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For the past two and a half years I have been researching Operation Husky the campaign to capture the island of Sicily from the Axis. I have so far concentrated on the British and Commonwealth 8th Army and the Canadian 1st Division and their actions in eastern Sicily. I have visited Sicily over the last two summers, going to landing and battle sites and war cemeterys.


I return to Sicily in May 2005 and for the second week of my stay will be tracing the path west of the US 7th Army from Agrigento via Corleone to Palemo and then along the northern coast.


I would like to hear from 7th Army veterans, families and friends with any memories etc. on this action.




Hey Colin:


Was just watching the History Channel today and they were talking about gliders in WWII. One of the facts they put out was this:


Out of 149 gliders that participated in the Invasion of Sicily, 69 came down in the sea. Just think how many men were lost. :(


Hi Marion,


Yes, the airborne operation part of Husky went horribly wrong and it was nothing to do with the axis forces. Friendly fire, incomplete planning and lack of pilot training and experience led to missed LZs, aircraft shot down by allied ships and in many cases gliders being released over the sea. D'Este's chapter title for the glider operation is "Flying Coffins" which I think says it all! The military cemeteries at Syracuse and Catania bear witness to this, but so many had no known grave. Of the 147 gliders that left Tunisia 69 crash-landed in the sea and only 12 got to their LZ.


The US airborne force under Colonel James M Gavin fared little better in the parachute landing to support the 7th Army. Weather and aircrew training and experience were again to play a part and this time the Axis forces in the form of the Hermann Goering Division were waiting.


In spite of the above it must be said that all the airborne forces involved played their part in the eventual defeat of the Axis in Sicily and lessons were learnt for future airborne operations.





Ah, the learning curve was huge and unfortunately cost many, many men their lives. This kind of thing ocurred in North Africa too. This was still a fairly new venture gaining beacheads and landing men behind enemy lines for invasions. The Army and the Navy were still pretty inexperienced with this, and as you know some of these initial landings were anything but smooth.


It is very hard to read about all the SNAFU's that occured in the early days of the war. Thank God that lessons were learned in the later campaigns. But with things of this nature, the only way to learn is through doing. God Bless all the men who lost their lives this way.


Since we are only talking of the ETO here, people should also be aware of the huge loss of life that occured in other landings such as in the Pacific Theatre. While there are many, Tarawa always comes to mind. A lot of men drowned while trying to take this beachhead and never even made it to shore. :unsure: It was also at Tarawa that the battleships learned the lesson that they needed to be about 10 miles offshore in order to have their big guns be effective. The shells were exploding above ground and basically did nothing to destroy the enemy that had their defenses buried deep. While offshore it appeared that the enemy was getting the hell blasted out of them, the marines that landed on shore found out otherwise.

Colin you may want to check out this forum. It's the 82nd Strikehold. I just joined today, even though I have been visiting the site. Here's a story regarding Sicily.

You know Colin it's interesting that in the histories that I now have on the 36th, 39th and 540th, they really gloss over Sicily.


The 39th's history basically has one paragraph. The 36th's history doesn't have much more and the 540th actually has a couple of typewritten pages.


I am hoping to acquire a lot more info from the NARA documents when I receive them.


How right you are Marion, Sicily can really claim to be one of the forgotten campaigns. It is up to people like us to ensure by all means possible it is remembered and the three WW2 websites (including yours ) I am a member of are an important part of that. I shall be giving a talk on Sicily (3 Commando Bridge battle) in the local library to coincide with 11/11 again this year and will carry on my efforts to bring Operation Husky to a wider audience. The US forces, Canadian forces, British forces and others who took part on the allied side are always included. We also owe a lot to Carlo D'Este.





Colin, I do not remember if we may have discussed this article on a previous occasion, but have you read (or maybe you gave it to me?) Engineers in Sicily by James W Dunn? Here's two others too!

See my post I made under New Additions to this Site.


I quoted from the Center for Military History about the amphibious landing made by Lt. Col Bernhard and 2nd Battalion of 30 Infantry Regiment. The Americans made 3 amphibious landings on the north side of Sicily in order to make an "end run" around the German defenses. These were small landings but effective at throwing the Germans off guard.

For the rest of the war in Italy, the German command was always worrying that the Allies would make an amphibious landing behind the front lines. This was the basic principal behind the Anzio landings. Then during the Spring Offense in 1945, the British sent an amphibious landing to bypass the German defenses and the wet marshlands. Of course in late 1943 and 1944, the Allies were short of landing craft as these were being rounded up and sent for the Normandy invasion. That is what almost jeopardized the Anzio campaign. I digress.



This is especially for Colin. You probably already have this page in your "favorites", but it's a great source for the Sicilian Campaign.


I was looking through it again tonight and ran across a name. Wait, I said out loud. I know that name. Well sure enough I did. He's a man who just started corresponding with me a few weeks back. He's a 39th Combat Engineer, 91 and real go-getter. Here's the entry for his book:


Dziuban, Stanley W. "When Engineers Fight as Infantry: The

Amphibious Assault on Gela by a Ranger-Engineer Force." Army 13

(Sep 1962): pp. 68-72. Per.


Here's some excerpts from email this past month:


...I commanded 1st bn from arrival in N Africa Jan 43 until Anzio 1 Jan 44, after which I commanded 2nd bn until Apr 44 when I left Anzio to attend 5-month

Army-Navy Staff College in US. Am now 91 and can even pronounce your

maiden name as it's done in the old country. I'll be glad to try to be of help.



See letter I mailed to you yesterday. Except for Sicily campaign, 39th

was part of 6th Corps/5th Army from arrival Jan 43 in Africa to V-E day

in Italy. The 36th and 540th similarly were detached from 5th Army

and were attached to II Corps/7th Army for the Sicily campaign, after

which all three units reverted to 6th Corps/5th Army for the Salerno

landings and subsequent operations in Italy.




I wrote to him tonight and told him I would love to read his book. :heartpump:

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