Liveblogging World War II: September 16, 1943
Allied invasion of Italy: Wikipedia:
On 9 September, Montgomery's formations had been strung out along the coastal roads in the 'toe' of Italy. The build-up across the Straits of Messina had proved slow and he was therefore short of transport. On 9 September, he decided to halt his formations in order to reorganise before pushing on but Alexander replied on 10 September that "It is of the utmost importance that you maintain pressure upon the Germans so that they cannot remove forces from your front and concentrate them against Avalanche". This message was further reinforced on 12 September by a personal visit from Alexander's Chief of Staff.
Montgomery had no choice and while reorganising the main body of his troops sent light forces up the coast which reached Castrovillari and Belvedere on 12 September, still some 80 mi (130 km) from the Salerno battlefield. On 14 September, he was in a position to start a more general advance, and by 16 September 5th Infantry Division had reached Sapri, 25 mi (40 km) beyond Belvedere, where forward patrols made contact with patrols from VI Corps' 36th Division.
On 16 September, von Vietinghoff reported to Kesselring that the Allied air and naval superiority were decisive and that he had not the power to neutralize this. Tenth Army had succeeded in preventing troops being cut off, and continuing the battle would just invite heavy losses. The approach of Eighth Army was also now posing a threat. He recommended to break off the battle, pivoting on Salerno to form a defensive line, preparatory to commencing withdrawal on 18/19 September. Kesselring's agreement reached von Vietinghoff early on 17 September.
The Salerno battle was also the site of the Salerno Mutiny instigated by about 500 men of the British X Corps, who on 16 September refused assignment to new units as replacements. They had previously understood that they would be returning to their own units from which they had been separated during the fighting in the North African Campaign, mainly because they had been wounded. Eventually the corps commander, McCreery, persuaded about half of the men to follow their orders. The remainder were court-martialled. Three NCOs who led the mutiny were sentenced to death but the sentence was not carried out and they where eventually allowed to rejoin units.