Italy remains tied to Germany but by mid 1943 support wanes for Mussolini's tactics and the Allies invade the Italian mainland shortly after Mussolini is deposed

© 2011 Paul Forte

June 1941
Mussolini declares war on the Soviet Union and joins German forces fighting there.  He also declares war against the US after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

10 July 1943
A combined force of American and British Commonwealth troops invade Sicily in Operation Husky. German generals again take the lead in the defence and, although they lose the island, they succeed in ferrying large numbers of German and Italian forces safely off Sicily to the Italian mainland.

19 July 1943
An Allied air raid on Rome destroys both military and collateral civil installations. Popular support for the war diminishes in Italy. 

25 July 1943
The Grand Council of Fascism ousts Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and a new Italian government, led by General Pietro Badoglio and King Victor Emmanuel III, take over in Italy. The new Italian government immediately begins secret negotiations with the Allies to end the fighting and to move over to the Allied side.

3 September 1943
A secret armistice is signed with the Allies at Fairfield Camp in Sicily. British troops cross the short distance from Sicily to the 'toe' of Italy in Operation Baytown.

8 September 1943
The armistice is officially announced. By now, the Allies are on the Italian mainland. 

9 September 1943
Two more Allied landings take place at Salerno (Operation Avalanche) and at Taranto (Operation Slapstick). The Italian surrender means that the Allied landings at Taranto take place unopposed, with the troops simply disembarking from warships at the docks rather than assaulting the coastline.

German troops, once they have discovered that the Italians have signed an armistice, move quickly to disarm the Italian forces and to take over critical defensive positions (Operation Achse).  The Allied armies continue to advance through Italy despite increasing opposition from the Germans. The Allies soon control most of southern Italy, and Naples rises against and ejects the occupying German forces. The Allies organise some Italian troops in the south into what were known as "co-belligerent" or "royalist" forces.  In time, there is a co-belligerent army, navy, and air force.  These Italian forces fight alongside the Allies for the rest of the war. Other Italian troops, loyal to Mussolini and his Repubblica Sociale Italiana, continue to fight alongside the Germans.

12 September 1943
Mussolini is rescued by Germans from a prison in the Gran Sasso.

13 October 1943
Italy officially declares war on Germany.

Autumn 1943
The Allied advance continues northwards through Italy but they hit problems in the Cassino area.  In overall command of the 15th Army Group (comprising Mark Clark's US 5th Army and Bernard Montgomery's 8th Army) is General Sir Harold Alexander, whose nephew Alastair would, some years later, marry Evelina Forte, daughter of Massimino and Pace Forte from Mortale.

Map showing Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943

Field Marshall Sir Harold Alexander, Supreme Allied  Commander of Forces in Italy

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