Despite the bad weather in the Mediterranean, the Anglo-Americans have finally launched their invasion. A full Army has come ashore in the Piombino sector. 10 divisions are located in the beachhead as of the start of this week. Our patrols indicate that more forces are located just off the coast, waiting to land and bolster the number of men the enemy has in the sector. The British 1st British Airborne Division has also dropped south of Piombino.
The 1st BR Airborne division marked in black.
The invasion has been a disaster so far for the WA. Their fleet sailed in bad weather and without air cover in sectors that our patrol planes have been mining for weeks. Both the weather and our mines/gunfire from the shore batteries have destroyed 19 Troop and 13 Cargo Ships. Intelligence puts the casualties at 17.000 men (14.000 of which are KIA), 340 guns and 100 AFVs.
All landings were unopposed except for the one at the Piombino port. Considering the sheer strength of the landing forces, any opposition from our side would have been brushed aside and would have had no effect on the enemy.
The defense of the port of Piombino port however was the right choice. Here the former 16th SS Brigade was on lager, having been upgraded to a SS PzGren division just during this week when the enemy stuck the port. The initial assault by the 45th US Infantry Division supported by the 753rd US Tank Battalion and a British commando task force caught the division off guard, but the defense was reorganized and the attack repulsed.
The enemy has suffered heavy losses. The 45th has been decimated in the battle, having only half of its initial strength and will need to be refitted before it is ready for offensive operations. If the enemy is smart, he will pull the division back to North Africa for R&R. If the division remains in the beachhead, it will pull a considerable portion of supplies and manpower that would otherwise go to fighting divisions. We hope the Americans will chose the latter option. The same fate has befallen the 753rd US Tank Battalion which has been destroyed as a unit, losing 90% of its tanks in the battle.
The battle of Piombino was a close call however and the 16th SS PzGren division (understrength) has suffered considerable casualties too. Considering the precarious situation in which the division is right now, AGC has ordered its evacuation to the east. The port of Piombino will fall into enemy hands this week. The evacuation if a tricky matter however, because the division will have to move through country landscape where paratrooper elements of the 1st British Airborne Division are spread out (level 4 interdiction).
The plan for containing the beachhead right now is dictated by the necessity of evacuating the 16th SS PzGren Division. Intelligence indicates that the enemy has committed all of its naval assets to this endeavor so no secondary naval landing is possible. This frees our armored reserves to redeploy in the sector to contain the enemy landing.
The plan is to move our troops as close as possible to the enemy so that the 16th SS PzGren division is protected on its flanks. The II Flieger Corps has been ordered to interdict enemy movement out of the southern landing sector where most of the enemy formations are located. They have been fairly successful in their endeavor even though they have suffered heavy casualties in the process.
Piombino sector after our moves:
The enemy forces that have landed are composed of Infantry formations of British (8 divisions) and American (3 divisions) nationality and are supported by Armored Brigade Groups. The enemy has also brought ashore with them around 400 tanks. To counter this, all three of our Corps tasked with containing the landing have been reinforced with independent Panzerjager Battalions.
For supplying their forces, 5 landing sites are being used as temporary ports with cargo coming off straight from the ships on the beaches. This method of transport, is inefficient especially in bad weather. The fall of Piombino will improve their supply situation but if the enemy is contained to this beachhead long enough, this may turn into a stalemate.
To cut off the supply coming in to the beachhead, Luftflotte 2 has been ordered to patrol the coast northwest and southeast of Corsica and to continue mine laying operations. So far they have been successful and the beachhead is cut off for the time being. Another raid is planned to be conducted soon. It will target the beachhead itself, in an attempt to hinder enemy movement to and from the beachhead. For this operation, additional fighter groups from Luftflotte Reich have been transferred to Italy. There is no doubt that this raid will not be an easy one, but Kesserling feels that it's a risk that we should take.
Cut off supply from the beachhead:
Fighter groups in Italy:
In the Bifena Line, the enemy has finally made contact with the XIV Panzer Corps defending Salerno. The 1st Fallschirmjager Division is moved off the line and is being transferred to the Piombino sector. The rest of the units take their positions on the front. The 15th and 3rd PzGren Divisions are available as reserves in this sector.
Due to units parting the front (the 16th Panzer Division will be transferred to the Eastern Front next week and the Feldherrnhalle PzGren Division will be transferred in 5 weeks) additional infantry divisions are being transferred to Italy. One Infantry division has been transferred from southeastern France to Pisa and 2 additional Infantry divisions are expected to arrive next week in Bologna.
Light summer rains will continue to fall next week, and the ground conditions are expected to remain the same (light mud).