The Winter Line was a series of German military fortifications in Italy, constructed during World War II by Organisation Todt. The primary Gustav Line ran across Italy from just north of where the Garigliano River flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, through the Apennine Mountains to the mouth of the Sangro River on the Adriatic coast in the east. The centre of the line, where it crossed the main route north to Rome (Highway 6) which followed the Liri Valley, was anchored around the mountains behind the town of Cassino including Monte Cassino, on which was situated an old abbey that dominated the entrance to the Liri Valley (a main route to Rome), and Monte Cairo which gave the defenders clear observation of potential attackers advancing towards the mouth of the Liri valley. On the western side of the Apennines there were two subsidiary lines: the Bernhardt Line in front of the main Gustav positions and the Hitler Line some 5 miles to the rear. The Winter line was fortified with gun pits, concrete bunkers, turreted machine-gun emplacements, barbed-wire and minefields. It was the strongest of the German defensive lines south of Rome. About 15 German divisions were employed in the defence. It took the Allies from mid-November 1943 to late May 1944 to fight through all the various elements of the Winter Line, including the well-known battles at Monte Cassino and Anzio.
Some authorities define the Bernhardt Line as crossing Italy from coast to coast following not just the western defensive positions described above but incorporating also the eastern defences of the Gustav Line. Other authorities use the Winter Line name interchangeably with the Gustav Line as defined above.
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
- Fifth Army at the Winter Line 15 November 1943 - 15 January 1944. Washington: United States Army Center of Military History. 1945. CMH Pub 100-9. http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/winterline/winter-fm.htm.
- From the Volturno to the Winter Line 6 October-15 November 1943. Washington: United States Army Center of Military History. 1944. CMH Pub 100-8. http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/volturno/volturno-fm.htm.
- Smith, Col. Kenneth V. (1944). WWII Campaigns, Naples-Foggia 9 September 1943-21 January 1944. Washington: United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-17. http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/naples/72-17.htm.
- Muhm, Gerhard. "German Tactics in the Italian Campaign". http://www.larchivio.org/xoom/gerhardmuhm2.htm.
- Muhm, Gerhard (1993) (in Italian). La Tattica tedesca nella Campagna d'Italia, in Linea Gotica avanposto dei Balcani, (Hrsg.). Roma: Amedeo Montemaggi - Edizioni Civitas,.
- Field Marshal Lord Carver (2001). The Imperial War Museum Book of the War in Italy 1943-1945. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 0-330-48230-0.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Battle of Ortona
- Operation Shingle
- Battle of Monte Cassino
- Battle of San Pietro Infine
- Barbara Line
- Brazilian Expeditionary Force
- Bernhardt Line
- European Theatre of World War II
- Italian Campaign (World War II)
[edit | edit source]
- Map of German defensive lines
- The Liri Valley: Canada’s Breakthrough to Rome
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission information on Moro River Cemetery
Multimedia[edit | edit source]
- CBC Archives CBC Radio reports from the Winter Line on May 14, 1944.
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