Allied offensive requires tremendous effort in Mediterranean
By Hugh Baillie
Allied offensive requires tremendous effort in Mediterranean
By Hugh Baillie
By Ernie Pyle
Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
A few more sketches of men on our ship:
Dick Minogue: He has been in the Navy six years and intends to stay. He is a bosun’s mate first class, and may be a chief before long. He comes from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and aboard ship they call him “Minny.”
It is men like Minogue who form the backbone of the present-day Navy. He is young and intelligent, yet strong and salty enough for any job. He definitely has the sea about him, but it is modern sea. He wears his bosun’s pipe from a cord around his neck, and a white hat cocked way down over one eye. He says the worst moment he ever had in the Navy was while piping a British admiral over the side. Dick had a chew of tobacco in his mouth, and right in the middle of his refrain the whistle got full of tobacco juice and went gurgly.
Arch Fulton: He is an electrician’s mate second class, of 493 E 129th St., Cleveland, Ohio. Before the war, he was a lineman for the Cleveland Illuminating Company. He is married and has two children.
Fulton is 37 – much older than most of the crew. He is a Scotsman. He came to America 20 years ago. His parents are still living at Kilmarnock, Scotland. He has a brother who is a sergeant major in the British Army, and a sister who is a British WREN.
Arch has a short pompadour that slants forward, giving him the effect of standing with his back to the wind. He has a dry Scottish humor, and he takes the Navy in his stride. Back in Cleveland he used to read this column, so you can see he’s a smart man.
Three up, three down
We have 11 Negro boys aboard, all in the stewards’ department. They wait table in the officers’ mess, and run the wardroom pantry that keeps hot coffee going 24 hours a day. They have a separate compartment of their own for quarters, but otherwise they live just as the white sailors do.
They are all quiet, nice boys and a credit to the ship. Three of them are exceedingly tall and three exceedingly short. They all have music in their souls. Sometimes I have to laugh – when the wardroom radio happens to be playing a hot tune during meals, I’ve noticed them grinning to themselves and dancing ever so lightly as they go about their serving.
I haven’t room to give more than a couple of their names. One is George Edward Mallory, of Orange, Virginia. He is 32, and before the war worked as an unloader at a chain grocery store in Orange. He has been in the Navy for a year and has been operated on for appendicitis after arriving in the Mediterranean. He got seasick once but it doesn’t bother him anymore. He is tall, quiet, and serious. He had never waited tables before but he’s an expert now.
He’s little meek and dark
Another one is Fred Moore, who is the littlest, meekest and darkest one on ship. Fred has a tiny mustache that you can’t even see, and a perpetually startled look on his good-natured face. He is very quiet and shy.
His home is in 1910 Tenth Ave., South Birmingham, Alabama. He is just 21 and has been in the Navy only since March. He likes it fine, and thinks he may stay in after the war. Before joining up he did common labor at Army camps and fruit farms.
Fred has a gift. He is a wizard at baking delicate and beautiful pastries. He makes all the pastry desserts for the officers’ mess. He had never done any cooking before joining the Navy, except to fry a few hamburgers at a short-order joint. He can’t explain his knack for pastry baking. It’s just like somebody who can play the piano beautifully without ever taking lessons. The whole ship pays tribute to his little streak of genius.
Fred says he has never been seasick nor very homesick, but during some of our close shaves in action he says he sure was scared.
Ellin Brooke of Philadelphia directs recreation for Guadalcanal vets
By Sgt. Diggory Venn, USMC combat correspondent
Völkischer Beobachter (August 7, 1943)
dnb. Aus dem Führer-Hauptquartier, 6. August –
Das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht gibt bekannt:
Am Mius setzte der Feind den Versuch fort, das ihm in den Vortagen entrissene Gelände unter Einsatz von Panzern und zahlreichen Schlachtfliegern wiederzugewinnen. Er wurde wieder unter hohen Verlusten abgewiesen.
Am Donez scheiterten örtliche Angriffe unter hohen Verlusten der Sowjets an Menschen und Panzern.
Im Raum von Bjelgorod dauern die Kämpfe mit steigernder Heftigkeit an.
