Lets start in Sicily!
Posted 26 December 2002 - 11:55 AM
The airborne operation also suffered greatly from a wide dispersal of gliders due to poor navigation... "There is little doubt that the use of navigational aids to find the actual landing zones and to mark the point were gliders should have been released, even at the loss of some degree of secrecy, would have been of great value. This might have been done by a staionary submarine on route. 75 Hadrians and three Horsas landed in the sea, the remaining 61 Hadrians being scattered over a distance of some 25 miles along the coast from Cape Passero to Cape Murro di Porco, though the majority were within five miles of the landing zone. One Horsa only reached the correct landing zone, making a perfect landing 300 yards from the bridge, although two more Horsas exploded nearby in the air the result of anti-aircraft fire. The majority of landings in Sicily were made on rough ground but with few passenger casualties, the pilots were not so lucky, several being killed or having their legs broken due to the noses of the Hadrian gliders." From Colonel Terence Otway.
This may well have resulted in the deployment of Eureka beacons for the airborne ops in Normandy to guide the gliders in to landing zones.
Out of 288 men deployed the glider pilot regiment sustained 101 casualties, with 14 killed and 58 missing. The 1st Air-Landing Brigade suffered 490 casualties, of which 61 were KIA, 44 missing and 252 drowned.
The aircraft towing the gliders suffered no casualties...
Posted 26 December 2002 - 11:57 AM
I have some will post it up later.
Hope this is of interest to those of you wanting to know more about the forgotten battles in Italy.
Posted 26 December 2002 - 06:01 PM
check this thread for some research ideas !
hope this works.....
Posted 26 December 2002 - 06:36 PM
"I want those 1st Division sons a bitches. I won't go on without them!"
General George S. Patton
Patton on the left.
Going to Messina
Posted 26 December 2002 - 06:52 PM
The first use of American paratroopers, in conjunction with British airborne units, would precede US landings at the Gulf of Gela and British landings at Syracuse. The Allied paratroopers were new units. The American 82nd Airborne Division was formed the year before, and the British had seen action in small-scale raids on the continent and in the Middle East to invade Iraq when the government there tried to join the Axis in 1941. These units were highly trained and motivated, but lacked combat experience. In the drops on Sicily, the Americans were especially scattered, but both the Americans and the British caused great confusion among the Germans and accomplished their mission of covering the landings against counterattack. Misidentified en route to the target, the Americans were subjected to friendly fire. Inexperienced glider and transport pilots caused more men to be wounded and killed. Casualties among the airborne forces were very high, amounting to 27% of the Americans and 23% of the British. The airborne doctrine was called into question and changes were made before further operations would be undertaken.
The ground operations took 38 days to conquer Sicily. Patton advanced on Palermo, taking it on July 22. Montgomery, stopped by the Sicilian terrain as much as the German resistance, took Messina on August 17, too late to stop the Axis forces from evacuating 40,000 men, 10,000 vehicles including 44 tanks, and thousands of tons of ammunition and supplies under constant and heavy air attack.
The invasion of Sicily prompted the fall of the Mussolini government. On July 25 King Victor Emmanuel ousted Mussolini and named Marshal Pietro Bagdoglio as head of a new government. Bagdoglio immediately began negotiations with the Allies for the withdrawal of Italy from the war.
The Allied force totaled 478,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen (250,000 British, 228,000 American). Seven amphibious divisions of some 160,000 soldiers, 4,000 aircraft and 2,590 vessels participated in the invasion.
Sicily is a rugged, mountainous island whose terrain amplifies the inherent advantages of the defense. Messina, in the island's northeastern corner, was a key port city and would be the most important Allied objective. Messina's loss would prevent Axis forces from receiving reinforcement and supplies or escaping to the Italian mainland less than three miles away. But despite the city's importance, the Allies chose not to assault it directly. It was too well fortified, was beyond the range of North Africa land-based air support, and did not have suitable beaches nearby.
Instead, the Allies chose the more expansive beaches on the southern end of Sicily for the amphibious assault. The British Eighth Army under General Sir Bernard Montgomery would come ashore in a sector stretching from Syracuse to Cape Passero on the southeastern side of the roughly triangular island. The American Seventh Army under Lieutenant General George Patton would land on the southwestern side's Gulf of Gela. The northwestern corner of Sicily also offered favorable beaches and good port and airfield access. However, the Allied command chose to concentrate forces on the southern end of the triangle, rather than assault on both coasts, so that the two armies could provide better mutual support in the face of what was expected to be stiff Axis resistance.
