Operation Giant II

'Giant II' was an Allied unrealised plan to drop part of Major General Matthew B. Ridgway’s US 82nd Airborne Division near Rome just before the announcement of Italy’s armistice with the Allies to help safeguard the Italian royal family and government from the retribution of the Germans forces, who were known to be prepared for such an Italian defection from the Axis camp (8/9 September 1943).

When Italy agreed on 3 September to an armistice with the Allies, effective on 9 September, it was stipulated that the Allies would provide military support to Italy in defending Rome from German occupation. 'Giant II' was therefore planned as the drop of one regiment of Ridgway’s 82nd Airborne Division in the area to the north-west of Rome in order to aid four Italian divisions in seizing the Italian capital.

However, there were severe doubts in the Allied camp about both the willingness and ability of the Italian forces to provide the required co-operate in an undertaking whose distance from the 'Avalanche' landing at Salerno farther to the south-east left it beyond meaningful support. Thus the artillery commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, Brigadier General Maxwell D. Taylor, was sent to Rome in order to undertake a personal reconnaissance and report on the operation’s chances of success. Taylor’s report, transmitted by radio, caused the postponement of the operation, which was then cancelled on the following day even as the transport aircraft carrying two battalions of the 504th Parachute Infantry were being prepared for take-off.

Support for the 82nd Airborne Division was to have been provided by the Italians, who were to eliminate German anti-aircraft positions in Rome, light marker fires at the drop zones and provide sufficient transport to move the two US battalions into Rome.