of them simply refused to leave their homes. Sometimes the Germans would pick out one of the farmhouses, figuring we had a command post in it, I suppose, and blow it to smithereens. Then, and only then, did some Italian families move out … on any side road we couldn’t drive five minutes without seeing the skeleton of a cow or a horse.”

This is an aerial view of Littoria (today Latina.) Anzio/Nettuno is to the west and and Torre Astura is to the southwest. The Mussolini Canal flows from right to left across the terrain shown in this photo, about one-third of the distance between Littoria and Anzio. During the stalemate, Littoria was an outpost for both sides, because neither the US nor the German forces were strong enough to permanently occupy it. Normally, the Germans occupied it during the day while the US forces occupied it at night. This area was the scene of many clashes between the various infantry patrols in no man’s land.

Early production Sturmpanzer IV Brummbärs (Sd.Kfz.166) belonging to Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 216 in Littoria. The Brummbär was armed with a 15cm (5.9 inch) Sturmhaubitze (StuH) 43 L/12 howitzer based on the Pz.Kpfw.IV chassis. Second in line is a Munitionspanzer III which is a munition carrier based on the Pz.Kpfw.III chassis. The date when this photo was taken is unknown but the muddy street indicate it was probably late January or February. No information is found indicating if these Brummbärs were still in Littoria during the Allies breakout in May.

Allied Units

British 1st Reconnaissance Regiment, RAC (Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Brett)
36th Engineer Regiment, US 36th Infantry Division
Company A, US 805th Tank Destroyer Battalion (towed M5 3-inch guns)
1 Platoon, Company B, US 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion (4 M-10s)

Task Force Brett
C Squadron, 1st Reconnaissance Regiment
Company B, US 36th Engineer Regiment (Captain Ben Sousa)

US II Corps Task Force (name unknown)
US 91st Reconnaissance Squadron (Lieutenant Colonel Charles A. Ellis)
Troop A, US 117th Reconnaissance Squadron
Company B, US 48th Engineer Regiment (Lieutenant Alfred Kincer)

91st Reconnaissance Squadron (1944)
Headquarters Troop, with Pioneer and Demolitions Platoon
A Troop (Recon, M8 Armored Cars)
B Troop (Recon, M8 Armored Cars)
C Troop (Recon, Jeeps)
D Troop (Support Troop)
E Troop (Light Tanks, M5 Stuarts)
F Troop (Heavy Guns)

German units

The German 715th Motorized Infantrie-Division was the main unit in the area of the link-up which was supported by some Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger Is of schwere Panzer-Abteilung 508 and possibly Sturmpanzer IV Brummbärs of Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 216.

Wehrmacht 715. Infantrie-Division

Grenadier-Regiment 725
Grenadier-Regiment 735
Füsilier-Bataillon 715
Artillerie-Regiment 671
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 715
Pionier-Bataillon 715

Wehrmacht 29. Panzergrenadier-Division

Nickname: Falke-Division (Falcon Division)

PanzerGrenadier-Regiment 15
PanzerGrenadier-Regiment 71
Aufklärungs-Abteilung 129
Panzer-Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 129
Artillerie-Regiment 29
Heeres Flak-Artillerie-Abteilung 313
Pionier-Bataillon 29

The 1st Special Service Force (1 SSF) was positioned north of the 36th Engineer Regiment along the Mussolini Canal.

Allied southeast advancements

The main objective of Task Force Brett was to cross the Mussolini Canal and clear a corridor southeast along the coast and make contact with the US II Corps. The rest of the 36th Engineers supported by elements of the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment and the US Tank Destroyer units objective was to clear the area to the north which included Littoria and Borgo Piave (“Borgo” is village in Italian.) The main task for the engineers was to remove land mines and repair bridges opening the roads in the area. Many of the buildings in the Pontine Marshes area were occupied by the Germans, some included Italian civilians. The main obstacles the engineers encountered were enemy small arms (SA) and MG fire from buildings and dikes along the roads which had to be cleared. Enemy mortar and artillery fire also slowed the engineer’s progress. Patrols did reported fire from SPs or panzers which either the supporting tank destroyer units or US artillery took care of.

