Monday, March 20, 2017

Articles: D-Day Sicily, July 10, 1943 - Pt 6.

Winnipeg Tribune - News from Operation HUSKY

Bold, brave headlines on Saturday, July 10 re Operation HUSKY

Introduction:

Of course, across Canada and in many of its large newspapers, many of the headlines and initial stories from and about would have appeared the same on the same day.

An earlier post revealed stories found in The Montreal Star, unfortunately not digitized.

However, because The Winnipeg Tribune is now digitized, (please link to Winnipeg Tribune)  one can go back to important days and read the news in a easier fashion than on microfilm.

Canadians in Combined Operations are seldom mentioned, but we know that about 250 Canadians - members of the 55th, 61st, 80th and 81st Canadian flotillas - manned assault landing craft (ALCs) and landing craft mechanized (LCMs) and transported troops and materials of war to Sicilian shores for up to 30 days.

Some of the articles provide readers with good details of the invasion and landings. Ads for movies and clothes, etc., provide information about the 1940s lifestyle (much different than our own), familiar to the Canadians aboard landing craft in Sicilian waters.

Credits for all articles and photographs - University of Manitoba, Libraries, digital collections - @ digitalcollections.lib.umanitoba.ca

From The Winnipeg Tribune, July 10, 1943.

A quote by Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King is found in an article on page 1: 



The Canadian Army was not delivered to shore in landing crafts manned by Canadians (e.g., members of RCNVR and Combined Operations) until the invasion of Italy's mainland, so this may be one of the reasons few people knew about the scores of Canadians steering landing craft to shore during Operation HUSKY.

* * * * *


An July 10 article out of London, UK, by Alan Randal (Canadian Press Staff Writer) reveals an interest in pointing a spotlight toward the Canadians involved in the invasion of Sicily, but it was 'early days', so to speak. 

He writes:

With dramatic suddenness, it was announced early today that the Canadian forces are at last in full scale action, assailing the shores of Sicily in company with British and American forces. 

Canadians who stood guard in britain for three years and more went to the attack with their Allies.

He continues:


On page 17 Randal writes: 

("Preparations for movement of the Canadians from Britain had") been known to be going forward for weeks. Naturally all efforts were made to protect the troops, and details were not known, but war correspondents "disappeared" from London a good while ago.

Correspondents Along

Just who are with the Canadian assault force cannot be said as it is too early for word of such details to come back from the beaches of Sicily, but it can be taken for granted Ross Munro, Canadian Press war correspondent, is right in the van. Munro quietly packed his kit and left London without saying where he was going.

Closely following him went C.P. war correspondents Louis Hunter, William Stewart and Maurice Desjardins....

Editor: A lengthy story by Ross Munro can be found at an earlier post, from The Montreal Star, and we learn that war correspondents knew very little about "who, what, when, where, why" prior to invasions (no more than the troops did), so there are several related reasons why little information can be found at times about the role of Canadians (e.g., as members of Combined Ops aboard various landing crafts), as news hits the streets. 



* * * * *


The above photo, featured on Page 1 of The Winnipeg Tribune to accompany news of the invasion of Sicily, is a well-travelled one, i.e., it also appeared in The London Free Press to accompany a story of two RCNVR and Combined Ops veterans (Buryl McIntyre and Doug Harrison - my father - of Norwich, Ontario), February 5, 1944.

I believe the photo, also found at the Imperial War Museum, UK, depicts a training exercise using early landing crafts at HMS Quebec (No. 1 Combined Ops Training centre), Inveraray, Scotland. circa early 1940s.

On July 10, 1943 the photo was featured with the following story:


The article continues, in part:

A Reuters news agency correspondent cabled London today from North Africa that "the first line of Allied troops are this morning locked in combat with the enemy after clambering over mines and barbed-wire fences to attack pillboxes and machine-gun nests on the Sicilian beaches."

....Allied warplanes bombarded Sicily's coastal defences preceding the landing of General Eisenhower's troops, and warships pounded the enemy from off-shore as the first landing craft sped up to the island's beaches.

Editor: Shortly after troops exited their ALCs (including those manned by Canadians of the 55th and 61st Flotillas of landing craft) along the south-eastern coastline of Sicily, larger landing craft (e.g., LCMs of the 80th and 81st Flotillas) were launched from large ships stationed a few miles offshore.

