July 1943 Operation Husky- The Invasion of Sicily
Wounded AmericanAfter their successful campaign in North Africa the Allies turned their attention to Sicily. The goal was to capture Sicily and possibly force Italy out of the war. The operation was named Operation Husky It commenced on the night of July 9-10th. The invasion began with paratroop landings. Although many of the paratroopers failed to reach their assigned places their very landing caused panic among the defenders. In the early morning of the 10th Naval landing began on 26th different beaches. By the evening of the 10th the Allies had landed six divisions and were in control of their beachhead. The German put up a spirited defense but were slowly overwhelmed by the larger Allied forces. On August 18th the Germans and the Italians completed a withdrawal of their forces from Sicily.
With the successful conclusion of the North African campaign the next natural target was Sicily. The Allies hoped that if they captured the island they would be able to convince the Italians to surrender. Moreover by capturing the island they would be able to push German aircraft out of the Mediterranean opening it fully for Allied transport.
The overall commander to the invasion would remain General Eisenhower who commanded Allied forces in the North Africa. His British Deputy General Alexander would command British forces while General Patton commanded American forces.
The invasion began with an airborne assault on the night of the 9th- 10th. The US 82nd Airborne led the assault for the Americans while the British 1st Airborne led the British troops. winds were very high and the most of the American paratroopers were blown off target and only 12 of 147 British gliders reached their target. Despite the fact that the airborne assault failed to achieve its planned goals, the assault so unnerved the Italian and German defenders that in retrospect they were deemed a success.
In the early morning of the 10th landing along the beaches began. The allies landed on 26 beaches along a 105 mile front between the town of Licata and Cassibilie. While the high winds were an impediment to the landing but the Allied troops quickly were able to control their beachheads. A number of Italian and German counterattacks were repulsed often with the help of naval gunfire from ships offshore. By the end of the day the port of Licata was in Allied hands and American and British forces streamed ashore.
The bombing the week before the invasion had destroyed a sizable portion of the Italian and German air assets and they were only able to put up limited resistance sinking the LST-313- the Minesweeper Sentinel and the destroyer USS Maddox.
The Allied forces who soon had overwhelming superiority in both numbers and equipment over the Italians and Germans steadily battled there way across the island. With command of the sea the allies were also able to leapfrog and land troops behind the enemy lines and advance. On July 22nd American forces entered Palermo.
The last major Axis defense line surrounded Mount Etana. The Germans held that line for seven days but Allied forces were able to push on through and on August 16th American forces entered Messina. Meanwhile by now the Germans had decided to withdraw all their forces to Italy. That withdrawal began on August 11th and was completed by August 17th. The Allies failed to stop the orderly withdrawal of the German and Italian forces.
The US army forces lost 2,237 killed or missing, 5,946 wounded and 598 captured, while the British lost 2,062 killed or missing, 7, 137 wounded and 2,644 captured. The Canadians lost an additional 562 killed , 1684 wounded and 84 captured. In addition the US navy and air force lost additional men. The German lost 4,325 men captured, 4,583 missing, 5532 captured and 13,500 wounded, while the Italians lost 4,678 killed, 36,072 missing, 32,500 wounded and 116, 681 captured.
The operations was a total victory for the Allies.