Some interesting excerpts from the US 36th Engineer Regiment daily Sitreps (Situation Reports) 23-25 May 1944. Most of the entries are brief statements containing abbreviations, code names and map coordinates making some hard to follow.

May 23

1008 - OP at H 2 on Tank report a patrol at approx 051203 being shelled.  
            We do not have patrol there.   Ranger Red
1207 - Grand patrol closing on Pink house, took 1 PW.  Lt. Col. Osmand.
1227 -  Hwy 7 W of Mussolini Canal.   Arty from vic Littoria hitting SSF.
1440 - Grand coming in.  Baker Patrol in Cerreto Alto clearing shu Mines.  
            Going beyond bend in road.   Fire into woods.
1441 -  Dog H 2 - 2 armored cars in town.   Call arty on town.
1600 - 9 eny tanks forming for counter attack at 062398.   TD Radio    
1700 - 12 tanks at vic as 9 others in same vic.
1900 - Patrol between Fizzle and Short hitting Tank almost to #4 on Tank.  
            Cross fire 2 MGs 042186, 048195, withdrew & caught arty and 
            mortars-barrage.    Mortar firing from Able ditch, arty firing 
            from unknown locations.   S Littoria F Co. OP.  SP firing from 
            079187 W edge of Littoria, seemed to be landing on left flank 
            of our sector.   Intensive arty action.

May 24

0810 - Notified all Batteries.  Arty fired propaganda passes to Jerry - 
            he should come in with no helmet or weapon.
1145 - Cerreto Alto patrol left Cerreto at 1135 moving E twds woods.   Red
1355 - Baker Patrol fired on from woods SA.   Also received Arty.  Patrol 
            withdrew Cerreto Alto being shelled by eny.   SPs or Tanks in 
            vic of Copolla - more than one firing - arty called down.
1400 - Armored veh in Borgo Piave.  Arty on it.   Veh came from direction 
            Littoria.    White
1412 -  MG fire from 4A on Short & trees 100 yds left & to rear.  H 1 on 
            Bank mortar fire.  Fox 056224 - SP or tank huge column black 
1555 - Charlie patrol received SA fire from #15 Grand.  Not very much; 
            suspect sniper.   Fire back-all quiet.   Baker patrol fired on 
            by MG in hay-stack at 059146 (Cerreto Alto) with 400 yds of 
            wood.   Rifle grenades & rockets all quiet MG ceased firing.
1925 -  White reports 3 tanks at 046229.
2050 - E crossed Tank probing along short. 
2338 - Brett force patrol short of Cerreto Alto.   Report occupied by eny 
            patrol   B & F patrol closing in.

May 25

0005 - Borgo Piave patrol entered town, fired 2 flares.  No reaction. 
             Fired two more; still no reaction.  White Molar
0210 - No report as yet on A Cos. patrol.   Platoon of TDs being moved 
             into positions. 
0800 - Push thru Borgo Piave.  clear roads; probe on into Littoria.  
             To Red.
0945 - Patrols with Borgo Piave.   Clearing Roads & houses moving on 
             towards Littoria.    Red Road being cleared.
1140 - PW states Luftwaffe Bn withdrew to line 2518-2716 at 230 hrs 24 May. 
            Capt Lonn
1240 -  Brett Force to Littoria.   Clear of eny to N side.
1305 - Lt Col Brett wants to proceed to Hwy 7 from Littoria then out NW & 
            tie in with right flank 34th.
1345 -  34th Div informed our forces to move NW along Hwy 7.
2040 - Message from NCS:    Cease firing on Cori.
2110 -  Radio - Cease all firing at pt. 064430.

The area was scattered with small hamlets, villages, sometimes consisting of a few houses. One of these villages, Borgo Sabotino was located east of the Mussolini Canal, in the southern part of no man’s land, along the coast. It attracted the attention of the press.

