Friday, February 24, 2017

Context: The Day Before D-Day Sicily.

D-Day Minus One - A Busy News Day

"Aerial Gunners - Soon to be seen over Sicily"
Movie Ad, The Montreal Star, July 9, 1943

More than 'aerial gunners' were approaching Sicily on July 9, 1943. The biggest armada of all time, up to that point in history, loomed on the horizon. Canadians in Combined Operations stood by their landing craft, and unbeknownst to them, they were headed toward thirty days of dangerous, strenuous action unlike anything previously experienced.

Headlines and numerous articles from the July 9 issue of The Montreal Star provide context for the ominous day just ahead:

ALGIERS, July 9 - (B.U.P.) - Allied convoys are plying the Mediterranean in a seemingly endless progression, bringing new piles of war materials for the invasion armies based in North Africa, an airplane trip over the coast disclosed yesterday.

(An Axis dispatch broadcast from Paris said the Allies' North African Army totalled 44 infantry and 20 armored divisions, or about 1,000,000 men. The forces, this dispatch said, include two divisions of parachutists and special landing forces.

(A German report said a big convoy passed Gibraltar without stopping yesterday and that seven british hospital ships steamed out of that base into the Mediterranean, leaving behind an aircraft carrier, four destroyers and 30 merchant vessels.

(An Exchange Telegraph report from Istanbul said Nazi Field Marshal Fritz Von Manstein had left to inspect the defences of crete after presiding over a military council meeting at Athens.)

A journey over the coast line in an American DC-3 transport plane made it plain why Axis radios are pouring out speculation on when and where the Allies will invade Europe.

"Ships and Ships All Day"

Months ago the stockpiles began increasing - landing craft of every description, tanks, vast stores of munitions, food and Red Cross supplies.

Warhawk fighter pilots at one fighter station complained that their job of protecting the convoys was becoming boring because they see nothing but "ships and ships all day."

A trip of two months from Cairo along the coast, with visits to key points, disclosed nothing concerning where the invasion forces will strike first. But the Axis idea - anywhere between the Turkish and Spanish frontiers - might be right.

One possibility was that attacks would come simultaneously at either end  of the Mediterranean, one slamming into Italy and france and the other into Greece. A more remote chance was that Turkey might join the Allies, providing air bases dominating all of Southeastern Europe and a convenient jumping off place for troops heading through the Balkans.


ALLIED HEADQUARTERS, North Africa, July 9 - (B.U.P.) - Sicily rocked under its sixth day of non-stop aerial bombardment yesterday as ceaseless waves of Allied bombers pounded its airdromes and communications in a pre-invasion offensive against the outer defenses of Southern Europe, it was announced today.

Striking simultaneously from Northwest Africa and Middle East bases, every type of plane in the Allies' southern arsenal heaped new destruction on the five chief Sicilian airdromes and their satellite landing grounds and on the East Coast port of Catania.

Heavy and medium bombers from the Northwest African air forces wrecked parked planes, hangars, runways, supply dumps and other installations at the Gerbini, Comiso, Biscari, Catania and Sciacca network of airfields yesterday and the previous night. Fighter-bombers concentrated their bombs, shells and bullets on trains, power plants, switches and other vital communications and transportation links. Lightnings also strafed and sank a small schooner off Sicily.

Four-engined American Liberators from the Middle East Command joined in the offensive with daylight raids on Catania Wednesday and yesterday, while R.A.F. heavy bombers took up the slack with a raid on the same port Wednesday night.

Italians Claim Successes

Two waves of Liberators dropped 250,000 pounds of explosives on Catania yesterday. Eight intercepting enemy planes were shot down, four others were probably destroyed and one was damaged. Two Liberators were lost and the American crewmen were machine-gunned by enemy fighters while parachuting.

Though opposition continued on a reduced scale, 40 Axis fighters pounced on a formation of Boston medium bombers over Sciacca, but were driven off by escorting fighters.

(An Italian communique said Italian torpedo planes sank three large merchant ships totalling 40,000 tons and severely damaged a 3,000-ton vessel off the North African Coast.)

Opposition was slight, presumably as result of the crushing weight of bombs that have already blanketed Sicily's defences from one end of the island to the other. Eleven Allied planes were lost from the two African commands, but 18 intercepting fighters were shot down....

In the Wednesday night raid on Catania, R.A.F. heavy bombers touched off fires in barrack buildings, but weather conditions and smoke from the daylight attack prevented further observation of results. Other targets along the east coast of Sicily also were bombed.