About what turned out to be a lengthy operation for LCMs, my father writes:

In the morning, as we slowly moved in, we saw gliders everywhere. I saw them sticking out of the water, crashed on land and in the vineyards. In my twenty-seven days there I did not see a glider intact. We started unloading supplies with our LCMs about a half mile off the beach and then the worst began - German bombers. We were bombed 36 times in the first 72 hours - at dusk, at night, at dawn and all day long, and they said we had complete command of the air.

We fired at everything. I saw P38s, German and Italian fighters and my first dogfights. Stukas blew up working parties on the beach once when I was only about one hundred feet out. Utter death and carnage. Our American gun crews had nothing but coffee for three or four days and stayed close to their guns all the time. I give them credit.

Ephus P. Murphy’s pet monkey went mad and we put it in a bag of sand meant to douse incendiary bombs and threw him over the side. The Russian Stoker on our ship, named Katanna, said Dieppe was never like this and hid under a winch. Shrapnel and bombs just rained down.

My oppo (pal, chum), Leading Seaman Herring, was bothered constantly with constipation, but when bombs began to drop close in Sicily, his problem suddenly disappeared, he was so scared. It scared the beep beep right out of him. Hitler’s laxative, so he wasn’t all bad, was he?

Once, with our LCM loaded with high octane gas and a Lorrie (truck), we were heading for the beach when we saw machine gun bullets stitching the water right towards us. Fortunately, an LST (landing ship tank) loaded with bofors (guns) opened up and scared off the planes, or we were gone if the bullets had hit the gas cans. I was hiding behind a truck tire, so was Joe Watson of Simcoe. What good would that have done?

Our beach had machine gun nests carved out of the ever-present limestone, with slots cut in them to cover our beaches. A few hand grenades tossed in during the night silenced them forever.

Slowly we took control and enemy raids were only sporadic, but usually at dawn or dusk when we couldn’t see them and they could see us. At such times we had to get out of our LCMs and lay smoke screens, and travelled the ocean side or beach side depending upon which way the wind was blowing. Even then they could see the masts sticking up. During one raid I was caught on the open deck of the Pio Pico, so I laid down - right on a boiling hot water pipe. I got up quickly. (From "DAD, WELL DONE")


Not all resistance was crushed. From The Winnipeg Tribune

* * * * *

Accompanying brief articles concerning the actual landings on Sicily's beaches was information about the intense air bombardments that preceded the invasion. This was true in all of the other newspapers examined (see earlier posts re "Articles re D-Day Sicily"):


The article continued:

"For months heavy bombers showered the mountainous stronghold with high explosives and smashed at its numerous airfields. The skies above the island were the scene of some of the most violent air fighting of the war."

"In one day Allied airmen knocked down or destroyed on the ground 73 Axis planes and two days later raised that mighty score to 97. The raids grew in ferocity to the extend that near the first of June civilians were reported being evacuated from the battered island...."

".....The triumphant conclusion of the Allied North African campaign and the capture of Pantellaria laid Sicily wide open for attack."





From The Winnipeg Tribune

* * * * *

As well as sharing information about pre-invasion bombardments, writers also focussed on the added pressure placed on German strategy as Allies gained ground in the Southern Front while Russian troops made a solid stand in the Eastern Front. Randolph Patton's article in The Winnipeg Tribune was one of a few that elaborated on the growing complexities of WW2.


Patton writes:

Whatever its immediate objectives, the real aim of the present German offensive in Russia is to cripple the Red Army and thus release enough Nazi troops from the eastern front to meet an Allied invasion.

Acting on the principle that attack is the best defense, the Nazis are making great efforts to break through the Soviet line in the Kursk sector which was the scene of the war's bitterest fighting last year....

He continued later, in part:


In other articles, some bearing comments from German radio, it is apparent that Germany was well aware of the gathering storm:

From The Winnipeg Tribune



* * * * *

Hometown readers of The Winnipeg Tribune may have been heartened by a few news articles with a direct and indirect focus upon Canada's own front-line efforts.

This from Gillis Purcell (CP writer) on July 10, 1943:


Purcell continues:

Only Major Action

The move into the Mediterranean action is the only major action of the war for Canadian ground forces* in this theatre with the exception of the reconnaissance in force of Dieppe last August when 5,000 Canadians crossed the channel in a one-day attack from which only one-third returned.