Auch südwestlich Orel setzte der Gegner die Versuche erfolglos fort, unsere Front zu durchbrechen. Bis auf einen örtlichen, ebenfalls abgeriegelten Einbruch wurden alle Angriffe in erbitterten Kämpfen abgeschlagen. Eine durchgestoßene feindliche Kampfgruppe wurde unter Abschuß zahlreicher Panzer vernichtet, die Reste zurückgeworfen.
Südlich des Ladogasees wiesen unsere Truppen ebenfalls starke Angriffe der Sowjets ab.
Die Luftwaffe griff mit starken Kampf- und Nahkampfgeschwadern in die Erdkämpfe ein und fügte dem Feind schwere Verluste an Menschen, Panzern, Geschützen und Fahrzeugen zu.
Am gestrigen Tage wurden an der Ostfront 209 Panzer und 84 Flugzeuge abgeschossen.
Seit Beginn der Großkämpfe im Osten wurden im Verlaufe eines Monats von Truppen des Heeres und der Waffen-SS 69.164 Gefangene eingebracht, 7.847 Panzer, 3.083 Geschütze und 1.620 Granatwerfer vernichtet oder erbeutet, von der Luftwaffe 3.731 Flugzeuge abgeschossen. Die blutigen Verluste der Bolschewisten sind außerordentlich hoch.
In den Abwehrkämpfen bei Orel in der Zeit vom 5. bis 27. Juli schoß allein das schwere Panzerjägerregiment 656 502 sowjetische Panzer ab und vernichtete mehr als 200 Pak und 100 Geschütze.
Auf Sizilien setzte der Feind im mittleren Abschnitt seine Durchbruchsversuche mit unverminderter Heftigkeit fort. In schweren, für den Feind besonders verlustreichen Kämpfen wurden alle Angriffe abgewiesen. Die Stadt Catania, schon seit Tagen nur mehr durch schwache deutsche Gefechtsvorposten gesichert, wurde, ohne daß der Feind nachdrängte, geräumt. Deutsche und italienische Kampfflugzeuge griffen von neuem die Häfen von Palermo und Augusta an und beschädigten dort vor Anker liegende Schiffe, darunter ein großes Handelsschiff.
Eine geringe Zahl feindlicher Flugzeuge warf in der vergangenen Nacht über Westdeutschland planlos einige Sprengbomben. An der holländischen Küste wurde ein Flugzeug zum Absturz gebracht.
Deutsche U-Boote versenkten in zähen Kämpfen gegen den feindlichen Nachschub aus stark gesicherten Geleitzügen und an Einzelfahrern sechs Schiffe mit 43.500 BRT. und beschädigten zwei weitere durch Torpedotreffer.
dnb. Rom, 6. August –
Der italienische Wehrmachtbericht vom Freitag lautet:
Am Mittelabschnitt der sizilianischen Front liefern die italienischen und deutschen Truppenverbände hartnäckige Verteidigungskämpfe. Die Stadt Catania, die seit drei Wochen von weit überlegenen Kräften angegriffen wird und täglich den heftigsten Luftbombardierungen und Beschießungen der Marineeinheiten ausgesetzt war, wurde evakuiert. Die Bevölkerung hat in beispielhafter Weise die Angriffe des Feindes und die harten Entbehrungen auf sich genommen, die durch die Umstände bedingt waren, und dabei eine stolze Haltung an den Tag gelegt.
Italienische und deutsche Kampfflugzeuge griffen von neuem die Häfen von Palermo und Augusta an. In den Hafen liegende Schiffe wurden getroffen und beschädigt. Fünf feindliche Flugzeuge wurden von Achsenjägern vernichtet.
In der Nacht zum 5. August sind Sturmboote der königlichen Marine, die auf einem unserer U-Boote befördert wurden, in den Hafen von Gibraltar eingedrungen und haben zwei „Liberty“-Schiffe mit je 7500 BRT. und einen 10.000-BRT.-Tanker versenkt. In der Nacht zum 8. Mai hatte das gleiche U-Boot eine ähnliche Aufgabe durchzuführen, bei der im Hafen von Gibraltar ebenfalls durch Sturmboote zwei britische Dampfer mit insgesamt 17.500 BRT. und ein nordamerikanischer Dampfer von 7500 BRT. versenkt wurden.
