Nazis fear 3-front assault (5-4-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 4, 1944)

Allies troops mass in Italy, Germans say

Berlin also expects drive by Russia
By Robert Dowson, United Press staff writer

London, England –
A Paris broadcast said today that Allied armies in Italy have taken up “battle positions” for a new all-out offensive coincident with an Allied invasion of Western Europe and a Red Army thrust from the east.

A German DNB broadcast also told of Allied offensive preparations in Italy, with reinforcements and supplies being moved up all along the front from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the mountains north of Cassino.

Tending to confirm the Nazi claims, the Badoglio government newspaper Il Corriere of Naples acknowledged there was “feverish activity in preparation for vast-scale operations” in Italy. That country appeared “on the eve of great events,” Il Corriere said.

‘Preparations complete’

Simultaneously, the Canadian Army newspaper Maple Leaf said that action was imminent on the long-stalemated Italian front.

“General Hell is going to take over and bust things wide open,” the newspaper said.

Jean Paquis, Paris radio commentator, said it was understood in official Axis circles that the “general offensive in Europe is not far off.”

He said:

In the two adversary camps, preparations are now complete. The German High Command expects a general Russian offensive in the east and at the same time, aerial reconnaissance shows that on the Italian front, the 5th and 8th Armies have taken up battle positions and are ready to go into attack.

In the west, concentrations of shipping in British ports along the south coast and the stepping-up of the aerial offensive by the Anglo-Americans brings the menace of invasion nearer.

Says Germany ‘not ripe’

In Sweden, however, a naval commentator writing in the Stockholm newspaper Svenska Dagbladet contended that Germany was “not yet ripe for invasion” and said that the Allied air offensive had not yet reached its peak.

The Stockholm correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph said information brought by observers from Germany, France and Holland indicated the Germans had mapped the following three-point plan to counter the invasion from behind their 20-mile-deep Atlantic Wall of coastal defenses:

  • While the Allied invasion fleet is approaching, it will be attacked by radio-controlled bombs and U-boats, including a new 30-foot two-man midget submarine, and electrically-controlled minefields will be set off.

  • German forces will make every effort to delay a breakthrough of the Atlantic Wall, which they realize is not impregnable, and inflict the maximum losses on the enemy.

  • Reserve forces will be brought up from the rear to counterattack in an attempt to drive the enemy into the sea.

From Ankara came a report that the German government has ordered all German civilians in Turkey to assemble in Istanbul.