No indication came in early reports as to what part of Canada's highly-mechanized army figured in what will be to date the war's largest-scale combined operation against highly organized opposition. Sicily has been softened up for weeks but has been strongly reinforced.

 *Editor: Purcell mentions the lack of action for Canadian ground forces since Dieppe (Aug. 19, 1942). It's worth mentioning, in my opinion, the involvement of Canadians in the RCNVR and Combined Operations organization that took part in the invasion of North Africa in November, 1942 - manning assault and mechanized landing craft - about three months after the Dieppe Raid.

Doug Harrison, front left (RCNVR, Comb. Ops), escorts U.S. troops
to the N. African shore at Arzeu, near Oran, November 8, 1942.
Photo Credit - Imperial War Museum 


In his naval memoirs, D. Harrison's first lines in his "Foreward" are as follows:

Many Canadian citizens do not know about the active part taken by the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve in Combined Operations overseas during World War II. Here is a story regarding the Canadian Navy on navy barges on the operations against Dieppe, North Africa, Sicily and Italy, and many were at D-Day Normandy also. ("DAD, WELL DONE")

"Dad, well said," I say.

Purcell continues:

Editor: Members of RCNVR manned the landing craft bearing
the tanks and Canadian brigades at Dieppe, as well.

Another 'heartening headline' and honorable 'first mention' to Canadian forces:



* * * * *

More 'joyful news' from The Winnipeg Tribune on July 10, 1943:





* * * * * 

Three cheers for the CWACs:


My father shares company with a CWAC, name and location of canteen unknown:

The CWAC looks like the woman, far right, top photo. Naw, couldn't be!

Three cheers for the Navy League, RCAF and welders:



* * * * *

Good photos can be found in The Tribune:


Caption with above photo reads: STORMING ASHORE - It was just practise when the Canadian soldiers in Britain shown above stormed ashore from landing craft in rehearsal for invasion. Today these these tactics became a grim reality as the Canadians - along with British and Americans - stormed ashore on Sicily to signal the opening assault on the European Fortress.



Caption with above photo reads: Bofors guns are in action today somewhere in Sicily as Canadians help to blast the Axis. The Bofors, although an anti-aircraft weapon, also is used in an anti-tank role. The photo was taken somewhere in Great Britain during Canadian Army invasion manoeuvres.


Caption with above photo reads: Canadian Tanks show what they can do: Canadian tank brigade men put their iron steeds through their paces over obstacles as they train for invasion. In the photo, General A.G.L. McNaughton and General Sir Alan Brooke, chief of the Imperial General Staff, watch Waltzing Matildas perform.



* * * * *

Final ads and cartoons, but more from The Winnipeg Tribune will follow:




Please link to Articles: D-Day Sicily, July 10 - 14, 1943 - Part 5.

Unattributed Photos by GH

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Articles: D-Day Sicily, July 10-14, 1943 - Pt 5.

Wartime News Coverage from The Madera Tribune.

The front page declares the first day of Operation HUSKY.

"Swarming on Beaches"

Introduction:

The Madera Tribune is another newspaper found at the California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC).

Below are listed several news reports and screen images as found in The Madera Tribune, issued from Saturday, July 10 to Wednesday the 14th, 1943. Several Californian digitized newspapers can be located at CDNC and readers can explore events that occurred later in July, 1943 in Sicily, and later in the year at Italy (invasion, Sept. 3, 1943) at their leisure.

Though the Canadians in Combined Operations rarely received specific mention, they did play a significant role in transporting men and all the materials of war to Sicily's shores from July 10 into the first week of August.

In memoirs, they recall the pounding Sicily took, and were fortunate that landing crafts made small targets and limestone caves with thick roofs were available for relatively safe accommodation.

Copyright and Photo Credits: California Digital Newspaper Collection.

From July 10, 1943 issue of The Madera Tribune, California:

SICILY BLASTED BEFORE PUSH

Every Unit of Allied Air Forces Struck

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS IN NORTH AFRICA, July 10.—Every unit in the North Africa air forces pounded at Sicily all day Friday to hit five airdromes, score on several merchant ships and possibly a submarine and break up the island’s communications in paving the way for allied landings.

