More on the QJM/TNDM Italian Battles
by Richard C. Anderson, Jr.
In regard to Niklas Zetterling’s article and Christopher Lawrence’s response (Newsletter Volume 1, Number 6) [and Christopher Lawrence’s 2018 addendum] I would like to add a few observations of my own. Recently I have had occasion to revisit the Allied and German records for Italy in general and for the Battle of Salerno in particular. What I found is relevant in both an analytical and an historical sense.
The Salerno Order of Battle
The first and most evident observation that I was able to make of the Allied and German Order of Battle for the Salerno engagements was that it was incorrect. The following observations all relate to the table found on page 25 of Volume 1, Number 6.
The divisional totals are misleading. The U.S. had one infantry division (the 36th) and two-thirds of a second (the 45th, minus the 180th RCT [Regimental Combat Team] and one battalion of the 157th Infantry) available during the major stages of the battle (9-15 September 1943). The 82nd Airborne Division was represented solely by elements of two parachute infantry regiments that were dropped as emergency reinforcements on 13-14 September. The British 7th Armored Division did not begin to arrive until 15-16 September and was not fully closed in the beachhead until 18-19 September.
The German situation was more complicated. Only a single panzer division, the 16th, under the command of the LXXVI Panzer Corps was present on 9 September. On 10 September elements of the Hermann Goring Parachute Panzer Division, with elements of the 15th Panzergrenadier Division under tactical command, began arriving from the vicinity of Naples. Major elements of the Herman Goring Division (with its subordinated elements of the 15th Panzergrenadier Division) were in place and had relieved elements of the 16th Panzer Division opposing the British beaches by 11 September. At the same time the 29th Panzergrenandier Division began arriving from Calabria and took up positions opposite the U.S. 36th Divisions in and south of Altavilla, again relieving elements of the 16th Panzer Division. By 11-12 September the German forces in the northern sector of the beachhead were under the command of the XIV Panzer Corps (Herman Goring Division (-), elements of the 15th Panzergrenadier Division and elements of the 3rd Panzergrenadier Division), while the LXXVI Panzer Corps commanded the 16th Panzer Division, 29th Panzergrenadier Division, and elements of the 26th Panzer Division. Unfortunately for the Germans the 16th Panzer Division’s zone was split by the boundary between the XIV and LXXVI Corps, both of whom appear to have had operational control over different elements of the division. Needless to say, the German command and control problems in this action were tremendous.
The artillery totals given in the table are almost inexplicable. The numbers of SP [self-propelled] 75mm howitzers is a bit fuzzy, inasmuch as this was a non-standardized weapon on a half-track chassis. It was allocated to the infantry regimental cannon company (6 tubes) and was also issued to tank and tank destroyer battalions as a stopgap until purpose-designed systems could be brought into production. The 105mm SP was also present on a half-track chassis in the regimental cannon company (2 tubes) and on a full-track chassis in the armored field artillery battalion (18 tubes). The towed 105mm artillery was present in the five field artillery battalions present of the 36th and 45th divisions and in a single non-divisional battalion assigned to the VI Corps. The 155mm howitzers were only present in the two divisional ﬁeld artillery battalions, the general support artillery assigned to the VI Corps, the 36th Field Artillery Regiment, did not arrive until 16 September. No 155mm gun battalions landed in Italy until October 1943. The U.S. artillery figures should approximately be as follows:
|75mm Howitzer (SP)|
2 per infantry battalion
6 per tank battalion
|105mm Howitzer (SP)|
2 per infantry regiment
1 armored FA battalion
5 divisional FA battalions
1 non-divisional FA battalion
2 divisional FA battalions
|3″ Tank Destroyer|
Thus, the U.S. artillery strength is approximately 272 versus 525 as given in the chart.
The British artillery figures are also suspect. Each of the British divisions present, the 46th and 56th, had three regiments (battalions in U.S. parlance) of 25-pounder gun-howitzers for a total of 72 per division. There is no evidence of the presence of the British 3-inch howitzer, except possibly on a tank chassis in the support tank role attached to the tank troop headquarters of the armor regiment (battalion) attached to the X Corps (possibly 8 tubes). The X Corps had a single medium regiment (battalion) attached with either 4.5 inch guns or 5.5 inch gun-howitzers or a mixture of the two (16 tubes). The British did not have any 7.2 inch howitzers or 155mm guns at Salerno. I do not know where the ﬁgure for British 75mm howitzers is from, although it is possible that some may have been present with the corps armored car regiment.
Thus the British artillery strength is approximately 168 versus 321 as given in the chart.
