Friday, September 28, 2007

Number of lost lives in Italy

Do you agree with the figures I have found about Allied losses in Italy:
between 200,000 and 300, 000?
The figures vary depending on the sites.
The number of wounded I find is about the same.
Total British losses is evaluated 400,000 in WW2.
I am sure one of you gentlemen has accurate figures.
Thank you for your help.



Blogger Ron Goldstein said...


As you say, the figures alter according to which site you are on.
This article in the BBC Peoples War Archives:
gives Allied losses as 312,000.

Let us see if others can give the definitive total

Saturday, 29 September, 2007  
Blogger Peter G said...

Establishing how many died in the tragedy of Italy is beset with problems given the complexity of events. After July 1943 two wars raged in Italy, the Allied campaign against the Wehrmacht and the intense civil war in the north between Italian partisans and Republican Fascists, the SS, and elements of the Wehrmacht.

First the Allied campaign. The figure given by Ron is deemed to be correct, having been rounded up from the correct figure of 313,495.

This breaks down as follows, with the multitude of foreign armies trampling over Italy:

British Commonwealth
British 89,436
Canadian 25,889
New Zealand 8,668
South African 4,168
Indian 19,373
Colonial 448

American 119,279
Brazilian 2,211
French 27,625
Italian 4,729
Polish 11,217
Greeks 452

German losses present a remarkable anomaly in that they were defending and defending troop losses are generally much lower than those of attacking armies. But their losses amounted to 336,650. This has been explained by the Allies' superior air power and partisan battles.

Italian losses are more complex. The total for WW2 is 291,376 of which number 74,725 died in the Italian campaign both before and after the armistice. Added to which 41,432 Italian POWs died in German concentration camps and 64,000 Italian civilians from Nazi massacres and repressions in the North, including 8,562 Italian Jews, during the intense civil war September 1943 - April 1945.

17,166 Italian partisans were killed either in action or executed after capture. The Fascist RSI lost about 13,000 with some 2,500 civilian fascists killed.

In fairness I should add the estimated 20,000 fascists killed in the immediate aftermath of the war, mostly executed after kangaroo trials brought by embittered partisans. This was brought to an end by the Communist leader, Palmiro Togliatti, who in an impassioned speech said the blood bath must end. As Minister of Justice in the first post-war government he introduced a general amnesty. Following this the pendulum swung the other way and many fascists, many more guilty than their executed comrades, were given light prison sentences before more lenient regular courts. After further amnesties nearly all were released.

Saturday, 29 September, 2007  
Blogger Cathie said...

Peter, and Ron: those figures are indeed interesting, and so are your explanations Peter.
One tends to forget that the last year of this
war saw more deaths than the preceding ones.

My attention is caught by the word 'colonial' in your list. Were they/ are they given tribute in Britain?

In France there are now specific plaques to honour
the North Africans who landed in the South, for
instance - and their contribution is finally mentioned in history text-books. Do you know if this is the case in Britain?

Saturday, 29 September, 2007  
Blogger Boabbie said...

reading Peter's casualty list brings home just how much of a debt we owe to the Commonwealth and America. Not in terms of arms but in the sacrifice of Human life.

Saturday, 29 September, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

I believe that I would agree with Peter's casualty figures especially the Canadian figures of 25K, as in there was just under the 6000 mark killed...on the other hand the figures for the French appear to be high as the only battles that they really involved were Cassino 1 where they took a beating owing to Mark Clark pulling them back from their clear road to Atina to cut highway 6 instead they were hauled back to suport the 34US Div behind the Monastery...and the walkover at the breaking of the Gustav/Hitler line where they were virtually unopposed in the Aurunci mountains... the same four North African Divisions under Gen. Juin landed in the South of France along with three US divisions thus weakening the 15th Army group and making it tough to finish off the campaign !

Sunday, 30 September, 2007  
Blogger Peter G said...


You said the figures for the French appear to be high

The numbers I quoted for Allied and German losses in Italy are from Britain's official history History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series - The Mediterranean and Middle East volume VI Victory in the Mediterranean, Part III - November 1944 to May 1945, pp 334-335 and Appendix 5.

Italian losses are from various sources, my own books and the Internet.

I have re-checked the figure for the French, it is 27,625. However, the figures for the Allies are described as 'Casualties', but unfortunately casualties is not defined and could thus well include wounded and missing. For the Italian figures (massacres, executions, etc) I have data of those killed. Of the 8,562 Jews not all were Italian, many were foreigners or stateless persons who had taken refuge in Italy prior to July 1943. Of these 322 died in Italy, the rest were deported mainly to Auschwitz, of whom 5,969 were killed. So those killed in total amounted to 6,391.
This figure is from Italian Jewish sources.

As for Italian fascists executed after the war, neo-fascists try to claim that it was between 40,000 and a wild 300,000. The figure I gave of 20,000 is not reliable. The official figure is 8,197 according to this Italian source.

But Italian memories die hard and I would conclude with an account from Philip Morgan's The Fall of Mussolini of possibly the last man to be killed in the Italian campaign:

In 1990, an Italian called Giuseppe Bonfanti, 66 years old, returned to Italy from Brazil, where he had emigrated after the war. The purpose of his visit was to kill another elderly man, 68-year-old Giuseppe Oppici. It was not a tidy killing. If it had happened forty-five years earlier, Bonfanti would undoubtedly have used his gun. As it was, he killed Oppici with a pickaxe in an alley in Salina, the birthplace of both men. The reason, and justification, for the killing was that in November 1944 Oppici was among a group of Fascists on a reprisal expedition who burned down the partisan Bonfanti's house and slaughtered his livestock. 'I came back just to kill him', said Bonfanti, 'finally I made him pay'.

Sunday, 30 September, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Peter -
exactly my point about the figures - Casualties include all killed - wounded and missing - in the case of the Canadian figures some 5980 wwere killed from a total of 25.000 - and they were involved in more battles than were the French four North African Divisions - the Aurunci part of the Liri Valley battles was a walk over as the Germans had not bothered to fortify the area being considered impregnable - consequently the French "casualties" were very low ! !

Sunday, 30 September, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

The figures quoted so far are of interest when broken down into armies - i.e. 8th British and US 5th armies.

With 8th having a total of 159,641 casualties as opposed to the US 5th Army's 126,219...bearing in mind that many nationalities were not represented all the way from Sicily
as were the 78th and Canadians e.g - the New Zealanders came in at Ortona and had to contend with two battles of a few days each at Cassino - as did the 4th Indians and also the Polish group - the South Africans took over from us below Rome. The 4th Indians went on to Greece after the Gothic - the Canadians missed out of the spring finale etc but the 8th Indian stayed on to the death, the 1st and 5th Divs went on to NW Europe and a few others went over to Greece.

So to compile accurate figures is extremely difficult as the same situation prevailed in the 5th Army with the four French Divs only there a maximum of two months - the Brazillians were there from after Rome as was the Nisei Div and 10th Mountain US Division of Bob Dole et al.

All we can take from these figures is that they were away too high !

Monday, 01 October, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

AS Ron has already recognised - figures are dependent on where you look - I have another set of "fairly ofricial" figures for the Canadians who claim that as they finally left in March 1945 for NW Europe some 92,757 had served in Sicily and Italy sustaining 26,254 casualties of which 5,399 wre killed.

Further they state that Allied casualties were 320,955 against the German 658,339 -- so I guess we won ?

Wednesday, 03 October, 2007  

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