* * * * *

MORE ALLIED ASSAULTS
TO COME

Attack on Sicily to Be Followed Quickly
By Other Invasions

LONDON, July 10. 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 landing.”

FOLLOWING PLAN

Informants described the invasion of an “operation in force” which, according to latest reports reaching London, is "going according to plan.” On the basis of scanty reports available, military observers said, heavy and difficult fighting is expected before the invasion forces succeed 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.”

ENEMY FORCE

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 axis forces were thought to have some armor on the island but the exact strength was not known.

Recent reconnaissance showed the main coastal defenses situated between Messina and Catania, around Syracuse, on the south coast between Agricento and Gela and on the west coast between Marsala and Palermo.



"Every diamond counts!"

* * * * *

BATTLE OF EUROPE IS STARTED 

Powerful Forces Are Swarming on Beaches
Under Air Umbrella

Bombardment by Allied Warships And Attacks by Bomber And Fighter Planes Are Hammering Path For Yankee And British Land Forces in Assault

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS. North Africa. July 10. 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 make up of American, British, and Canadian troops. Meagre and unofficial reports said the invasion aided by heavy naval support was “proceeding according to plan.”

STIFF RESISTANCE

Indications were that the axis defenders were putting up a stiff fight. (Axis communiques 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 that other and more important blows might be struck against the fortress of Europe soon.)

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

A furious naval barrage that illuminated sections of the Sicilian coast opened the invasion operations in darkness as the allied fleet—including battleships —threaded through the enemy mine field 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.

SECOND FRONT

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 as describing the greatest allied offensive of the war suggested that parachute and air-borne troops were used by the allies to crash through the strong Sicilian defenses, manned by an estimated 300,000 Italians and Germans.

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.

LANDING TOLD

Eisenhower, following issuance of a communique announcing the landing, broadcast a message to occupied France in which he described the invasion of Sicily as “the first stage in the liberation of the European continent” and told the French people to remain calm until they were called upon to act, which he hinted might be soon.

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 southwest 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.

FLEET ASSEMBLED

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 American 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 tell at Dieppe and had long been promised the honor spearheading the invasion of Hitler’s 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.

* * * * * 

Meanwhile, back at the local theatre...




* * * * *

MILLION MEN ARE POUNDING AT ITALIANS

Quick Overrunning of Sicily Is Believed Eisenhower’s Program

LONDON, July 10. Allied forces—estimated by the Axis at a million men in the Mediterranean theater—launched the greatest United Nations offensive of the war today as the first long step toward knocking Italy out of the war.

Allied strategy is believed in responsible circles to call for an attempt to over run Sicily at high speed and push on toward the Italian mainland, if possible, without giving the Axis time to catch Its breath.

There were also indications that the Allies are holding forces in readiness at other points along the 2000-mile Mediterranean front to strike wherever the Axis appears to be vulnerable from the Dodecanese islands to Crete on Corsica, but thus far there has been no sign of an assault other than the invasion of Sicily.

The allied attack under General Dwight D. Eisenhower was believed to be in heavy force, especially strengthened by the arrival of Canadian divisions which have been spoiling for a fight since Dieppe and now have a chance to get into a real one alongside the Americans and Britain’s finest, which presumably include the Eighth Army under General Sir Edward L. Montgomery. The American forces were believed to be picked divisions, including the 2nd corps which became a veteran outfit in the battle of Tunisia. 


The allied strength thrown against the barbed wire, the pill boxes and the coastal batteries of Sicily was not indicated but German propaganda reports had guessed that there were between 57 and 64 Allied divisions available in the entire Mediterranean theatre. These were said by the Axis to include 15 to 20 armored divisions and other specialists.

* * * * *

New Fighter-Bomber On Sicilian Front

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS IN NORTH AFRICA, July 10. Allied airplanes of virtually every type, including the new A-36 fighter-bomber, were reported giving the invasion forces in Sicily a strong aerial cover this morning. Weather conditions apparently were good.

* * * * *

From The Madera Tribune, 12 July 1943:

HOSPITAL SHIP SUNK BY ENEMY

All Wounded Rescued Without Loss of Life

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS IN NORTH AFRICA, July 12. Axis forces sank a fully loaded allied hospital ship Saturday night during the Sicilian operations, it was disclosed today. Four hundred wounded troops were transferred from the ship without loss of life. The hospital ship was sunk about three mies off the Sicilian coast.