Die italienischen Sturmboote haben in diesem Krieg eine lange Reihe glänzender Waffentaten vollbracht, die dem Feind schwere Verluste zugefügt haben. Die hohe Schlagkraft dieser bewährten Angriffswaffe hat sich jetzt bei zweimaligem Eindringen in den stark gesicherten Hafen von Gibraltar besonders ruhmvoll bekundet. 50.000 BRT. wertvollen Schiffsraums sind dabei vernichtet worden. Italien und seine Verbündeten können stolz sein auf den ungebrochenen Kampfgeist und die heldenmütige Einsatzbereitschaft, die sich in diesen kühnen Handstreichen auf eines der stärksten Bollwerke Englands im Mittelmeer offenbaren. In London aber mag man darin eine Antwort auf die zynischen Worte Churchills finden, man müsse Italien „im eigenen Saft schmoren lassen.“ Die italienische Flotte hat durch den Angriff auf Gibraltar gezeigt, daß sie im Kampf um die Selbstbehauptung Italiens gegen den feindlichen Vernichtungswillen hinter den Kameraden des Heeres, die in schwerer Abwehr auf Sizilien stehen, und der Luftwaffe nicht zurücksteht.
Die nach ihrem mißglückten Angriff auf das Erdölgebiet von Ploesti auf türkischem Boden notgelandeten amerikanischen Flieger sind in Ankara interniert worden.
U.S. War Department (August 7, 1943)
Sicily East Coast.
The coast road near Taormina has again been successfully bombarded by British naval forces. In the same region the waters close inshore have been patrolled at night by the Navy. No enemy traffic has been encountered. Minesweepers are actively sat work clearing a channel into Catania.
Sicily North Coast.
It is learnt that on the night of August 3-4, U.S. destroyers on patrol south of the Lipari Islands sank one heavily-armed enemy lighter escorted by two E-boats. One of the E-boats exploded, the other escaped in the early hours of August 6. Five E-boats were driven off by U.S. destroyers on patrol off Palermo. Other destroyers and PT boat patrols which by night have been pushed as far east as the Gulf of Gioia, on the west coast of the toe of Italy, have met no enemy traffic.
Ustica, the island some 40 miles to the northward of Palermo, was occupied by a combined U.S. naval and military force on August 5. The garrison of about 100 Italian soldiers and sailors were made prisoners. There were found 216 Italian civil prisoners and a guard. All Germans left the island on July 1. The civil population of about 1,100 were destitute and without water while many were ill with malaria.
Heavy attacks on the enemy in northeastern Sicily were maintained throughout yesterday by the North African Air Forces. Heavy bombers attacked road communications at Messina and road junctions at Badjazzo and Gesso were attacked by medium bombers.
Fighter-bombers carried out numerous attacks on enemy shipping off the Sicilian coast and scored a number of hits.
It is now known that on August 5-5, 21 barges and four other small vessels were sunk as a result of attack by our fighter-bombers.
Roads and enemy transport in Sicily and southern Italy were attacked and a large number of vehicles destroyed.
Last night, our bombers attacked the docks and railway communications at Naples and continued their attacks on enemy troops and shipping in the Messina area.
During these operations, one enemy aircraft was destroyed.
One enemy aircraft was destroyed on the night of August 5-6.
Eight of our aircraft are missing.
The Pittsburgh Press (August 7, 1943)
Smashing blows drive Nazis back near Mt. Etna; 125,000 prisoners captured on island
By Virgil Pinkley, United Press staff writer
Another stronghold falls to the U.S. 7th Army in Sicily with the capture of Troina, dominating the last Axis escape corridor around Mt. Etna. Farther south, the British reached Belpasso, a seven-mile drive from Catania. Allied forces also threatened Adrano. Messina, enemy evacuation port, was pounded by Allied fliers.
