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By Kenneth V Smith; Center of Military History
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Additional resources for Naples - Foggia
Montgomery’s failure to advance north as rapidly as expected further jeopardized the thrust. Fortunately, the German units defending the area were not fully reconstituted from their fighting in Sicily. Only the inability of German commanders effectively to muster and direct their forces allowed Clark time to reinforce the beachhead. The fact that he seriously considered evacuation of part of the beachhead indicates the gravity of the situation. The AVALANCHE force could have been thrown into the sea.
The success of BAYTOWN never seemed to be in doubt. Supported by a secure chain of supply, and capitalizing on German withdrawals, Eighth Army slowly cleared the toe of the Italian boot and by 14 September was moving up the Italian east coast. The Salerno landing, in conjunction with the Italian capitulation, drew German forces northward away from Eighth Army. The fate of AVALANCHE was much less assured. The operation lacked adequate amphibious shipping, and the forces landed at Saler no were insuff icient to hold the extensive beachhead.
The AVALANCHE force could have been thrown into the sea. Thanks to extremely effective naval and aviation support, quickly deployed airborne reinforcements, the courage and capability of Allied soldiers, and quite a bit of luck, the beachhead survived. With the capture of Naples by Fifth Army and the Foggia airfield complex by Eighth Army and Germany’s unforced withdrawal from Sardinia on 18 September and Corsica on 3 October, most strategic goals of the Italian campaign were met. The Allies had bases in southern Italy from which to launch strategic air attacks on the Balkans and Germany, the Mediterranean was secure, and German divisions were tied down in Italy opposing the Allied 15th Army Group and holding those areas in northern Italy, France, and the Balkans previously garrisoned by their former Italian allies.