* * * * *

GERMANY IS TOLD YANKS DEFEATED

Beaten Back by Huns After Fierce Battle

LONDON, July 12—The official German DNB agency, in a dispatch broadcast by the Berlin radio, said today that German troops in southern Sicily had thrown an American “formation” back into the sea. “The Americans were beaten back after a fierce battle,” the dispatch said. “The Germans gave them no time to consolidate their positions on the beaches.”



* * * * *

PARALLEL TO WORLD WAR 1 MADE PUBLIC

Patterns of New World War Is Not Unlike Conflict of 1917

WASHINGTON, July 12. One year, seven months and five days after congress declared war on Germany in 1917, final victory came to the United States and her allies.

One year, seven months and five days after Pearl Harbor —today—finds the United States and her allies engaged in their first assault upon the fortress of Europe.

TURN OF TIDE

The allies have tasted victory in North Africa, and on a smaller scale against the Japanese in the Pacific. But only since last fall have the tables been reversed. The three years before that were defensive ones in which the axis held all the cards—and played them well.

In overall terms, the pattern of the war during the one year, seven months and five days the United States has been in this war is not unlike that of the same period of World War I.

Germany and her satellites are now surrounded and in the process of being strangled economically. Their fighting power has been worn down by attrition in their struggle against potentially superior allied resources.

DETAILS DIFFER

In broad details, however, this war varies greatly from the last. Italy and Japan are on the other side. Russia, which faded out of the last war before victory was won, is the bulwark of allied powers against the axis armies. Air power has become a strategic element of major proportions.

The United States plays a more important role in relation to the entire struggle than in the last, in the matter of materials and supply, in manpower, in air power and in sea power.

The greatest army and navy in American history have been created. The army now numbers about 7,000,000 officers and men. Navy, marine corps and coast guard personnel number nearly 2,000,000. By the end of the year the armed forces will reach 11,000,000

1917 TOTALS

In the first World War, total U. S. armed forces mobilized on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, numbered only 4,355,000. On that date about 2,000,000 U. S. troops had been transported overseas to France. Today approximately the same number have gone overseas, but they have been spread virtually all over the globe. Overall American casualties have been lighter, but naval casualties have been heavier....


* * * * *

AXIS KNOCKOUT IS NOT CLOSE

Winter or Spring of 1944 Earliest That Victory Is Expected

LONDON, July 12. The unconditional surrender of Germany is unlikely before this winter or the spring of 1944 at the earliest, according to the best-informed sources here. This belief is predicted on the following factors:

I - The Sicilian campaign might easily - though it still is too soon to predict - require as long as the final Tunisian drive.

2 - lt is likely the allies will require several weeks to rehabilitate Sicilian airdromes and ports.

3 - There is no telling how long the Italian campaign might last, but six weeks might be a good guess for the time it will take to knockout axis number two pardner.

4 - The allies may carry out other landing operations in the Mediterranean theatre and possibly elsewhere.

5 - The bulk of the allied crack troops will be tied up for several months with the Mediterranean theatre operations.

* * * * *



ALLIES SMASHING INTO SICILY 

Tanks And Paratroop Advancing Conqueror
Forces Are Leading 

Fighters Bombers Are Shuttling Above Axis Defenders Retreating Before Yankee And British Forces Which Have Driven Deep Into Enemy Lines

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS, North Arica. July 12.—Allied tank columns plunged some 15 miles inland against stiff Axis opposition in Sicily today after capturing 10 major towns along their 100-mile invasion front, smashing seven armored counter-attacks and seizing more than 4000 prisoners.

Aided by friendly Sicilians and supported by powerful air and naval bombardments, the American invasion forces repulsed counter-blows by the Italian Fourth Livorno (Leghorn) division known as ‘'Mussolini’s finest,” while Canadians and British Eighth army units fiercely engaged German shock troops rushed to the invasion front about eight miles inland from captured Syracuse.

GERMANS AT FRONT

The sharpest fighting appeared to be near the town of Floridia, west of Syracuse, where dispatches from Sicily said the Germans had been rushed in to oppose British and Canadian forces, but the advance in that area was greater than the American advance from Cela and Licata on the south coast because it was easier for the enemy to move troops against the United States forces.