This is the Mussolini Canal bridge west of Borgo Sabotino. The bridge was destroyed as part of the reconnaissance effort on the right flank on January 22-23. On the far side, the Germans placed concrete road blocks along the side of the road and US forces dug a trench system along the canal as part of the beachhead defense line. This photo was probably taken in late May when the 36th Engineers erected a tread way bridge over the canal to allow Task Force Brett vehicles to cross.

This Humber Mk IV Armoured Car of the British 1st Reconnaissance Regiment is parked next to a destroy M4 Sherman tank on the side of the road near Borgo Sabotino on May 23. The firepower of the Humber armoured cars proved to be an asset while supporting infantry units. The British press dubbed the regiment the “thin red line” after they repelled a German counter-attack during the battle for the thumb (east of Aprilia) in early February. Barely visible on the left front fender of the Humber is the British 1st Infantry Division formation sign, a white triangle and on the Humber’s turret side there is a obscured circle which probably is a tactical sign indicating C Squadron. Next to the circle appears to be a name. Both were probably blotted out by a censor.

This is another photo of the same Humber and destroyed M4 Sherman further to the right. The M4 is facing east towards Borgo Sabotino and an American GI is walking by on the road.

This is a side view of the destroyed Sherman. This M4 did not belonged to a British armour unit as it does not have the armoured box mounted on the rear of the turret characteristic of Shermans in British service. The “US” of the burnt registration number can barely be seen on the hull side.

US II Corps northwest advancements

After the city of Fondi was liberated, the Germans made a stand on the high ground to the southwest at Terracina on the west coast, the last enemy barrier before entering the Pontine Marshes which the enemy already occupied. The reconnaissance units were ordered to push forward rapidly and clear the enemy forces from Terracina and enter into the Pontine Marshes to provide an axis of march to make contact with the Anzio beachhead forces.

On May 22, the 91st squadron CP moved to a location northwest of Sperlonga on the coast. The Lago di Fondi (Lake Fondi) valley was flooded in many places which made progress slow. DUKWs (also called Ducks) were used and many bailey bridges had to be constructed before vehicular movement to and through Terracina could be accomplished. Highway 7 (today Strada Statale 7 or SS7) from Fondi to Terracina was still under heavy enemy artillery fire. Advanced elements of 91st Squadron Troop A, moving southwest down Highway 7, engaged in many small fire fights where armored cars and light tanks were employed, resulting in capturing over 60 POWs and many were KIA. Troop C patrols, unable to advance in their vehicles, dismounted and crossed the canal (connects Lake Fondi to the sea) to approach Terracina from the east. While under cover of darkness, these patrols reported that considerable amount of enemy activity could be heard in Terracina which was occupied by elements of 29. Panzergrenadier-Division.

The US M8 Armored Car armed with a 37mm gun, 6×6, 55 MPH (88.5139 km/h), first went into combat in Italy, late January 1944. This M8 named “Argonaught” with bumper codes “5A 91R A49” and the unit crest was photographed somewhere in the Cassino sector on 20 February 1944. The crew had fitted an improvised .50 Cal heavy MG mount to the forward turret roof with some sort of box in front of it. Note the circled stars on the front hull and the side hull. On the right front fender is the bridge classification disc of 9 tons.

This is an aerial view of the Terracina Canal. Note the boats which have been sunk by Allied air attacks.

By first light the next morning following an intense US artillery barrage, elements of the 337th Infantry Regiment, US 85th Infantry Division, supported by tanks moved down Highway 7 to the outskirts of Terracina. Troops A and C of 91st Squadron were temporarily attached to the 337th Infantry for an attack on Terracina. The 117th Reconnaissance Squadron was attached to the 91st Squadron and prepared to move into the area west of Terracina. The attack by the 337th Infantry upon Terracina was successful and 91st Squadron Troop C elements using a bailey bridge over the canal east of Terracina were the first elements to clear through the town and took left flank protecting positions for the advancing infantry. Troop A of 117th squadron was on the right flank reconnoitered the high ground and trails to the north of Highway 7. Troops A and B of 91st Squadron passed through Troop C positions on the outskirts west of Terracina and made a rapid reconnaissance push into the Pontine Marshes to determine enemy strength, positions, and intentions and to make contact with the Anzio beachhead forces.

