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The Lighthouse at Anzio


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This photograph taken on April 15, 1944 shows the ...

Anzio Italy is an ancient seaport 30 miles from Rome and is the birthplace of Nero, who also is credited with developing the harbor.

However, Anzio is better known in modern times as the site of a bloody battle in World War II and one of the most tragic episodes of the U.S. Army. It was here that tens of thousands of Allied troops of the American Fifth Army, Sixth Corp, and British First Infantry Divisions landed on Jan 22, 1944. Their goal was to capture Rome.

After initial success, the Allies were pinned down on the beachhead by the vastly superior German force. The Germans eventually committed 80,000 additional troops to push the Allies back into the sea.

A night infiltration of the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions into the town of Cisterna turned disastrous. The Germans who waited to ambush them detected them. Only 6 American Rangers out of the two battalions survived.

Amazingly the Allies were still able to hold the beachhead at Anzio and eventually received reinforcements. Finally, in May of 1944, they broke out and ultimately marched into Rome in June 1944.

Many historians believe that the Battle of Anzio helped change the outcome of the war. Two German corps engaged at Anzio were originally destined for Normandy, thus contributing to the success of Allied landings in France on D-Day.

However the price was high at Anzio. There were an estimated 66,000 casualties, of which, 44,000 were American. For their bravery and heroism, 22 American soldiers were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the most of any single battle of World War II.

This story appeared in the May 2000 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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