This post is ninth in a series drawn from a History of I.S.9 (CMS) in the British National Archives. Research courtesy of Brian Sims.
See also “I.S.9 History—Organization,” “I.S.9 History—Tasks,”I.S.9 History—Methods,” “I.S.9 History—Communications,,” “I.S.9 History—Agent Choice and Training,” “I.S.9 History—Air Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Sea Borne Operations,” and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 1.”
Lieutenant Ruggiero Cagnazzo is mentioned in this part of the history, referred to as Italian agent “CAG,” and the rescue of the “the Generals Party” is described in detail. The initial operational plan for this mission is described in a recent post, “Rescue Plan—Generals and Civilians.”
See also “Rescues along the Adriatic Coastline” I.S.9 rescue details.
Several prisoner accounts on this site mention prisoners’ awareness of the I.S.9 rescue operations.
For instance, a 1980 newspaper article on American serviceman Raymond E. Cox reported, “In the spring of 1944, American paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines and began assembling groups of escaped prisoners who were placed on PT boats and taken to larger ships waiting at sea. Cox missed out of a chance to get out of the country that way, however, and rode a borrowed bicycle to look up with a field army unit after the Poles began pushing the Germans up the Adriatic Coast of Italy and the ‘front’ shifted.”
Tom Ager, when traveling through the countryside near Florence with comrades, said, “Our idea then was to go to the east coast and try and get picked up, because we’d heard rumours that every now and then someone would arrive and pick up people—but how true it was I have absolutely no idea. But we never reached it—it was too heavily fortified.”
And Roland Rakow encountered a British commando while on the run who informed him of a rendezvous. Roland explained, “He had been dropped off behind the lines to contact POWs that they knew were circulating in the hills trying to get back to the Allied lines. He was letting us know that if they could, a boat would pick us up and take us back down the Adriatic and around the lines where the British and Germans were still fighting.” Although Roland narrowly missed a German Patrol along the way, he made it to the shore in time to be rescued.
Below is a transcript of Part 2 of the I.S.9 history’s report on operations in Italy:
2. The Boating Section, TERMOLI.
3. Field Section Activities.
4. Field Headquarters.
From mid-Nov 43 both 5th and 8th Armies probed the outposts of the German Winter Line and built up their strength for two heavy attacks. 5th Army attacked the German defensive positions on the GARIGLIANO River, and around MONTE CASSINO, and 8th Army attacked and successfully crossed the SANGRO River on the ADRIATIC sector. However, due to the limited forces available and the dreadful Winter conditions, it was impossible to make further progress and these attacks were not exploited.
On January 22nd, 1944, a sea borne landing was made by the U.S. VI Corps at ANZIO behind the main German defence line. This seemed to be the only possible way of ending this stalemate and cause the Germans to withdraw during the Winter. The enemy was quick to sense danger and the four Allied divisions landed at ANZIO were soon opposed by ten enemy divisions commanded by the famous KESSELRING.
I.S.9 (CMF) had every desire to land a section at ANZIO but simply could not do so due to our limited W/E [war establishment] which still remained at the same strength as at 1 Nov 43. It is doubtful if very much could have been achieved, as the concentration of enemy around the ANZIO bridgehead made penetration look impossible. It is interesting to note that a mere handful of evaders ever crossed into the beachhead and a fairly large number were concentrated in the hills not far away. Every inch of the perimeter was thick with troops and mines. It was far better for us, therefore, to leave our sections to operate in areas which did have possibilities, for it was impossible to cover every sector of the front.