Responsibility for Sicily's defense lay mainly with the Italian VI Army under Italian General Alfred Guzzoni. With 300,000-365,000 troops, the VI Army appeared extremely formidable, but Sicilian reservists comprised the bulk of its units. Guzzoni had only six regular divisions, four Italian and two German, at his disposal. In addition, many Italian units, including some in the regular divisions, were ill equipped, poorly trained, and not highly motivated. Hence, for the Allies the challenge of the Sicilian invasion would come principally from the battle-hardened German divisions and Sicily's difficult terrain.
..the Allies, however, were facing problems of their own in the hours leading up to the invasion. On 9 July, strong west winds buffeted the amphibious task force, causing severe seasickness among the landing force troops, blowing vessels off course, and almost forcing postponement of the operation. Nevertheless, the landings began as planned in the early hours of 10 July...
Allied units were not seriously opposed at first, probably because Axis commanders were not expecting an attack in such foul weather. As a result, Allied forces were able to consolidate their position by the end of the first day, despite scattered enemy resistance and insufficient air support. Local Axis efforts to counterattack the Gela beachhead were thwarted by American infantry with naval gunfire support, and German air raids did not prevent the unloading of supplies and equipment
On 11 July, German armored forces launched a major counterattack towards Gela. American combined arms - infantry, tanks, artillery and naval gunfire - beat back the thrust, but U.S. forces suffered their heaviest one-day toll of casualties in the entire campaign. On 13 July, uncommitted German and Italian units in northwestern Sicily moved to join those already resisting the Allies' northward advance towards Mt. Aetna and Messina. As they waited for reinforcements from the Italian mainland, Axis forces employed delaying tactics to slow down and wear down Allied units moving through constricted terrain. Nevertheless, by 15 July, Allied forces had linked to form a continuous line, roughly along pre-designated "Line Blue," across southern Sicily.
A provisional corps from Seventh Army advanced 100 miles in four days and took Palermo 22 July. Patton's forces then turned east and began advancing along Sicily's northern coast towards Messina, even as Alexander and the Eighth Army continued their drive toward the same objective.
By 2 August, the Allied line arced from San Stefano on the northern coast to a point below Catania on the eastern coast. The Axis forces knew time was against them, and on 3 August, Italian forces began evacuating through Messina to the mainland (German forces would wait until 11 August to begin their evacuation). The Germans under General Hans Hube made skillful use of terrain, mines, obstacles, and demolition, to make every Allied advance a grueling affair. Patton used two ranger battalions to execute three separate amphibious envelopments on 8, 11 and 15 August, to head off and annihilate retiring Axis forces. The moves hastened the enemy's retreat, but trapped few of the withdrawing units. The Germans efficiently evacuated Messina, leaving Patton's troops to occupy an empty city on 17 August. In all, some 100,000 Axis troops, nearly 10,000 vehicles and 47 tanks made it to mainland Italy.
During Operation Husky, U.S. forces sustained 7,319 casualties, British forces 9,353. Axis casualties totaled 164,000, including 32,000 German casualties. The 38-day campaign successfully opened a second front to help relieve pressure on the Soviet Union and precipitated the overthrow of Mussolini, hastening Italy's departure from the war. It also ensured Allied control over the Strait of Sicily.
Posted 26 December 2002 - 07:29 PM
Tigers on Sicily ? hmmmmmm.....
Great maps I'll have to make copies of them. Interesting if tru that nearly half the German contingent on this island became casualties.... !
Posted 26 December 2002 - 08:03 PM
Sommecourt I am after action reports for fighting involving 1st airborne division and the fighting at Ortona.
Erich I would be truly indebtted to you for any accounts from Fallschirmjager.
I am at the moment researching two case studies on airborne ops for my PHD and I think I may use Sicily as one, instead of the more usual Normandy/Arnhem routine.
Its good to see a bit of interest in this theatre. I had a friend who served in the tanks fighting up Italy in a Sherman, he said that he was only ever injured twice.
Once he was injured when the turret hatch fell onto his hand and the second time was after the end of the war when a jubilatant Italian threw him an orange and it hit him in the eye. It was enough to get him sent back to Blighty!
War is truly bizarre...
Posted 26 December 2002 - 08:21 PM
Posted 26 December 2002 - 11:04 PM
Posted 26 December 2002 - 11:43 PM
Congressional Medal of Honor
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 15th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Favoratta, Sicily, 11 July 1943.
Entered service at: Toledo, Ohio.
G.O. No.: 41, 26 May 1944.
