When Sergeant Ben Wallis’s battalion was ordered into battle on 30 January 1944, the British Army was 16 hours into an effort to break out of the beachhead it had established at Anzio, eight days after its amphibious landing on the west coast of Italy alongside the US 3rd Division.
At 15:00, the order was given to advance. Beside Sgt Wallis, his friend was killed almost immediately by sniper fire. Ahead, the platoon commander also fell and Sgt Wallis stepped forward to take the lead. At a heavy cost to the platoon, this desperate assault succeeded, both machine-gun crews surrendering when their positions were overrun.
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