THE LANDING AT ANZIO
On 22nd January 1944 the British and American troops launched their unexpectedly successful surprise attack and landing on the Anzio beachhead. Because surprise was complete, the projected 12 percent casualty rate was held to less than 1 percent throughout the initial landing.
Operation Shingle was a joint Anglo-American landing, with the American forces under the command of the General Mark Clark. At H Hour 0200 on 22nd January, the landings began in three simultaneous assaults around Anzio and Nettuno. On the right, around Nettuno, the 3rd Division under Major General Lucian Truscott landed on X-Ray, Red and Green Beaches.
On Peter Beach, six miles northwest of Anzio, the 2 Brigade Group of the British 1 Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. W. R. C. Penney, would make the assault; the 2 Special Service Brigade of 9 and 43 Commandos would land with it and strike east to establish a road block on the main road leading from Anzio to Campoleone and Albano. All these forces would link up to seize and consolidate a beachhead centering on the port of Anzio. On Peter Beach there were the majority of casualties because this Area was heavily mined by the Germans.
Initial resistance was light with the key objectives quickly taken. By the 24th January, a beachead had been established several kilometres inland but the hesitancy that followed the initial success of the landings enabled Kesselring time to regroup his defences. It was not long before several Panzer Divisions - including the elite Hermann Goring Division - were diverted to meet the Allied assault. The real battle for Anzio lay beyond the beaches, in the vicinity of the Padiglione Woods and the Alban Hills; along the labyrinth of main roads, back roads and farm tracks with names as typically diverse as Dead End Road and the Bowling Alley; astride the railway embankment and Mussolini Canal; in the wrecked streets of Aprilia, ominously nicknamed 'The Factory'. It would take almost five months of bitter fighting in difficult terrain before Rome was finally liberated.
In the centre, Rangers supported by paratroopers seized Yellow Beach adjacent to Anzio harbour with orders to seize the port and destroy any coastal defence batteries.
Peter Beach is today a Natural Reserve protected by WWF, known as Tor Caldara.
The medieval tower was built in the Middle Age to defend the area from the frequent incursions of Saracens and later from the Arabic Pirates. In 1565 the tower was restored by Marco Colonna.
The Natural Reserve has a surface area of approx 44 acres and it was created by the Region Lazio in 1988.
This strip of wood with ilex trees and Mediterranean vegetation formerly extended along the whole coastline of the region. Characteristic thermal springs and water courses can be found in the area.
Tor Caldara Entrance to the Regional Natural Reserve
FLORA: Vegetable species are the cork-oak, ilex, alder, strawberry tree, myrtle, and lentisk. The rare flowering fern is also present.
FAUNA: Among the mammals, wild rabbits, weasels, foxes. Among the birds of prey: tawny owl, owl, kestrel; other birds: wrens, woodcocks, turtledoves, quails, blue tits, bee-eaters.