Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Allied Invasion of Mainland Italy: September 9-16, 1943

(Codename:  Operation Avalanche)

The Allied Fifth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, USA, was landed on Salerno, Italy, beaches on September 9, 1943 by the Western Naval Task Force, TF 80, commanded by Vice Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, USN.   Two attack forces were utilized for this landing.  The Southern Task Force, TF 81, was commanded by Tear Admiral John L. Hall while the Northern Task Force, TF 85, was commanded by British Commodore Geoffrey N. Oliver, RN.  Despite the lack of naval gunfire support and landing-craft during the landing, effectivness grew and neutralized the Axis defenders, though they unsuccessfully counterattacked on September 12-14.   Eventually seizing the port of Naples, the subsquent goal was to trap Axis troops to the south as Allied troops moved east, which furthered the success of the Italian Campaign

Image:  80-G-87328:  Operation Avalanche, September 1943.  Anti-aircraft fire from one of the protecting cruisers in the Gulf of Salerno, Italy, September 1943.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.