Pen & Sword, 2018
Reviewed by Dom Sore
Often when we think about the Italian Campaign we get up to Monte Cassino and the liberation of Rome and then stop. Even the liberation of Rome was overshadowed by some boat trip made across the English Channel the day after that seems to be important. This latest addition to the generally excellent Images of War series from Pen and Sword Military ignores that boat trip and concentrates on the action after Rome was taken. Here the Allied 15th Army Group continued the long arm wrestle up the Italian peninsula. This is a pictorial history covering 227 pages from the period just before Rome’s liberation until the very end of World War Two.
These books cannot be faulted for the sheer number of pictures they provide, very few pages in the book do not contain one and many contain two. These are mainly photographs from the Allied perspective, if you want images of the defenders you will have to try another avenue. The pictures themselves are well chosen and cover most Allied contingents without concentrating on just one. They also convey something of the environmental challenges the Allies faced in Italy from dry and dusty to cold and snow covered with an unhealthy amount of mud in-between. The many pictures of M4 Shermans carrying inordinate amounts of kit on the outside will be of great use to the modellers among you.
As with all the Images of War books I am left wanting more words to give context; which I know goes against the point of the books but I still want it! This is not really a problem though, this is not a book with many flaws. The only one I can really pick up on is the lack of details regarding the pictures that do not involve US forces. These are often only detailed at Divisional level whereas the US pictures often have the regiment and sometimes the company or battery. One last benefit would have been more detailed maps showing the units involved rather than formations, they would be a great benefit to the wargamer.
As a whole this book does what it says it does and it does it well. The only gripes are minor or effectively irrelevant so if you have any interest in the Allied push up to the Alps this will make a good looking addition to the bookshelves. The photos are a kitbashers dream with inspiration on most pages; my favourite is probably the Nisei driving in a Schwimmwagen followed by the Gurkha Bren gun team in the ruins of Tavoleto. There are little hints about the fighting of the Greek units which might get investigated further plus a couple of other rabbit holes I have been sent down. Now where’s the razor saw and British infantry set, I have a scene to build!