Allied HQ, North Africa –
U.S. troops have captured the mountain-top stronghold of Troina in the fiercest battle of the Sicilian campaign and the main Axis defense line, shattered at key points, was believed falling back today under heavy bombing to the hills north of Mt. Etna.
A total of 125,000 prisoners have been taken by the Allies and Italian troops seemed to have been withdrawn completely from the frontlines. Germans defending Troina lost heavily when the U.S. 7th Army’s crack units – supported by a great artillery and dive-bomber attack – seized the city.
It was also announced that the Allies have occupied the tiny volcanic island of Ustica, 40 miles north of Palermo.
Battle to the end
The capture of Troina by the famous 1st Division was of tremendous importance in blasting the southern and western lines around Mt. Etna and the Germans fought to the last to hold this junction between the Hermann Göring Division and the 15th Panzer Division, which is defending threatened Adrano to the south.
The Germans were fighting to hold the road and railroad that runs along the western side of the volcanic peak while their defeated forces on the south or Catania front withdrew. Canadian and British forces are hammering forces way close to Adrano, which is astride the escape road. At last reports, they were five miles away.
But the capture of Troina permitted the Americans farther north to push on toward Bronte, which is on the same road, thus threatening to cut off the Germans at Adrano, which now appeared to be untenable for the enemy.
The new gains narrow the battlefront from 170 miles on July 20 to approximately 45 miles in length and it was believed the enemy was falling back for a new stand at Randazzo Pass, north of Mt. Etna.
Randazzo Pass is a strong position between Etna and the Nebrodi Mountain range, but Allied air fleets have been hammering this road and many other targets as far as Messina with relentless fury. Every type of plane was hurled into the assault on the cracking and retreating Axis forces.
Some 350 tons of bombs were dropped on Messina alone during round-the-clock attacks, while other planes raked the roads and junctions throughout the enemy sector with bombs and machine-gun bullets. Scores of flaming vehicles were left on the highways, while RAF Wellingtons ranged northward and attacked the harbor of Naples. They also hit 30 landing craft on the beaches near Messina, from which the Allies have been attempting to prevent evacuation of enemy personnel.
Lay heavy minefields
The retreating Germans have laid heavy minefields and again resorted to all types of boobytraps. Nine bridges were blown up in the path of Americans advancing against stubborn opposition on the north coast near Caronia, east of San Stefano.
Troina, atop a 3,600-foot peak, fell after a week-long siege marked by the fiercest fighting since Tunisia.
The peak was held by a German suicide force of 1,500 who held out against terrific artillery barrages and air raids by as many as 70 dive bombers at a time. Key positions on its approaches changed hands several times in a single day in the see-saw battle that preceded its fall.
The main British column driving northwestward from Catania reached Belpasso on the southern slopes of Mt. Etna, an advance of nearly seven miles.
Ustica, a tiny island which Premier Mussolini used as a place of banishment for political opponents, was occupied by combined U.S. naval and military forces Thursday and the garrison of 100 Italian soldiers and sailors made prisoner. All Germans left the island July 11.
Two hundred and sixteen Italian civil prisoners and a guard were found on the island, in addition to 1,100 civilians, who were destitute and without water. Many were ill with malaria.
Meanwhile, U.S. destroyers were credited with sinking one heavily-laden enemy lighter and one of two escorting torpedo boats south of Lipari Island off the Sicilian north coast Tuesday night.
Sink 21 barges
Allied fighter-bombers, joining in the offensive against Axis shipping in Sicilian waters, sank 21 barges and four other small vessels Thursday night, a communiqué said.
The communiqué reported that U.S. destroyers and motor torpedo boats have in the past few nights driven as far east as the Gulf of Gioia on the west coast of the Italian toe without meeting enemy traffic.
British naval forces concentrated their bombardments on the Sicilian east coast road near Taormina, 28 miles south of Messina, where previous shellings loosed landslides that completely blocked that vital highway.
Clear Catania channel
All enemy sea traffic has ceased in this area too, the communiqué said, and minesweepers have begun clearing a channel into Catania, the big east coast port which fell to the British Thursday.
Enemy transport was also attacked in southern Italy, while the Naples raiders last night concentrated on the docks and railway communications.
