Sham embroidered with 5th US Army shoulder patch design, "Italy," and the year, "1944." It is likely that a soldier in the Fifth Army in Italy would have purchased this pillow sham as a souvenir to send home.
The Fifth U.S. Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Mark Clark in 1943, was a major component of Eisenhower’s Allied invasion force fighting in Italy. It was part of the 15th Army Group, led by British Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander.
The Fifth Army landed at Salerno in September 1943 and captured Naples in early October. Later, fighting in Italy bogged down along the German’s “Gustav” defense line. The 3rd Infantry Division, then part of the Fifth Army’s VI Corps commanded by Major General John Lucas, suffered the highest losses of any American division in a single battle at Anzio, Italy, during January 1944.
In mid-1944, the 13th British Corps, Eighth Army, launched a massive attack on the German Gustav Line and the defenses there broke. Additionally, the 2nd Polish Corps seized the high ground at Monte Cassino in fierce fighting. The French Expeditionary Corps also overran their objectives. German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring’s forces were also hit with attacks from the Fifth Army. The part of Clark’s Fifth Army that had not participated in the landing at Anzio crossed the River Rapido and then was able to link up with those who had. Rome fell to the Fifth Army on June 4, 1944.
During this stage of the war, Eisenhower was in England gearing up for the D-Day invasion of Normandy France. However, the bitter fighting in Italy helped to draw German troops away from the intended area of Eisenhower’s D-Day landing. The Germans were not able to send large numbers of troops from the Italian front to oppose the landings in France.
More hard fighting lay ahead for the Fifth Army. Three divisions from Mark Clark’s command (the 3rd, 36th, and 45th Infantry Divisions) were transferred over to Lieutenant General Alexander Patch’s Seventh U.S. Army for the invasion of southern France, code named DRAGOON, which took place in August 1944. To make up for this loss, the Fifth Army received reinforcement from the Brazilian Expeditionary forces’ 25,000 men and from the Italian Corps of Liberation, as well as partisans.
Other troops serving under Clark included the African-American 92nd Division and several Japanese-American units. Both the 442nd Infantry Regiment and 100th Infantry Battalion were comprised of Nisei Japanese-Americans. The Nisei soldiers, whose famous motto was “Go for Broke,” displayed such great fighting abilities and courage that they earned a disproportionably high number of military decorations for valor.
Clark’s men reached the Po River in northern Italy in April 1945. Near the end of the war in Europe, the Fifth Army crossed the Alps at Brenner Pass and entered Austria. In all its campaigns the Fifth Army lost 188,746 casualties.
Cloth. L 37.7, H 35.8 cm
Eisenhower National Historic Site, EISE 15759.