2d Lt. Craig voluntarily undertook the perilous task of locating and destroying a hidden enemy machinegun which had halted the advance of his company. Attempts by three other officers to locate the weapon had resulted in failure, with each officer receiving wounds. 2d Lt. Craig located the gun and snaked his way to a point within 35 yards of the hostile position before being discovered. Charging headlong into the furious automatic fire, he reached the gun, stood over it, and killed the three crew members with his carbine. With this obstacle removed, his company continued its advance. Shortly thereafter while advancing down the forward slope of a ridge, 2d Lt. Craig and his platoon, in a position devoid of cover and concealment, encountered the fire of approximately 100 enemy soldiers. Electing to sacrifice himself so that his platoon might carry on the battle, he ordered his men to withdraw to the cover of the crest while he drew the enemy fire to himself. With no hope of survival, he charged toward the enemy until he was within 25 yards of them. Assuming a kneeling position, he killed 5 and wounded three enemy soldiers. While the hostile force concentrated fire on him, his platoon reached the cover of the crest. 2d Lt. Craig was killed by enemy fire, but his intrepid action so inspired his men that they drove the enemy from the area, inflicting heavy casualties on the hostile force.
Congressional Medal of Honor
GERRY H. KISTERS
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant (then Sergeant), U.S. Army, 2d Armored Division.
Place and date: Near Gagliano, Sicily, 31 July 1943.
Entered service at: Bloomington, Indiana.
Born: Salt Lake City, Utah.
G.O. No.: 13, 18 February 1944.
On 31 July 1943, near Gagliano, Sicily, a detachment of one officer and nine enlisted men, including Sgt. Kisters, advancing ahead of the leading elements of U.S. troops to fill a large crater in the only available vehicle route through Gagliano, was taken under fire by two enemy machineguns. Sgt. Kisters and the officer, unaided and in the face of intense small arms fire, advanced on the nearest machinegun emplacement and succeeded in capturing the gun and its crew of four. Although the greater part of the remaining small arms fire was now directed on the captured machinegun position, Sgt. Kisters voluntarily advanced alone toward the second gun emplacement. While creeping forward, he was struck 5 times by enemy bullets, receiving wounds in both legs and his right arm. Despite the wounds, he continued to advance on the enemy, and captured the second machinegun after killing three of its crew and forcing the fourth member to flee. The courage of this soldier and his unhesitating willingness to sacrifice his life, if necessary, served as an inspiration to the command.
Congressional Medal of Honor
JOHN JOSEPH PARLE
Rank and organization: Ensign, U.S. Naval Reserve.
Born: 26 May 1920, Omaha, Nebraska.
Accredited to: Nebraska.
For valor and courage above and beyond the call of duty as Officer-in-Charge of Small Boats in the U.S.S. LST 375 during the amphibious assault on the island of Sicily, 9-10 July 1943.
Realizing that a detonation of explosives would prematurely disclose to the enemy the assault about to be carried out, and with full knowledge of the peril involved, Ens. Parle unhesitatingly risked his life to extinguish a smoke pot accidentally ignited in a boat carrying charges of high explosives, detonating fuses and ammunition. Undaunted by fire and blinding smoke, he entered the craft, quickly snuffed out a burning fuse, and after failing in his desperate efforts to extinguish the fire pot, finally seized it with both hands and threw it over the side. Although he succumbed a week later from smoke and fumes inhaled, Ens. Parle's heroic self-sacrifice prevented grave damage to the ship and personnel and insured the security of a vital mission. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
Congressional Medal of Honor
JAMES W. REESE
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, 26th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
Place and date: At Mt. Vassillio, Sicily, 5 August 1943.
Entered service at: Chester, Pennsylvania.
Born: Chester, Pennsylvania
G.O. No.: 85, 17 December 1943.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life. above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict with the enemy. When the enemy launched a counterattack which threatened the position of his company, Pvt. Reese, as the acting squad leader of a 60-mm. mortar squad, displaying superior leadership on his own initiative, maneuvered his squad forward to a favorable position, from which, by skillfully directing the fire of his weapon, he caused many casualties in the enemy ranks, and aided materially in repulsing the counterattack. When the enemy fire became so severe as to make his position untenable, he ordered the other members of his squad to withdraw to a safer position, but declined to seek safety for himself. So as to bring more effective fire upon the enemy, Pvt. Reese, without assistance, moved his mortar to a new position and attacked an enemy machinegun nest. He had only three rounds of ammunition but secured a direct hit with his last round, completely destroying the nest and killing the occupants. Ammunition being exhausted, he abandoned the mortar. seized a rifle and continued to advance, moving into an exposed position overlooking the enemy. Despite a heavy concentration of machinegun, mortar, and artillery fire, the heaviest experienced by his unit throughout the entire Sicilian campaign, he remained at this position and continued to inflict casualties upon the enemy until he was killed. His bravery, coupled with his gallant and unswerving determination to close with the enemy, regardless of consequences and obstacles which he faced, are a priceless inspiration to our armed forces.
