On this day in 1945, the U.S. Fifth Army joins its British allies in the assault on the German occupiers of Italy.
The Fifth Army, now under Lucian K. Truscott (General Mark Clark, former commander of the Fifth, was made commander of the Allied armies in Italy), began pushing its way up the peninsula, capturing Massa and crossing the Frigido River. After meeting considerable German resistance in the mountains, the Fifth sent the Germans running once the battle took to open country. Bologna became the next target, falling to the Fifth one week after engaging the enemy in Italy. Ferrara, Bondeno, and Modena succumbed shortly thereafter, Genoa on the 27th, and Milan on the 29th—an agenda of assaults that mimicked Napoleon’s Italian campaigns. Helping the U.S. effort was the work of Italian guerilla partisan groups, who had successfully taken control of the area west of the Como-Milan-Genoa line. By the time of the unconditional surrender of the Germans, signed at Caserta on April 29, almost 660,000 Axis troops lay dead—compared with 321,000 Allied dead.