The German artillery types are highly suspect. As Niklas Zetterling deduced, there was no German corps or army artillery present at Salemo. Neither the XIV or LXXVI Corps had Heeres (army) artillery attached. The two battalions of the 7lst Nebelwerfer regiment and one battery of 170mm guns (previously attached to the 15th Panzergrenadier Division) were all out of action, refurbishing and replenishing equipment in the vicinity of Naples. However, U.S. intelligence sources located 42 Italian coastal gun positions, including three 149mm (not 132mm) railway guns defending the beaches. These positions were taken over by German personnel on the night before the invasion. That they ﬁred at all in the circumstances is a comment on the professionalism of the German Army. The remaining German artillery available was with the divisional elements that arrived to defend against the invasion forces. The following artillery strengths are known for the German forces at Salerno:
16th Panzer Division (as of 3 September):
14 75mm infantry support howitzers
11 150mm SP infantry support howitzers
10 105mm howitzers
8 105mm SP howitzers
4 105mm guns
8 150mm howitzers
5 150mm SP howitzers
5 88mm AA guns
26th Panzer Division (as of 12 September):
15 75mm infantry support howitzers
12 150mm infantry support howitzers
6 105mm SP howitzers
12 105mm howitzers
10 150mm SP howitzers
4 150mm howitzers
Herman Goring Parachute Panzer Division (as of 13 September):
6-8 75mm infantry support howitzers
8 150mm infantry support howitzers
24 105mm howitzers
12 105mm SP howitzers
4 105mm guns
8 150mrn howitzers
6 150mm SP howitzers
6 150mm multiple rocket launchers
12 88mm AA guns
29th Panzergrenadier Division
106 artillery pieces (types unknown)
15th Panzergrenadier Division (elements):
10-12 105mm howitzers
3d Panzergrenadier Division
6 150mm infantry support howitzers
501st Army Flak Battalion (probably 20mm and 37mm AA only)
I/49th Flak Battalion (probably 8 88mm AA guns)
Thus, German artillery strength is about 342 tubes versus 394 as given in the chart.
Armor strengths are equally suspect for both the Allied and German forces. It should be noted however, that the original QJM database considered wheeled armored cars to be the equivalent of a light tank.
Only two U.S. armor battalions were assigned to the initial invasion force, with a total of 108 medium and 34 light tanks. The British X Corps had a single armor regiment (battalion) assigned with approximately 67 medium and 10 light tanks. Thus, the Allies had some 175 medium tanks versus 488 as given in the chart and 44 light tanks versus 236 (including an unknown number of armored cars) as given in the chart.
German armor strength was as follows (operational/in repair as of the date given):
16th Panzer Division (8 September):
7/0 Panzer III ﬂamethrower tanks
12/0 Panzer IV short
86/6 Panzer IV long
37/3 assault guns
29th Panzergrenadier Division (1 September):
32/5 assault guns
17/4 SP antitank
3/0 Panzer III
26th Panzer Division (5 September):
11/? assault guns
10/? Panzer III
Herman Goering Parachute Panzer Division (7 September):
5/? Panzer IV short
11/? Panzer IV long
5/? Panzer III long
1/? Panzer III 75mm
21/? assault guns
3/? SP antitank
15th Panzergrenadier Division (8 September):
6/? Panzer IV long
18/? assault guns
Total 285/18 medium tanks, SP anti-tank, and assault guns. This number actually agrees very well with the 290 medium tanks given in the chart. I have not looked closely at the number of German armored cars but suspect that it is fairly close to that given in the charts.
In general it appears that the original QJM Database got the numbers of major items of equipment right for the Germans, even if it ﬂubbed on the details. On the other hand, the numbers and details are highly suspect for the Allied major items of equipment. Just as a first order “guestimate” I would say that this probably reduces the German CEV to some extent; however, missing from the formula is the Allied naval gunﬁre support which, although negligible in impact in the initial stages of the battle, had a strong influence on the later stages of the battle.
Hopefully, with a little more research and time, we will be able to go back and revalidate these engagements. In the meantime I hope that this has clarified some of the questions raised about the Italian QJM Database.
 Exacerbating the German command and control problems was the fact that the Tenth Army, which was in overall command of the XIV Panzer Corps and LXXVI Panzer Corps, had only been in existence for about six weeks. The army’s signal regiment was only partly organized and its quartermaster services were almost nonexistent.
 Arrived 13 September, 1 battery in action 13-15 September.
 However, the number given for the 29th Panzergrenadier Division appears to be suspiciously high and is not well defined. Hopefully further research may clarify the status of this division.