Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Rapido -necessary?

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by bronk7, Oct 24, 2015.

  1. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    the Allies needed to cross the Rapido to open the Liri valley, for a quick drive to help the Anzio operation...the Germans were well entrenched and armed, above the river, near the town of Sant Angelo... the 36th Division was to some how cross the river and assault their positions ..
    just some of the difficulties were:
    1.across a fast flowing river with steep banks...
    2. muddy marshes on both sides, that were mined..boats had to be carried hundreds of yards from staging area to the river
    3 at night
    4.the area was well covered by German arty
    5.German MGs could even fire up river, with enfilade fire
    6.etc
    Clark supposedly and rightly anticipated ''heavy resistance''...36th's General Walker was very doubtful about the success of the crossing...the assault was a complete failure... German divisions were reassigned to the Cassino area, but from what I've read, not because of the Rapido debacle......Clark says he'd rather spill blood at the main line, than at Anzio...was the Rapido crossing necessary or could it have been made at another point?? it seems like everyone should've known the probability of success was near zero
    .one other thing I'd like to touch on....Martin Blumenson in Mark Clark says the blame goes to Walker for '''transmitting his doubts to his troops and ensured failure'''....he did not have the will or want to succeed...i see this as ridiculous considering the above difficulties
     
  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,227
    Likes Received:
    2,004
    Location:
    Alabama
    Poor choice and failure to listen to men closer to the sharp end the sword. One of many Clark failures.
     
  3. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    thank you ..as always I enjoy the many great replies and views I've never thought of or heard of...seems like a 'poor' trait in a lot of humans, including generals..? I just got his book Calculated Risk, so this is the first time I'll read about him in detail
     
  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,445
    Likes Received:
    356
    Location:
    London UK
    This is one of the great case studies in leadership and decision making. Its a grown up story of the conflict between personal, political and strategic objectives and the tactical realities. Clark was obsessed with the idea of US troops capturing Rome. He thought that was the objective he had been set by the President. Clark and his staff displayed little of the "fingertip feel for battle".valued by the Germans.

    The firth army did not , on its own have enough troops to force the Gustav line. It would take the concentrated forces of both the Fifth and the Eighth armies to overwhelm the Germans. Clark did not want any more British troops as this would mean the army was more British and US. He refused a British Corps HQ and forced Freyburg to improvise a New Zealand Corps from his division. The January attacks on the Gustav line were ill coordinated and dispersed. The British X Corps and FEC both took the germ,ans to the edge, but lacked the reserves to force success.

    The attack on the Rapido was wishful; thinking, driven by the desire to succeed. In May 1944 it took the British XIII Corps four divisions, a thousand guns and three days to breach the Rapido position, while it was outflanked to the South and kept busy to the North.

    The allied planners were obsessed with fighting the battle on terrain where they could deploy their superior numbers of mechanised troops, thus drawn to the Liri valley and the Adriatic coastal plain. But mobility in the mountains of Italy meant high quality light infantry backed by mule transport. The allies did have some really good mountain troops in the French FEC and Indian infantry divisions. Tuker of the 4th Indian Division and Juin of the FEC saw the mountains N and S of Cassino as the key to the Gustav line. The only consolation for the costs of the battles was that it kept 20 German divisions in Italy
     
    rkline56 likes this.
  5. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    much thanks ...excellent...yes, as this is what I just read..they had to bring 3 divisions over from the 8th Army.....I remember long ago picking up the book Bloody Rapido...one of my favorites, so I was surprised I did not see many threads on the decision making and battle itself, when I searched WW2F -I also think it a great battle to study
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    7,906
    Likes Received:
    1,687
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    TD-Tommy776 and rkline56 like this.
  7. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,445
    Likes Received:
    356
    Location:
    London UK
    I'd also recommend John Ellis's Monte Cassino the Hollow Victory and Peter Caddick Adams "Monte Cassino Ten armies in Hell"
     
    4jonboy likes this.
  8. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    much thanks....not too easy-for me--to find detailed reading...I see the bibliography has Calculated Risk and Bloody River...the contents show exactly what is pertinent to the thread...I'm reading now...excellent! ---everything to the point, detailed but concise

    I have Ten Armies In Hell.....I love it because it inserts a lot of ''graphic'' details of weapons and infantry living, etc besides the battle aspect ...gives details on the mules used which was a huge logistical aspect of that theater......great recommendation
     
  9. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    allow me to add this post to highly recommend Takao's links ..a lot of interesting, pre-battle information regarding supplies, bridge and boating equipment, etc that was also used in other battles...also gives you a better idea of the enormous difficulties of the battle and the Italian campaign
    .as stated in link, I also read where Walker wanted a different crossing sight.....but in a lot of battles, time is a big factor

    from Takao's link <> "'despite knowledge of a fordable site at a weaker area to the north, the 5th Army Command stuck to it's plan to cross near Sant Angelo. it was accepted by LTG Clark that losses would be heavy [ italics mine ] but the need to quickly access the Liri valley was in his opinion paramount"" ....the northern site was used days later and successful!!! can any1 confirm this?? sounds almost unbelievable

    well, if there is going to be heavy losses, then would he not think, not only would it be not quick, but the chances very low for success??? and Blumeson's book also confirms he expected heavy resistance

    here's a great one from the link<>'''it seemed like every rule in the book was broken'' '''one sees how doubt as to professional competence of higher command can arise''
     
    Kai-Petri likes this.
  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    21,941
    Likes Received:
    991
    Location:
    Kotka,Finland
    Clark? Need I mention more?

