Operation Impact Royal (14-15 April 1945) was the second of two amphibious assaults carried out to support the right flank of the Eighth Army’s advance towards Argenta, and the narrow ‘Argenta Gap’ leading out onto the Po plains.
The aim of the operation was to secure a crossing over the Fossa Marina, a canal that runs north-east from Argenta to the edge of the flooded area west of Lake Commachio. The key bridge crossed the canal to the east of Bando, six miles to the north-west of Menate, the target of the earlier Operation Impact Plain.
The operation began when 9 Commando crossed the flooded area using LVTs (Landing Vehicle, Tracked). The amphibious landings went well, but the commandos came under mortar fire as they approached the canal. As they approached a farm complex that overlooked the key bridge, they ran into more resistance, and a self propelled 88mm gun, but its crew couldn’t get the vehicle’s engine to start and were forced to surrender.
The commandos cleared the east bank of the river, and then prepared for a night attack towards the bridge, but as they were about to attack the Germans blew the bridge and the attack was cancelled. The commandos then prepared for a night attack on 15-16 April, using Goatley assault boats.
As this attack began the commandos came under heavy fire and had to abandon the boats. They then considered wading the canal, but a quick recce proved that it was too muddy to be waded and the idea was abandoned.
On 16 April it was decided that a full scale infantry assault would be needed. During the day the commandos were replaced by the 24th Guards Brigade, which successfully crossed the bridge that night. However their advance was soon stopped by fresh German troops who were rushing to the area from the north. The area was now defended by the 42nd Jaeger Division and the first troops from the 15th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, moving south after Allied deception plans had pulled its division out of place to the north of the Po.
The fighting around Bando was taking place at the same time as a larger battle around the bridge at Bastia, over the Rena just to the south-east of Argenta. Eventually German resistance was broken down on this line, and the Eighth Army was able to burst out past Argenta and into the Po plains, helping to trap large numbers of German troops south of the Reno.