443rd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion in World War II

ITALIAN CAMPAIGN

INTRODUCTION TO ITALY

Click on the map to view a larger imageAs the major combat portion of the 443rd unloaded at Bagnoli Harbor on 20 October it was joined by Battery A and the Battalion moved from the harbor staging area to an abandoned torpedo factory. Earlier, completely assembled torpedoes had been moved by underground railway to a dock from which they were transferred to the nearby Isle d’Ischia, where German submarines came to be loaded.

During the 10 days the 443rd was in this location, men had many opportunities, some to meet relatives living in the area and others to visit the largest city seen since leaving the U.S. Southern Italy had been occupied at one time or another by Greeks plus Saracens from North Africa. Protruding into the Mediterranean it was fair game for seafaring adventurers plying the great inland sea over the centuries past. When one looks north to Rome and the prosperous Tiber River Valley, as well as the country beyond, the terrain while mountainous, is much kinder and the climate more favorable to agriculture. The north was invaded over the centuries by the Goths and the Vandals (Germanic tribes) and by the Huns (from Central Asia). Through the wars the pillaging and the plundering, the mainstream of history has left marks of unique experiences. Ancient cultures have left their ruins of buildings, castles, statues, viaducts and aquaducts, and Roman cobblestone roads. Monasteries and churches testify to Italy’s tremendously influential religious history. Naples, even from a wartime artist’s view from Sorrento, and the Isle of Capri, or the high promontory near the torpedo factory, was a beautiful sight as it overlooked the blue waters of the Bay of Naples under the warm Mediterranean sun. But a closeup look at wartime Naples was a noisy, dirty, squalid, crowded city with all kinds of smells. Home for most poor Neapolitans was two rooms with crowded conditions including livestock (fowl). It was a place to eat and sleep while most social life was outside. However, in the more exclusive sections of the city the whitewashed Mediterranean villas had largely escaped the effects of the bombing and shelling. But in the city, each day began with early morning milk deliveries as cows and goats were led around the streets to be milked either by the customer or the animal’s owner. Fruits and vegetables from the country were for sale, and food of all kinds was frequently cooked and eaten on the streets and in air raid shelters. Americans were intrigued by the garlic odors of such unusual foods as eels, snail soup, octopus, squid and sea urchins.

And everywhere were signs pointing to "AL Covero" — the air raid shelters, many of them being in the tunnels where streets went through the many hills of Naples. The city was Italy’s third largest and its principal port. It was the gateway to the Italian Theater of Operations and Allied forces of many nations were to be seen in the streets. Allied bombing during the entire previous summer had badly damaged Naples’ port facilities and reconstruction had feverishly begun. This made the port a prime target for German bombers after its liberation. Neapolitans huddled in their shelters nightly as the attacks continued for another year and the night skies were filled with a tremendous antiaircraft barrage which rose like a lighted curtain from both ship and shore installations — mostly too late to hit the German planes as they dive bombed the port area. U.S. 90mm AA guns seemed to be the only weapon that took a toll of attacking planes.

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Copyright 1998 443rd AAA Association. All Rights Reserved
This World War II history is sponsored and maintained by TMFM