Operation Giant III, 14-15 September 1943) was an unsuccessful American airborne operation carried out to the north of the Salerno beachhead in an attempt to reduce the flow of German reinforcements from the north.
The idea was to drop 600 troops from the 509th Parachute Battalion near Avellino, a mountain town fifteen miles to the north of Salerno. They would then cut roads and generally make a nuisance of themselves in an attempt to stop the Germans using the mountain roads to get reinforcements to Salerno.
The mission began with the dropping of a pathfinder force, equipped with a radio transmitter and Aldis lamps. However these proved to be rather ineffective in the mountains around Avellino, which restricted the range of the radios and blocked the view of the lights. The drops had to be carried out from 3,000-5,000ft, which made it harder for the pilots to pick out the correct valley in a mountainous area in the dark.
Forty aircraft from 64th Troop Carrier were involved in the operation. Fifteen managed to drop their troops near the correct landing zone. These troops managed to blow a hole in the highway bridge at Avellino, before taking to the hills. The rest of the 600 troops were scattered far and wide, and were unable to do anything other than hide up. For a few days they waited for the expected Allied breakout from Salerno, but when this didn’t happen most of the paratroops made their own way south. Eventually most managed to reach Allied lines, but by 8 October 118 were still missing or captured.