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The Montreal Star offers the following story about a Nazi boast, perhaps in reference to high-powered bombs delivered by rockets:


Tank and Projector Hit Russians, Say Huns

NEW YORK, July 9 - (A.P.) - Berlin broadcasts recorded by the Associated press reported yesterday that the Germans were employing two new weapons in their drive on the Russian front - a new design tank and a vaguely-described artillery weapon called a "projector."

The tanks were said to be heavier than the 60-ton Mark VI Tigers and "details of these super-Tigers are still treated as a military secret," said one broadcast. It quoted German military circles as reported by Transocean agency.

Another broadcast said a German war correspondent, Hans Ludwig Meyer, transmitted the first mention of the "projector" permitted by the censorship.

He said "projector" batteries took part in the artillery preparation for an attack and gave this description of the effect of the new weapon:

"The woody country through which we are now advancing is no longer forest. Small stumps of trees show that this was once a magnificent forest. The whole terrain looks as if a giant steam roller had gone over it. It is impossible that there is still a human being alive here. We stumble over the first-killed Soviets. There is not only one crater but more than 100 in a small area. The air pressure of these innumerable impacts must extinguish all life."

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And then on another note:

Pilot Falls 20,000 Feet - Then Jumps

New Delhi, July 9 - (C.P.) - A record-breaking delayed parachute drop was made by an R.A.F. pilot, Warrant Officer Francis D. C. Brown, of Canterbury, New Zealand, who fell 20,000 feet while unconscious and lived to tell about it.

In a half-dazed condition Brown pulled his rip-cord when only 3,000 feet from the ground and landed safely. He escaped from his plane after it had been damaged.


REGINA, July 9 - (C.P.) - F. J. Knudson, barrister of Cupar, Sask., has a flower garden of which he is proud for in that garden are five peonies which at present have a total of 325 blooms and buds. One of the peonies has 109 blooms and buds which Mr. Knudson believes is a record.

Editor - And until I hear otherwise, the record still stands!

* * * * *

Canada's Prime Minister Mackenzie King not only states that the invasion of Italy and Sicily is imminent - the day before Operation HUSKY - but shares his thoughts about a United Nations concept to ensure peace in the future: 

OTTAWA, July 9 - (C.P.) - Premier King said today in the House of Commons that the aerial and commando assaults against Italy and Sicily, Sardinia and crete, are parts of a single strategy which the immediate future may be expected rapidly to unfold.

"The war in 1943 must be thought of as a vital part of the war of liberation of the oppressed countries of Europe, of which the liberation of the French Empire in Africa was both an essential and a memorable prelude," Mr. King said.

The Japanese had made "determined efforts" to build and fortify bases for submarines, seaplanes and other aircraft at the Aleutian islands of Attu and Kiska. During May, Japanese forces had been driven out of Attu, which now was under American control. "Kiska remains a potential theatre of attack upon our shores, and upon other parts of this continent," he said.

Mr. King described the new German offensive on 200 miles of the Russian central front. along with the intensified bombings of strategic targets over Europe, as "a place of new beginnings in the war in Europe."

The Premier said that the time is approaching "when, even before victory is won, the concept of the United Nations will have to be embodied in some form of international organization." Speaking in a review of international affairs during discussion of External Affairs Department estimates, Mr. King said that, on one hand, authority in the international affairs must not be concentrated exclusively in the larger powers.


"On the other, authority cannot be divided equally among all the 30 or more sovereign states that comprise the United Nations or all the effective authority will disappear. A number of new international institutions were likely to be set up as a result of the war," he said.

Editor - Though the war is far from over in July, 1943, confidence among Allied countries must be growing if discussions about the future responsibilities and shape of the United Nations is on the table.

"King George VI stands before the bridge of the cruiser Aurora as it enters Malta harbor,
June 20, and salutes the island fortress." Photo - The Montreal Star, July 9, 1943

By Henry Shapiro

MOSCOW, July 9 - (B.U.P.) - Southern Front dispatches reported today that hundreds of 60-ton German "Tiger" tanks were ablaze in the Belgorod sector, reflecting a growing belief that the Red Army was gaining the upper hand in the biggest armored battle of all time.

"We have tamed the terrible Tiger," was the war cry ringing through the field reports which said Russian tanks had stormed into the titanic battle to reinforce Soviet artillery, armor busters and grenade-throwers against the Nazis' steel monsters.

The great armored battle swirled through penetrated Soviet defences in the Belgorod region at the southern end of the thundering battle line, where the Red Army was throwing in every ounce of available strength to stem the Nazi onrush. (The British radio said Moscow correspondents expected a climax in the battle within 48 hours. A Stockholm report of the National Broadcasting Company said the Germans admitted that "rivers of blood" had been drawn from both sides.)

