Gothic Line
August 1944 - March 1945

The Gothic Line, later renamed the Green Line, was a German defensive line in Northern Italy, where the last major battle of the Italian Campaign took place during the World War 2.

Operation Olive

Following the well fought defensive battles at Monte Cassino and Anzio, the Germans had time to build a fortified line, which was based mainly on the Apennine Mountains, behind which stood the Emilia-Romagna Plain. However, the Italian Campaign had a secondary role in the strategy of overcoming Nazi Germany. The Allies transferred a part of their units to France, which weakened the offensive capability in Italy.

The Allied plan, code-named Operation Olive, was that the British Eighth Army to attack through the Adriatic coastal plain, drawing in the Wehrmacht reserves from the center, and then the U.S. Fifth Army to attack the central highlands.

Battle of Rimini

On August 25, 1944, the British Eighth Army began the attack to the city of Rimini. At first, the Allies did not encounter a stiff resistance, the Germans retreating in order from outposts.

However, after the Allies reached the main line of defense, the intensity of fighting increased, with heavy casualties on both sides. Unaware they were acting according to the Allied plan, the Germans transferred three divisions from the center of the Green Line to cope with the pressure on the Adriatic coast.

On September 12, the U.S. Fifth Army launched an offensive on the the Green Line, in the mountainous center, outflanking the vital Futa Pass, which connected Florence and Bologna.

On September 21, the Allies captured Rimini, but the Germans had held out long enough for that autumn weather with torrential rains to become their ally.

The streams had turned into torrents, the ground had become muddy, and the air support had become increasingly difficult.

The British Eighth Army continued attacking on the right flank, managing to reach almost halfway between Rimini and Bologna by the end of October.

An Inconclusive End on the Gothic Line

Until the arrival of winter, which halted any hope of achieving a decisive victory, the Green Line had been overcome only to a certain extent. The Allies failed to dislodge the German defense, the conquering of Bologna remaining an unfulfilled goal.

The Italian Campaign ended at the beginning of May 1945, when the Third Reich's days were in any case numbered.

Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-478-2167-09 / Bayer / [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons