Eighty years ago this week Vichy parades its own anti-Semitism and the Eighth Army takes Foggia


Having reached the heel of Italy the 8th Army made rapid progess up the long coastal plain of northern Apulia. The Germans made barely any attempt to hold them on this very poorly defensible terrain. The British reached Foggia near the east coast almost opposite where the Salerno landing force was trying to break out of its bridgehead on the west coast. It gave a dangerously optimistic sense of how rapidly an army could advance northwards through Italy. Foggia's large airfield would provide a base from which allied bombers  could attack targets in the south of the Reich and the Balkans with far more reliable weather than the 8th Air Force had to contend with over its bases in England.

On the instructions of Hitler Mussolini proclaimed the Italian Social Republic in Venice as a rival to the established Italian government under Marshal Badoglio which had deposed Mussolini and surrendered to the Allies. It was never to be much more than a German puppet state. It was better known as the Salo government from the small city in the north where its shadowy administration was based. 

The death of Sir Kingsley Wood, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, opened the way for a reshuffle of the British government.  Wood was replaced by Sir John Anderson, civil servant turned minister who was the face of Britain's technocratic wartime government. The operation also gave Churchill the opportunity to bring Lord Beaverbrook back into government after his messy exit in February 1942. His noisy campaign for a Second Front and harrying of the government on a multitude of issues were forgotten. He held the non-departmental post of Lord Privy Seal.

The German organizer of the Service du Travail Obligatoire which organized the forced  labour in Germany of French people, SS Standartenfuehrer von Ritter, was killed by a resistance group. This was the Communist FTP-Main d'Oeuvre Immigree group largely made up of eastern European immigrants. The Communists had long shown themselves more ready to accept German reprisals for killing members of the occupying forces. FTP-MOI had been under close observation by the Vichy security police for some months. It became the target of a poisonous poster campaign under the headline "Liberators?" with images of corpses and destruction labelled as "Liberation by the army of crime". The posters made much of the fact that many of its members were Jews. The Vichy authorities expected the population to share their own anti-Semitism and xenophobia.