Spearhead of the Fifth Army

The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio

Frank van Lunteren

Upon the completion of the Sicily and Salerno Campaigns in 1943, the paratroopers of Colonel Reuben Tucker's 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment were among the first Allied troops to enter Naples. A ghost town at first sight, the residents soon expressed their joy at being liberated. Four weeks later the 504th—upon the special request of General Mark
Date Published :
September 2016
Publisher :
Casemate
Language:
English
Illustration :
16 pp of illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781612004273
Pages : 320
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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In stock
$32.95

Overview
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This work is the third book by Frank Van Lunteren on the 504th P.I.R. in World War II, focusing on their role in the Italian theater.

Upon the completion of the Sicily and Salerno Campaigns in 1943, the paratroopers of Colonel Reuben Tucker’s 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment were among the first Allied troops to enter Naples. A ghost town at first sight, the residents soon expressed their joy at being liberated. Four weeks later the 504th—upon the special request of General Mark Clark—spearheaded Fifth Army’s drive through the notorious Volturno Valley—the Germans’ next stand.

January 1944 seemed to promise a period of rest, but the landing at Anzio meant deployment for the paratroopers again, this time by ship. A bombing raid during their beach landing was a forecast of eight weeks of bitter fighting. Holding the right flank of the beachhead along the Mussolini Canal, the paratroopers earned their nickname “Devils in Baggy Pants” for their frontline incursions into enemy lines, as well as their stubborn defense of the Allied salient.

In this work H Company’s attachment to the British 5th Grenadier Guards are painted in comprehensive light for the first time. Using war diaries, personal journals, letters and interviews with nearly 80 veterans, a close-in view of the 504th P.I.R. in the Fifth Army’s Italy Campaign is here provided in unsurpassed detail.

This work is the third by Van Lunteren on the 504th P.I.R. In World War II following The Battle of the Bridges and Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper. As readers will see, however, the Italian theater held second place to none in terms of grueling combat and courage against formidable odds, and an extremely expert enemy.

About The Author
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Frank van Lunteren was born and raised in Arnhem, the Netherlands. His interest in military history dates to the 1980’s, when as a child he first visited the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. He went on to study political history at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, while privately researching the exploits of the paratroopers, and at the 61st convention of the 82nd Airborne Division Association in Harrisburg, PA in August 2007, he was Guest Speaker at the 504th Regimental Dinner.He originally conducted research on the wartime service of Ted Bachenheimer (1923-44), the famous top scout of the 504th PIR during World War II. But his contacts proliferated, as did his project, and he eventually met and interviewed so many veterans that the present work – on the entire 504th PIR’s service in Market Garden – is the Result.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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List of Maps
Foreword by Capt. (Ret). Roy M. Hanna, 3rd Battalion, 504th PIR
Introduction by Col. Colin P. Tuley, 1st BCT, 82nd Airborne Division
Acknowledgments

1 Entering a Ghost Town:
Naples, September 28–October 25, 1943

2 Across the Matese Mountains:
Valle Agricola, Letino, and Gallo, October 26–November 3, 1943

3 Conquering the Volturno Valley:
Macchia, Fornelli, Isernia, November 4–8, 1943

4 Breaching the Barbara Line:
Colli, Hill 1017, and Rocchetta, November 9–30, 1943

5 Battle for the Bernhard Line:
Hills 610, 687, 877, 950, and 954, December 1–31, 1943

6 Reaching the Breaking Point:
Hills 710 and 1205, December 9–31, 1943

7 Planning Operation Shingle:
Naples, January 1–21, 1944

8 Landing on Red Beach:
Anzio Beachhead, January 22, 1944

9 Battle at Bridge No. 2:
Anzio Beachhead, January 23–24, 1944

10 Disaster at Borgo Piave:
Anzio Beachhead, January 25–27, 1944

11 Last Attempt to Break Out:
Anzio Beachhead, January 28–31, 1944

12 The Factory:
Anzio Beachhead, February 1–6, 1944

13 The Grenadier Guards Gully:
Anzio Beachhead, February 7–8, 1944

14 Battle for Carroceto:
Anzio Beachhead, February 8–10, 1944

15 The Mussolini Canal:
Anzio Beachhead, February 1–15, 1944

16 Operation Fischfang and Deadly Patrols:
Anzio Beachhead, February 16–29, 1944

17 Journey to the Line:
Anzio Beachhead, March 1–9, 1944

18 Battle Experience:
Anzio Beachhead, March 10–21, 1944

19 Relief at Anzio:
Anzio Beachhead and Naples, March 22–April 9, 1944

20 Postscript: Postwar Careers

Appendix A: Distinguished Service Cross Recipients
Appendix B: List of Battlefi eld Commissions
Appendix C: Order of Battle for the Apennine Mountains Campaign, October 25, 1943
Appendix D: Order of Battle for Operation Shingle, January 22, 1944
Appendix E: Order of Battle for Operation Shingle, March 22, 1944
Appendix F: Order of Battle for the 24th Guards Brigade, February 7–8, 1944
Appendix G: Field Orders of the 3rd Infantry Division to Col. Tucker, January 1944
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Notes
Contributing Veterans
Selected Bibliography
Index

REVIEWS
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“An incredible account of one regiment's contribution to the fighting in Italy - the detail is amazing.”

- Books Monthly

"...we get looks at desperate, but often long forgotten skirmishes, details of life at the front, glimpses at relations with civilians, and more, while putting the reader in almost personal contact with the men. Spearhead of the Fifth Army is an excellent read for anyone interested in men at war, as well as for students of the airborne operations, the Italian Campaign, and the war in Europe."

- The NYMAS Review

"... presents over a decade of research on America's involvement in World War II during the battles that took place in Italy from 1943 to 1944. The book focuses on the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, also known as the "devils in baggy pants," which accumulated almost 300 days of front-line combat. Each chapter centers on the details of a particular battle or movement. This book gives the reader a glimpse into the hard work, successes, and losses of American paratroopers and our partnership with Italian citizens during the war. Appendices include a list of distinguished Service Cross recipients, a list of battlefield commissions, and several battle and field orders."

- The NYMAS Review

“The quality of description – in the front line and out of it – is one of the best I’ve read, supplemented by helpful tactical maps.”

- Miniature Wargames

"This is not a work about generals and strategy, but a soldier’s eye-view of what took place, drawing on van Lunteren’s extensive interviews with veterans of the 504th Regimental Combat Team... This is an excellent read for anyone interested in men at war, as well as for students of the airborne operations, the Italian Campaign, and the war in Europe."

- The NYMAS Review

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