Operation Hooker, the Pizzo landings, 8 September 1943

Operation Hooker (8 September 1943) was an outflanking attack carried out by the Eighth Army in order to speed up their advance up Calabria (Italian Campaign).

Montgomery’s men had invaded mainland Italy on 3 September (Operation Baytown) after a massive bombardment, only to find that the Germans had no intention of defending the beaches. Instead they carried out a skilful fighting retreat, taking advantage of the area’s narrow mountain roads

In an attempt to speed up the advance, Montgomery decided to carry out a short ranged amphibious outflanking operation. The narrowest part of the ‘toe’ of Italy was in the area of Pizzo in the west and Catanzaro in the east. On the morning of 8 September the British 231st Infantry Brigade was landed at Pizzo.

At first the British only ran into light resistance, but as the day went on the beachhead came under gun and heavy mortar fire. Two squadrons of Kittyhawks knocked out these German positions, but the German defensive effort had been enough to make sure that the troops south of Pizzo were able to escape.

On the east coast the Canadians made quick progress. During the day the Germans evacuated the Catanzaro area (north-east of Pizzo), and later in the day the Canadians entered the town. However the Eighth Army was now running short of bridging materials to undo the damage caused by the retreating Germans, and on 8 September Montgomery decided that his army would need to pause to allow fresh supplies to arrive.

Eighth Army in Italy 1943-45: The Long Hard Slog, Richard Doherty. A good account of the twenty month long campaign on the Italian mainland, looking at the performance of the multi-national 8th Army and its three commanding officers, as they fought to overcome a series of strong German defensive positions. Shows why the campaign took a year and a half, and how the 8th Army finally achieved victory. [read full review]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 May 2018), Operation Hooker, the Pizzo landings, 8 September 1943 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/operation_hooker.html

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