April 22, 1944 — At the Anzio beachhead preparations for a breakout took on a febrile intensity

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April 22, 1944 — At the Anzio beachhead preparations for a breakout took on a febrile intensity

More than one million tons of materiel would be stockpiled at Anzio to supply the Fifth Army during the drive north to Rome. Engineers crushed stone from demolished houses for roadbeds and fashioned three hundred brush fascines[1] for marshy ground. Phone lines toward the front were buried in trenches dug with a jeep-drawn plow. A stockade for five thousand prisoners sprang up near Conca.

Patrols reclaimed small swatches of dead country, and battalions took turns firing every weapon for a minute or two before dawn to discomfit the enemy.

General Truscott pestered General Clark for “at least one additional infantry division,” and soon he would receive Fred Walker’s 36th Division. The entire 1st Armored Division also consolidated at the beachhead, giving Ernie Harmon 232 tanks and bringing the Anzio force two subdivisions.

For weeks, a dozen or more Shermans had trundled forward each night to fire harassment rounds before retreating at first light; now each morning a few slipped into concealed forward laagers, joining a hidden armored spearhead gathering near the front.[2]


[1] A fascineis a rough bundle of brushwood or other material used for strengthening an earthen structure, or making a path across uneven or wet terrain. Typical uses are protecting the banks of streams from erosion, covering marshy ground and so on.

[2] Atkinson, The Day of Battle, 514.

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