Operation Boot shiner
0000 December 1st 1944
La Spezia, Italy
Bormann was not going to have a cabinet meeting this day, as with Operation Boot Shiner being at its most culminating and decisive point, Ringel was needed in the battlefield more than as Chief of Staff.
Nevertheless, Ringel did organize a little meeting, and an unusual one. Rear Admiral Bonte of the 9. Unterseebootsflotte and Admiral Bachmann of the 8. Unterseebootsflotte have been called by Ringel, who had now met them in La Spezia.
Each of them commanded one single U-boot flotilla, one based in La Spezia and one in Venice.
"Gentlemen, you might ask why, in the middle of an operation that involves fifty German divisions, did I want to talk with the commanders of a mediterranean Kriegsmarine that consists of only two U-boote flotillas.
Well, surprisingly as it may sound, your two lone flotillas may well prove decisive for the ultimation of Operation Boot Shiner. As you may know, Allied fleets led by Admiral Spruance are harassing our troops attacking in Anzio."
"You don't want us to engage that fleet, do you...?"
"Exactly my point, my brave Bachmann. I want you to sail to the Tyrrhenian Sea and engage that fleet, so that they will be busy chasing submarines instead of bombing our troops, till we can definitely crush the resistance in Anzio and eventually close the pocket."
The two admirals thought that was utter madness. But, as Field Marshal Ringel was in control of the Italian theatre, they were his subordinates in a certain way and could not say one word against his plan.
"Field Marshal, might we ask..."
"I know it is a suicidal mission. But you have underwater boats with you, don't you? Find a way to have half of the Allied Navy chase you with the fewest losses possible and for the longest time possible. That's it. Order your sailors to set sail immediately; their families will mourn them as national heroes."
As Ringel ended his meeting with the two admirals, he immediately started another one with the many commanders of the various air squadrons based in Florence. Since Ringel had given up the naval bombing idea, the Luftwaffe now had to come back to bomb troops and chase Allied squadrons as usual.
Hundreds and hundreds of Interceptors and Bombers would soon fly over the skies of Central Italy, once again, in the early hours of 1st December. With the Kriegsmarine - what was left of it - and Luftwaffe now busy in carrying out their orders, Ringel could turn his attention back again on the ground forces.0800 December 1st 1944
Ringel was now in his exhausted headquarters of Cassino again. First reports of this new month about the battle of Anzio were usual routine, but this would be a bit different.
"Darn U-boote, I should've thought about them earlier!" Ringel was really upset about the current situation. Six divisions retreating from Perugia - or most probably coming from Rome - aided by the usual Allied fleet were all of a sudden smashing the Germans' endurance to a point they would be forced to abandon the attack completely. Before the Allies could inflict even more damage to the German troops, Ringel ordered the attack to a complete halt.
The British had stopped Ringel with a fleet and some divisions, but Ringel swore this would be just a hiatus. Even if German divisions were badly tired from previous battles, the same was for the British, and few were the divisions that could afford to counter-attack. Therefore, it was unlikely that any attempt at breaking the encirclement would be performed by the British; neither could Ringel attack against such odds, however. Therefore, the only hope to break this apparent stalemate the fastest way possible relied on the two U-boote flotillas.0900 December 1st 1944
The skies above Anzio
Meanwhile, Luftwaffe bombers resumed their usual bombing missions and identified the reason of such a sudden defeat in Anzio, after days of stalemate.
Three perfectly equipped British divisions were responsible of stopping the tired Germans in Anzio. This explained everything, but also explained that they could not come from Perugia, but rather from Rome; this also meant that Rome only possessed those very same tired British troops that had previously retreated from Perugia.1200 December 1st 1944
A radio message informed Ringel that his attempt was going to be a successful one.
Rear Admiral Bonte had spotted the Allied fleet - or better, it was them who spotted him, and his task was now to survive against a hell made of steel flying USN flags. It was really good news for Ringel indeed, and he decided to wait for the following day before renewing the attack on Anzio - and start another one on the Eternal City.0700 December 2nd 1944
Minutes before the imminent attack, Luftwaffe bombers swarmed once again over the skies of Italy, this time over the city of Rome. Its defense consisted of three well-equipped divisions, probably the last ones in British possession, and three badly mauled divisions.
While it was a similar force that stopped Ringel at Anzio, this time the British could not count on the presence of heavy shore bombardment. Thus the attack order was issued, and the result was indeed amazing.
The British did not want to put up a fight: as soon as the first bullets had been thrown, the British left the city en masse towards Anzio, which was being attacked too.
"Lieutenant, were those divisions stationing in Rome French?"
"Negative sir, why?"
"Nothing, just asking."
In the very same minutes the British decided to abandon Rome, Ringel started attacking Anzio again against twenty-three British divisions, three of them were well equipped, and the rest came from Perugia. Six were retreating from Rome, so Ringel hoped to pocket twenty-nine divisions. Now that the British had been temporarily deprived of their formidable fleet support, even the extremely tired German troops were breaching the last resistance from the British.
Once again, they surprisingly decided to fall back towards soon-to-be-occupied Rome, after just eight hours of fight. This led to an interesting situation: German troops marching in both Anzio and Rome, British troops retreating to both Anzio and Rome. Further combats would follow, and the risk of an impending Dunkerque was always looming.