With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight after almost 80 years... Was going into Sicily and slogging up the Italian boot a better choice than invading Sardinia and then invade southern France in a similar operation to Operation Dragoon in August 1944?

With the horribly slow & bloody campaign to move the Allied Armies up Italy would it have been better, strategically, to have neutralized / isolated Italy by air & sea, and take Sardinia and then invade Southern France?


Hi, and welcome to this forum. I think the Russian perspective is often overlooked. In 1943 is was a main objective the put pressure somewhere on the Germans to relieve the Russians. The strategic threat to Germany was much larger from Sicily, as it would have been from Sardinia. We know now that Sicily made the Germans break of the battle of Kursk, so the wanted impact was imminent, The struggle up Italy was a nightmare for the allied troops, but it was what was possible at the time.


I understand what you are saying. Won’t disagree… but… as far as giving relief to the Russians, wouldn’t the same relief occur whichever island was the target? And then it’s a relatively short hop to the plains in Southern France? I actually think that invading southern France would have required Hitler to move even more troops out of Russia. You can look at a map & see that the terrain of Itay strongly favors the defensive forces.


Operation Husky was very important to work out issues that most certainly would have made Operation Overlord much more difficult and costly. Invading Sardinia would not have provided the same immense political pressure on the Italians to oust Mussolini and start negotiating a surrender. Supplying troops on Sardinia would be more difficult with Sicily still in Axis control. Sardinia did not have sufficient anchorages or airfields to act as the major base for an early Operation Anvil/Dragoon, so an invasion of the French Mediterranian coast would have to be staged more like Operation Torch, with most of the invasion forces coming from North Africa and facing a long, vulnerable sea crossing to get to the invasion beaches.

The fighting in Italy proper could have gone rather more like the Allied planners hoped, but the luck fell the other way, and Kesselring performed far better in a defensive role than anyone would have expected. The Allied forces fighting north up the Italian peninsula rarely had a significant numerical superiority when it might have made the difference, and that got worse as experienced leaders were re-assigned to the formations assigned to Overlord.


Welcome to the forum!
Operation Husky was very important to the capitulation of Mussolini’s fascist control over Italy. With Sardinia, Italy would not have plunged into civil war as soon as it did. Also, attempting to cross into northern Italy from southern France would have been terrible. Just look at how the Italian invasion of southern France went. Husky provided insight for Operation Overlord as well. The weather conditions for Husky helped fool the Germans with the invasion of Normandy since the Germans had expected the weather to have been as good as it was during Husky. Furthermore, the use of paratroopers gave needed experience for what lay in store for Overlord.


One of the other incentives to invade Sicily was to open up the Mediterranean to Allied shipping. In Winston Churchill’s Second World War series, he comments that the lack of shipping was a huge constraint on the Western Allies in 1943, so shortening sailing times by opening up the Med (compared to sailing around the Cape of Good Hope) was important.


A very heartfelt welcome to the forum dare301obx let me us know should there be any queriess.

“and take Sardinia and then invade Southern France?”
Great question. one thing that springs to mind though is that Central France has lots of montainous terrain as well. Besides supplying Normandy from the UK with all its infrastructure, air bases and factories/repair facilities seems a lot easier than Southern France from Sardinia. When Southern France was invaded the Germans were already weakened.

Also fact checks welcome the Allies didn’t always commit enough troops and planning in Italy like in Anzio which didn’t go anywhere as Normandy was the priority.