The struggle at Anzio began to stabilise as the lines between the opposing armies became more established. Not only were those caught on the beachhead exposed to intermittent shelling, they also faced a determined propaganda campaign. The German ‘Radio Roma’ played popular music intermingled with subversive messages.
BBC War Correspondent Wynford Vaughan Thomas collected the propaganda leaflets that burst over the beachhead from shellfire and littered the area:
In the first days of the German counter-attack the pamphlets were obviously ‘rush jobs’, hurriedly printed to put over the ‘facts’ about the battle, of which the front-line soldier was presumed to be ignorant. One of the earliest ones said:
British soldiers, you are fighting against an opponent you know very well. You are not facing Italians but Germans. As gallant soldiers you have had the occasion to become acquainted with the courage and the grit of your German opponent.
You know how well the Germans stood up in battle, although they were always inferior to you in number. But you know well enough what it means when the Germans are numerically equal to your own forces or even superior.
In the face of insurmountable odds a thousand men of crack British Guards surrendered.
If they were forced to do so, then it is not dishonourable for you to lay down arms in case you are facing nothing but certain death.
The other side of the pamphlet harped away at the theme of inefficient American leadership:
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE PUT UNDER AMERICAN COMMAND YOUR FORCES ARE FINDING OUT AT NETTUNO.
The ‘accomplishments’ of this American leadership are indeed typically American: operations were insufficiently prepared and led to the most dreadful reverses for your troops. Your picked units were carelessly thrown into the battle. CERTAINLY, THE YANKS PLAYED YOU A NASTY TURN.
Another early pamphlet adopted a more threatening tone. It warned the British soldiers that unless they laid down their arms they would be swept into the sea.
What happened to the British 1st Division on February 4th was only a prelude. The same fate may be in store for you.
Americans and British were included in the same warning on a few occasions.
Remember the Hell of Dunkirk? How great were the hopes of the British expeditionary force and how dreadful was the end! Think of the terrible hours when the German broom swept your fellow soldiers, tanks, guns and lorries off the continent. How many ships were sunk then and how many brave Tommies kicked the bucket! AND NOW THE HELL OF NETTUNO
Boy! What a hot reception the American and British forces got this time again! The beaches at Nettuno are covered in the Dunkirk fashion with debris and dead American and British soldiers crushed by the German military machine.
Overleaf was a crude drawing of a dead soldier, clutching a broken flag and floating in the water amongst sinking ships.