By Mrs. Walter Ferguson
Italian airfields battered by Liberators
By Donald Coe, United Press staff writer
And U.S. flier adds, may be Bolshevik at war’s end
Mickey Devine also wants summons for assault and battery issued against Army major
By Ernie Pyle
Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
Every day at the front produces its quota of freak wounds and hairbreadth escapes. Almost any wounded man has missed death by a matter of inches. Sometimes a bullet can go clear through a man and not hurt him much, while at other times an infinitesimal fragment of a shell can pick out one tiny vital spot and kill him.
Bullets and fragments do crazy things. Our surgeons picked out more than 200 pieces of shrapnel from one fellow. There was hardly a square inch of him, from head to toe, that wasn’t touched. Yet none of them made a vital hit, and the soldier will live.
I remember one soldier who had a hole in the front of his leg just below the hip. It was about the size of a half dollar. It didn’t look bad at all, yet beneath that little wound the leg bone was shattered and arteries were severed, and the surgeons were working hard to get the arteries closed so he wouldn’t bleed to death.
Another fellow I saw had caught a small shell fragment in the wrist. It had entered at a shallow angle and gone clear up the arm to the elbow, and remained buried there. The skin wasn’t even broken at the elbow, but right over the spot where the fragment stopped was a blister as big as a pigeon egg. The blister had been generated by the terrific heat of that tiny piece of metal.
Welding by artillery
That’s one thing most people don’t realize – that fragments from bursting shells are white-hot. I remember an impressive example that happened on our ship during an air raid just before we left Africa. A heavy bomb hit about 100 yards away. Among the many fragments that hit our ship was one about half as big as a tennis ball. It first struck a bronze water pipe along the ship’s rail, then tore through a steel bulkhead into the radio room, hit a sailor in the shoulder, turned at right angles and went through a radio set, and finally went through one more steel bulkhead before it stopped.
When we picked up the fragment, it had a quarter-inch plate of solid bronze welded on one side of it. The fragment’s intense heat had simply welded on a sheet of bronze as it went through the water pipe at the rail. It was welded as solidly as though it had been done on purpose.
They’ve got the medicine
Here in northern Sicily, it is all hill fighting, as it was in northern Tunisia, only worse. Getting the wounded out is often a problem. We had one wounded man who had been lowered by ropes over a sheer 75-foot cliff. He said he wasn’t so concerned about his wounds, but the thought that maybe the rope would break gave him the worst scare of his life.
German medical facilities are apparently as good as ours. Medical supply dumps that we captured show that they are well-supplied with the finest stuff.
We know that their system for collecting their wounded and burying their dead is good, for it is only after the most sudden and rapid advances on our part that we find their dead unburied.
We have captured several big Italian medical dumps. Our doctors found our surgical instruments far superior to the Italians’, but both the Germans and the Italians have bandages and compresses that are better than ours.
Plebes are put through a heartbreaking grind but they can take it!
By Jess Stearn, Scripps-Howard staff writer
Company sets up reserve for ‘general post-war rehabilitation’
U.S. State Department (August 17, 1943)
|United States||United Kingdom|
|Admiral Leahy||General Brooke|
|General Marshall||Admiral of the Fleet Pound|
|Admiral King||Air Chief Marshal Portal|
|General Arnold||Field Marshal Dill|
|Lieutenant General Somervell||Vice Admiral Mountbatten|
|Vice Admiral Willson||Lieutenant General Ismay|
|Rear Admiral Cooke||General Riddell-Webster|
|Rear Admiral Badger||Admiral Noble|
|Major General Fairchild||Lieutenant General Macready|
|Brigadier General Kuter||Air Marshal Welsh|
|Brigadier General Wedemeyer||Captain Lambe|
|Commander Freseman||Brigadier Porter|
|Commander Long||Air Commodore Elliot|
|Brigadier General Deane||Brigadier Redman|
|Captain Royal||Commander Coleridge|
August 17, 1943, 2:30 p.m. Secret
The Combined Chiefs of Staff discussed in closed session the strategic concept for the defeat of the Axis in Europe.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Accepted the extract from CCS 303 which is set forth in CCS 303/2 as a brief and concise statement of their agreed strategic concept for operations in the European Theater in 1943-44.
b. Directed the Secretariat to put CCS 303/2 in proper form with a view to its being submitted to the President and Prime Minister. (Subsequently circulated as CCS 303/3.)
The Combined Chiefs of Staff considered a draft memorandum7 for the President and Prime Minister prepared by the British Chiefs of Staff.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Approved with certain amendments, for submission to the President and Prime Minister, a paper setting out the action suggested on the Italian peace feelers. (Subsequently published as CCS 311.)
b. Directed that a signal should be sent at once to General Eisenhower warning him to hold two staff officers in readiness to proceed to Lisbon. (Message sent as FAN 195.)
The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Accepted the conclusions of the 109th Meeting. The detailed record of the meeting was also accepted, subject to minor amendments.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff had before them a memorandum by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff outlining their views on operations to be undertaken in 1943-1944 in the Pacific and Far East.
Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff had read this memorandum with great interest. There were certain points he would like to raise. Was not the assumption that Russia would remain at peace unnecessarily pessimistic? Was an actual invasion of Japan necessarily essential; might we not obtain the collapse of Japan without invasion?
In a discussion on these two subjects, it was pointed out that while Russia had everything to gain by attacking Japan, it might well be that she would wait to do so until the defeat of Japan had been almost completely accomplished.
It was also generally agreed that while blockade and air bombardment might produce the collapse of Japan without invasion, it was necessary to plan on the assumption that the country itself would have to be attacked by land forces.
In reply to a question by Sir Alan Brooke as to the forces required to obtain the objectives outlined in CCS 301, Admiral Cooke explained that an estimate of the forces required for the various operations had been prepared and was being handed over to the British Planning Staff.
Sir Alan Brooke suggested that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should return to a further consideration of CCS 301 and to the plan for operations from India after a review of the report by the Combined Planning Staff on the strategic concept for the defeat of Japan. Each set of operations could then be considered in relation to the whole war against Japan and to the forces required.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff were informed that it was hoped that the report by the Combined Staff Planners would be ready on the following day.
Admiral Leahy pointed out that it was essential for the Combined Chiefs of Staff to take decisions with regard to the specific operations in 1943-1944 during the Conference.
In a further discussion of CCS 301, Sir Alan Brooke asked whether it was considered essential, in order to retain the initiative, that both the advance into the Mandated Islands and New Guinea should be pressed forward with vigor. Might this not prove too costly, and a better course be to restrict operations in New Guinea, thus possibly releasing resources for Operation OVERLORD?
Admiral King said that he considered that if forces were so released, they should be concentrated on the island thrust in the Pacific. However, he believed that both advances were complementary and equally essential. The western advance through Truk, could, after the capture of that base, be swung either north or continue to the westward. Thus the two thrusts would either converge on the Philippines, or one would be directed to the Marianas.
General Marshall pointed out that the troops to be employed in New Guinea were either already there or in transit. Thus, no saving could be made, and the only decision with regard to the troops was whether or not we could afford to take the heavy casualties which might be incurred. Supplies in the New Guinea area, owing to Japanese air action, were maintained almost entirely by 150-foot vessels, and thus no saving in cargo ships or combat loaders would be effected by limiting these operations. Landing craft might be saved, but not tank landing craft. With regard to air, though a small saving might be achieved, all the heavy bombers required for the operations had already been deployed in the area.
Sir Charles Portal said that it was not considered that operations in New Guinea should be discontinued, but rather that they should be limited to a holding role. The Island advance would cut across the Japanese lines of approach to the south.
Admiral Kino explained that the landing craft used in the Kiska operation were required for operations in the Central Pacific. For this reason, it had been essential not to delay the operations in the Aleutians.
General Marshall explained that certain landing craft were still being sent to the Southwest Pacific to meet attrition. He believed that the New Guinea operations were causing very important losses to the Japanese, particularly in aircraft.
Sir Alan Brooke suggested that CCS 301 should include a reference to the air route through Burma into China.
It was generally agreed that a reference to the air route should be inserted, since it was the only existing line of supply into China and must also be considered in relation to the limited capacity of the lines of communication through Assam.
With regard to the value of Chinese troops, General Marshall said that there were some 60 or 70 thousand at Ramgarh and about 200,000 in Yunnan. He believed that they might have great value in the land operations in China provided that they were properly trained and led. He did not visualize a vast Chinese Army being built up.
These troops would have to be led by U.S. officers even though the nominal control of the army, for “face saving” purposes, would be in Chinese hands. They must also be provided with adequate air and artillery support. He believed that if these conditions were met, and if their first operations were crowned with success, they would be of considerable value.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Directed the Secretariat to draft a subparagraph for inclusion in paragraph 8 of CCS 301 on the subject of the development of the air route into China.
b. Agreed to defer action on this paper until after consideration of the long-term plan for the defeat of Japan.
Sir Alan Brooke said that though the recent floods might force us to change our strategy in this area, he would suggest that the discussion should start on the basis of our present plans. The British Chiefs of Staff had been examining the possibilities of the use of long-range penetration groups which, operating well ahead of the main advances, would by long outflanking movements cut the enemy’s supply lines. They themselves would be largely maintained by air. It was proposed to expand the number of these units now available to some six brigade groups. He suggested that the Combined Chiefs of Staff might ask Brigadier Wingate to explain his recent operation with a long-range penetration group and to set out his views on their future employment. After this the Combined Chiefs of Staff would wish to hear the report of General Somervell and General Riddell-Webster on the repercussions on planned operations of the recent floods.
Brigadier Wingate explained the tactical employment of long-range penetration groups and the reason for their introduction. He then outlined the course of the operations of the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade and put forward his views with regard to the future employment of long-range penetration groups in conjunction with main advances aimed at the recapture of Northern Burma.
In summing up, Brigadier Wingate pointed out that there were two main features in the employment of these groups; firstly, their whole object must be to prepare the way for the follow-up of the main advance and their employment, based on the object of dislocating enemy communications, must fit into the main plan; secondly, plans for the use of these groups must be elastic and open to alteration in the light of enemy reactions.
Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff had decided to form six long-range brigade groups and to this end a comb-out of suitable personnel from the Indian Army would be undertaken. One of the difficulties was the lack of trained officers who had served with native troops and could speak their language. The operations outlined by Brigadier Wingate would enable us to seize sufficient of North Burma to open a road to China. These operations must continue until the break of the monsoon in order to avoid a Japanese reaction before the rains started. It was possible that in the second phase, long-range penetration groups might be used, operating from the coast through to the Mandalay-Rangoon line of communication. He suggested that on the following day General Somervell and General Riddell-Webster’s report on the effect of the flood should be studied, together with operations against Akyab or Sumatra, which latter might prove necessary were it found that the floods would seriously hamper operations in Burma.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Agreed to defer action until after consideration of the long-term plan for the defeat of Japan.
Québec, 17 August 1943. Secret CCS 303/3
The Combined Chiefs of Staff have approved the following strategic concept of operations for the defeat of the Axis power in Europe, 1943-44.
The progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system, the disruption of vital elements of lines of communication, and the material reduction of German air combat strength by the successful prosecution of the Combined Bomber Offensive is a prerequisite to OVERLORD (barring an independent and complete Russian victory before OVERLORD can be mounted). This operation must therefore continue to have highest strategic priority.
a. This operation will be the primary U.S.-British ground and air effort against the Axis in Europe. (Target date 1 May 1944) After securing adequate Channel ports, exploitation will be directed toward securing areas that will facilitate both ground and air operations against the enemy. Following the establishment of strong Allied forces in France, operations designed to strike at the heart of Germany and to destroy her military forces will be undertaken.
b. Balanced ground and air force buildup for OVERLORD, and continuous planning for and maintenance of those forces available in the United Kingdom in readiness to take advantage of any situation permitting an opportunistic cross-Channel move into France.
c. As between operation OVERLORD and operations in the Mediterranean, where there is a shortage of resources, available resources will be distributed and employed with the main object of insuring the success of OVERLORD. Operations in the Mediterranean Theater will be carried out with the forces allotted at TRIDENT except insofar as these may be varied by decision of the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
a. First Phase. The elimination of Italy as a belligerent and establishment of air bases in the Rome area, and, if feasible, farther north.
b. Second Phase. Seizure of Sardinia and Corsica.
c. Third Phase. The maintenance of unremitting pressure on German forces in Northern Italy, and the creation of the conditions required for OVERLORD and of a situation favorable for the eventual entry of our forces, including the bulk of the reequipped French Army and Air Force into Southern France.
Offensive operations against Southern France (to include the use of trained and equipped French forces), should be undertaken to establish a lodgment in the Toulon-Marseilles area and exploit northward in order to create a diversion in connection with OVERLORD.
a. Strategic bombing operations from Italian and Central Mediterranean bases, complementing POINTBLANK.
b. Support for ground operations with land and carrier-based air forces.
c. Development of an air ferry route through the Azores.
d. Air supply of Balkan guerrillas.
a. Intensified anti-submarine warfare, including operations from the Azores.
b. Security of our sea communications.
c. Continued disruption of Axis sea communications.
d. Support of amphibious operations.
Operations in the Balkan area will be limited to supply of Balkan guerrillas by air and sea transport, arid to the bombing of Ploești and other strategic objectives from Italian bases.
Defensive garrison commitments (Appendix “A” to CCS 303) in the Mediterranean area will be reviewed from time to time, with a view to effecting economy of force. The security of our lines of communication through the Strait of Gibraltar will be assured by appropriate dispositions of our forces in Northwest Africa, so long as there remains even a remote possibility of the Germans invading the Iberian Peninsula.
J. R. DEANE
Québec, 17 August 1943. Secret Urgent
Reference FO telegrams from Madrid 1404 to 1407 repeated to you from London. Instructions as to how you are to deal with the Italian peace feelers are being concerted between the President and the Prime Minister. For Eisenhower FREEDOM Algiers, FAN 195, from the Combined Chiefs of Staff. Meanwhile you should hold 2 staff officers in readiness to proceed to Lisbon immediately on receipt of these instructions to meet General C and should make the necessary transportation arrangements with London for their entry into Portugal. General C has to leave Lisbon on the night of the 20th at latest.
Algiers, 17 August 1943. Secret Urgent
The following message is personal to General McNarney for Eyes Only from Eisenhower. I request that the following message be sent to the Combined Chiefs of Staff with the least possible delay.
I have seen messages number CONCRETE 231, 232, 233, and 234 from the Foreign Secretary to the Prime Minister. I have the following suggestions to offer.
1st, If the Combined Chiefs of Staff should direct me to send a staff officer to Lisbon, I believe he should go with the following general instructions:
- (a) To collect information and check it against that already in his possession.
- (b) To inform General C that the Allied force here make no promise in advance but that if the Italian army is really anxious to speed up the date when an Allied force lands in Italy, it should proceed at once with widespread sabotaging operations, particularly directed against all communications, airfields and public utilities useful to the Germans.
- (c) That the Italian Government and army have no recourse except to depend upon the decency and sense of justice of the Allied governments when once we have arrived in Italy.
My second suggestion is that if I am not directed to send a staff officer to Lisbon that the British Military Attaché at that place be directed to secure every possible item of information he can from General C and forward it to this headquarters by early cable.
If I am directed to send a staff officer to Lisbon, the individual will be Brigadier Strong of the British Army, head of my Intelligence Division. He will travel in civilian clothes with passport duly issued by the local British Consulate.
740.00119 EW/8–1743: Telegram
London, August 17, 1943. Most secret
Following telegram has been sent to Québec:
Manzini, Secretary of the Italian Legation in Lisbon, has passed the following information to us through most secret channels at the request of d’Ajeta, new Counsellor with whom he is collaborating on peace moves.
- Statements made by d’Ajeta to Sir R. Campbell on August 3 were modified by last-minute instructions from Guariglia and an essential part was completely omitted. For unknown personal reasons Guariglia is evidently favouring German game and is impeding the intentions of the Supreme Command and the King to surrender immediately. The Supreme Command desires to establish forthwith technical details of surrender and Allied occupation, without the knowledge of the Germans, in order to frustrate their reprisals. [Garble] it has full assent of the King, General Staff, the Pope and the Government except Guariglia. To achieve this end Supreme Command decided to send their fully authorized delegate, General Castellano, to Lisbon to meet a specially authorized British delegate. Castellano is pro-British and is described as the brains of the Italian General Staff and as the man who prepared the way whereby Badoglio took over the Government.
740.0011 European War 1939/30775: Telegram
Vatican City, August 17, 1943. 155.
I have received a first person note dated August 15 from Cardinal Secretary of State. This is Tittmann’s 155, August 17. My 153 [bis], August 13. Summary follows.
Note begins by reciting arguments already used by Holy See against bombing of Rome and states that unfortunately they went unheeded with result that there was painful surprise when the very nations that wished to spare Athens and Cairo from bombardment undertook to bombard Rome in whose favor certainly no less pressing reasons militate than those advanced for the other two cities. The first raid, note continues, caused very considerable damage to Basilica of San Lorenzo while second destroyed one church and damaged another; at this rate it will be difficult to avoid danger of most serious and irreparable destruction.
Note goes on to say that the newly formed Italian Government at instance of Holy See decided to declare and render Rome an open city and that to this end suitable negotiations were begun with Allied governments through agency of Holy See. Note states that although no reply yet received from British Government, American Under Secretary of State in a letter dated August 8 informed Apostolic Delegate Washington that matter was receiving most earnest consideration of the highest U.S. authorities and that in meantime he was authorized by President to make known that in conformity with the principles of international law and treaties nothing prevented Italian Government from proceeding unilaterally to declare Rome an open city. In view of the foregoing note states at this point:
You are in a position to judge whether repetitions of bombings of Eternal City are opportune while these negotiations are pending.
Note continues that if attempts are made to justify future bombings on grounds of so-called military exigencies it may be said in reply that considerations of military objectives (which in Rome would not seem to be of great importance) ought not to prevail over (he very serious superior reasons of religion, civilization and humanity and that repetition of deadly bombardments of Rome and of so many other Italian cities with even greater intensity is because of the exasperation it causes among the masses keeping peace away instead of shortening war and is rendering impossible understanding and collaboration among peoples which alone is the guarantee of common tranquility.
After lamenting fact that the Pope has not been spared pain of witnessing his Diocese and his children that are nearest to him so cruelly tried the note concludes:
As you well know last night the Italian Government, to which I felt it my duty to communicate the reply of the Under Secretary of the United States made public the fact that it declares Rome the center of Catholicism an open city and that ‘the necessary measures are being taken according to international law’. Since it appears that matters are now well advanced the Holy See would be grateful if further negotiations could take place with the greatest possible speed in order that the desired agreement on so serious a question may be reached as soon as possible. The Holy See does not doubt that in the meantime any sort of fresh bombardment of Rome will be avoided.
My British colleague has received a similar note from Cardinal Maglione and is telegraphing a summary thereof to London.
740.0011 European War 1939/30776: Telegram
Vatican City, August 17, 1943. U.S. urgent 156.
At 1 p.m., August 16, Italian Government made the following official declaration to the Holy See:
High Command has given orders to be carried out immediately to anti-aircraft batteries Rome not to react in case of air bombardments.
|United States||United Kingdom|
|President Roosevelt||Prime Minister Churchill|
Roosevelt and Churchill held discussions after dinner “until a late hour.”
Völkischer Beobachter (August 18, 1943)
Achsentruppen mit allem Kriegsgerät auf das Festland übergeführt
dnb. Aus dem Führer-Hauptquartier, 17. August –
Das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht gibt bekannt:
Seit fünf Wochen stehen auf Sizilien deutsche Truppen und Teile einiger italienischer Divisionen gegen eine vier- bis fünffache feindliche Überlegenheit in hartem, erbittertem Kampf. Durch den heldenhaften Widerstand unserer Truppen, die in schwierigstem Gelände und bei tropischer Hitze übermenschliches geleistet haben, wurde der Feind gezwungen, immer heue Verbände in den Kampf zu werfen, um seine großen Verluste an Menschen und Material aufzufüllen. Seit 14 Tagen ist die planmäßige Räumung der Insel im Gange.
Dem nachdrängenden Feind wurden in der Abwehr und durch wuchtige Gegenangriffe schwerste Verluste zugefügt. Alle Versuche des Gegners, durch rollende Luftangriffe gegen den Übersetzverkehr oder durch Vorstöße mit Seestreitkräften in die Messinastraße unsere Truppen auf Sizilien abzuschneiden, scheiterten. Feindliche Landungskräfte im Rücken unserer Front wurden vernichtet. Trotz stärkster feindlicher Luftüberlegenheit gelang es, die gewaltige Übersetzbewegung nach Kalabrien planmäßig durchzuführen, so daß bis 17. August sechs Uhr früh alle deutschen und italienischen Truppen einschließlich ihrer schweren Waffen, Panzer, Geschütze, Kraftfahrzeuge und des Geräts über die Straße von Messina auf das Festland überführt waren. Als einer der letzten verließ General der Panzertruppen Hube, der die Kämpfe auf Sizilien geleitet hatte, die Insel.
Diese ungeheure militärische und organisatorische Leistung wurde ermöglicht durch die Tapferkeit der Truppe, die zu Lande jeden Durchbruch verhinderte, durch den unermüdlichen heldenhaften Einsatz der Kriegsmarine, die nur mit Kleinfahrzeugen den Verkehr bewältigte und mit leichten Seestreitkräften in den Flanken schützte, und durch den starken Schirm, den die Luftwaffe mit Jägern und Flakartillerie über der Straße von Messina spannte. Führung und Truppe haben eine Leistung vollbracht, die in die Kriegsgeschichte ebenso eingehen wird wie eine siegreiche Angriffsschlacht.
dnb. Rom, 17. August –
Der italienische Wehrmachtbericht vom Dienstag lautet:
Die vor der Stadt Messina gelegenen Stellungen wurden am Montag dem Feind durch die italienischen und deutschen Nachhuten in bitteren Kämpfen streitig gemacht. Auf der Reede von Syrakus warfen unsere Sturzkampfbomber zwei Handelsschiffe in Brand. Ein großer Dampfer wurde durch ein Torpedoflugzeug in der Nähe der tunesischen Küste schwer getroffen.
Feindliche Maschinen unternahmen Angriffe auf Turin und in der Umgebung von Viterbo und Foggia. Die Feststellung der Zerstörungen und der Opfer ist noch im Gange. In der Gegend von Foggia wurden von deutschen Jägern 13 viermotorige feindliche Flugzeuge abgeschossen sowie zwei weitere von den Flakbatterien. Drei weitere Maschinen wurden in Turin durch die Flakartillerie und unsere Nachtjäger zerstört. Einzelaktionen, die von feindlichen Flugzeugen in den Provinzen Lecce, Salerno und Reggio Calabria unternommen wurden, verursachten nur wenige Menschenverluste und geringe Schäden.