9 Commando - Anzio landing

Location

Anzio
Italy
41° 26' 58.542" N, 12° 37' 11.01" E
Date commenced: 
Friday, March 3, 1944
Units: 

On the 20th January 1944 the first landings were made, meeting very slight opposition. On the 25th January the Commando was withdrawn from the beach-head and returned to Bacoli. No 9 Commando's second landing at Anzio took place on the 3rd March 1944.

This operation can best be described in this account by Major Les Callf MC and bar who was at the time Captain commanding 5 Troop, No.9 Commando:

"My most thrilling and proudest moment of the war was in leading my troop in an attack against a superior force of paratroopers at Anzio. We had hardly recovered from our attack on Mt Ornito/Faito, suffering about fifty per cent casualties, when we were called back to Anzio as the situation there was critical. We landed on 3 March and 5 Troop was ordered straight into the front line sector held by the 9 Royal Fusiliers with orders to deal with a troop of German paratroopers who had infiltrated and taken over part of our lines.

5 Troop was about half strength, mustering one officer and twenty-eight ORs. We arrived at first light (05.45 hrs) and contacted the officer-in-charge for information as to the enemy's whereabouts. The only information was a vague wave of his hand down the wadi with the words, "There . . . somewhere down there . . . I've just been promoted Major!" With these words the officer disappeared down his dugout and left us to it.

The wadi was a deep ravine with stunted trees and foliage, about thirty feet down to mud and water, but it was the only cover available, so we had to use it. The assault team under Corporal Bostock pushed ahead with covering from the Bren-gun team on the highest part of the wadi. We usually did our raiding and fighting patrols in the darkness but this was special and urgent and we had to find them quickly, which we did, rather too quickly, in broad daylight. The enemy were well dug in on high ground overlooking the wadi and they opened fire with automatic weapons, slicing Corporal Bostock's trigger finger off as he returned fire. Casualties occurred through the troop. Corporal Searle quickly replied with mortar smoke as we regrouped. Corporal Bostock, assisted and covered by Hopkins and Belasco, reported back to me, and standing rigidly to attention, asked permission to fall out as he'd lost a finger - all this during enemy machine-gun fire!

The only way was a good old-fashioned bayonet charge.

We left the wadi and spread out in the dead ground below the enemy positions, with Brens on the flanks giving covering fire. Fusilier Storey, who was lying just behind me, was killed instantly as we were getting into position.

Every man always carried two No. 77 smoke grenades so that a smoke screen could be created for about two throws of about forty yards. They knew the drill; throw and run through the smoke. This was the moment, and one I shall never forget. In broad daylight we had to cover about sixty yards of open ground against German paratroopers, well dug in. I looked to the right of me and the left and to CSM Walsh next to me, and gave the order, "Throw!" and as the smoke formed, "Charge!" and in we went, hard. I think we must have looked a fearsome body as we came through the smoke onto them. Many of them were killed and others put their hands up.

We suffered three killed and nine injured. I'm not sure of the German casualties, but the official report gave twenty-five killed and twenty-three POWs, which was approximately twice the strength of No. 5 Troop on that day."
 


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