The Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, is reported to have stepped down as head of the armed forces and the government.

King Victor Emmanuel has assumed control of the army and issued a statement saying his country would "through the valour of her troops and the determination of her civilian population, find, in the respect of her old institutions, the way of recovery".

Marshal Pietro Badoglio is the new prime minister. He said the war would go on and he urged the people to rally round the King. He also gave a warning that any attempt to disrupt public order would be severely dealt with.

The resignation of Mussolini, Adolf Hitler's junior partner, will be seen as a blow to the Axis coming hot on the heels of the Allies' invasion of Sicily.

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