Two enemy planes were shot down during the 24-hours ended last night and eight Allied planes were lost.
British four-engined Liberator and Halifax heavy bombers from the Middle East Command bombed San Giovanni, Italian mainland ferry terminus across a narrow strait from Messina, last night.
Stalin may be invited to meet Roosevelt and Churchill
Washington (UP) –
The Soviet Union’s attitude on overall war strategy and on political reconstruction of Europe today appeared to be among the major factors which must be discussed soon by the United Nations.
London sources are predicting that President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill will be obliged to meet soon to discuss immediate war problems. Some Washington observers believe Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin would be invited to such a meeting. Whether he would accept is another matter.
There is growing belief here – now that Anglo-American armies are within striking distance of Germany’s “inner fortress” – that Soviet attitudes on prosecution of the war to unconditional surrender and on post-war problems must be reckoned with more carefully than heretofore.
Many developments have already raised points that perhaps could be handled more satisfactorily if Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Stalin could get together and thrash them out, man-to-man. Mr. Churchill has visited Moscow and Mr. Roosevelt has often expressed a desire to meet the Soviet Premier.
The German DNB Agency said today under a Stockholm date that Mr. Churchill was already on his way for a conference with Mr. Roosevelt. Diplomatic circles in Stockholm were said to believe that Mr. Stalin would join them. The Soviet Premier has been on a long tour of inspection on the Russian front and Foreign Minister Molotov is acting as chief of state during his absence.
One of the major jobs confronting Anglo-American leaders is the outlining of strategy – political as well as military – that will prevent future situations where their military forces may be endangered by political tumult, such as nearly happened in North Africa and which may be the case in Italy.
Officials here recognize that the political problems found in North Arica and in Italy will be magnified many times when Allied forces penetrate the Nazi strongholds of Europe itself, and finally reach Germany.
Despite Mr. Roosevelt’s reassurances, there is much uncertainty here about the Soviet Union’s aims. It goes far beyond the questions of post-war territorial claims, or whether the Red Army will push the Germans back to Berlin or stop when they have recovered the land the Russians claim in Eastern Europe.
President Roosevelt’s last word on Soviet relations was that there was complete accord between the Western Allies and the Russians. In his last fireside chat, he conceded that “the heaviest and most decisive” fighting in this war is going on in Russia, and asserted that the Soviet summer offensive was based on “plans which coordinate with the whole United Nations’ offensive strategy.”
A mere coincidence?
That latter statement could be interpreted to mean that it was a coincidence that the strategy in the East and that in the West coordinated, rather than that it was planned coordination.
Strength was given that interpretation yesterday by Pravda, the Communist Party organ, which sharply criticized the United States and Great Britain for failing to open a “second front.” The newspaper charged that the delay was a violation of pledges given Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov by Mr. Roosevelt a year ago.
Some quarters here believe that the Soviet Union will be satisfied on the second front issue only when the Allies invade Europe by crossing the English Channel into France proper.
Pravda hinted at that by citing the large number of German divisions still engaged on the Russian front compared with the handful that were in North Africa and, according to Pravda, only two German and several Italian divisions in Sicily.
The second front dispute at this time is the most spectacular, but as the military situation improves and final victory approaches, it is likely to be replaced by others.
Already, Soviet pronouncements have caused considerable speculation among smaller European nations. No U.S. officials has expressed public opinion on the matters involved, but other diplomats here have expressed concern over:
The recent creation within the Soviet Union of a “Free Germany” Committee.
Establishment of a Polish group in the Soviet Union which some observers believe might be set up as a Polish government-in-exile to compete with the Polish government in London, with which Moscow has severed diplomatic relations.
The possibility that the Soviet Union may make boundary demands which would be unreconcilable with plans of the other Allies and associated nations.
Most frequently mentioned as possible areas of disputes are the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, eastern Poland and the section known as Bessarabia in Romania.
Admiral says Yanks aim at battle of Japan
By Brydon Taves, United Press staff writer
New ruling called a ‘veneer’ of old directive; Wheeler threatens to renew demands
Reykjavík, Iceland –
A four-engined German Focke-Wulf bomber was intercepted by U.S. fighter planes and shot down off the north coast of Iceland Thursday, it was announced today. Seven of its crew were rescued by a British patrol vessel.