After Terracina was liberated, the US II Corps units began moving up the coast towards Anzio.

The advance north along the coast was many road craters, blown bridges, and flooded roads in the marshes, but with the cooperation of the attached engineers each troop made good progress. Troop B continued to advance northwest on Highway 7 and found many bridges were “prepared” for demolition but not blown and their progress was more rapid. Troop A, 117th Squadron reported progress was slow and were under heavy enemy mortar fire in the vicinity of Mt. Castello. Radio contact had been established with Task Force Brett. By-passes made around all road demolitions allowed the reconnaissance platoons to push forward with all possible speed. Troop B, 91st Squadron moving along Highway 7 encountered small arms fire, many blown bridges and flooded roads. Troop A, 117th Squadron moving north of the railroad, along foothills and into the high ground northwest of Mt. Leano made enemy contact but was able to advance under fire. Troop A, 91st Squadron made good progress along the coastal road and reported Borgo Grappa was clear of the enemy.

The Link-up

At 0731 hours on May 25, Task Force Brett made contact with the leading elements of the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron and 48th Engineers of the US 85th Infantry Division at Borgo Grappa. The war was put on hold for all the units until the arrival of General Mark Clark at 1030 hours which at that time official photographs were taken of the event.

This is the view from the turret of a Humber Mk IV Armoured Car of the British 1st Reconnaissance Regiment northwest of the link-up point. Two crewmen are standing in front of the armoured car. Up the road, soldiers and officers are walking towards the link-up point. On top of the turret appears to be a map board.


General Mark Clark, front center with cap, walking towards the link-up point. The British officer in shorts walking behind Clark probably is Lieutenant Colonel Brett.

General Mark Clark shaking hands with the first US II Corps officer to reach the link-up location. Note the officer has the II Corps patch on his shoulder. The British soldiers in the background are from the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment. The bar immediately in front of General Clark is a wire anti-decapitation device mounted on the front bumper of a jeep.

IWM NA 15394

Lieutenant C.R. Beale, MC., of Nottingham, 1st Reconnaissance Regiment, and Lieutenant Leroy R. Weil of Chicago, Illinois, USA, meet on a tread way bridge.

IWM NA 15402

On May 25, a photographer or war correspondent radio faxed this photograph and caption to New York. Note the caption.

After the link-up, the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment and US 5th Army units swung north towards Littoria.

GIs marching pass a Humber Light Reconnaissance Car Mk III on the road 1 mile (1.6 km) from Littoria. Note the 3/4 circle marking on the rear of the turret.

IWM NA 15475

Elements of the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment and US infantry swept through Littoria meeting no German resistance. A 1st Reconnaissance M3A1 scout car towing a 6 pdr anti-tank gun passes through a road block in Littoria. The surrounding GIs are probably the ones who cleared and opened the road block.

IWM NA 15477

Civilians greeting a 1st Reconnaissance M3A1 scout car in Littoria. Note the spare tire and the coil of barb wire mounted on the front.

IWM NA 15478

Another M3A1 scout car towing an anti-tank gun further down the street (same building in the background on the right.) Note the petrol (fuel) pump on the left with a rifle and a captured machine gun(?) leaning against it.

IWM NA 15479

Troopers of the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment ‘brew up’ (have tea) in the main square of Littoria. Note the amount of stowage carried in the M3A1 scout car. There is another M3A1 Scout car and 6 pdr AT gun in the background.

IWM NA 15483

Four Italian children ask hopefully for ‘caramella’ (sweet or candy) from troopers of the 1st Reconnaissance in Littoria. The trooper in the passenger seat appears to be searching for something to give them while the driver is looking other his shoulder. Note the building in the background is sprayed with bullet holes. There is a woman standing in front of the building and there are a couple of civilians on the second floor balcony watching. The purpose of the plate dangling on the front grill of the jeep is unknown.

IWM NA 15641

Proud troopers of the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment pose with their war trophy, a captured German flag, in Littoria. From left to right: Corporal H. Seddon, Trooper R. Carslake and Trooper J. Callaghan.

