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The Italian Campaign 1941-1945

...from Pen & Sword

Title: The Italian Campaign 1941-1945
Author: Philip Jowett
Publisher: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-39907-311-0

Another addition to the ever popular Images of War series from author Philip Jowett, and covering a campaign my own father took part in, from the landings at Salerno to his return home in May 1944 (having been in North Africa from 1940-1943). A 232-page soft-cover book in the usual style for this series.
Following some background in the Introduction, regarding the description of the Italian campaign as the 'Soft Underbelly' of Europe, there are then 13 chapters which take us through the timeline of the fighting in Italy. After the success of Operation Husky there were the landings on mainland Italy in 3 operations, Avalanche, Baytown and Slapstick. From these onwards, the US and British/Commonwealth armies moved up the toe of Italy, crossing a series of defensive lines across the country. The German and Italian forces, facing the Allied armies, fought a tough campaign, tying up not only considerable Allied resources but German units as well. Each chapter has a page or two of text to set the scene for each batch of archive photos, which in turn all have useful captions. Italy itself surrendered in 1943, but many Italian troops did fight on with the Germans. In addition to the photos of a wide variety of equipment, both vehicles and aircraft, the bulk of this is about people, all caught up in the war. As well as civilians, troops from a wide variety of nationalities were involved. Obviously British, American, German ad Italian, but also French, Greek, Polish, Canadian, Indian, South African and even Brazilian. From the South of the country the war moved slowly North, with battles for the Gustave Line, Anzio, the Gothic Line and onwards to the North of the country. One chapter focuses on the Air War aspect over Italy, with the final chapters looking at the last winter and the Allied spring offensive of April 1945.
Excellent photo coverage of the campaign, and a useful list of the different defensive lines is included. The geography of the country and the weather were challenges for both sides, and an interesting mix of equipment in use as well. Sadly a few incorrectly identified AFVs among the captions, some of them odd because the same ones are correctly identified in others. Still an interesting collection, plenty of detail for modellers, both uniforms and equipment, and some good diorama ideas as well. As ever for me, I tend to look through always wondering if I might one day spot my own father in one of these old photos, though I never have.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.


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