Yanks soften up Troina for ground attack
By C. R. Cunningham, United Press staff writer
Outside Troina, Sicily, Italy – (Aug. 4, 9 p.m., delayed)
Fifteen hundred death-bound Germans who have held off Yankee assaults on the mountain fortress of Troina for five days learned about hell today from waves of dive bombers and the greatest American artillery bombardment since El Guettar.
Prisoners told us the German officers in Troina threatened to shoot any man who retreated. The Yankee job today probably saved them some cartridges.
Close to 200 guns and 106 dive bombers were turned loose on Troina. Through tremendous clouds of smoke over the town aerial observers saw piles of masonry and huge chunks of earth tumbling.
Softened for attack
Not since Jebel Berda at El Guettar in Tunisia had the Americans had just a fight and not since then had such an artillery job been necessary. Col. Robert B. Cobb, of Ulm, Washington, a 28-year-old hero of Tunisia, testified to that.
But the planes and guns have set up the town for the final assault.
As I write this at the frontline, the Yanks are 2,500 yards from the northwest approaches to Troina. They were ready to move up after the bombing.
Guns follow planes
The artillery barrage was at its height at 5:20 p.m., five minutes after the last wave of 36 dive bombers hit the city and the supply roads over which the Germans could be seen rolling up ammunition trucks.
The guns boomed for a half-hour. One three salvoes of 155 howitzers set up an explosion in what must have been an ammunition or gasoline dump. At another point, the church steeple was toppled. The Germans had been using it for an artillery observation post.
Before the sun went down, U.S. soldiers were scrambling out of their foxholes on three sides of the city. Once a German mortar tormented them, hit two men and their broken bodies were flung into the air.
Regiment pinned down
Directly ahead of me, a regiment was pinned down by machine-gun fire a foot over the heads of the men concealed in shallow holes. On my right was a regiment that had already gone through 18 hours of constant bombardment.
They had been shoved off a hill directly south of the town last night but counterattacked and regained it at 11:30 a.m. today. Again, the Germans threw in a heavy assault which pushed it back down into a gully where they had to stay until the dive bombers went to work.
They’re visible in rear of truck, showing that those Americans gave their all in Sicily
By Hugh Baillie, United Press staff writer
Hugh Baillie, president of the United Press, wrote the following dispatch after a tour of the entire front in Sicily.
With the Allied armies in Sicily, Italy – (Aug. 4, delayed)
The town of Agira has fallen and Canadian troops, many of them stripped to the waist, are going through the streets collecting weapons.
Their lank brown torsos are gleaming with sweat and many of them are carrying Tommy guns ready for immediate use. They all looked well pleased. I saw one swinging along wearing an ordinary felt hat at a jaunty angle. He had on shorts and wore a bandana handkerchief on his neck. His Tommy gun seemed the outstanding portion of his costume.
The Fascist Party secretary sat glumly, refusing to answer questions. There were other officials wearing Fascist regalia, some cooperative, some not.
However, most folks in Agira were rapidly returning to their peaceful pursuits, reopening shops, chattering excitedly while troops, guns and supplies poured through the narrow, tortuous streets of the medieval city. The town’s chief magistrate went about his duties wearing the word “mayor” in crudely-lettered English on an arm brassard.
The Germans were then shelling a road beyond the town, causing an eight-mile traffic jam before their batteries were silenced. The grunt of their gun could be heard, then it seemed like a long wait before the missile arrived, whereupon a plume of coal-black smoke would shoot up.
Gives orders under tree
The commander of the Canadians, youngish and brisk, was seated under a tree receiving one officer after another who snappily saluted and reported, getting orders in rapid fire fashion from the general while studying maps and sipping tea.
Entering the American zone, I encountered “the Yanks,” as they are universally termed here. At a road intersection a tall, lean young American, iron-hatted, uniformed against the cold Sicilian nights, gives directions in a familiar Midwestern accent. The fact that every man must wear an iron hat as part of his fighting uniform gives the Americans a grim, tough, purposeful aspect. And they have had some of the toughest, grimmest fighting of this campaign.
