, Amateur military historian and armchair general
A narrow peninsula across which any front would be too short to easily deploy overwhelming numbers, which also was heavily mountainous and very tactically defensible: the state of Italy might have been an easy target, but the land itself definitely wasn’t.
Germans had built up the defenses running south of Rome through months of effort, and manned it with personnel from fifteen divisions. The infamous monastery of Monte Cassino, soon to be home to the theater’s worst bloodbath, was there as well.
The Allies and the Axis clashed across the fortifications of the Gothic Line for months on end. In various places and times the Allies breached holes through the line, only to be met with immediate and vigorous counterattacks that forestalled any breakthrough.
Late 1944: an Italian soldier at the Gothic Line. Even though Italy had switched sides not long after the Allied invasion, in German-controlled North, many Italians remained loyal to their former allies. By April 1945, they were making up one in four men among the Gothic Line defenders.