Congressional Medal of Honor
DAVID C. WAYBUR
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 3d Reconnaissance Troop, 3d Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Agrigento, Sicily, 17 July 1943.
Entered service at: Piedmont, California.
Born: Oakland, California.
G.O. No.: 69, 21 October 1943.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict with the enemy. Commander of a reconnaissance platoon, 1st Lt. Waybur volunteered to lead a 3-vehicle patrol into enemy-held territory to locate an isolated Ranger unit. Proceeding under cover of darkness, over roads known to be heavily mined, and strongly defended by road blocks and machinegun positions, the patrol's progress was halted at a bridge which had been destroyed by enemy troops and was suddenly cut off from its supporting vehicles by four enemy tanks. Although hopelessly outnumbered and out-gunned, and himself and his men completely exposed, he quickly dispersed his vehicles and ordered his gunners to open fire with their .30 and .50 caliber machineguns. Then, with ammunition exhausted, three of his men hit and himself seriously wounded, he seized his .45 caliber Thompson submachinegun and standing in the bright moonlight directly in the line of fire, alone engaged the leading tank at 30 yards and succeeded in killing the crewmembers, causing the tank to run onto the bridge and crash into the stream bed. After dispatching one of the men for aid he rallied the rest to cover and withstood the continued fire of the tanks till the arrival of aid the following morning.
Posted 27 December 2002 - 12:54 AM
Posted 27 December 2002 - 03:32 AM
I thought that myself at first, so i did some digging. Seems that there were 17 Tiger Is of the 215th Pz Battalion in Sicily. Only one was left to be withdrawn to Italy.
Originally posted by Erich Brown:
Tigers on Sicily ? hmmmmmm.....
'I'm a Norfolk man, and glory in being so' Nelson
Proud to be a GRUNT
Posted 27 December 2002 - 05:18 PM
I always did look good in shorts!!
Originally posted by C.Evans:
Not to try and steal this thread but, did you guys notice that vintage-looking picture of Sommecourt standing in the front right side of that Jeep?
Posted 27 December 2002 - 05:25 PM
Posted 27 December 2002 - 09:48 PM
PS to actually add a small but useful thing in this thread. Did you know that MoH Recipient Audie Leon Murphy "got his feet wet" in Sicily. His first day ashore and during an advance--two German MG-34 nests opened up on his unit causing casualties to several men during the first volleys. His Platoon Leader a Lieutenant--and the platoon Sergeant were killed along with three others. Murphy ran closer to the 1st MG nest--joined by two others--tossing grenades at the nest--knocking it out. Next they then prepared to rush the 2nd MG--tossing more grenades and firing their garands--they knocked it out. Next Murphy noticed some movement to his right and saw several German soldiers trying to make an attack from the side and he immediately opened accurate fire with his garand--killing three German soldiers. The rest turned and ran.
Posted 29 December 2002 - 12:26 PM
Thought you might like the extract from my father's regimental history re. Sicily.
The book is by Major J.M.A.Lumsden, 24th Field Regiment R.A. 1939-1945 (James Galt & Co 1947).
THE SICILIAN CAMPAIGN
The first landings on the Sicilian coast took place shortly before dawn on 10th July 1943. The regiment was to land during the morning on the beaches near Cassibile, some fifteen miles south-west of Syracuse, in support of the Fifth Division, whose plan was to capture Syracuse and then push forward to Augusta and Catania as quickly as possible. 22 Bty was in support of 17 Bde, and 50 Bty of 15 Bde, with the duty of providing artillery support until the arrival of the normal divisional artillery. There had been a fairly heavy storm at sea on 9th July, and this disorganised the timing of the landings, but by mid-day most of the guns were ashore and in action. The Regiment suffered a sad loss when, immediately after landing, Captain W.Curry, REME, was killed on the beaches during an air attack. Very little opposition was met from the Italian coastal defence troops in the early stages and the regiment passed through Syracuse on the morning of 11th July.
