“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).
Upon the completion of the Sicily and Salerno Campaigns in 1943, the paratroopers of Col. 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 Gen. 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—and the Victoria Cross action of Maj. William Sidney—are painted in comprehensive light for the first time. The story of honorary member of the 504th PIR, Italian veteran Antonio Taurelli, is also included. Using war diaries, personal journals, letters, and interviews with nearly eighty veterans, an up-close view of the 504th PIR in the Fifth Army’s Italy Campaign is here in unsurpassed detail.
From the author of two previous works on the 504th PIR, The Battle of the Bridges and Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper, this book shows that the Italian theater was second to none in terms of grueling combat, courage against formidable odds, and an extremely expert enemy.