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Salerno


3–17 September 1943

WW2 - Battle of Salerno

After the war in North Africa ended with the defeat of the Afrika Korps in May 1943 the Allies discussed which way to continue with the fight against Nazi Germany. An invasion of France was not possible at this time and a decision was made to invade Europe via Italy.

The Facts


  • Date: 3–17 September 1943
  • Location: Salerno, Calabria and Taranto, Italy
Countries Involved
United Kingdom
United States
Canada
Germany
Italy
Countries Commanders
Harold Alexander
Bernard Montgomery
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Albert Kesselring
Heinrich von Vietinghoff
Hans-Valentin Hube
Army size
Around 190,000 Around 100,000
Number of Casualties
Over 12,000 Around 3,500

Battle result: Allied victory

Churchill called Italy the ‘soft underbelly of the Third Reich’ as if offered another way into the Nazi heartland via Austria. After taking the island of Sicily as a jumping off point in July 1943, during Operation Husky, the British and American forces landed at Salerno on 9th September 1943 during Operation Avalanche. The landings went badly for some of the American forces, and General Mark Clark almost ordered a withdrawal but eventually a bridgehead was held and the Italian Campaign began. The ‘soft underbelly’ quickly turned into what the troops called a ‘tough old gut’ as the Germans defended every hill, every mountain, every river.

Artillery being landed during the invasion at Salerno

Artillery being landed during the invasion at Salerno

Lieutenant General Mark Clark onboard the USS Ancon

Lieutenant General Mark Clark onboard the USS Ancon

Learn more about this battle on the following Leger Battlefield tour