On the 12th, resistance suddenly stiffened, and at Priolo we found ourselves face to face with German troops for the first time, These were the famous Hermann Goering Division, whom we were later to oppose so often in Italy. Augusta was soon captured and passed, and few will forget an eerie dash through the night past Carlentini and Lentini – burning tanks and undergrowth, deserted villages, flares, bombs and rumours of enemy parachutists – in an effort to relieve our own Airborne troops who were holding Primosoel bridge, the key to the Catania plain and the road to Messina. The effort failed, but at least, the bridge was not blown and for days a fierce battle was fought round it, with the infantry striving to hold their bridgehead, and with heavy casualties to the tanks which managed to cross. Major R.L.Boseley, RA, commanding 22 Bty, in his turretless Honey tank, was among the first to cross, and one of those who returned without damage.
Little by little ground was gained, and all was set for a frontal assault on Catania. But at the last minute the barrage was cancelled and the attack called off. Instead, a period of fairly static warfare ensued while 78th and 51st (Highland) Divisions came up on our left. During this period the Regiment occupied several positions on the edge of the plain, and frequently sent out roving sections and troops which were believed to have inflicted considerable damage on the enemy.
Posted 30 December 2002 - 12:38 PM
Throughout the entire stages of planning for the Sicilian landings (code named Operation Husky) Patton, Montgomery and Alexander never got together to meet and discuss objectives. The result was that when troops set ashore, there was no clear goal what the objectives were, only that they overall objective would probably be to reach Messiana, with the seventh Army acting as a shield. Alexander and many other British commanders at the time still had little faith in the American fighting forces. They had yet to realize that the U.S. forces had learned much since Kasserine. Patton to was uncommonly quite throughout this time. After a severe upbraiding by Eisenhower, Bradley believed that Patton thought that Eisenhower was, “looking for an excuse to relive him.” Which along with Patton’s aforementioned resolution*) to carry out orders demonstrates the difference between British and American styles of command.
*)Originally the plan for the invasion of Sicily was for the seventh Army under Patton’s command to land on the northwest coast of Sicily near the town of Palmerno. Montgomery was to land his eighth Army on the Southeast corner of the island. With minor revisions by the British General Alexander, Eisenhower signed off on the plan. Montgomery however was infuriated with the plan. He suggested that the Americans land to the west of the eighth Army in support of his troops. Naturally this infuriated the Americans who perceived that Montgomery was out to capture his own glory. Montgomery also infuriated fellow British officers such as Admiral Cunningham. Cunningham wrote to the First Sea Lord that, “I am afraid that Montgomery is a bit of a nuisance…Alexander seems quite unable to keep him in order.”
Eventually, Montgomery’s plan was approved and much to Patton’s chagrin Patton landed in support of the eighth Army. When Admiral Cunningham urged Patton to protest, Patton’s reply says much about his personality, “No, goddamit I’ve been in this Army thirty years and when my superior gives me a order I say, ‘Yes, sir!’ and do my Goddamndest to carry it out.”
Once the troops landed on Sicily the Italians began to pull out. This left, for most of the month long campaign and force of no more then 65,000 Germans to face almost half a million allied troops.
Almost immediately Montgomery ran into difficulty moving along the coastal rode to Messina. As a result, without notifying Alexander or Patton first, he sent one of his two corps up the inland highway reserved for the Americans. When Montgomery did inform Alexander of his decision, Alexander simply passed the word along to Patton, who simply informed Bradley to move a division back onto the beaches. In doing so a Canadian division took high casualties recapturing what the Americans could have help with little loss.
Once Patton arrived in Palmerno he was essentially at the original staging area for the assault to Messina, which was he intended to do next. After two weeks of fighting in Sicily, Montgomery extended an invitation to Patton to meet and discuss operations. This was the first time the two men would meet since well before the invasion. At the time of the meeting Montgomery was still having difficulty breaking through to Messina, due to the stiff resistance that the German’s were putting up. Therefore, he suggested to Patton that the Americans try to drive and capture Messina from the north as well. The reasons behind the decision made Montgomery’s request understandable. The harsh terrain meant that the eighth Army was fighting the battles as corps and divisions rather then one unit as a whole.
One of the keys to the rapid success of Patton’s drive to the Northwest was his haste in attacking and pushing the defense back. Where Montgomery would frequently stop to regroup Patton sometimes showed little concern for protecting his flanks.These forms of offense maneuvers are exemplary of the future European campaigns that these two men would be soon engaged in.
