The road to Rome: Rare photos of American and Allied soldiers’ fight to conquer Italy in Second World War
The tides of war turned irrevocably in favor of the Allied forces in July 1943 when 150,000 British and American soldiers swarmed the shores of Sicily at the start of World War II’s bloody Italian Campaign.
Along with Canadian, French and other Allies, the invasion was the start of a long march to Rome that would forever be noted as some of the most brutal of the entire war.
Tens of thousands of soldiers died on each side during the campaign, which saw the ousting of Italy’s Fascist leader Benito Mussolini in its early days but would stretch into nearly two years.
The Allies marched up the most of famous of Roman roads, the Appian Way, which connected the city of Rome to the southern Italian coast.
These haunting yet hopeful color photographs from Life were never published in the magazine, but can now be seen here in their full glory.
March to Rome: This May 1943 photo shows British and South African soldiers showing off a Nazi flag during the Allied march toward Rome in the Italian city of Cassino
Long slog: American soldiers camp along the roadside as they drive towards Rome. The long and bloody Italian Campaign began with the 1943 invasion of Sicily and the ouster of German troops from the 1,000 square mile Mediterranean island
Casualties of war: An American soldier sleeps on a pile of rocks. The Italian Campaign was long a bloody and saw the deaths of tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, as well as many thousands of civilian casualties
Famous road: American soldiers took the most famous of all ancient Roman routes on their way to Rome–the storied Appian Way. At left, American troops ride an armored car down the road originally built by ancient Romans to reach the southern Italian shores.
Italian civilians wait for a military vehicle to pass
Unrelenting: American soldiers looking over German armor destroyed during the drive towards Rome. The Italian Campaign began with the booting of Mussolini but didn’t end for another 20 brutal months
A column of American medical vehicles inches toward Rome. Over the course of the campaign, hundreds of thousands of soldiers were wounded in addition to the casualties
End of the road: A German grave yard crops up along Italy’s Esperia Pico Road. The photographs were taken as troops marched to Rome by photojournalist Carl Mydans
WWII soldier’s long-lost Purple Heart medal and loving letter is delivered to the daughter he never met in a heartfelt ceremony
Dale Ellington fights back tears as his wife, Rose, pins his Prisoner of War Medal to his jacket on Sunday at the Veterans Home in Union Grove. Because he was held in a Swiss prison, Ellington didn’t receive his medal for nearly 70 years. The medal is shown below