2 January 2007
A new year and back to work. My word count currently stands at 47,000 and by the end of March I have to have the book finished and standing at around 165-170,000. I write fast, and for the last three months of writing Together We Stand was hammering out 50,000 words a month, so in theory, it shouldn’t be beyond me.
But Italy’s Sorrow is a completely different kettle of fish. It’s far a far more complex military campaign, but I’ve given myself a much more difficult task by a) writing from both sides – or rather, all sides; and b) by giving time to the civilian as well as the military aspect of the war in Italy. This makes it a much richer story, but marshalling my sources is a difficult process. There has to be balance all the time – one can’t give too much weight to the Allies over the Germans, or Partisans over the Fascists. Really, this is very difficult, and ahead of me I’ve got the big strategic conundrums to write up: Clark and his change of direction in the Battle for Rome, the ANVIL debates, and a further missed opportunity I’ve discovered that no-one else seems to have ever written up. Before Eighth Army made its assault on the Senger Line on 23 May, there was a golden opportunity for Fifth Army to outflank the German position between Pontecorvo and Pico. In fact, Clark even offered his services to Alexander, and Alexander accepted with gusto. But in the event, only two French divisions were pushed through, rather than one or even two entire corps, and they were easily held by German reinforcements. Had a more substantial force been pushed into this gap, the German 10th Army would most likely have been encircled. The reason for Fifth Army’s lacklustre effort was due to a major tactical approach between American and British commanders. The British way was to probe for the weak spot then fling everything into that narrow area. The Americans, however – and Clark especially – favoured a broad-front attack, ie, hurling their entire weight over a much wider area. Thus it never occurred to Clark to adopt British-style tactics at Pico. At any rate, a golden opportunity was missed.