The Pittsburgh Press (August 4, 1943)
Axis lines ripped apart, collapse in Sicily near
Yanks seize another city, drive within 55 miles of Messina
By the United Press
Two major Allied victories appeared to be ripe for the plucking today – the smashing of diehard Axis resistance in Sicily and the capture of the key German defense bastion of Orel on the Russian front.
Land, sea and air assaults in Sicily were rolling back the Etna Line and ripping apart the defenses of the Messina apex of the big Italian island. Military sources believed the end of the campaign was near, and said it would probably be as sudden as the Axis collapse in Tunisia.
Russia reported that a German army, estimated at 250,000, was in general retreat from the Orel salient, and a gloom-laden Nazi communiqué told of powerful Red Army attacks all along the southern front. It barely mentioned Orel, but clearly intimated that more bad news was brewing on the Eastern Front.
By Virgil Pinkley, United Press staff writer
Allied troops push ahead in Sicily, with Americans capturing Caronia, near San Stefano on the north coast, and driving on westward towards Messina, only 60 air miles away, and British Imperial forces now occupying Agira and Catenanuova on the Mt. Etna front. There were indications the Axis might seek to make a stand on a line from San Agata on the north coast to Cesarò, 16 miles to the south. Allied warships were pounding enemy attempts to reinforce their lines.
Allied HQ, North Africa –
A terrific Allied land, air and sea bombardment was levelled today against the receding Axis defenses on the northeastern tip of Sicily as American doughboys captured Caronia on the northern coast and drove six miles beyond it to within 55 miles of Messina.
U.S. and British warships up to cruisers shelled enemy reinforcements and supplies moving up to the front along the northern and eastern coasts, while heavy concentrations of land artillery hammered at German and Italian defense positions. Allied planes kept up unrelenting attacks on the whole Axis-held area.
British forces on the central front have smashed a German tank thrust and resumed their advance, it was announced. British, U.S. and Canadian troops were driving hard through the mountains toward the foot of Mt. Etna, threatening to dissolve the enemy’s defense line around the volcano.
Naples bombed again
Meanwhile, British Wellington bombers subjected Naples, Italy’s biggest port, to its third raid in 36 hours Monday night to give added weight to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning that Italy’s failure to capitulate would bring death and destruction to its cities.
Ground forces made “very satisfactory progress” yesterday, Gen. Eisenhower’s communiqué reported and front dispatches said that fighting along the British-Canadian front south and southwest of Mt. Etna was so intense that the Germans for the first time have abandoned their dead in the battlefield as they fell back under relentless pressure.
A Berlin communiqué today said that German and Italian troops in Sicily were “outnumbered several times,” and their “big defensive successes” were scored in difficult terrain and unfavorable weather.
Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr’s U.S. 7th Army rolled up advances yesterday of up to six miles through hills and valleys, driving before them German and Italian forces believed preparing for a major stand along a line stretching from San Agata on the north coast, 11 miles east of Caronia, to Cesarò, 16 miles to the south.
The advances engulfed both Caronia Marina on the coast and Caronia itself, one mile inland.
A German communiqué broadcast by Berlin radio said that U.S. divisions attempted “again and again” to break through the Axis central front, but were thrown back each time with heavy losses.
U.S. cruisers and destroyers aided the American coastal drive by bombarding enemy defenses and roads, over which reinforcements and supplies were being rushed to the front.
Catenanuova, 21 miles west of Catania, fell to the Canadians yesterday after being bypassed by a column that captured Centuripe, five miles to the northeast, 24 hours earlier.
Nazi tanks smashed
German tanks from the Hermann Göring Division lashed out in a counterattack a few miles southeast of Catenanuova, but were repulsed by British infantry who destroyed three of them, including one 60-ton “Tiger.”
Agira, 11 miles northwest of Catenanuova, changed hands several times in dingdong fighting yesterday before the Canadians finally consolidated their positions in the city and pushed on well beyond it.
The communiqué said:
Bitter fighting has taken place in this sector, and the enemy has had heavy casualties inflicted on it.
Patrol activity increased on the plain just south of Catania as the opposing forces tested each other’s defenses while further inland other British forces pushed forward in some cases several miles.
Navy is big help in Sicily drive
Allied HQ, North Africa –
The complete coordination between the three breaches of the Allied services which has especially marked the Sicilian campaign, has been well illustrated by naval activities since start of the big offensive here on Sunday.
Along the northern coast of Sicily, as the Americans steadily fight their way eastward, the U.S. Navy has been bombarding the coastal road along which the enemy is retreating. Our fleet’s guns are shelling the enemy’s positions constantly.
Up in the triangle still held by the Axis, the enemy’s supply position is being made more difficult by PT-boat operations between Sicily and the mainland.
On Saturday night, before our offensive started, British light coastal craft met Axis E-boats off Cape Armi – at the toe of Italy – and engaged them in brisk battle. At least one E-boat was damaged before low visibility caused our boats to break off contact.
The pattern of air bombing continued yesterday as on Monday, with medium and light bombers making return visits to Adrano, Nazi communications center, to enemy positions around the town, and to roads leading to it.