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HMS Albion remembers the Battle of Anzio

29 November 2022
Sailors and Royal Marines from HMS Albion took part in a remembrance service at Anzio, Italy to commemorate the Allied landings that took place on 22 January 1944 as part of Operation Shingle.

Fifty four members of the ship’s company arrived at Anzio harbour on two of HMS Albion’s landing craft. Together with His Majesty’s Ambassador to Italy, the Rt Hon Edward Llewellyn, they paid their respects to the 27,500 service personnel who were killed, captured or wounded during the operation which took place during the Second World War. 

Operation Shingle, often referred to as the Battle of Anzio, saw a joint Anglo-American force land close to Rome in a daring attempt to break the deadlock along the Gustav Line halfway between Salerno and the capital. 

The Royal Navy and the US Navy were heavily involved in Operation Shingle as part of Task Force 81, commanded by Rear Admiral Frank J Lowry US Navy. Task Force 81 consisted of two headquarters ships, two submarines, four cruisers, 28 destroyers, 103 minor warships and 241 landing ships and craft. During the operation a number of Royal Navy ships were lost including the cruiser HMS Spartan, the destroyer HMS Janus and the landing ship LST-366.

Without the logistical and naval gunfire support of the Royal Navy and US Navy ships the Allies would not have been able to sustain the Anzio bridgehead. The lessons learned from Anzio directly fed into Allied planning for Operation Overlord in Northern France on 6 June 1944.

The remembrance service included a wreath laying ceremony at Anzio’s war memorial plaque. HMS Albion’s Commanding Officer Captain Simon Kelly and His Majesty’s Ambassador then attended a second service at the Anzio War Cemetery.

Reflecting on the visit, Captain Kelly said: “I was honoured to attend the services held at the Anzio war memorial plaque and war graves cemetery. It was a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of those made before so that we may live freely today.”

As part of the commemoration service for Operation Shingle sailors and Royal Marines were invited to visit the Anzio Beachhead Museum which brought to mind some of the many hardships that Allied service personnel faced during the campaign. 

The Anzio Troop of 43 Commando Royal Marines is named after the famous battle, and Corporal Callum Southgate, a Landing Craft coxswain formerly of that troop, was able to land his LCVP (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel) on the same spot to take part in the commemoration.

He said: “Arriving at Anzio by landing craft was a once in a lifetime experience and opened my eyes to what it must have been like as an Allied soldier landing on these same beaches nearly 78 years ago.”

British Ambassador to Italy, Ed Llewellyn commented: “I was honoured to attend services at Anzio to pay tribute, together with the local authorities, to all those who gave their lives for our freedom. 

“It was especially moving to see a Royal Navy warship and landing craft off the beach where the Allied landings took place in January 1944. 

“I was proud to attend not just as the British Ambassador, but also as an Honorary Captain in the Royal Naval Reserve, alongside personnel from my own affiliated ship, HMS Albion.”

HMS Albion has now made her transit to Civitavecchia, Italy. The ship will conduct defence engagement with local dignitaries and military personnel in support of Operation Achillean, further deepening the UK’s relationship with a close NATO ally. The ship’s company are also anticipating visiting the cultural sites of the Eternal City of Rome.

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