IWM NA 15482

A damaged Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger I of schwere Panzer-Abteilung 508. in the outskirts of Littoria. The US 36th Engineer Regiment daily Sitreps has several patrols reported receiving 88mm fire during May.

This is the left rear quarter view of the Tiger. The wreckage on the ground in front of the British soldier could be whats left of the storage bin from the rear of the Tiger’s turret. The Italian traffic sign indicate crossroads ahead and the triangle had a red border.

This is the front view of the Tiger. Since there are no shell craters or burnt spots around the Tiger, it probably was damaged by US artillery somewhere around Littoria and was towed to this spot for repairs. It was later abandoned when the Germans withdrew from the area.

This is the right rear quarter view of the Tiger. The escape hatch on the Tiger’s turret was either blown off or removed and a Jeep is parked in front of the Tiger.

A Caterpillar D7 bulldozer of the US 36th Engineer Regiment at work repairing a destroyed bridge over the Mussolini Canal.

IWM NA 15486

Troopers of the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment marching behind a D7 bulldozer, advance north of Littoria heading towards Highway 7. Two US engineers are squatting on the side of the road while others are working on the road in the background. Note the officer immediately behind the bulldozer is holding a map and the ammo box on the bulldozer. This could be the same bulldozer in the above photo.

IWM NA 15487

Two GIs examining a knocked out Panzerbefehlswagen M42 772(i) (an ex-Italian Carro Commando Sermovente M42 command tank) in Borgo Piave on May 26. This could been the armored vehicle which the 36th Engineer patrol reported was in Borgo Piave and they called for artillery to take it out.

This destroyed M4 Sherman became a roadside attraction for many Allied soldiers in the area. The soldier closest to the Sherman with both hands on his helmet is a combat medic (red cross on helmet.)

After examining the wreck, they moved on.

This is a front view of the destroyed M4 Sherman. It has the late 1942 M34 gun mount with protective “cheeks” added to the rotor shield casting which protected the gun from bullet splash and it also has the early separate cast shield for the coaxial MG. Note the Direct Vision slots and the early three piece transmission housing cover. The original tracks were at sometime replaced with later T54E1 steel chevron tracks.

The Press caption stated that the M4 Sherman was disabled and destroyed during the May offensive but that does not seem to be accurate. The 36th Engineer Regiment daily Sitreps for May 1944 does not mention any tank units were attached to Task Force Brett or blowing up any disabled tanks. The Sitreps state only the British 1st Reconnaissance Regiment and the two US tank destroyer units were de-attached from the task force after the link-up. All the Allied armored units in May 1944 were located on the northern end of the beachhead for the breakout which was open dry country better suited for tanks. Photos show the Sherman was definitely from a US unit so it would not have belonged to the 46th Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) which was attached the British 1st Infantry Division. Combat Command A (CCA) and CCB of the US 1st Armored Division was in the center to advance north up Highway 7 towards Rome. The US 191st Tank Battalion was attached to the US 45th Infantry Division and the US 751st Tank Battalion was attached the US 3rd Infantry Division for its final assault on Cisterna.

The 36th Engineer daily Sitreps does have at least 14 references to a “Tank Rd” between May 10 and May 21 long before the breakout on May 23. This could be referring to a landmark which is a knocked out tank on the road. During that period the Allied patrols were not venturing around Littoria during the day and the bridges over the Mussolini Canal were destroyed. My theory is that the M4 Sherman was disabled and destroyed during an earlier engagement and was already on the road when Task Force Brett passed it during the breakout on May 23.

The most logical armor unit it belonged to would have been the 751st Tank Battalion. The 751st had fought in Tunisia with M3 Lee tanks and after the African campaign ended, was sent back to Oran, Algeria, where they were issued M4 Sherman tanks, and where they trained for the upcoming invasion of Italy. After landing near Salerno, south of Naples, the battalion advanced up the Italian mainland to the Gustav Line. In December 1943, the 751st was pulled from the front line to participate in the landing at Anzio. On January 22, the US 3rd Infantry Division (7th, 30th and 15th Infantry Regiments) supported by the 751st Tank Battalion landed in the first assault wave on Red and Green beaches southeast of Nettuno. One tank platoon supported each infantry regiment. The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the US 82nd Airborne Division also landed on the beach with the landing force (no parachute drop.)

A M4 Sherman of the 751st Tank Battalion moves inland from the Nettuno landing beach in the background.

This is my close up of the 751st Sherman in the above photo. This is not the same tank as the destroyed Sherman near Borgo Sabotino but it does have the same early features.

After the initial landings on January 22-23, the Allies expanded the beachhead. The US 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment took positions along the southeastern border of the beachhead with the 15th Infantry Regiment to their northwest. The Germans rushed in elements of the 1st and 2nd Panzer Grenadier Regiments of Panzer-Division Hermann Göring to cover the southeastern border of the beachhead. The Germans setup fortified outposts at strategic locations along the east bank of the Mussolini Canal to prevent anymore expansion of the beachhead.

This Sherman was probably supporting a US paratrooper patrol probing towards Borgo Sabotino when it ran over a German teller mine and became disabled. Heavy German fire then forced the patrol to withdraw. To prevent the Sherman from being recovered by the Germans, the crew set off internal demolition charge(s) before retreating back across the canal. Sometime afterwards, the Allies destroyed all the bridges over the Mussolini Canal to prevent the Germans from launching an attack against the beachhead from the southeast. US units constructed trenches and dug-in positions along the Mussolini Canal as a defense line and the destroyed Sherman must had sat on the road in no man’s land until May.

To Rome

After the link-up was completed, the US II Corps (85th and 88th Infantry Divisions) advanced north along the coast road and up Highway 7 joining the Allied divisions northeast of Anzio for their push to Rome. On 4 June 1944, Rome was liberated by the Allies and Lieutenant Colonel Ellis, CO of the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron, was the first to enter the city. This front page news story was short lived as it was overshadowed by the Allies D-Day landings in Normandy two days later.

M8 Armored Cars of Task Force Ellis advancing up Via Tuscolana into the outskirts of Rome on June 4. Note the Troop letter and vehicle number to the right of the engine grill. Although the GI on the Harley-Davidson WLA motorcycle in the foreground blocking our view, the left side would have “5A” and “91R” on a similar white triangular panel. This M8 does not appear to have circled stars applied or have a .50 Cal MG mounted on top of the turret.

General Mark Clark riding in his jeep in Rome. The plate on the right had the insignia of the US 5th Army. Note the wire anti-decapitation device mounted on the front bumper.

A Humber armoured car Mk IV of the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment salutes Major General Major General Sir William Ronald Campbell Penney, GOC 1st Infantry Division and Lieutenant Colonel Brett during a parade march-past near Rome on 23 June 1944. The name “OMNIPOTENT III” is toward the rear side of the turret. The left front fender has the 1st Infantry formation sign (white triangle) and the right front fender probably has Arm of Service (AoS) number 41 on a Green over cobalt blue square.

This is my close up of IWM NA 16356

This Humber armoured car has the same 3/4 circle marking as the Humber Light Reconnaissance Car Mk III photographed outside Littoria. My guess the circle indicated C Squadron and the position of the pie wedge indicated the troop in the squadron similar to the Royal Artillery battery square markings with clockwise squares positioned in the corners for each battery (1 to 4.)

1st Troop – Upper Right quarter
2nd Troop – Lower Right quarter
3rd Troop – Lower Left quarter
4th Troop – Upper Left quarter

The horizontal white bar underneath the circle might indicate the unit belonged to the British 8th Army again.


The Pontine Marshes had long since been drained and the land had been reclaimed. The canal still exists today but no longer named the “Mussolini Canal”. The canal is highlighted in light blue.

This view is the highway bridge heading east. Over the past 75+ years, this bridge was probably have been replaced a couple of times. The Destroyed M4 Sherman would been somewhere ahead down this highway. Many daily commuters drive over this unmarked canal probably not knowing what happened there in 1944.

This view is from the highway bridge looking south. The trails running along the sides of the canal are probably used by local farmers to access their surrounding fields.


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