Wartime Claim To Fame Divides the 2 Italian Towns of Nettuno and Anzio

The American Third Infantry Division landed in Nettuno in Jan. 22, 1944, while other British and American troops headed for the nearby beaches in Anzio. Ever since that day, Anzio was proclaimed the main landing site.

Although for the last 70 years the two towns have been commemorating the event together, this year, the officials of Nettuno have decided to remember the day separately from the Anzio beachhead and to promote Nettuno, code-named X-Ray Beach. And this is when the conflict started. According to the mayor of Anzio, Mr Luciano Bruschini, the conflict is nothing else but “a maneuver to change the history of the landing that goes against military maps,” he said.

He continued saying that so many films have been made and so many books have been written about the Anzio landing and it has never been called in a different way. Although the troops landed on a 20 kilometres stripe of the coast, they never called it the Anzio-Nettuno-Ardea landing. And another thing was that during the Second World War, Anzio was destroyed by the German bombings, while Nettuno was barely touched. People leaving in Anzio insist that the destruction of the town makes it impossible to put the two on the same line.

However, none of these opinions and arguments seem to convince the mayor of Nettuno, Mr Alessio Chiavetta, who plans to open a study center on his side, where he will be able to collect and consolidate documentation as proof for the town’s role in the landing, code-named Operation Shingle. This way, he says, a series of events engraved in the Italian history will finally be re-established and for the landing, he wishes people will remember it as it happened and will recognize both Anzio and Nettuno for the liberation of Rome.

Operation Shingle lasted 4 and a half months. By the time the troops arrived in Rome on June 4, thousands had died, while many others had been wounded and more of them were missing in action, the New York Times reports.

Resident of Anzio, Mr Alfredo Rinaldi, 86, said he has traveled around the world but nobody ever speaks about a Nettuno landing and everyone speaks of Anzio. “We can’t change history,” Mr. Rinaldi said.

Also, two wartime German railway guns have been known as Anzio Annie and Anzio Express, while the United States Navy named one of their ships the U.S.S. Anzio.

It seems that the 70th anniversary brochure already circulating in Anzio mentions all the activities happening in Nettuno during the commemoration, but “with regret I note that they did not include ours,” said an Anzio City Hall press officer, Mr Bruno Parente.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE