Operation HUSKY (1943)

President Roosevelt’s announcement of the attack on Sicily at a state dinner in honor of Gen. Giraud
July 9, 1943

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (D-NY)

I have just had word of the first attack against the soft underbelly of Europe.

I am going to ask you not to say anything about it after you leave here, until midnight ends.

American and British forces, and some French observers, have attacked and landed in Sicily. The operations have just begun, and we won’t get definite news until later in the day, but the news will be coming in all the time from now on.

This is a good illustration of the fact of planning, not the desire for planning but the fact of planning, which we have had since the administration began over a year ago in Washington. With the commencing of the expedition in North Africa with complete cooperation between the British and ourselves, that was followed by complete cooperation with the French in North Africa. The result, after landing, was the Battle of Tunis; and we all know the number of prisoners we took. That was not all planning, that was cooperation. From that time on we have been working in complete harmony, which in effect was the invasion of Europe, which is under way tonight.

There are a great many objectives, and of course the major objective is the elimination of Germany – that goes without saying – the elimination of Germany out of the war. And as a result of this step which is in progress at this moment, we hope it is the beginning of the end. Last autumn, the Prime Minister of England called it “the end of the beginning.” I think you can almost say that this action tonight is the beginning of the end.

We are going to be ashore in a naval sense – air sense – military. Once there, we have the opportunity of going in different directions, and I want to tell Gen. Giraud that we haven’t forgotten France as one of the directions.

One of our prime aims, of course, is the restoration of the people of France, and the sovereignty of France. Even if a move is not directed at this moment to France itself, Gen. Giraud can rest assured that the ultimate objective – we will do it, and in the best way – is to liberate the people of France, not merely the southern part of France, just for a while, but the people of northern France – Paris.

And in this whole operation, I should say rightly that in the enormous planning we have had the complete cooperation of the French military and naval forces in North Africa. Gradually the opposition cooled, and the older regime is breaking down. We have seen what has happened, or is happening at the present moment in Martinique and Guadeloupe, and becoming worse. Well, that is a very major part toward the big objective. It is going to be worth working for. The Navy, the Army, the merchant ships of Martinique, I hope, will be working with us day in and day out toward the unity of all of our forces.

We haven’t won the war yet, but one of the happy things is that with the help of Gen. Giraud, in command of the French forces in North Africa, we have got a unified military situation. Well, that goes a long way; and that is why ever since my friend and I met at Casablanca last January, I became perfectly sure that under Gen. Giraud’s leadership the French military and naval forces in North Africa would more and more work with us, as we have done – not all we want – to help rearm those French forces, and to build up the French strength so that when the time comes, from a military point of view, when we get into France itself and throw the Germans out, there will be a French Army and French ships working with the British and ourselves. That is why it is a very great symbol that Gen. Giraud is here tonight – to come over here to talk to us about his military problems, toward the same objective that all the United Nations have gone – the freedom of France, and with it the unity of France.

So, I think everybody here is very happy to drink with me to the success, health, and happiness of Gen. Giraud.

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U.S. War Department (July 10, 1943)

Anglo-American-Canadian forces, under command of Gen. Eisenhower, began landing troops in Sicily early this morning (July 10, North African Time). Landings were preceded by an air attack. Naval forces escorted the assault forces and bombarded the coast defenses during the assault.

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Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s announcement to the people of Metropolitan France
July 10, 1943

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Anglo-Canadian Armed Forces have today launched an offensive against Sicily. It is the first stage in the liberation of the European continent. There will be others.

I call on the French people to remain calm, not to allow themselves to be deceived by the false rumors which the enemy might circulate. The Allied radio will keep you informed on military developments. I count on your sangfroid and on your sense of discipline. Do not be rash when the enemy is watching. Keep on listening and never heed rumors. Verify carefully the news you receive.

By remaining calm and by not exposing yourselves to reprisals through premature actions, you will be helping us effectively, when the hour of action strikes we will let you know. Till then, help us by following our instructions, that is to say: Keep calm, conserve your strength. We repeat: When the hour of action strikes, we will let you know.

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The New York Times (July 10, 1943)

ALLIED TROOPS START INVASION OF SICILY; NAVAL ESCORTS BOMBARD SHORE DEFENSES; LANDING PRECEDED BY SEVERE AIR ATTACK
Several landings; U.S., British and Canadian troops carry out the attack

A ‘liberation’ start; but Eisenhower urges French be calm till their hour strikes
By Drew Middleton

Island of Sicily is invaded by Allied forces

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Gen. Eisenhower announced that his troops had debarked at various points on Sicily early today. The landings were preceded by furious air assaults and warships accompanying the transports shelled the coastal defenses. Troops got ashore at the western tip of the island (cross), according to the Algiers radio. Strong forces of tanks were reported being used. The invasion had been preceded by heavy bombings of a variety of targets (bomb devices).

Allied HQ, North Africa –
Allied infantry landed at a number of places on the rocky Sicilian coast under a canopy of naval gunfire early this morning as the long-awaited invasion began.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Allied Commander-in-Chief, speaking to the people of Metropolitan France, called the attack “the first page in the liberation of the European continent,” and promised “there will be others.”

Allied headquarters announced the invasion in the following communiqué:

Allied forces under command of Gen. Eisenhower began landing operations on Sicily early this morning. The landings were preceded by Allied air attack. Allied naval forces escorted the assault forces and bombarded the coast defenses during the assault.

The Algiers radio, in an English-language broadcast to North America at 12:40 a.m. today, said that Allied forces had landed on the rocky western tip of Sicily, 260 miles from Rome. The broadcast was recorded by U.S. government monitors.

The broadcast said the landings were made in good weather, with German and Italian Air Forces providing “fierce” opposition. In anticipation of the assault, the island’s Italian-German defenders blew up harbor installations, the broadcast said.

‘Softened up’ by air attack

A heavy attack was carried out by planes of the Northwest African Air Force and the Middle East Air Command for nearly two weeks, reaching blitz proportions in the last week, when a round-the-clock assault blasted Axis air bases and communication centers with hundreds of tons of bombs. This came to a furious climax yesterday and last night.

The Allied naval force that escorted the invading troops pounded the formidable defenses of Sicily with salvos of shells while infantrymen, their bayonets twinkling in the starlight raced ashore from landing crafts. Many tanks were landed.

Sicily, largest island in the Mediterranean, has a population of just under 4,000,000 persons and has been strongly fortified, specially along the southern coast, since 1939. The coasts are heavily mined and beaches are covered by batteries of artillery that fire from hills.

French urged to be calm

Gen. Eisenhower’s announcement to the French people, which was sent by radio, asked them to remain calm and not to expose themselves to reprisals through “present rash actions.”

Many of the troops involved in the invasion of Sicily are veterans of the Tunisian campaign.

Military men here expect very heavy fighting. The Germans are known to have reinforced the island comparatively recently, and despite the prolonged aerial bombardment, strong fortifications remain to be overcome.

Many military objectives were hit by U.S. and British bombers during the two weeks’ attack on the island. The main weight of the bombing at night was directed against the airfields, particularly at the one at Gerbini, which was attacked day and night.

News of the landing was given out at a press conference at Allied Force Headquarters. The aerial bombardment was most intense in the closing stages of the operation and was coordinated with a naval attack on the outer defenses of the island. This continued while Allied fleets steamed to the shores. Thousands of explosives were poured on the pillboxes that form the islands first line of defense.

Washington gets word

Washington –
First intimation that an important military announcement was impending came shortly after 11 o’clock last night, when press relations officers of the War Department telephoned newspapermen to expect a statement at 11:55 p.m.

However, it was several minutes after midnight when a high-ranking officer of the Army handed out the brief communiqué from Gen. Eisenhower announcing the invasion of Sicily.

There was no indication at the War Department exactly where the landings took place, but a military spokesman said that there must have been landings at many places. Principal objectives in the campaign, of course, would be Palermo, with its splendid harbor on the north of the island, and Messina, across the narrow strait from Italy.

It was indicated that the landings were made under cover of a fierce air and naval bombardment.

There was no indication as to the size of the amphibious forces which dashed ashore on Sicily this morning. However, there was some information of the strength of the island’s defenders.

It was estimated that there were 11-13 enemy divisions there, of which 9-10 were Italian and 2-3 were German.

That the conquest of Sicily will be no simple task was seen in the size of these defending forces and in the rugged terrain of the island.

However, in the aerial pounding which has taken place since the successful conclusion of the Tunisian campaign, Sicily’s defenses have undoubtedly been considerably softened, particularly her airports.

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Bombs tore Sicily before invasion

Allied fliers ripped airfields, communications and plants in week-long blitz

Allied HQ, North Africa – (July 9, by wireless)
Swarms of Allied bombers maintained their round-the-clock pounding of Axis air bases in Sicily, and formations of fighter-bombers, including new A-36s which are also fitted as dive bombers, hammered transport, communications and industrial plants on the besieged island yesterday as the great Allied aerial offensive centered on Sicily for the sixth straight day.

The new A-36 fighter-bomber, which was developed from North American’s P-51 Mustang fighter, is the newest “plane of all work.” It is used as both a dive and glide bomber and takes part in strafing missions as well. The Mustang is supposed to be the world’s most effective fighter under 15,000 feet and one of the fastest fighters ever built. It is believed that the A-36 is faster than either the Warhawk or Hurricane, principal American and British fighter-bombers used in this theater until the introduction of the A-36. The new fighter-bomber is flown by American squadrons of the Northwest African Air Force.

The key airfields of Sicily at Gerbini, Comiso, Sciacca and Catania were attacked heavily yesterday after being pounded the night before. Hits were scored on a railroad junction and power station by fighter-bombers. A small schooner was sunk off the Sicilian coast by Lightnings that riddled it with cannon shells and machine-gun bullets.

Once again, Field Marshal Gen. Albert Kesselring, chief of the Axis air defenders in the area, held back his main fighter strength. Only about 60 enemy pursuit planes were sighted by wave after wave of British-American planes and of these, 10 were destroyed. Nine Allied planes are missing from the operations.

Since last Saturday, when both the Tactical and Strategic Air Forces of the Northwest African Air Force first concentrated on Sicily, 125 Axis planes have been destroyed. 44 Allied planes have been lost in that period.

A total of 328 enemy aircraft has been shot down in combat since the fall of Pantelleria against 99 Allied planes missing.

One by one, the principal enemy airfields were blanketed with bombs again yesterday, and the central airfield at Gerbini was pounded by strong formations of Liberators. Blast shelters there were “thoroughly covered” by bombs from Flying Fortresses and Mitchells that followed over the target.

About 20 Me 109s attacked the first Fortress formation over the target while the bombers were making their run. One enemy fighter was destroyed. Later in the day, other Fortress groups encountered no opposition. While Fortresses and Mitchells were concentrating on attacks on the main airfield, Marauders escorted by Lightnings assaulted satellite fields. Two of the fields were covered with bomb bursts, several direct hits were scored on aircraft in dispersal areas.

Heavy bombers of the U.S. Air Force based in the Middle East blasted Catania yesterday. The railroad station, factories, locomotive repair shops and warehouses were bombed. A number of explosions and many fires resulted.

A U.S. 9th Air Force communiqué said yesterday that crew members who bailed out of two Liberators of a force which attacked Catania, Sicily, Thursday, “were machine-gunned by enemy fighters,” an Associated Press dispatch from Cairo stated.

Wednesday, U.S. Middle East bombers made a very heavy attack on the Gerbini Air Base and its satellite fields.

Mitchells made their sixth raid in six days on the important Axis landing ground at Comiso, dropping a heavy load of bombs on dispersal areas. These same areas had been bombed earlier by Bostons and Baltimores of the South African Air Force. They started nine fires and scored a direct hit on one large building.

Other formations of Mitchells laid four patterns of bombs across Biscari Airfield and another on administration buildings. The wreckage of the administration building was burning fiercely when the bombers left and there was another large fire on the north side of the field.

Bostons of the Royal Air Force bombed Sciacca Wednesday night. Crews reported a huge orange-colored explosion and fires. Several hours later, Baltimores of the RAF and American Bostons escorted by Warhawks attacked the field and buildings. One explosion was observed in a dispersal area in an olive grove.

About 40 enemy fighters engaged the Warhawks. Three Axis planes were destroyed, one of them by Lt. R. B. Spear of Waterbury, Connecticut.

Wellingtons, the sturdy medium bombers that bear the night aerial offensive, raided the Comiso, Catania and Gerbini Airfields Wednesday night. Two explosions were seen at Gerbini, where administration buildings were set afire. Dispersal areas, runways and headquarters buildings in the southeast corner of the field at Comiso were damaged by bomb bursts.

Fundamentally a fighter, the new A-36 is able to defend itself effectively during bombing and strafing missions. It is equipped with bomb racks and dive brakes. In yesterday’s raids, it made extremely successful attacks on military targets in central Sicily.

The A-36s scored direct hits on a power station, bombed a railroad junction and strafed warehouses and buildings. Two trains were attacked near Licata and Bega Norro and both locomotives were blown up. The converted Mustangs also strafed a convoy of 20 troop-laden trucks, setting at least eight of them afire.

Other formations of A-36s “freelanced” over west-central Sicily. At Canicattì, a hail of small-arms fire from rooftops greeted U.S. planes. Lt. Harry Dorris of Harrisburg, Illinois, reported seeing his tracer bullets going through walls and windows of a radio station there.

Meanwhile, Lightnings sped over southern Italy at treetop height, strafing radio stations at Catania and Cap Assero. One small schooner was sunk and another 100 feet long was damaged 10 miles off Catania. Formations of Lightnings also attacked military targets on Capo Murro di Porco south of Syracuse.

The enemy’s retaliation to all these blows was limited to attempts by two Ju 88s to reach the North African coast. Neither of them made it.

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SICILY ‘SOFTENED’ BY AIR POUNDINGS
Concentrated Allied attacks began with capture of Pantelleria June 11

Axis planes knocked out; our raiders also hampered island’s supply by attacks on links with mainland

Sicily was singled out for intense mass bombings by the Allies after the end of the Tunisian campaign in May. Previously there had been destructive raids on the Italian island, but little concentrated bombing until Pantelleria had been taken. The capture of that Mediterranean isle was the signal for the all-out onslaught on Sicily.

This began on June 11, the very day that Pantelleria fell. The principal objectives were the main airfields and the tangled lines of communications that form a network through Sicily. One of the first cities to feel the might of the combined Allied Air Forces was Palermo.

On the first day, 400 U.S. heavy bombers unloaded their racks on a thoroughly frightened city. Many German planes rose to the defense, but the Allied fighters that accompanied the bombers just about cleared the skies.

The Comiso and Milo Airfields were next. Reports from the returning pilots indicated that many Axis planes had been destroyed on the ground and that the attacking force so outnumbered the defenders that it was practically no contest.

Malta joins in attack

At about the same time, other bombers were converging on Sicily from Northwest Africa and the Middle East. Royal Air Force squadrons from Malta applied pressure.

After incessant attacks on the numerous and well-fortified airfields including Boccadifalco in West Sicily and Borizzo, the attack was shifted to the harbor facilities on the Strait of Messina, where the train ferry from the Italian mainland has its terminus. The extent of the damage at this point was great.

Meanwhile, heavy bombers showered destruction on the numerous mountain strongholds that spot the island. In one day, Allied pilots reported that they had knocked 73 Axis planes out of the skies during these attacks.

While this was going on, reports from European sources said that thousands of civilians were being evacuated from the Sicilian towns, especially Messina.

Axis shipping blasted

Aside from the damage done to airfields and principal cities, one of the most damaging blows to the Axis was the day-by-day destruction of ships carrying reserves, armaments and supplies to the besieged island. Practically every port was subjected to intense bombings in the around-the-clock raids.

One of the main targets in recent raids was the natural harbor east of Palermo at Termini Imerese, where a chemical plant produces carbon sulfide. Large refineries and stores are located at this point.

All of Sicily’s ports were fortified strongly against possible invasion several years ago and were again strengthened after June 1940, when the first Allied bombings started after Italy entered the war.

Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s statement
July 10, 1943

The war for the liberation of the conquered and enslaved countries of Europe has just entered upon a new and vital phase.

Armed forces of Britain, the United States and Canada now are in the forefront of an attack which has, as its ultimate objective, the unconditional surrender of Italy and Germany.

All Canada will be justifiably proud to know that units of the Canadian Army are a part of the Allied force engaged in this attack.

A communiqué just received reports that early in the morning of July 10 – which has already dawned in Europe – Allied forces under the command of Gen. Eisenhower began landing operations in Sicily. The landings were preceded by Allied air attack. Allied naval forces escorted the assault forces and bombarded the coast defenses during the assault.

After Dunkerque, the Canadian Army became a living shield of defense against the threatened invasion of Britain. When the British Expeditionary Force which survived Dunkerque reached England’s shores, it had lost large numbers of men, and practically all its weapons, munitions and equipment. Almost the only land force in the United Kingdom, at that time, equipped to meet an invader, was the 1st Canadian Division.

The role of defenders of Britain was thrust in this way upon the Canadians. As successive divisions and reinforcements crossed the Atlantic from Canada, they were fitted into that role.

For the three years since, the Canadian Army in Britain has helped to maintain the security of the world’s citadel of freedom. This has been in accordance with the strategy planned by those who have had the supreme direction of the war.

The news we have received marks for Canada the beginning of a new phase of the war. The Canadian Army has had few opportunities for active combat with the enemy. This has not been through any fault of its own or because of any policy of the Canadian government.

From the outbreak of war, the government of Canada has adhered to the position that Canadian forces, in whole or in part, should be used where and when they can make the best contribution to the winning of the war.

When French resistance collapsed in June 1940, Canadian troops were in France on the point of entering the battle. I have mentioned the vital share the Canadian Army has had in the defense of Britain in the subsequent three years. During that long period, as months grew into years, Canada’s army in Britain grew in numbers, in efficiency, in mobility and in armament.

Its presence in Britain was the means of holding in Western Europe German forces many times its size.

Meanwhile, by a strange turn of the wheel of fortune in this global war, it fell to other units of Canada’s army, at the other side of the world, to see the first action in which Canadian soldiers took part. When, in overwhelming force, Japan struck her treacherous blow, Canadian troops at Hong Kong fought heroically against hopeless odds.

It was not until many months later, at Dieppe, that units of the army in Britain first went into action against the enemy. That gallant though costly operation was a preparation for further operations, some of which have already developed.

Both at Dieppe and at Hong Kong, the courage and the daring of Canadian soldiers reflected undying honor upon themselves and upon our country.

More recently, in order to gain experience in leadership under fire, officers and non-commissioned officers from our army in Britain went into battle with the British 1st Army in Tunisia. That experience was also a part of the preparation for the coming days.

In this new phase of the war for Canada, the Army will share with the Navy and the Air force the heat of combat and also inevitable sufferings and losses.

We can expect no easy victories and no quick successes. Rather must we be prepared for fierce fighting and for a long struggle.

We shall need firmness and steadiness in the individual citizen. We shall need calm and fortitude in the homes of Canada.

The soldiers of Canada have gone into battle exceptionally well-trained, superbly equipped, keen and full of spirit, ready for offensive warfare.

The fighting men of Canada – on land, at sea and in the air – are risking their lives to preserve everything that all of us hold dear. They are joined together, in the cause of freedom, in the service of their fellowmen, and by an abiding attachment to their homeland.

All Canada will share the pride of their loved ones in their courage and in their achievements.

Of one thing we may be assured! They will not fail us.

We must not fail them.

They will fight better for the assurance of the support of a united Canada. We, too, shall need all the strength that comes from a deep feeling of unity.

I repeat, we must not fail our fighting men. In the name of Canada, I give to them the assurance that Canada will not fail her fighting men.

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The New York Times (July 10, 1943)

PREMIER REJOICES AT CANADIAN ROLE
King declares that the nation will take pride in the part assigned to its troops

Highly mechanized army; Dominion forces in Sicily have nearly four years of training behind them

Ottawa, Canada (CP) –
Armed forces of Canada are “in the forefront of an attack which has as its ultimate objective the unconditional surrender of Italy and Germany,” Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King said in a statement confirming that Canadians are in the Allied force which attacked Sicily early this morning.

The Prime Minister said:

All Canada will be justifiably proud to know that units of the Canadian Army are a part of the Allied force engaged in this attack.

The soldiers of Canada have gone into battle exceptionally well-trained, superbly equipped, keen and full of spirit, ready for offensive warfare.

Mr. King, who had received the news somewhat in advance of the announcement to the public, had prepared his statement for use when the information was released generally.

The Prime Minister had sat through a day and evening session of the House of Commons and had just left for his home when the news was flashed.

Nearly four years of hard work, study, accumulation of weapons, training and patient waiting is behind the Canadian Army as it moves into Sicily with British and U.S. forces on one of the biggest ventures yet undertaken by the armed forces of the United Nations in the present war.

While the role of the Canadian Army in this venture may not be disclosed for some time, it is a self-sufficient, heavily mechanized and fully-trained force ready for any type of operation, capable of hitting hard and traveling fast.

While the circumstances of war favored the building of the Canadian Army to its present size and state of efficiency, its creation out of the youth of a practically demilitarized nation has been the full-time job of thousands of the keenest and boldest men of the country for upward of three years – from the army commander, Lt. Gen. A. G. L. McNaughton, down.

When war broke out in September 1939, Canada had a permanent army of 4,500 men with a non-permanent militia organized in units across the country and endowed with more willingness than military training or experience.

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I am confused… Is the prime Minister the king or the king of Canada’s elected prime minister?

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His name is William Lyon Mackenzie King. :slight_smile:

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AXIS KEPT GUESSING ON SICILY INVASION
Propagandists said ‘weary’ Allied troops were being treated to a ‘rest’

Enemy caught napping; foe had expected action, but did not succeed in picking the time and place

Nine hours before this morning’s announcement of the start of Anglo-American-Canadian operations against Sicily, the German DNB Agency said in a dispatch for European consumption that one reason for recent Allied troop movements in the Mediterranean area was a desire on the part of the Allied commanders to “rest the battle-weary troops” and remove them “beyond the range of German and Italian bombers,” the Office of War Information reported.

A survey of Axis press and radio propaganda this week by the OWI indicated that the Germans and Italians had been expecting some sort of action against Europe, but there was no indication that they expected the next blow to come against Sicily or that it would come so soon.

An hour and 20 minutes of silence after the announcement of the Anglo-American-Canadian landings on Sicily, Axis propagandists made their first mention of the operation, the Office of War Information reported this morning.

The Nazi Transocean Agency, operating for foreign consumption only, made two bare mentions of the story, in German-language telegraphic code transmissions.

Not yet having developed a “line,” the Transocean Agency, as is customary for it in such situations, carried the story straight, mentioning London and Washington announcements of the landings.

Up to 2 a.m. EWT, however, neither the U.S. foreign broadcast intelligence service nor the OWI monitoring representatives overseas had reported any Axis mention of the landings on any voice broadcast. There was no indication that either the Italian home audience or the German home audience had heard from their own broadcasts about the landings, although United Nations transmitters were telling the story to them.

One indication that the Italians did not expect so immediate a blow came in a German-language broadcast to Europe by the British radio at 6 o’clock last night. The broadcast quoted a report that Carlo Scorza, Secretary of the Fascist Party, had called Fascist officials from Sicily to Rome for “instructions.”

Ship movements and troop concentrations, easily established by aerial reconnaissance, gave the Axis a clue that something was afoot, but the Axis propagandists were unable to put their finger on just what was about to happen.

For propaganda purposes, the DNB dispatch went on to say that the troop movements were being carried out for the added reason of diminishing “the constant clashes between American and British troops.”

Following weeks of Nazi reports of Allied ship movements, the German Transocean Agency, in a wireless telegraphic-code dispatch for American consumption today, said that a big Allied convoy had passed through the Strait of Gibraltar Thursday without stopping at Gibraltar. The dispatch, however, did not hazard a guess as to the destination of the convoy.

Italian propagandists this week also anticipated some sort of action against Italy without knowing just where and when the move would come.

The Fascist scare propaganda line for domestic consumption was clearly delineated by Premier Benito Mussolini in a speech released in Italy last Monday, 11 days after Mussolini had delivered the speech before a meeting of the Fascist Party directorate in Rome. Mussolini told the Italian people that a defeat would relegate Italy to the position of “fourth or fifth place among the great powers.”

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Brooklyn Eagle (July 10, 1943)

Hard fighting rages in Sicily

300,000 give stiff battle as Allied army pours in

Invasion theater

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Allied forces were battling on Sicily today after crossing the Mediterranean bottleneck from North Africa. Landing forces traveled varying distances – 88 miles from Cape Bon and up to 150 miles from other Tunisian coast towns – and probably also came from Pantelleria, 70 miles away, and Malta, 80 miles from the nearest point in Sicily.

Allied HQ, North Africa (UP) –
The United Nations opened the battle of Europe today by sending powerful invasion forces swarming onto the beaches of Sicily, and the first eyewitness report said a bombardment by Allied warships had “started a chain of smoke and flames” stretching 10 miles into the island.

A mighty aerial umbrella aided the Allied invasion forces which were made up of U.S., British and Canadian troops. Meager and unofficial reports said the invasion aided by heavy naval support was “proceeding according to plan.”

Indications were that the Axis defenders were putting up a stiff fight.

Axis communiqués reported that the fighting was heavy on the southeastern coast of Sicily, and said decisive counterblows had been struck against the invaders. British sources suggested other and more important blows might be struck against the fortress of Europe soon.

The Allied amphibious operations under command of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower began after two weeks of mounting aerial onslaught that was continued by hundreds of airplanes up to yesterday, when U.S. Liberators from the Middle East smashed Comiso and Taormina, 30 miles south of Messina, causing heavy damage.

Fifteen Axis planes were shot down yesterday when Allied aircraft from the Northwest Africa Command encountered increased opposition, losing 10 airplanes.

A furious naval barrage that illuminated sections of the Sicilian coast opened the invasion operations in darkness as the Allied meet – including battleships – threaded through the enemy minefield and put assault troops ashore in tank-carrying barges. There was no immediate indication that Mussolini’s scattered and battered Italian fleet accepted the challenge to fight the invasion.

Designed to establish bridgeheads

The first phase of the attack on Sicily, regarded popularly as the opening move in establishment of a second front, was designed to establish bridgeheads, and strong Axis opposition was anticipated in the air and on the ground.

London reports describing the greatest Allied offensive of the war suggested that parachute and airborne troops were used by the Allies to crash through the strong Sicilian defenses, manned by an estimated 300,000 Italians and Germans. Radio Morocco reported the landings were “being consolidated” on the west coast of Sicily, but it was believed many landings had been made around the shores of the island, with the ports of Catania, Palermo and Trapani as well as Comiso, Catania and Gerbini Airdromes as the main objectives.

The reported landing at the western tip of Sicily indicated that the first Allied objectives included the important Axis air bases of Trapani, Marsala, Mazzaro, Milo and Castelvetrano, all on the western end of the island and are linked by a network of good roads with the big port of Palermo.

The Allied invasion forces, specially trained in American-built landing barges for many weeks, were reported meeting “strong resistance” in the first phase of fighting on European soil just two months after the last Axis forces were driven from Africa.

The special communique at 5:10 a.m. from Allied Headquarters said:

Allied forces under command of Gen. Eisenhower began landing operations on Sicily early this morning. The landings were preceded by Allied air attack. Allied naval forces escorted the assault forces and bombarded the coast defenses during the assault.

The crossing of the 90-mile “moat” from Tunisia to the rugged island of Sicily, which once had 4,000,000 population, was made in all types of naval craft, including special landing barges brought under their own power from the United States to strike at Italy just three years and one month after Mussolini stabbed France in the back.

There was no mention of French troops taking part in the invasion of Sicily.

For two weeks huge Allied air fleets based in Northwest Africa and the Middle East had hammered at Sicily with thousands of tons of bombs, seeking to knock out Axis air power, demolish air bases, destroy railroad facilities and’ ports and isolate the island from the Italian mainland. For the last seven days the air attack had been almost continuous, day and night.

Then the converted freighters, the big battleships, the fast destroyers, the heavily armed cruisers and the new type landing barges – heavily armed and heavily protected – were assembled by the hundreds and put out in darkness from the African coast. Crouching in the barges and jammed aboard the transports were U.S. troops that had been practicing invasion assaults for weeks and were toughened and ready for the hardest battle of their lives.

There were Canadian troops, too – the rough-and-ready soldiers who had been waiting (presumably until recently in England) for the chance to avenge their comrades who fell at Dieppe and had long been promised the honor of spearheading the invasion of Hitler’s European fortress.

The British forces, which chased Nazi Marshal Erwin Rommel across Africa and into the sea, were the third part of the Allied team which struck at Sicily in an, operation that found land, sea and air forces cooperating magnificently under Eisenhower’s command.

Crouched in the landing barges, with their heads tucked down against their shoulders turtle-fashion, the Allied troops led by engineers and sappers were off the Sicilian coast in the dark hour before dawn came over the Mediterranean.

The engineers, given the toughest job in such a hazardous operation, carried Bangalore torpedoes – a gadget about 15-18 feet long and encased in a two- or three-inch pipe – used to shove into barbed wire entanglements in order to blast open a path for the assault troops.

Big guns open up

Allied force from Malta, only 60 miles from Sicily, were presumed to have joined the invasion units somewhere off the island coast.

And then, in the last period of darkness, the big guns of the naval armada opened up.

The guns flashing out in the darkness may have been the first sign that the nervous Axis defense forces received that the battle to knock Italy out of the war had begun. But the enemy had been predicting the assault for days, reporting the massing of Allied troops and barges and trying desperately to guess where the first blow would fall.

Although the steady pounding of Allied airplanes had knocked out the main Sicilian harbors closest to Italy, there were late reports that Nazi and Fascist reserves had been rushed to the island and there was little question that the struggle for the mountainous stronghold would be a costly and probably a long one.

Resistance fierce

Preliminary reports indicated Axis resistance was fierce and that enemy airplanes were attacking desperately, often diving through their own anti-aircraft fire in their efforts to get at Allied bombers.

Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, the Nazi air expert who had commanded an air fleet on the Russian Front, was reported directing the Axis aerial defenses with the aid of Baron Wolfram von Richthofen, who had also been on the Eastern Front.

The Axis reaction by radio was also slow. The first Axis word of the invasion came from the German Transocean News Agency in a dispatch datelined “London.” It said that according to an official announcement Allied forces had started landing operations in Sicily. The same agency next flashed a Washington announcement of the landing. Berlin radio later repeated the news.

Radio Vichy told the people of France that the Americans had made “important” troop movements for an imminent invasion of Sicily.

The first great Allied assault against the European fortress was started after a coldly, scientific day-and-night aerial bombardment that accelerated steadily for two weeks.

Air assault hits crescendo

As the aerial assault reached a crescendo, fighters and fighter-bombers in large numbers joined in the attack to shoot up Axis trucks and railroad equipment in order to hinder or halt the movement of enemy forces when the invasion began.

Radio Algiers, broadcasting to Italy, said that:

The Battle of Africa is ended and the Battle of Europe has begun. The warnings of President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill have come true. Italy, dragged by Mussolini into Hitler’s war, has become a battlefield. The German rearguard action is being fought on Italy’s soil.

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Algiers reports Allies 260 miles from Rome

By the United Press

The Allied forces on the road to Rome are less than 260 miles from the Fascist capital.

Radio Algiers said that the first Allied landing in Sicily was on “the rocky western tip of the island, 260 miles from Rome.”

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Descendants of previous conquerors invade Sicily

London, England (UP) –
The British troops who went ashore on Sicily followed in the steps of their ancestors who helped whip Napoleon.

Back in 1799, both Napoleon and Lord Nelson realized the strategic importance of Sicily, but the British struck first.

Sir John Stuart landed in Sicily with two infantry regiments. Seven years later, he invaded Italy across the Strait of Messina and defeated French forces at the Battle of Maida, successfully staving off a threat to the island.

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Italians here take invasion news calmly

Brooklyn residents of Italian descent took news of the Allied invasion of Sicily calmly and stoically, their chief reaction summed up in the terse statement:

Let’s get it over with fast.

Many, with relatives in both armies, expressed hope that Allied victory, uppermost in their thoughts, would be accomplished with as little bloodshed as possible.

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U.S. bombers smash at Crete; new drive in east foreseen

Isle on path to Greece is battered

Cairo, Egypt (UP) –
U.S. heavy bombers smashed the Maleme Airdrome on the island of Crete in daylight yesterday and attacked Taormina and Comiso on Sicily, a communiqué said today.

The attack on Maleme on Crete, often called an invasion stepping stone to Greece, heavily damaged sheds and grounded aircraft.

London dispatches speculated that other blows against the European fortress soon would follow the invasion of Sicily. The attack on Crete and a new order closing the Syrian border with Turkey, presumably to guard military movements by Allied troops, centered attention on the Eastern Mediterranean.

In the attack on Sicily, U.S. heavy bombers hit the headquarters of the general post office at Taormina, 30 miles southwest of Messina, and battered the Sicilian air base of Comiso.

Aerial resistance increased

Allied HQ, North Africa (UP) –
A communiqué from Gen. Eisenhower’s headquarters today said the Allied air forces “continued their heavy attack” with good results on Sicilian airfields and “vital points” in the enemy defense system during Thursday night and Friday.

The communiqué said:

Enemy resistance was on a slightly increased scale, and during air battles we shot down 15 Axis aircraft. Ten of our aircraft failed to return.

Hint at other blows

London, England (UP) –
British military observers hinted strongly today that the Allied invasion of Sicily may be followed quickly by other and possibly more important landings around the northern rim of the Mediterranean.

With apparently intentional vagueness, informants asserted that the Sicilian operation should not be regarded as “the only landing or even the (capital) landing.”

Informants described the invasion as an “operation in force” which, according to latest reports reaching London, is “going according to plan.”

On the basis of the scanty reports available, military observers said, heavy and difficult fighting is expected before the invasion force succeeds in establishing firm bridgeheads.

Apparently because other operations may be impending, these observers were reluctant to describe the Sicilian attack as the opening of a “second front.”

Axis force put at 400,000

An estimated 300,000 Italian troops plus 100,000 Germans, including a division of combat troops and Luftwaffe units, are defending Sicily, it was believed.

The Italian forces included the Italian 6th Army, commanded by Gen. Alfredo Guzzoni, formerly Deputy Chief of Staff and Undersecretary of War, military observers reported. They include units especially trained for coastal defense.

Unofficial estimates set the bombload dropped on Sicily in the last two months of concentrated Allied air attack at approximately 5,000 tons. Several airfields were believed to have been knocked out by this softening-up process.

The observers set the Axis air strength in Italy at about 500 German fighters and 800 German bombers, supported by 1,500 German planes of doubtful quality.

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Stampa Sera (July 10, 1943)

La battaglia è impegnata sul suolo della Patria: saranno respinti!
IL NEMICO INIZIA L’ATTACCO CONTRO LA SICILIA

L’azione decisamente contrastata dalle nostre forze - Combattimenti in corso lungo la fascia costiera sud-orientale - Paracadutisti e poderose forze navali ed aeree impegnati dall’avversario

Screenshot 2022-07-10 170550

La «carta» del nemico

Il nemico «deve» giocare una carta. Ha troppo proclamato che bisogna invadere il continente. Lo dovrà tentare, questo, perché altrimenti sarà sconfitto prima ancora di aver combattuto. Ma questa è una carta che non si può ripetere. Fu concesso a Cesare di invadere per la seconda volta la Britannia, dopo che un naufragio gli aveva disperso i legni coi quali aveva tentato la prima invasione.

MUSSOLINI

Trentatré aerei nemici abbattuti

Il Quartiere Generale delle Forze Armate comunica:

Il nemico ha iniziato questa notte con l’appoggio di poderose formazioni navali ed aeree e col lancio di reparti paracadutisti l’attacco contro la Sicilia.

Le forze armate alleate contrastano decisamente l’azione avversaria. Combattimenti sono in corso lungo la fascia costiera sud-orientale.

Durante le azioni effettuate ieri dall’aviazione su centri della Sicilia, le artiglierie italiane e germaniche distruggevano ventidue velivoli, dei quali quindici a Porto Empedocle; altri undici apparecchi venivano abbattuti dai cacciatori tedeschi.

Nelle acque della Tunisia nostri aerosiluranti hanno colpito e gravemente danneggiato tre piroscafi di complessive 29 mila tonnellate.

Gli aerosiluranti che hanno colpito i piroscafi nell’azione segnalata nel Bollettino odierno erano condotti dai seguenti piloti: tenente Pagliarusco Vasco, da Barbarano (Vicenza); sottotenente Degli Angeli Carlo da Cesena (Forlì); sottotenente Avantini Giampiero, da Formio; sergente maggiore Guerra Aldo, da Padova; sergente Scagliarini Guido, da Finale Emilia; sergente Gineprari Radames, da Perugia.

I velivoli abbattuti dalle artiglierie contraeree sono precipitati nelle seguenti località: 15 a Porto Empedocle, 2 a Trapani, 2 a Sciacca, uno a Villa Oliva (Siracusa), uno ad Aragona (Agrigento), uno a Falconara (Caltanissetta). Alcuni equipaggi sono stati catturati.

La grande prova

Gli avvenimenti del fronte orientale hanno influenzato irresistibilmente la situazione strategica generale. Era interesse dei russi, che premevano in tal senso a Londra e a Washington, di non essere lasciati soli a combattere sui campi di battaglia europei. Era interesse degli anglosassoni approfittare, per le loro progettate operazioni offensive, del momento in cui l’esercito tedesco è impegnato contro le armate sovietiche. Gli Stati Maggiori delle Nazioni Unite sono stati così costretti ad affrettare i preparativi, e a rompere gli indugi. Molti segni facevano presagire le decisioni che maturavano; e il silenzio improvviso della stampa nemica sul problema del secondo fronte avvalorava l’ipotesi che l’ora dell’azione stesse per scoccare.

L’Italia è messa oggi dal precipitare degli eventi di fronte alla sua grande prova. Il primo tentativo in forze dei due grandi imperi coalizzati contro l’Europa sì compie contro di noi; ed è sul suolo italiano che saranno decise le sorti del conflitto. Bisogna guardare con animo fermo, senza clorotiche paure, questa dura realtà. Bisogna che tutti gli italiani dimostrino la stessa tenacia, lo stesso spirito di sacrificio, la stessa impavidità di cui statino offrendo esempio i soldati che, sui limiti sacri del territorio patrio affrontano con le armi in pugno il nemico. Bisogna che tutti si dimostrino della stessa tempra delle popolazioni civili martellate finora dalla offensiva aerea avversaria. Le truppe inglesi e americane prendono terra in Sicilia nella convinzione di trovarci, tanto per usare una espressione coniata da loro, «ammorbiditi». Dobbiamo disilluderli. Bisogna che trovino il granito. Bisogna che sulla sponda siciliana essi sentano battere gagliardo il cuore della Patria italiana: con lo stesso ritmo con cui batté sul Piave, venticinque anni fa, in un’ora ugualmente solenne e decisiva della vita nazionale.

La posta in giuoco è immensa: si tratta dell’esistenza del popolo, di tutto il popolo. La vittoria ci schiuderà un avvenire di prosperità e di potenza, ai cui benefici tutti saranno ammessi, nessuno potrà sottrarsi alle fatali conseguenze dì una sconfitta. E’ l’ora dell’estrema solidarietà nazionale. Il nemico giuoca la sua ultima carta. Di tentativi tipo Dieppe se ne possono ripetere a decine; un’operazione come quella, che risulta iniziata stamane, non si ripete una seconda volta. Se fallirà, il nemico dovrà convincersi che l’impresa di battere l’Asse è irrealizzabile, e dovrà arrendersi ad una realtà più forte della sua volontà. E’ dunque l’esito dell’intero conflitto che verrà determinato dagli sviluppi di questa nuova fase della guerra. Senta ognuno la tremenda responsabilità del compito, e sia ogni animo all’altezza della grande ora.

Unusual to see a US report mention the Canadian contribution separate from the UK effort. It’s the first time since Dieppe that a major Canadian army unit has been committed to combat … and it probably took more behind-the-scenes arm-twisting than anyone would believe to get them shoe-horned into Operation Husky.

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The confusion is natural, and the convention at the time was to refer to Canada’s PM as “Mackenzie King” to avoid implying that it was King George being referenced in headlines and articles. It would be like a modern convention to refer to the second President Bush as “Walker Bush” to avoid confusion with his father.

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