Operation Battle of Ancona

The 'Battle of Ancona' was fought between Polish and German forces for the port city of Ancona on the north-eastern coast of Italy (16 June/18 July 1944).

The battle resulted from an Allied plan to take Ancona and thereby gain possession of a port closer to the current fighting and thereby ease their logistical situation by shortening their lines of communication. Generał dywizji Władysław Anders’s Polish II Corps, tasked with capture of the city on 16 June 1944, accomplishing the objective a month later on 18 July 1944.

The Allied advance into the north of Italy meant that their logistics chain would benefit from the availability of a port closer to the front line than the ports of Pescara and Anzio on the Italian eastern and western coasts respectively. As such, two new targets were designated for seizure: these were Ancona on the Adriatic Sea coast, and Livorno on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast. On 16 June, the Polish II Corps, then an element of Lieutenant General Sir Oliver Leese’s British 8th Army, and was in reserve after its efforts in the 'Battle of Monte Cassino', was brought forward once more to relieve Lieutenant General C. W. Allfrey’s British V Corps and tasked with the capture of Ancona. On 17 June, Anders was given command of the Adriatic sector of the Italian theatre.

The first obstacle to be crossed by the Poles was the Chienti river, which they reached on 21 June, and heavy fighting lasted in that region until 30 June. The main offensive on Ancona then began on 17 July. Polish armoured elements took the Monte della Crescia and outflanked the German forces holding Ancona. The Italian Co-belligerent Army’s IX Assault Unit then secured Casenuove, and neighbouring British and Canadian troops took Montecchio and Croce di San Vincenzo. By the evening of 17 July, Polish troops had neared Agugliano, and on the following morning they took Offagna. Later that day, Polish troops took Chiaravalle, and armoured troops reached the sea, cutting off the German defenders of Ancona from the north-west. The German troops of Generalleutnant Harry Hoppe’s 278th Division fell back toward the sea, and the Polish troops encountered little resistance entering Ancona at 14.30 on 18 July.

The seizure of Ancona was the only independent operation undertaken by the Polish II Corps. After this, the corps was involved in the breaking of the 'Gotisch-Linie' and the Allied spring 1945 offensive which resulted in the surrender of the Axis forces in Italy.