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Italy Volume I: The Sangro to Cassino

(b) Ground Troops' Exploitation of Air Bombing:

(b) Ground Troops' Exploitation of Air Bombing:


‘The follow up of the infantry must be immediate and aggressive, employing the maximum of infantry strength available. The maximum amount of infantry was not employed in this attack, nor was the attack aggressively pushed. Too great reliance was placed on the ability of the bombing to do the task alone’. (From report of Ground Commander.) The first waves must follow close on the artillery barrage, leaving isolated strongpoints and centres of resistance to mopping-up parties.


Air bombardment alone cannot be expected to destroy strong defences or determined resistance by infantry well dug in, especially in a fortified town like Cassino.

page 359

Debris and cratering hinder the use of tanks and generally delay the attacker. Hence the tonnage of bombs to be dropped must be carefully considered. The report of the Mediterranean Allied Air Force suggested that such heavy attacks on fortified towns were better suited to defensive operations as at Battipaglia in the Salerno battle, than to the opening blow of an offensive, as at Cassino.


The technique of street fighting needs continued emphasis in infantry training.


Since close artillery support is not possible in attacking a heavily defended town, mortar crews and tank-destroyer crews must follow the assault closely.


In general, the delay in launching the operation clearly illustrated the disadvantages of relying on air force action as an essential part of an army plan in times of the year when the weather is unfavourable.


The smooth co-ordination of air and artillery effort showed that when the air force is placed in close support it should be regarded as part of the fire-power available to the army commander.