As the Soviets threw their armored forces into a concerted effort to close the Belgorod breaches in their positions and stop the long delayed German summer offensive, Red Army counter-attacks steadily improved the situation to the north in the Kursk-Belgorod region. The fifth day of the offensive brought a growing conviction in Soviet quarters that the Russians had mastered a technique for handling the 60-tonners spearheading  the German armored onslaught.

Tigers Burning

"The Tigers are burning" was the caption over dispatches in the Government organ Izvestia and the Army organ Red Star telling of dozens of miles of battlefront studded with flaming German tanks. The Russian "Tiger-hunters" have averaged a daily bag of roughly 500 German tanks so far in the battle, and "the Tiger is not as black as Hitler painted him," the dispatched said.

Despite the mounting confidence here, the struggle was reported developing at an unslackened pace, and some Soviet quarters predicted even more massive and intense fighting. The titanic tank battle followed four days in which Soviet artillery anti-tank guns and infantrymen armed with gasoline-filled pop bottles had knocked out nearly two-thirds of the Germans' 3,000 available tanks in bearing the brunt of the heaviest armored assault of all time aimed at either end of a 165-mile sector of the Southern Front.

Though Soviet forces at the northern end of the sector held firm and even gained ground in counter-attacks, those around Belgorod, to the south, gradually fell back under the overwhelming weight of the attack.

Tanks Thrown In

When 60-ton Tiger tanks punched two new holes in the Soviet outer defences yesterday, the Red Army ordered its own armored forces into battle and at last reports the opposing tank forces were battling it out on the Russian plains.

(The German High Command said a tremendous tank battle had developed behind breached Soviet positions with the Russians making the "greatest efforts" to stem ever-advancing wedges. Russian losses were given as 420 tanks, many guns, and 117 planes.)

Another headline, The Montreal Star, July 9th

AN ADVANCED ALLIED AIR BASE IN NORTH AFRICA, July 8 - (Delayed) - (A.P.) - Marshal Sir Arthur William Tedder, R.A.F. Air Chief of the Mediterranean Air Command, is slowly reducing Italy's first line defence - the ports and airfields of Sicily.

Operating from bases in Northwest Africa, Malta, and Libya in the Middle East, the great Allied air force is now in the fourth stage of its campaign, which since december has dealt destruction and chaos to important objectives.

The initial stage opened in November with raids on West Sicilian ports feeding supplies to the german Africa corps and other enemy forces in Tunisia. Attacks on Eastern Sicilian ports, principally Catania and the vital train ferry terminus at Messina, came second, followed by the bombardment of airports in Western Sicily. In the fourth or present stage Sicilian air bases are receiving the hardest punch.

The campaign is being advanced without giving any key objective a rest or a chance to rebuild. Besides the pounding by bombers, fighter-bombers are skipping treetops far and wide and strafing everything from radio installations to locomotives. 

Some Opposition

Fighter opposition has ranged from none at all on some days to more than 100 planes on other days. Allied bombers and their escorts destroyed more than 100 planes in the air and on the ground during the past four days. Since the fall of Tunisia several hundred have been knocked out.

Palermo, Marsala, and Trapani, all in Northwestern Sicily, were the first big targets. Heavy and medium night bombers concentrated on harbor installations, severely curtailing the shipment of supplies to North Africa and contributing greatly to the Allies' victory in Tunisia. Bombardment of these parts is being followed up periodically - just to make sure they are not restored.

After the western ports came the interruption of the Messina train ferry - again with regular follow-ups - until four or five ferries operating across the seven-mile strait to Italy were damaged. That blow all but disrupted the fastest and most satisfactory method of getting supplies to the island. The number two eastern port of Catania was hit nearly as hard.

Airports Suffer

The western airports suffered next, first from fragmentation bombs. After them came demolition bombs, filling the runways with craters. Castelvetrano was hit the hardest and raids were conducted recurrently against Bocca di Falco, Sciacca, Trapani, Milo, Borizzo, Licata and Porto Empedocle.

In the fourth stage of the bombing campaign Sicily's great eastern air base at Gerbini, a large field with several smaller stations grouped around it, had been attacked both by day and by night, despite the strongest fighter resistance that has been mustered at any single point.

The important airfields at Comiso, Biscari and Catania also were hit hard, along with smaller bases ay Syracuse, Mazara del Vallo and Catanzaro. Italy is still using these fields, but the attempted restoration of bomb-pocked runways is far from satisfactory.

Movie ad, The Montreal Star, July 9, 1943

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OTTAWA, July 9 - (C.P.) - Air Marshal L.S. Breadner, Chief of Air Staff, announced today that "a number of Canadian Wellington bomber squadrons" have arrived in North Africa and have had "many exciting experiences" already.