Gains were steady in most sectors. Returning pilots reported huge forces concentrated on the beaches and moving inland behind tank spearheads that jammed the roads.

Dispatches also told of friendly aid given by Sicilians including an instance in which the mayor of one town persuaded another town where there was stiff resistance to surrender.

The American forces in Sicily centered at Licata under command of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton. Jr. while Gen. Sir Bernard L. Montgomery directed the British and seized Syracuse.

BREAK COUNTERS

Patton’s tough American units broke up a heavy Italian counterattack headed by 45 fascist tanks just north of Cela and then repulsed the heaviest of seven enemy counterattacks, by turning back the Italian Fourth Livorno division in hard fighting.

“The advance continues,” today's communique from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower stated and dispatches from forward areas described the offensive as moving into high gear against stiff axis opposition.

The population of Sicily was was described as "showing great friendliness” toward the invasion forces and being willing to co-operate.

ASTRIDE ROAD

The allies now are astride the vital road running from Pozzallo. which surrendered to an allied destroyer, to Syracuse, which British and Canadian troops stormed and took at 9 p. m on Saturday. They were opposed by the Italian 54th (Napoli) division, based near Syracuse. Allied casualties still were described as comparatively light.

Pilots returning to North African bases said they could see “Old Glory flying on the beaches” in southern Sicily and American trucks and jeeps jamming the roads inland. “The beaches were crammed with trucks and mechanized equipment,” one pilot said. “It was grand to see the American flag flying in the breeze. We could see American warships in action off the coast.”

FANNING OUT

The pilots said the invasion forces were fanning out toward the inland mountains and that “everything looked pretty good,” although there was stronger Luftwaffe opposition.

Allied naval forces continued to disembark reinforcements and supplies and destroyers bombarded the Sicilian coastal town of Pozzallo and the railroad line between Syracuse and Ragusa, on the east coast. The towns captured included important ports and air bases in a 100-mile strip along the southeastern coast of Sicily from Syracuse around the corner of the Island to Licata in the west.

American forces captured Licata, one of the main enemy air bases on the central sector of the south coast, and ran up the stars and stripes over the harbor. The navy immediately began pouring reinforcements and supplies into the port.
The surrender of Pozzallo was accepted by the commander of an allied destroyer early Sunday afternoon. The allied advance generally continued, it was announced.


* * * * *

From The Madera Tribune, 13 July 1943

HUN ASSAULT SLACKENS ON OREL FRONT

Heaviest Losses Are Suffered by Germans In Smash at Russians

MOSCOW, July 13. German attacks slackened at the northern end of the Orel-Belgorod front today, presumably because of losses ranging up to 45,000 men and 2,622 tanks in seven days, and the government newspaper Izvestia said it was becoming clear that the Axis summer offensive has failed. Though the Germans continued to hurl reinforcements against the Soviet lines at the southern end of the front, communiques and dispatches emphasized that the Soviets everywhere were holding firm and taking a heavy toll of Nazi men and machines.

STILL RAGES 

The battle was said to be still in the indecisive stage, but the Russian defense has passed into what the high command called “the active phase” with the defenders taking the initiative to prevent the enemy from imposing his battle plan.

A communique reported that the Germans, “having lost hope of breaking through” Soviet defenses on the Orel-Kursk sector, attacked only at scattered points and with smaller forces yesterday. In one sector, it said, German infantry and tanks penetrated Soviet trenches, but were thrown back to their initial positions by a Russian counterattack. One thousand of the enemy were killed and 13 tanks, six guns, 25 machine guns and a trench mortar battery destroyed.

LITTLE GAIN 

The entire German gain during seven days of some of the heaviest attacks of the war was only three-quarters of a mile in the Orel-Kursk sector, a dispatch said. With the apparent stalemate northern end of the front, the Germans switched operational reserves of armor, troops and aircraft to their southern end, around Belgorod, in another day of futile attempts to widen a breach in the Soviet line.One Soviet detachment was credited with annihilating 3,000 German troops in repulsing two heavy attacks. Soviet tanks in,another sector carried out a sudden flanking thrust and knocked out 45 Nazi tanks. Three thousand German troops and 20 tanks attacked Russian positions in a third sector, but were repulsed in a 12-hour battle.


