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Italy Declares War on France and Britain

In June 1940, Germany had effectively defeated France and ejected the British from Europe. Only then did Italy declare war on both countries. Lead by dictator Benito Mussolini, Italy went on to suffer defeats in Greece, East and North Africa.

The Americans used the Mafia, decimated by Mussolini, to help with the Allied invasion in 1943. Mussolini was imprisoned. Rescued by German Special Forces, he led resistance in the North. The South of Italy now switched sides and fought with the Allies.

At the beginning of 1944, the Allies tried to break through German and Italian lines and reach Rome. Believing the Monte Cassino Abbey was an enemy lookout, Allied bombers reduced it to rubble. But German paratroopers took up defensive positions in the debris and it took four assaults to break through. Injured in the battle was Lance Bombardier Spike Milligan. He was about to be promoted but was busted down to the ranks after being hospitalised with a leg wound and shell-shock.

In 1945, with defeat inevitable, Mussolini tried to escape. He was captured, executed, and his body, and that of his mistress, hung upside down to prove his demise.