    WW1 was his idea of tactics. I just wonder how he was able to go on for so long.
     
  11. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    I think I've found the other crossing in the book The Texas Army History of the 36th....

    ""the Rapido was fordable near Cassino town.....since no boats would be required, a greater force could be brought to bear on a wider front'''' italics mine

    Gen. Walker writes <> ''this is what he [ Clark ] should've done in the first place''......why didn't he??!!??? it appears Slipdigit hit a nail on the head...
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    21,941
    Likes Received:
    991
    Location:
    Kotka,Finland
    I recall the area was open for German view all day and night, without much cover. The Soviets used under-water bridges in these cases, this could have been useful to make the trip over the river fast. Otherwise a big group going over the river...Are you trying to kill your men if there is any real enemy force facing you? Artillery could be directed there soon and men going over a river shot to pieces by MG´s. Just my view.
     
  13. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    yes that is correct...not only the men were hit by arty, but boats and bridges......under water bridges? mother of invention is necessity...
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    21,941
    Likes Received:
    991
    Location:
    Kotka,Finland
    Yes, the bridge was just under the water level and troops could just run over the river to the other side and create positions. Lots of Red Army engineers died when Germans realized this tactic.
     
  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,445
    Likes Received:
    356
    Location:
    London UK
    Where is this ford?

    If you visit the area in Summer the Rapido is little more than a stream. . IIRC it was winter and the Rapido was high and fast flowing.
     
  16. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    yes they said snow fall and rain did that...I have many books on it and am trying to get a clear idea on it..it did mention north...but they crossed there not long after the Rapido battle..I need to check more.....
     
  17. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    here is the map from the 1950 book Calculated Risk by Clark ..title is ''34 Division attacks on the Gustav Line JAN 25-31''...Texas Army by Robert Wagner says the ford was ''near Cassino town north of Highway 6''..it says the 36th would be committed with the 34th and the French

    ''the first regiment of the division [36th] to see action in the new sector north of Cassino was the 142nd.......Moved from the Rapido ... beginning Jan 25..."" italics mine

    i love the old book maps....
     

    Attached Files:

  18. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,192
    Likes Received:
    213
    Location:
    CA Norte Mexico, USA
    Clark could have just taken a drive to that ford (and the alternate ford!!) with Walker, like Patton did at the Moselle
    River south of Koblenz. This scouting expedition would, most likely, have saved many brave men.

    Patton's speech to his staff before Overlord: In it are some truth's that I wish Mark Clark had learned well (Source: Patton HQ.com) -

    "We're here because some crazy Germans decided they were supermen and that they had a right to rule the world. They've been pushing people around all over the world, looting, killing, and abusing millions of innocent men, women, and children (sound like any IS you heard of?). They were getting ready to do the same thing to us. We have to fight to protect ourselves."

    "Another reason we're here is to defeat and wipe out the Nazis who started all of this trouble. If you don't like to fight, I don't want you around. You had better get out before I kick you out. There's one thing you have to remember. In war, it takes more than the desire to fight to win. You've got to have more than guts to lick the enemy. You also must have brains. It takes brains and guts to win wars. A man with guts but no brains is only half a soldier. We whipped the Germans in Africa and Sicily because we had brains as well as guts. We're going to lick them in Europe for that same reason."

    "That's all. Good luck." Me: Amen.
    Sadly this is true.
     
  19. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,445
    Likes Received:
    356
    Location:
    London UK
    Aha, the ford north of route 6 is the route taken by the 34th Division..

    This was opposite the Monte Cassino massif and led to the battle on the massif and inn the town itself which lasted until May. This was not what Clark envisaged when he wanted to secure crossings to launch the 1st Armoured Division into the Liri Valley.
     
  20. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    great quote...they always give us insight into their thinking......with that I'll add 'brains'' with the ability to think ''un'' emotionally

    I see your point....was this ''a rock and hard place'' situation? what about reinforcing the Brits initial success? the Germans were great in the defensive with great defensive terrain, weather against the Aliies, etc...so,. tough all around.......
    my main point is General Walker clearly sees almost no chance of success, Clark sees ''heavy resistance''....less casualties with no success at the north ford would be a better choice, than many casualties and no success at the Rapido? much thanks all replies....as usual, very good and I enjoy them
     

Share This Page