July 9, 1943 ~ Operation Husky: The Invasion of Sicily
July 9, 1943 – Operation Husky: The invasion of Sicily begins.
With North Africa secure, the allies turned their attention towards Europe. An Anglo-American invasion code named Operation Husky was developed to capture the Island of Sicily, a vital stepping-stone for the campaign in Italy.
On July 9, 1943, the largest naval invasion to date, with 1200 transports and 2000 landing craft landed elements of 8 divisions on the Italian Island of Sicily.
The Italian 6th Army under the command of General Alfredo Guzzoni is responsible for the defense of Sicily. There are a total of about 240,000 troops, a quarter of which are Germans.
The Eastern Task Force was led by General Sir Bernard Montgomery and consisted of the British Eighth Army.
The Western Task Force was commanded by Lieutenant General George S. Patton and consisted of the American Seventh Army.
Patton landed with the US Seventh Army at Gela, while the British, under Montgomery, landed to the East near Syracuse. Montgomery’s forces were charged with advancing up the eastern shore directly toward Messina.
Meanwhile, Patton’s forces were charged with protecting Montgomery’s flank.
When the British held up by stubborn defenses in the rugged hills south of Mount Etna, Patton saw an Opportunity to amplify the American role by a wide advance northwest towards and Palermo.
He wrote in his diary on July 19th ” My Policy of continuous attack is correct…they must crack soon.”
Palermo fell to the Seventh Army on July 22nd.
Now Patton positioned to advance east across Sicily’s northern shore to Messina.
Supported by a series of amphibious landings on the north coast, Patton’s troops took Messina shortly before the first elements of the British Eighth Army entered the city.
Patton had seen the opportunity to adapt the plan of Attack in Sicily, capturing both Palermo and Messina in the process.
The defending German and Italian forces were unable to prevent the Allied capture of the island, but succeeded in evacuating most of their troops to the mainland, the last leaving on August 17, 1943.
The next stop for the Allies would be the Invasion of the Italian Peninsula in September; But the Germans would have something to say about that.