* * * * *

ALLIES AIR FORGE POUNDING AT AXIS

Supply Lines And Airdromes Blasted

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS IN NORTH AFRICA, July 13. Allied air forces supported the land campaign in Sicily today with systematic, devastating attacks on the supply link from the Italian mainland, Sicilian airdromes, troops, and trains. American Flying Fortresses bombed traffic to a standstill between the eastern Sicilian port of Messina and the mainland ports of Reggio Calabria and San Giovanni.

* * * * *

In Spirit But Not in Body

Mussolini in Sicily Message to Troops

By United Press - 

Premier Mussolini, according to Radio Rome, has sent the following message to his forces in Sicily:

“I am with you in spirit.”

In August, 1937, Mussolini said in a speech in Sicily; “Not one enemy soldier will never (sic) land in Sicily.”


* * * * *


ALLIED FORCES ARE ADVANCING 

NAVY FORCES JOIN ARMIES SICILY BLOW

Great Axis Sea And Plane Base Reached As Allies Advance

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS, North Africa, July 13. — Allied armed forces sweeping across southeastern Sicily have captured the vital Italian naval base of Augusta, pushed 25 miles inland to seize the railroad towns of Floridia, Palazzolo and Ragusa and landed British assault troops on the beaches near Catania. The swift offensive blows of the American, British and Canadian troops, backed by a spreading aerial assault and a naval bombardment of Augusta, extended the allied base for drives northward toward Messina and northwestward toward Caltanissetta despite renewed axis counter attacks.

EXPECTED COUNTERS FAIL 

The expected major enemy counter blows still had failed to develop although resistance was stiffening and the Americans were engaged in hard fighting on the south coast. Augusta was captured with slight losses, according to a headquarters announcement.

The harbor installations at Augusta were reported intact, indicating that the Italians had not had time or inclination to carry out a scorched earth program. An Italian communique for the first time mentioned an allied bridgehead at Augusta, indicating that intermediary port may have been captured. Radio London said U. S. troops were attacking Agrigento, 25 miles northwest of Licata in southern Italy.

HEAVY FORCES 

Swedish dispatches quoted German reports that the allies had landed seven infantry divisions—normally 105,000 men—and two tank divisions in the first two days of the invasion. One tank division was identified as American and the other as British.

The threat to Augusta, an Axis, seaplane and submarine base 33 miles south of Catania, arose from the capture of Syracuse on the first day of the invasion Saturday.

American forces were slowly fanning out from their bridgeheads in the Locata-Gela area of the south coast and massing strength to meet an anticipated major axis counterattack from the west.

(A German communique said fierce fighting was continuing in Sicily. Twenty-five enemy planes were shot down over Sicily and Sardinia yesterday and heavy losses were inflicted on the allied landing fleet, the communique said.)

While torpedo planes concentrated on enemy shipping, bombers from both the northwest African and middle-eastern commands struck at enemy ports and airfields, both on Sicily and on the nearby Italian mainland, and other aircraft shot up enemy troops and transport concentrations in support of ground forces. Two axis supply ships were sunk, a third was damaged badly and two destroyers were left aflame from bow to stern by torpedo aircraft under the command of air Vice Marshal Sir Hugh Pugh Lloyd.

WARSHIPS AID 

Strong allied naval forces also joined in the offensive again, shelling the vital Italian naval base at Augusta on the east coast while minesweepers “swept the bridgehead to Augusta',” according to a communique from the headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. The planes caught the ships, which were carrying supplies and reinforcements to Sicily, in the Tyrrhenian sea between Sardinia and Sicily Sunday night and attacked in the face of heavy aircraft fire. The destroyers were damaged so badly that they probably sank. Two other axis ships were reported hit in Sicilian waters.

Northwest African Flying Fortresses, pacing the day’s bombing offensive, were credited with destroying two vital railroad bridges at Messina, terminus of the Sicilian ferry line from the toe of the Italian boot.

BOMB MAINLAND 

Simultaneously, 100 American Liberators from the middle-eastern command dropped more than 650,000 pounds of explosives on the mainland ports of Reggio Calabria and San Giovanni, across Messina Strait from Sicily, in furtherance of the campaign to isolate the island from reinforcements.

