Sicily 1943

Sicily is a large island to the south of the Italian mainland. Once Tunisia had been captured, the next logical step for the Allies was to invade Sicily. The decision was taken at the Casablanca Conference by the Allied leaders and Chiefs of Staff and the codename 'Husky' assigned to the operation. The key factors in authorising this operation were to utilise the growing number of American formations arriving in the Mediterranean (as there was no reasonable prospect of a 'second front' in North West Europe in 1943) and to force Italy out of the war.

Force 141 was formed for the invasion of Sicily, under the command of General Sir Harold ALEXANDER. It was later redesignated as 15 Army Group (or it is referred to in some documents as the Allied Armies in Sicily). The Army Group had the U.S. 7th Army and British 8th Army under command.

The landings on Sicily on the 10 July 1943 were the largest of any seaborne operation during the Second World War. Parachute and glider borne landings were made by the British 1 Airborne Division and 82 U.S. Airborne Division, with landings by sea undertaken by three British, one Canadian and three U.S. infantry Divisions. Supporting armoured units were also put ashore, as were British commandos and U.S. rangers.

The intention was for the British 8 Army to advance up the eastern coast of the island, with the Americans taking the west of the island. In the event, the British met stiff resistence from German forces, whilst the Americans exploited less resistence to sweep around Mount Etna from the west to capture Messina on 16 August 1943. The Germans managed, however, to successfully withdraw the vast majority of their forces safely back onto the Italian mainland.

Overview and Higher Formations

Chronology of Events The chronology of events for the Sicily campaign commences with the decision of the Casablanca Conference attended by the Allied Heads of Government and Chiefs of Staff to invade Sicily once the operations in Tunisia had been concluded. The key appointments for the forthcoming operation were made ...view details

British Formations

British Formations

There were four British infantry divisions engaged in the Sicilian campaign. Two of these divisions had been with the 8 Army since October 1942. Both the 50 (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and 51 (Highland) Infantry Division had been involved in the second battle of El Alamein, and the subsequent advance into ...view details

Canadian Formations

Pre-war, The Canadian Army consisted of the Permanent Forces and the Non-Permanent Active Militia. On mobilisation at the outbreak of war, both became part of the Canadian Active Service Force. The 1 Infantry Division was activated on the 1 September 1939. The 1 Canadian Infantry Brigade was raised in Ontario. ...view details

U.S. Formations

During the Sicily campaign of July 1943, one United States armoured division, four United States infantry divisions and one airborne division were deployed in the country. The 2 U.S. Armored Division was activated in June 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia. It had the nickname ‘Hell on Wheels’.  The division received ...view details