Canadian airmen have been serving for many months in North Africa but, except for one fighter squadron, they have been attached to R.A.F. squadrons. The squadrons to which the Air Marshal referred are R.C.A.F. squadrons, commanded by Canadians....

The Air Marshal's statement that the Canadian squadrons have had "many exciting experiences" in the short time they have been in North Africa was taken as an indication that the squadrons have been taking part in the recent heavy attacks in the Mediterranean area....


R.A.F. 'Heavies' Resume Mass Assaults on Ruhr

LONDON, July 9 - (C.P.) - The R.A.F., returning to the assault on Germany after a four-night lull in the Allied aerial offensive, made a heavy attack on the Rhineland industrial centre of Cologne last night, the Air Ministry announced today. Eight bombers were lost in the raid, the announcement said.

Mines also were laid in enemy waters during the night and British fighters on intruder patrols simultaneously attacked enemy airfields and railway targets in France and Northwest Germany. Three German minesweepers were reported damaged in sweeps along the French coast.

Day Fighters Active

The heavy British bombers had scarcely returned from their night foray over Germany when formations of Allied fighters swept out across the Channel in the direction of Northern france to continue the offensive by daylight. Britain, meanwhile, passed a raid-free night.

The attack on Cologne was the 119th on that bomb-battered city, target of the first great 1,000-bombed raid a year ago. The big Rhineland industrial centre had been attacked twice before within the last two weeks - once on June 28 and again last Saturday night. Both assaults were highly concentrated.

The R.A.F.'s big bombers had not been out since last Saturday night's raid, when in co-operation with R.C.A.F. aircraft they also struck at Hamburg and targets in the Ruhr. Operations since then have been limited to comparatively minor operations against communications and airfields in occupied territory by intruder patrols.

A Berlin broadcast recorded by the Associated Press, following the usual line taken by Nazi propagandists, described last night's assault as a "terror raid" directed against residential areas. The broadcast indicated that other targets in the Rhineland were hit on, in addition to Cologne, however.

Weather Clears

The R.A.F. night raiders were favored by good weather, the skies clearing last evening after a day of thunderstorms. Despite the unfavorable conditions yesterday, R.A.F. Typhoons and Mustangs carried out offensive patrols over Northern France and the Low Countries. The planes were reported to have destroyed one German aircraft and damaged several locomotives. One R.A.F. plane was listed as lost in the sallies.

Yesterday, R.C.A.F. squadrons also prowled over Northern France on offensive patrols, destroying a number of enemy aircraft and damaging locomotives. R.C.A.F. headquarters reported that all planes returned safely from their missions.

Something for everyone, at work or play, in The Montreal Star,
July 9, 1943. Photos above from Microfilm 

Please link to Context: D-Day Sicily 2 Days Off.

Unattributed Photos GH

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Context: D-Day Sicily 2 Days Off.

Lots of News From Europe on July 8, 1943

Cartoon from The Montreal Star June 8, by James G. Reidford

Front page news about the progress of World War 2 included the following, definitely related to the Canadians in Combined Operations responsible for operating and maintaining various landing craft headed toward Sicily and the beginning of Operation HUSKY. News of attacks upon defences and strategic locations in Sicily appear regularly:


Big Fleet Units Reported Leaving Gibraltar

LONDON, July 8 - (C.P.) - The Berlin radio reported today that battle units of the Allied Mediterranean Fleet, reinforced by recently arrived American cruisers and aircraft carriers, had left Gibraltar, leading "to the supposition that the American Allied Commander is preparing for an attack against Europe."

The broadcast, recorded by the Associated Press, declared that the Allies, in addition to strong concentrations of warships and transports, have 44 infantry divisions and 15 to 20 tank formations poised between Morocco and Syria. These forces were said to include parachute battalions and airborne troops  whose task the broadcast declared, "would be to create at first one or two bridgeheads."

"At first sight," the German radio said, "these figures would appear considerable, but at least half of the Allied forces are regionally and locally tied down," in Algeria, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus and elsewhere.

Claim Troops Untrained

Other forces also are held down by a complicated supply system, while "it is an open secret that Gen. Eisenhower's American divisions have still to be thoroughly overhauled as regards training," the broadcast said.

The broadcast, by the propaganda agency known as the "International Information Bureau", declared that among the fleet units leaving Gibraltar were two British battleships of the King George class - which includes the King George V, Duke of York, Anson and Howe.

Several hundred thousand tons of merchant shipping still remain concentrated at Gibraltar, the Germans said. The broadcast reports concerning Allied naval movements and man-power were totally without confirmation from any Allied source.

