Italian campaign (World War II)

The Italian campaign of World War II, also called the Liberation of Italy, consisted of Allied and Axis operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to 1945. The Joint Allied Forces Headquarters (AFHQ) was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre and it planned and led the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, followed in September by the invasion of the Italian mainland and the campaign in Italy until the surrender of the German Armed Forces in Italy in May 1945.

Italian campaign
Part of the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre of World War II and European theatre of World War II
Clockwise from top left:
Date10 July 1943 – 2 May 1945
(1 year, 10 months and 22 days)

Allied Victory


 United Kingdom

 United States
 Free France (until 1944)[1]
 New Zealand
 South Africa
Italian Resistance
Italy (from 26 Sep. 1943)
Supported by:
   Bohemia & Moravia[lower-alpha 1]
(until 8 Sep. 1943)
 Italian Social Republic
(from 23 Sep. 1943)
Commanders and leaders
C-in-C AFHQ:
Dwight D. Eisenhower
(until January 1944)
Henry Wilson
(January to December 1944)
Harold Alexander
C-in-C Army Group C:
Albert Kesselring
(until Oct 44 & Jan 45–March 45)
Heinrich von Vietinghoff 
(Oct 44–Jan 45 & March 45 onward)
Vittorio Ambrosio
Rodolfo Graziani 
May 1944:
619,947 men
(ration strength)[7]

April 1945:
616,642 men
(ration strength)[8]

1,333,856 men
(overall strength)[9]
3,127 aircraft
(September 1943)
4,000 aircraft
(March 1945)[10]
May 1944:
365,616 men
(ration strength)[7]
April 1945:
332,524 men
(ration strength)[8]
439,224 men
(overall strength)[8]
160,180 men
(military only)[8]
722 aircraft
(September 1943)[11]
79 aircraft
(April 1945)[10]
Casualties and losses

24,900 casualties[12][13][14]
Italian mainland:[lower-alpha 2][lower-alpha 3][lower-alpha 4]
: 119,200
: 89,440
: 35,000
: 30,000
: 25,890
: 20,000
: 11,000
: 8,668
: 5,927
: 3,860
: 2,300
: 452
358,295-376,637 casualties

8,011 aircraft destroyed
: 3,377 armoured vehicles destroyed[20]

: 150,000[21]
: 27,940[22][13][23]
Italian mainland:[lower-alpha 5][lower-alpha 6][lower-alpha 7]
: 336,650–580,630
: 35,000 (dead only)
Surrender of Caserta:
1,000,000 captured[28][8]
1,549,590-1,793,570 casualties

: ~ 4,500 aircraft lost[29]
152,940 civilians killed

It is estimated that between September 1943 and April 1945, 60,000–70,000 Allied and 38,805–150,660 German soldiers died in Italy.[30][nb 1] The number of Allied casualties was about 330,000 and the German figure (excluding those involved in the final surrender) was over 330,000.[30][nb 2] Fascist Italy, prior to its collapse, suffered about 200,000 casualties, mostly POWs taken in the invasion of Sicily, including more than 40,000 killed or missing.[32] Over 150,000 Italian civilians died, as did 35,828 anti-fascist partisans and some 35,000 troops of the Italian Social Republic.[33][34][35] On the Western Front of World War II, Italy was the most costly campaign in terms of casualties suffered by infantry forces of both sides, during bitter small-scale fighting around strongpoints at the Winter Line, the Anzio beachhead and the Gothic Line.[36]

The invasion of Sicily in July 1943 led to the collapse of the Fascist Italian regime and the fall of Mussolini, who was deposed and arrested by order of King Victor Emmanuel III on 25 July. The new government signed an armistice with the Allies on 8 September 1943. However, German forces soon took control of northern and central Italy; Mussolini, who was rescued by German paratroopers, established a collaborationist puppet state, the Italian Social Republic (RSI), to administer the German-occupied territory. The Germans, sometimes with Italian fascists, also committed several atrocities against civilians and non-fascist troops. The Italian Co-Belligerent Army was created to fight against the RSI and its German allies, alongside the large Italian resistance movement, while other Italian troops continued to fight alongside the Germans in the National Republican Army; this period is known as the Italian Civil War. In April 1945, Mussolini was captured by the Italian resistance and summarily executed by firing squad. The campaign ended when Army Group C surrendered unconditionally to the Allies on May 2, 1945, one week before the formal German Instrument of Surrender. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican, both surrounded by Italian territory, also suffered damage during the conflict.