22nd January 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of the World War II landings at Anzio and Nettuno, coastal towns just south of Rome in Italy, and the battles that followed. Intended to outflank the German Gustav line to the south where the allies were then held, along with the challenge of Monte Cassino, the Anglo-American force that landed, initially almost unopposed, soon came up against an enemy prepared against this eventuality. Stalemate and 5 months of bitter fighting followed, during the coldest winter in memory, in conditions akin to the trench warfare of the First World War, German artillery ensuring that nowhere held by the allies was safe. Eventually, after a change of command and success at Monte Cassino, the force broke through and Rome was liberated on 4th June. The Allies suffered 43,000 casualties, of whom 7,000 died and 36,000 were wounded or missing: the Germans suffered similar losses.
To mark this important anniversary, a series of commemorations will be held on 22nd January, organised by the town councils of Anzio and Nettuno. These will begin with a short British-led service of remembrance, followed by the unveiling of an interactive information panel, at the Commonwealth Beach Head Cemetery. There will then be a brief visit to the Commonwealth Anzio War Cemetery at Santa Teresa to lay a wreath and pay respects. Subsequently there will be an act of remembrance in the US Rome-Sicily Cemetery in Nettuno followed by commemorations at the war memorials in the town piazzas of Nettuno and Anzio. At Anzio a new memorial will be unveiled, dedicated to all the citizens of Anzio, civilian and military, who lost their lives [download the full programme of events].
Some surviving veterans of the campaign will travel from UK to attend the commemorations, together with the families of those who died. Senior representatives from the UK, USA, Germany and Canada are also expected to attend, as well as local dignitaries.