Convoys clustered around Gibraltar's defences.
Photo Credit - Avalanche Press

* * * * *

Air Showdown Predicted

LONDON, July 8 - (B.U.P.) - Reliable air observers here believed today that Allied and Axis Air Forces were being massed for a showdown battle for control of the air over the Mediterranean.

British and United States Forces based in North Africa have launched a new concentrated blitz against air fields, ports and communications throughout Sicily, Sardinia and the toe of the Italian mainland. Air observers said this could be interpreted only as a major effort to soften enemy defences and attempt to drive Axis Air Forces from mediterranean skies.

After some weeks of hesitation, the Axis apparently had decided to accept the challenge and may be committing substantial  forces to the defence of italy and the Italian islands.

 Nazi Field Marshal Kesselring, previously commander of Luftwaffe Air Fleet Number Two, was believed to have assumed supreme command of all Axis operations in the Mediterranean. 

Italian Islands Blasted

By Reynolds Packard

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS, North Africa, July 8 - (B.U.P.) - Allied air fleets, smashing Axis defences on the island invasion routes in Italy, pounded airfields on Sicily and Sardinia for the fifth straight day on Wednesday and centred a day-long assault on Gerbini, where 19 waves of bombers pulverized enemy fighter defences.

Flying Fortresses, Mitchells and Marauders blanketed Gerbini and its adjacent airfields with bombs, touching off big fires without meeting an Axis plane. Raids on Gerbini  have torn apart the Sicilian airdrome every day this week.

Eight Axis air bases, five of them on Sicily, felt the destructive weight of Allied bombs in the day and night attacks yesterday. At the same time the raiders again blasted Italian communications in Palermo, Mazara and the Sciacca harbor area, all on Sicily. 

As the day for the assault against Europe appeared to be coming closer, waves of Allied bombers swept over to pulverize the Gerbini airfields on Sicily and pile wreckage on Milis, Villacidro and Pabillonis airfields on Sardinia.

Opposition Weak

Fighter opposition yesterday continued on a reduced scale and of the few score Axis planes seen, Allied gunners shot down 10 and dispersed the others. Five Allied planes were lost. Anti-aircraft fire, apparently the chief weapon left to the defenders on the stepping stones toward the continent, ranged from moderate to intense.

Flying Fortresses, Marauders and Mitchells concentrated on Sicily. The Sardinia raids were carried out by R.A.F. Wellingtons. Fighter-bombers patrolled Sicily and P-40 Warhawks hit at railroads, highways and ammunition dumps through Western Sicily. Along a railroad line in Western Sicily, one group of Warhawks set afire a locomotive and four freight cars with low level attacks, while other flights successfully bombed warehouses and harbor installations near Sciacca.

"The P-40 was the workhorse of the Allied aerial arsenal right through 1944." 
Photo Credit - Ace Pilots

Comiso Raided Again

Mitchells hit much-bombed Comiso, in Southeast Sicily, in a late afternoon raid, dropping nearly 50 tons of bombs. Two waves of fighter-bombers got direct hits with 500-pound bombs at Porto Empedocle on the Sicilian coast.

Boston night bombers caught many Axis aircraft on the ground in a raid on Borrizzo air field in Northwest Sicily. R.A.F. Baltimores, escorted by Warhawks, hit the same target three times, the escort shooting down six enemy aircraft. The communique reported destruction of two additional enemy planes on Tuesday, bringing that day's total to three.

Flying Baltimores' South African pilots concentrated on the Milo airfield on Sicily, setting fires they could watch blazing up for miles as they turned back for home.

Nazis Order Alert

By John A. Parris

LONDON, July 8 - (B.U.P.) - The Axis High Command has ordered a state of siege on Crete and two other key Aegean islands on the Balkan invasion route, an Ankara dispatch said today as Lisbon reported almost daily arrival of convoys in North Africa with huge quantities of war material for Allied Armies.

Axis broadcasts estimated the Allies had concentrated 1,000,000 tons of shipping on the coast of North Africa, presumably including the vessels and equipment needed to move against the European coastline. Siege orders affecting Crete, nearby Scarpanto and Lero Island to the north followed a British Commando-like raid feeling out the Crete defences, reportedly manned by 180,000 German troops, Ankara said.

Rhodes, eastern anchor of the Axis outer defence line, was not included but Ankara reported an attack there might be expected any time. Rhodes was said to be defended by five blackshirt and three regular Italian divisions, possibly 120,000 men.

Convoy Light Loss

Lisbon said the convoys moving past Gibraltar suffered only insignificant losses because of strong air and naval escorts. It was indicated the convoys carried all kinds of materials needed for the storming of the Axis coastline.

