Operation Giant IV, 14-15 September 1943

Operation Giant IV, 14-15 September 1943 was the second of two successful attempts to reinforce the Salerno beachhead from the air.

Although the Allies had successfully landed at Salerno on 9 September, they had been unable to link up the two halves of their beachhead, which were separated by the River Sele. Marshal Kesselring, the German commander in southern Italy, quickly managed to build up strong forces around the beachhead, and on 13 September he launched a dangerous counterattack that advanced along the Sele, and got dangerously close to the coast. General Clark, the Allied commander at Salerno, responded by adjusting the Allied line to make it easier to defend, planning for a possible retreat, and ordering all available reinforcements to be rushed to the beachhead.

Amongst those forces was the US 82nd Airborne Division on Sicily. On the night of 13-14 September 1943 the first 1,300 men from the division were safely dropped within the beachhead (Operation Giant I (Revised)), and thrown into the fighting.

On the following night the operation was repeated, this time with 1,900 men from the Division’s 505th Regiment. They were carried on 125 planes from the Troop Carrier Wings.

The same landing zone was chosen as for Operation Giant I (Revised). This time the paratroopers were a little more scattered - on the first night most had landed within 200 yards of the landing zone, this time most were within a mile and a half, but they all fell within the beachhead. They were then moved to the right flank of the beachhead, replacing a force of service troops who had been pressed into combat service to defend Agropoli, Ogliastro and Capaccio. This allowed the service troops to get back to their main job of unloading supplies on the beaches.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 July 2018), Operation Giant IV, 14-15 September 1943 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/operation_giant_IV.html

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