The attack was made by British XIII Corps, part of the British Eighth Army of General Bernard Law Montgomery. XIII Corps crossed the Straits of Messina from Sicily to Reggio di Calabria, covered by a heavy artillery barrage from Sicily.
The intent was to tie down German forces in the area and gain an Allied a foothold at the 'toe' of Italy. Montgomery had objected to Baytown as ineffective, but carried it out anyway.
German commander Albrecht Kesselring and his staff did not believe the Calabria landing was the main Allied attack, which they expected at Salerno, or possibly north of Naples, or even near Rome. He therefore ordered General Traugott Herr's LXXVI Panzer Corps to pull back from engagement with Eighth Army and delay them by demolition of bridges and other infrastructure. A single German regiment was left to defend 17 miles of coast.
Montgomery's objections were proved correct: German troops refused battle and Eighth Army tied down none of them, and the main obstacle to Allied advance was the terrain and German demolitions.
Opposition to the landings was very light, because the few German troops in the area rapidly withdrew northward. Italian troops were poorly equipped, and demoralized by the political situation and the massive Allied bombardment; they offered no resistance.
Baytown was followed by Operation Slapstick and Operation Avalanche, both on 9 September, following Italy's surrender on 8 September. The surrender had been agreed on 3 September, but was not announced for till 8 September, and had no direct effect on Baytown.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Operation Baytown.|
- Royal Engineers Museum Royal Engineers and Second World War (Italian Campaign)
|This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).|