January 30 This Day during the World War ll

January 30, 1944 – The Battle of Cisterna took place during World War II, on 30 January-2 February 1944, near Cisterna, Italy, as part of the battle of Anzio that followed Operation Shingle. The battle was a clear German victory which also had repercussions on the employment of U.S. Army Rangers that went beyond the immediate tactical and strategic results of the battle. During this battle, the 1st, 3rd, and 4th U.S. Army Ranger battalions, the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, and the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, which had been brigaded as the 6615th Ranger Force (Provisional), were assigned to support the renewal of an attack by the 3rd Infantry Division, which had previously failed to take Cisterna from 25–27 January. The 3rd Division’s attack was part of a large offensive by the U.S. VI Corps to break out of the Anzio beachhead before German reinforcements could arrive and concentrate for a counterattack. The 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions—preceding the main attack by the 4th Ranger Battalion and the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment—attempted a night infiltration behind German lines into the town of Cisterna. Their objective was to seize the town in a surprise attack and hold it until the main attack came through. The two battalions—totaling 767 men and supported by a platoon of 43 men of the 3rd Reconnaissance Troop—moved out at 01:30 and moved in the darkness along a drainage ditch in column formation. Although they were able to bypass numerous German positions, at first light they were still short of their objective and needed to cross open ground for the final portion of the approach. At this point the Rangers were attacked by strong German forces of the 715th Motorized Infantry Division and Herman Göring Panzer Division, including at least seventeen German Panzer IV tanks. According to the Army history of the operation, the infiltration movement had apparently been discovered and an ambush prepared. The 1st Battalion commander—Major Dobson—personally knocked out one tank by shooting the commander with his pistol, climbing atop the tank, and dropping a white phosphorus grenade down the hatch. Two other tanks were captured by Rangers, but then knocked out by other Rangers who did not know they had been captured. Despite fierce fighting, there was little chance of success once the Rangers were attacked on the open ground. German units put Ranger prisoners in front of their tanks and commanded other Rangers to surrender. After the approximately seven-hour battle, only six of the 767 Rangers and one member of the 3rd Recon troop returned to Allied lines, resulting in an overall loss of 803 men. The exact number of killed, wounded and captured is unknown, although historian Carlo D’Este estimated well over 400 Rangers became POWs. German casualties reached a similar level. The main assault also jumped off, now attempting to rescue the trapped battalions. Led by the 4th Ranger Battalion, it encountered serious opposition and failed to break through. However, the overall attack—which also included an attack by the 7th Infantry Regiment and 504th Parachute Infantry Regiments—did push forward the Allied lines 3 mi (4.8 km) on a 7 mi (11 km) wide front on 31 January and 1 February, although failing to achieve the desired breakthrough and Cisterna was to remain in German hands until May 1944. However, German counterattacks on 1–2 February—conducted by the Herman Göring Panzer and 71st Infantry Divisions—failed to recapture any of the ground from the Allies and suffered severe casualties. 

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