II Corps Lessons Learned

The commander of II Corps published the following comments concerning the combat lessons learned during the advance from the Garigliano River to Rome in Italy in 1943-1944:

HEADQUARTERS II CORPS

In the Field
16 June 1944

Subject: Lessons Learned.
To: Divisions and Separate Unit Commanders, II Corps.

1. A detailed analysis of lessons learned during the II Corps advance from the GARIGLIANO to ROME is being made. This study will be published at an early date. Rather than wait for the publication of the detailed compilation, I wish to give you my comments now so they can be acted upon during the present training period.

a. Towns must be taken from deep flank and rear.

b. The usual practice of battering towns with air and artillery serves little purpose and is extremely wasteful of ammunition and time.

c. The delay caused as by small enemy detachments is out of all proportion to the numbers and means at our disposal. Among other errors committed is our failure to leave roads soon enough and to make a wide enough envelopment or by-pass.

d. The combined use of armored and infantry units has been too cautious. The over-emphasis placed on fire power of tanks during the period when weather and terrain conditions prevented full use of armor has not been overcome and mobility has not been restored to its proper importance in the employment of tanks. Too often a column of tanks has remained inactive on a road, held up by a single SP or AT gun. The time lost waiting for infantry to arrive, deploy and attack the gun could have been reduced 50% or more by a rapid deployment and movement of the tanks or by a wide envelopment which would in most cases have resulted in the capture or destruction of the gun. Likewise, relatively large groups of infantry have been long delayed by a small enemy group with a machine gun or two astride a rod. Again, the time wasted waiting for the arrival and action of tanks could have been materially reduced by early and wide deployment.

e. Not enough use has been made of Air OP’s for reconnaissance purposes. Inasmuch as artillery targets have been relatively few during this pursuit phase, there should have been constant Cub air reconnaissance available to all leading elements.

f. In the long run, speed was made over the high ground, not over the roads or flat lands.

g. Too often commanders of all echelons waited for orders. The rapid advance made the maintenance of communications difficult and resulted in instructions being issued and received based on out of date information. Under such conditions commanders must act on their own responsibility, initiative and judgment. Inactivity is inexcusable.

2. We must be prepared mentally and tactically for a change in the character of combat when we next go into the line for we may encounter strong and bitter resistance. At some date or place the German may seek to make a stand but our constant pressure should greatly hamper him from getting set. The main bodies following our mobile advance detachments must be kept so in hand that they can be employed rapidly in accordance with simple and prepared plans.

3. Speed, not haste, is still the great factor.

GEOFFREY KEYES
Major General, U.S.A., Commanding.

 

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