The Hellenic News Service reported that Italian troops, beaten in a battle with Greek guerrillas in the Trikkala area of Northern greece, rushed in reinforcements, forced the irregulars to retire and burned the villages of Mouzakion and Mavromati.

The Axis was reported having other troubles inside its 6,250-mile defence coastline. A Yugoslav spokesman said a guerrilla offensive cleared the territory between the Drina river and the town of Olova of Axis troops, and that three towns have been seized.

Benito Mussolini threw 60 members of the Florentine aristocracy into concentration camps for defeatism, the Daily Mail said in a Geneva dispatch.

* * * * *

The Montreal Star, July 8 1943.


Mightiest Armadas Yet Amassed Await Action
in Mediterranean

By Hugh Baillie

From the July 8, 1943 issue of The Montreal Star comes a story with an American perspective:

[The Allied Forces in North Africa have a stern fight in any forthcoming invasion and are making their plans accordingly, Hugh Baillie writes in the following up-to-the-minute report of the Mediterranean military situation. Baillie arrived in North Africa this week by combat Fortress after a flying visit to London. His dispatch is based on talks with high Allied officials in the British capital as well as in Algiers.]

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS, North Africa, July 8 - (U.P.) - The gigantic challenge confronting the Allies in assaulting Hitler's European fortress slaps you in the face when you enter this war theatre and become aware of the tremendous preparations underway.

Back in Washington they talk of an offensive being "mounted". Here you see it. You also realize where your young men, gasoline, rubber tires and beef have gone.

As president Roosevelt said, the enemy will be hit until he doesn't know his bow from his stern. Prime Minister Churchill said it would occur before the leaves of autumn fall. When or where, who can say?

Tension Fills Air  

There is tension in the air. There is no thought of a quick, easy victory. A tremendously formidable enemy must be pounded to pieces mathematically with air power, sea power and, above all, man power. No quick Axis fold-up, similar to the last days in Tunisia, is expected. That Tunisian surrender was the result of a pulverizing drive, the full velocity of which may not be comprehended until history gives it perspective.

The head of this colossal organization is dynamic Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who apparently is able to come pretty close to being several places at once. He uses planes as civil war generals use horses to get around over a war area of 2,000 miles - roughly equivalent to the distance from New York to Salt Lake city. In one day he visited eight airdromes, flew 1,500 miles, and spent the remainder of his time inspecting, conferring, arranging and making decisions which must be right the first time - there is no second guessing in this business.

Allied leaders in the Sicilian campaign. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower meets in
N. Africa with Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, Gen. Sir Harold Alexander,
Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham.
Photo Credit - Wikipedia

Despite the weather Eisenhower looks fresh and unruffled. He is no showman. He stages no act, but he works intensively. As supreme commander of all land, sea and air forces he carries one of the heaviest responsibilities ever placed on the shoulders of any general in all the history of warfare, but without a trace of fatigue or strain.

Staggering Task

Other campaigns and other wars will be dwarfed by this one. In the last war the enemy lay in mud trenches and concrete pill boxes behind barbed wire across a narrow space called No Man's Land, and yet you recall what unrelenting efforts were required to oust him. Here the enemy lies behind the Mediterranean Sea with fortified islands as outer bastions. The enemy has had plenty of time to prepare due to the staggering task of transporting men and equipment to this distant shore in sufficient quantities.

Yet that was only the beginning. No doubt the enemy beyond the mediterranean has now constructed the most modern mantraps, accumulated the latest killing equipment and concentrated the best firepower devisable by the devilish ingenuity and brains which have a peculiar genius for war and for making war atrocious.

Nobody here expects it will be any picnic, any triumphal whirlwind. It will not be another October, 1918, when the Germans collapsed. People who have such ideas at home are kidding themselves. The phrase "Europe's soft underbelly" is believed to be a serious misnomer.

Armadas compared to which the Spanish Armada was a collection of paper boats sailed by a child in a bathtub, are moving. These ships are likely to become mere mathematical calculations when figured in terms of tonnages but when seen in masses on the Mediterranean they come alive.

Strange Weapons Ready

They look vital and purposeful, and you know they carry the hopes of the American and British peoples for victory - not in terms of statistics but in terms of young men, tanks, ammunition, hospital apparatus and blood plasma. And of weapons, the very names of which have not yet appeared in news dispatches.

Many harbours and many cities with exotic names and flavors are scenes of intense activity. Yet there is no feeling of hullaballoo or confusion. Precision timing seems to dominate. It's a very business-like proceeding, only it is bigger than any business enterprise the world ever saw. 

