The battle of Anzio was among the most bloody of the World War II conflicts. T. R. Fehrenbach's accurate account stunningly depicts the reality of the Allied forces' fight for survival on an Italian beach as they stormed what Winston Churchill called the soft underbelly of the Axis powers.
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September 20, 2004
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Excerpt from The Battle of Anzio by T. R. Fehrenbach
Hit the Beach!
"It will astonish the world...."
-- Winston Churchill, referring to the assault
landings at Anzio, January 22, 1944
What a night for a boat ride, Lieutenant Louis Martin thought.
The sky was clear, showing a million stars, and the air balmy, warm for winter even on the southern Italian coast. The waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, one of the world's loveliest, were still, hardly rocking the circling LCIs. Thank God for that, Louie Martin thought; it was bad enough going up on a hostile beach without being seasick!
He stood up in the front of the landing craft, trying to see in to Yellow Beach, between the towns of Anzio and Nettuno. He thought he saw the white gleam of gentle breakers on the shore, against the brooding dark background of the town of Anzio and the bluff above it. He wiped spray from his thick glasses, reaching instinctively for his spare set.
Damn it, he had forgotten them -- and with eyes like his, that wasn't good. If he'd had the dough, he'd have bought some of those new things, those contact lenses, before he left the States in '42. Then he wouldn't have to squint and cheat and memorize the eye chart every time he had a physical.
He grinned. A damn good thing he wasn't in the Navy. They didn't just let you read off a Snellen chart; they put some kind of instrument in your eyes and made sure. Louie Martin couldn't have got a commission in the bloody Navy, which was one reason he was in Darby's Rangers.