When people think of the second world war in Europe, their attention tends to naturally gravitate towards D-Day, Arnhem, or maybe the Eastern Front. However, there was also a sigificant campaign fought in Italy, from the Invasion of Sicily late in 1942 through to VE Day on 8 May 1945. Statistics show that almost as many Portsmouth men died fighting in Italy as did in France on and after D-Day.
The war in Italy found various Battalions of the Hampshire Regiment fighting. The 1st, 2nd, 2/4th, 1/4th and 5th Battalions were all there at some point or other. The 1st and 2nd in particular would probably have been made up of pre-war soldiers, regulars who had joined up before 1939. And although local recruiting did fall away during wartime, it does seem that more Portsmouth men fought and died in the Hampshire Regiment than in any other infantry unit.
The war in Italy was a long, bloody war fought in varying conditions, and without the public attention of the battles in France, Belgium and Holland. In some quarters men who fought in Italy were often referred to as ‘D-Day Dodgers’. Arguments even raged amongst the Allied command as to how effective the war in Italy was. For an excellent appraisal of the war in Italy, have a look at Rick Atkinson’s ‘The Day of Battle’.
So far I have found these Portsmouth men who died in Italy while serving with the Hampshire Regiment: Private Frank Vaughan, Southsea; Corporal Alfred Buckner, 25 and from Cosham; Private Herbert Edwards, 19 and from Cosham; Lieutenant Rupert Deal, 31 and from Paulsgrove; Private Frank Osman, 25 and from Southsea; Lance Corporal Albert Vear, 22 and from Southsea; Lance Corporal Harry Adams, 24; Private Alexander Kinkead, 25 and from Southsea; and Private Victor Devine, 28 and from Buckland.
They are buried in War Cemteries up and down Italy, at Caserta, Catania, Minturno, Naples, Montecchio and Coriano Ridge.