Allied assault troops board American invasion craft in North Africa while, in the
background, fully loaded landing craft set sail for Sicily. Photo - WW 2 Today

Practically every male is in uniform, but the uniforms are working clothes. A majority of the youngsters resemble football players trained to the finest physical perfection, husky, tough, eager. They expect to win, but not without a fight and they are geared right up to it whether the attack comes soon or late. They appreciate that they are going to have to hit hard when they do hit. The terrific weight which was necessary to slug Pantelleria into submission may be but a small sample of what is ahead.

There may be many more Dieppes, magnificent manyfold, as overseas operations against hostile coasts are always tough. Hitler did not risk it against England even when he was riding the crest of the wave after Dunkirk.

The fact that air power is expected to play the most important role is manifested not only by the present fierce air battles which show that the Axis still possesses hordes of fighters, but also by the existence of huge Allied airdromes. No doubt from a military view the Allies could use plenty more planes, but to a layman's eyes it looks like all the airplanes in the world have come to this arena for what may develop into the greatest test of the Luftwaffe's strength since the Battle of Britain. 

Welding all of these elements into a tornado of explosion, fire and bayonetting which will pulverize the enemy when the proper time comes staggers the imagination. And shoving the organization of it along at such a rate, that only a few weeks after the Tunisian surrender the enemy doesn't know when or where he is going to be hit next, constitutes one of the greatest feats of this or any war.

Ceremony Absent

One thing that strikes you here is the absence of military ceremony. There is no time for much traditional ritual, but nevertheless there is an occasional touch of it when a distant bugle sounds or the shrill piping of a boatswain's whistle comes over the waters.

Some cities here resemble Hollywood streets, crowded with Arabs, veiled women, striking blondes unveiled, soldiers looking rumpled, sweaty sailors in shorts, French architecture, fantastically ragged beggars, turbans, fezzes, steel helmets, burnooses, kilts, berets, big American cars, tiny European cars and even some German volkswagons - those automobiles which Hitler was going to put in every German garage. Some of them were captured when the Yanks showed up here in North Africa.

War is in the very air you breathe, grim and sinister. Nevertheless, with all this picturesqueness, sometimes it almost seems as if you were just around the corner from Sunset and Vine in Hollywood and you wouldn't be surprised to see the people troop into sound stage No. 20 after lunch at the cafeteria on the studio lot. It's real yet unreal. Like seeing a man electrocuted.

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Ad from The Montreal Star

Headline, The Montreal Star, July 8, 1943

 Under the above headline we can read the following:

TORONTO, July 8 - (C.P.) - The war production of the Unite Nations speaks to the world "in a big voice," Donald M. Nelson, chairman of the United States War Production Board, said today in an address prepared for delivery to the Canadian Club of Toronto. "And if the Nazi and the Jap warlords are not completely insane, they will recognize that the voice is the voice of doom," he added.

Mr. Nelson told of the output of war materials in the United States in the United States and Canada. Since the outbreak of war, almost 115,000 planes were produced and before the end of this year "we will be producing a completed plane every 4 and 2/3rds minutes around the clock every day of the month."

More than 175,000 larger calibre guns of all kinds for the ground armies; nearly 1,500,00 machine guns and 6,000,000 rifles and sub-machine guns have been manufactured. Almost 200,000,000 rounds of artillery ammunition for naval guns - exclusive of ammunition for naval guns - have been made and about 25,000,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, "enough to let us fire over 1,500 bullets at every soldier in the Axis armies."

Close to 50,000 tanks and tank chassis have rolled off assembly lines and more than 1,600,000 trucks, he said.

Canada's Feat Cited

"I should like to point out to the Axis that Canada alone has turned out half-a=million trucks - or about one-third of the total - although her population is only about eight per cent of the combined population responsible for this record production," he added.

Of the 70,000 scout cars and similar combat vehicles produced annually, Canada is supplying close to 20,000.

"As for ships, I can tell you that our combined production of ocean-going merchant vessels since the start of the war now has reached 20,000,000 deadweight tons, and today our weight of production is over 22,000,000 deadweight tons a year.

"Not counting Mosquito craft and auxiliaries, naval vessels totalling more than 2,000,000 displacement tons have been completed. At current rates of production, these fast, modern fighting boats will be joined every month by sister ships totalling an average of about 200,000 tons.

"I think at this point we should warn the enemy not to take too much comfort from the so-called sagging of the home front in the united States in recent days," Mr. Nelson said. "I would like to be the last to attempt to minimize the serious effects of spasmodic strikes and riots on the war production program."

Effects Exaggerated

"On the other hand, there is a tendency to exaggerate the implications of these disturbances. The great bulk of war producers, both managers and workmen, in the United States have not been diverted from the essential tasks. For the first five months of 1943, for example, only 7/100ths of one per cent of production was delayed by strikes."