General Dave, commander of the Italian 206th coastal division, was captured along with many prisoners in addition to around 6,000 previously reported taken by the allies. Many counterattacks were repulsed, especially by the Americans in hard fighting near Gela, and enemy tanks (all of French Origin) were destroyed.

With the fall of Augusta indicated as imminent, the allied forces were described as making satisfactory progress on all fronts in what appears to be an all-out onslaught to complete their control of the whole southeastern triangle of Sicily up to the plains of Cantania.

The Italian navy, except for submarine, had not yet been encountered in any strength and the Germans, for the moment, showed no definite signs of deciding where to throw the bulk of their armor in Sicily. Experts said the axis defense for the moment appeared “nervous.”




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First Batch of Axis Prisoners Arriving

ADVANCED BASE, July 12 (Delayed).—The first batch of axis prisoners captured in Sicily—1,000 ragged, poorly dressed and weary Italians and four Germans—arrived today under guard of American soldiers.

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From The Madera Tribune, 14 July 1943:


ALLIES SMASH WAY IN SICILY

FLEETS AND AIR FORCES AID TROOPS

American And British Troops Are Pounding Rapidly Into Sicily

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS, North Africa, July 14. — American forces, supported by United States warship bombardments, smashed forward six to 10 miles in south Sicily and captured the important axis base at Comiso today while British assault troops pressed up the eastern coast toward shell-pitted Catania.

Axis resistance appeared to be stiffening but the Americans under Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., hammered their way into Naro, Palma and Porto Olivo following a junition with the Canadians at captured Gagusa, and were reported about 30 mies inland at some points.

Radio Algiers said the Americans knocked out 10 Nazi tanks in battles against Italians and the Hermann Goering division.)

The capture of Naro and Comiso was believed to have greatly improved the Americans’ position in the south, where the hardest fighting so far had centered around Gela. The Americans were thrown back there but rallied to advance against Italian and and German counterattacks.

Their latest gains consolidated their grip on the mountain roads and provided bases for thrusts northward from the Comiso-Ragusa area.

BATTER CATANIA 

On the east coast, where allied warships and air squadrons battered Catania airport, the British had not yet reported big scale enemy counterattacks. It was said there was no fighting as yet in or immediately around Catania, which has not been captured by the allies. The town of Mellili also was reported still in Axis hands, although it was bypassed by the British coastal forces that captured the big naval base at Augusta early this morning.

Catania airport was shelled from the sea and smothered by many tons of aerial bombs, according to today's communique, which said that disembarkation operations - which previously had been unofficially reported near to Catania - “proceeded smoothly.” The points of disembarkation were not given In the communique.

While the American warships smashed Axis tank columns and air fields on the south coast of Sicily, the British and Canadian drive up the east coast toward Catania smashed an entire Italian division and boosted the estimated number of prisoners to around 3000, mostly Italians.

BATTLE DEVELOPING 

(Axis broadcasts reported that big battles were developing in the mountains south of Catania, indicating that the Germans and Italians were making their most important stand so far.)

The communique said that Greek and British destroyers shelled the port of Augusta,, main Italian naval base on the east coast, at 4 p. m. Tuesday and that allied forces occupied that port early this (Wednesday) morning. The Augusta harbor facilities were almost intact and the Italian 206th coastal division virtually was destroyed in the operations on the east coast, where Catania airfield was heavily shelled by allied warships early Tuesday. The communique said that despite some enemy bombing attacks the “disembarkation proceeded smoothly,” presumably close to Cantania.

MANY PRISONERS 

The allies seized at least 2,OOO more prisoners, mostly Italians, while a flotilla of MTB’s (motor torpedo boats) operating in the straits of Messina, engaged two axis torpedo boats which were set ablaze and driven ashore. A third enemy boat was damaged but escaped. (American troops had been reported pushing westward from Licata toward Agrigento against stiff opposition.)

The communique said there were further general advances in all sectors, following capture of Augusta, Ragusa and Maro. The American and Canadian forces had made a junction yesterday at Ragusa, cutting off the whole southwestern tip of the island and seizing important communications centers.

American forces in the Gela-Licata sector appeared to be encountering the strongest opposition and it appeared that the American warship bombardments in that sector were an effort to aid in securing and extending the bridgehead as swiftly as possible.


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Please link to Articles: D-Day Sicily, July 11 - 12, 1943 - Part 4.

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