Prisoners in trucks
Near the American front, I met streams of prisoners riding trucks to the rear. The Germans outnumbered the Italians in this particular batch. They did not seem downcast. In fact, the prisoners seemed to be enjoying the ride, reveling in the refreshing breeze caused by the trucks moving rapidly over the bumpy road. They stared around curiously and interestedly. They seemed either youngish or oldish, not in the prime 20s like most of the U.S. troops.
All of them were plenty grimy, covered with the gray Sicilian dust. However, that is not confined to prisoners. Everybody gets a coating of Sicilian chalk. You eat it, breath it, also carry it in your eyebrows and ears. It is inescapable, even for generals.
Another town, almost abandoned, seemed a sinister place. About a half-dozen residents remained, one aged woman munching her gums in a doorway apparently oblivious of the shells whooshing and exploding in the next block after which debris pattered, glass tinkled and the noise of the explosion reverberated and echoed in the deserted alley-like streets.
However, the church was still alive. The bells rang at noontime, sounding sweetly amidst the various ugly noises. I entered and found the church unattended, also undamaged except for a few broken windows from which glass littered the marble floor.
The cost of war
Outside through the city square passed jeeps carrying lightly-wounded young Americans, some with arms, legs or heads neatly bandaged in the field, now en route back to dressing stations.
They had crimson-stained, grim, preoccupied expressions. Our casualties are described as light, but nevertheless it gives you a strange feeling to see the soles of six pairs of army shores visible in the rear of a truck and comprehend that there are six more Americans who have given their lives to halt German aggression.
It somehow carries more wallop about what should be done to prevent Germany from repeating the crime after another few years than many speeches that will probably be made at the peace conference. The poignant shoe soles were scratched from scrambling over rocky hillsides. Well, they have made their war contribution, giving everything, including life itself.
Sicilian official describes how Germans blew up hotel, power plant before retreat
By Ned Russell, United Press staff writer
Catania, Sicily, Italy – (Aug. 5, delayed)
The Mayor of Catania, Marquis di San Giuliano, officially welcomed British military authorities to deprived the 50,000 inhabitants remaining in the city of food for 24 hours before the British troops arrived.
Sitting in a spacious office in the Carabinieri headquarters, beneath a huge photograph of King Victor Emmanuel, the dapper little mayor turned over his battle-scarred city to a brigadier, who commanded the first troops to sweep through Catania in pursuit of the fleeing Germans.
The mayor spoke bitterly of the departed Germans and vowed enthusiastically that “Fascism and the Germans are enemies of Sicily.”
Blow up hotel
His bitterness was accentuated when he told the British commander how the Nazi troops, on their last night in the city, blew up the Hotel Moderna, which had been the German headquarters, the city’s electricity works and the post office.
The Marquis said:
They used to be wonderfully smart and cheerful soldiers, but since Tunis fell, they bullied us constantly and stole food, clothing and household belongings and sold them in other cities and villages.
Only about 50,000 of Catania’s 244,000 inhabitants remained in the city before the Allied advance, the mayor said, and most of them had not eaten in the past 24 hours.
He appealed to the brigadier for permission to repair the electricity works in order to operate the flour mills and use big supplies of wheat stored near the city.
The Allied commander immediately complied and at the same time informed San Giuliano that the local authorities and police were given responsibility for halting looting and restoring order.
The mayor disclosed that nearly 2,000 civilians had been killed in Allied air raids since June 15, and that more than half of the 50,000 who remained in the city were forced to live constantly in basement air-raid shelters.
Loot mayor’s car
The Germans started to leave the Catania sector three days ago, San Giuliano said, after attempting by various means to block the Allied advance.
They looted my car once and stole it from me at the point of a machine-gin this morning to carry ammunition to a machine-gun post at a road junction north of the city. I told the first British officer I met about that machine-gun post and he fixed it.
The Germans tried to tell us they were fighting for Italy, and they couldn’t understand why we didn’t fight. But we know they are only fighting to keep you out of the European mainland as long as possible.