He said the war production schedules for this year and next "will tax us to the utmost." Every individual who plays a part either directly or indirectly in war production, will be expected to contribute a burst of energy to carry through to the conclusive defeat of the enemy.

"This renewed effort is aimed to defeat the enemy so crushingly that his spirit will be broken and the day of his unconditional surrender hastened. In accomplishing this purpose, we must do so at as low a cost as possible in the lives of our fighting men.

"We plan to produce an umbrella of safety and put it over the heads of the fighting men of the United Nations. We plan to lay down a barrage of safety before them as they advance. We plan to carry them through all the waters of the globe on their way to the fighting fronts.

"We cannot satisfy ourselves that we have done enough until we have done everything that we can do to conserve their young lives for the peacetime world to come," he said. 

Potent Weapon

Canadiana and Americans engaged in war production had learned what it means to stand together. The economic enterprise and intellectual exchange between countries had woven an ability to co-operate and a desire to co-operate more potent than mere political agreements.

"I wonder if it is generally realized how powerful a weapon we have in this ability and desire to work together. The Nazis and the Japs have allies too, but what a difference there is between their alliance and ours. Within the Axis, alliances are built on a rotting edifice of fear. Beneath that fear crawl the maggots of hate and distrust. Agreements between Axis nations are carved out with reluctance and suspicion.

"Men cannot work well, or fight well, when they are filled with resentment and suspicious of their own side. On the other hand, co-operation that grows out of goodwill is an energizing force. The Axis peoples can see which way the war is going," Mr. Nelson said.

"Our valiant Russian and Chinese Allies are bleeding the enemy white, destroying Axis manpower and resources in fierce fighting," he added. "Important accessions of strength are coming to our side from the Latin-American republics. The United Nations are turning on the heat. At Pantelleria, the Italians were given a taste of what this new trend means.

 "The great new armaments of the United nations are giving Germany's industrial cities not merely a taste, but a whole bitter dose of the medicine which "soft democracies" can hand out if need be."

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Ad from The Montreal Star, July 8, 1943.

"Our valiant Russian and Chinese Allies are bleeding the enemy white, destroying
Axis manpower and resources in fierce fighting." The Montreal Star, July 8

The article by Henry Shapiro (above headline) reveals the cost of German ill-fated gains in Russia:

MOSCOW, July 8 - (U.P.) - The Germans, hurling nearly a half-million men and thousands of tanks and planes against Soviet defences in a do-or-die bid for a break-through, inched eastward in the Belgorod sector today as the blazing battle of the Southern front went into its fourth day on a crescendoing scale. 

(A German communique broadcast by the berlin radio said that Axis troops had broken through deeply-fortified Russian positions near Belgorod and south of orel and destroyed more than 300 Soviet tanks in heavy battles.)

Front dispatches said the Nazi High Command was rushing fresh reserves into battle without pause to replace the 30,000 men, 1,539 tanks and 649 planes lost in the first 72 hours of assault along a 165-mile stretch of the front between Belgorod and Orel. For the third straight day, field reports disclosed, the Germans scored slight new gains in the Begorod area at terrific cost, but nowhere have they achieved a break-through, and farther north they still were stymied by a stonewall defence in the Orel-Kursk sector.

Germans Ignore Tremendous Losses

Heedless of losses that exceeded in ratio even those before Stalingrad and Moscow, the Germans were throwing the greatest armored weight of all time into a pincers drive aimed at encircling and annihilating Russian forces (estimated by the Germans at 400,000 men) in the Kursk salient.

Six tank, one motorized, eight infantry divisions - a total of at least 206,500 men and 1,300 tanks - were reported officially to be battering futilely at Russian positions along the northern arm of the pincers around Orel and Kursk, while nine tank and six infantry divisions - 200,00 men and 1,800 tanks - were attacking on the southern arm around Belgorod.

Supporting the offensive were huge air fleets, including three bomber and fighter squadrons drawn from Western Europe and units transferred from other fronts in Russia, Soviet authorities said. The fiercest fighting centred on the Belgorod sector, where towns and hills changed hands several times in the course of a single day. Here the Germans were attacking in waves of 100 to 400 tanks, thousands of infantrymen and formations of 25 to 30 bombers and fighters.

Soviet Airmen Win Sky Battles

Red Air Force fighters, including American-built Airacobras, ripped enemy air formations while massed Soviet artillery accounted for the bulk of panzer forces. The Russians also were using anti-tank guns and the old-fashioned Molotov cocktails - gasoline-filled bottles - to wreck armored units....

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Please link to Context: D-Day Sicily But 3 Days Away.

Unattributed Photos GH