Posted 30 December 2002 - 01:01 PM
Schwere Panzer Abteilung 504 - sPzAbt 504
On 13 April 1943, the OKH ordered that six Tigers were to be stationed on Sicily and that until transferred to Tunisia, the 2.Kompanie/ schwere Panzer Abteilung 504 was to be attached to PzAbt 215 with a reinforced platoon of six Tigers being immediately shipped to Sicily. Altogether 17 Tigers gathered on Sicily: the original nine from 2.Kompanie of the 504th, two Tigers that had been used as replacements for the 501st in February, and the six Tigers issued in April 1943 for the 215th.
Attached to Panzer Division Herrmann Goering, the 17 Tigers under the 2.Kompanie of the 504th attacked the American landing zone on 11 July 1943, but were neutralized by naval gunfire. Within the first three days ten out of the 17 Tigers were destroyed to prevent capture and a further six Tigers were destroyed later for the same reason. The last Tiger was shipped back across the straits of Messina to Italy.
Panzer-Division Hermann Göring was formed May 1943 when Division Hermann Göring was reformed.
It was sent to Sicily to fight the expected allied landings. Following Operation Husky (the allied landings on Sicily 10 July) most of the italians unit quickly surrendered and the division was one of the few reliable axis formations that remained. It fought at Gela and Priolo but it was forces back due to the navy naval bombings thus it fought ferociously. It contiued fighting a defensive battle while the german forces were evacuated from Sicily (Operation Lehrgang) and was among the last units to leave Sicily.
The German plan was to send the 14th Panzer Korps to counter the Allied advance and hopefully stall it long enough until reinforcements from the mainland arrived. The reinforcements were to come in the shape of the 1st Parachute Division which was stationed in Southern France and on 11th July it was ordered to be ready to move to Rome. The 3rd Regiment (Heidrich), the 1st & 3rd Battalion's, 4th Regiment and the Fallschirm-MG Battalion were immediately airlifted to Rome. On arrival the 4th Regiment and the MG Battalion boarded Gliders and JU-52's and were sent on to Sicily where they were dropped around Syracuse and Catania. The 3rd Regiment would wait a couple of days before they went into Sicily.
After fierce battles the allied were moving on, and no reinforcements would be coming to Sicily to contain the advance, there were too many commitments on the Ostfront. The German High Command gave the order to evacuate the island, under Operation Lehrgang.
...The Fallschirmjäger were used to plug the gaps in the weakly held German line. Whilst the Allies were being stalled by the rearguards the German forces were ferried back across to mainland Italy. Some parts of the 1st Parachute Division were evacuated on the 11th August. Witzig's Pioneers provided rearguard, destroying ammo dumps and fuel storage's on the way, until they too were ferried across the Messina Straights on the 16th and 17th August The allies had finally got their toehold in southern Europe; the next step would be mainland Italy.
Posted 30 December 2002 - 02:51 PM
160,000 troops - 4000 aircraft - 7 amphibious divisions (only 5 such divisions at Normandy June 6, 1944)
Adm. Hewitt = 580 ships & 1124 landing craft
Adm. Ramsay = 795 ships & 715 landing craft
LST = Landing Ship Tank (or Large Stationary Target) = held 20 tanks, or 12 deuce trucks or, if hit sand bars, could disgorge DUKWs that would go into water
LCT = Landing Craft Tank = held 3 tanks
LCI = Landing Craft Infantry = entire company of 196 men
Patton got 3rd star March 12 - now a Lt. General able to command an army, not just a corps
July 10 - lucky bomb hit on HQ of Italian Gen Guzzoni - no communication for 24 hrs
7000 U.S. casualties but took 100,000 prisoners - British lost 12,000 casualties
lack of any grand strategy - decisions made by Patton and Montgomery
American soldier took the spotlight away from the British
concentrated power of TOT artillery - but shortage of ammo
success of amphibious landings - but lack of landing craft
lack of AAF support - planes strafed own soldiers
WEFT (Wings, Engine, Fuselage, Tail) came to mean "Wrong Every F---ing Time" - like the dillies of Lt. Richard Osborn
Patton careless with logistics - too eager to outrun his supplies - ignored maintenance - but tactical success of his wide flanking movement
Patton slapped soldier in field hospital as a coward - ordered by Ike to apologize to all - but story not made public until November by Drew Pearson
Patton was hero to U.S. public, but not allowed by Ike to command in Italy
WAS PLANNED :
daring parachute drop on Rome planned for Sept 8 by Ridgeway & 82nd
but called off at last minute, stopped by code word "Innocuous" because would have been suicide due to 40,000 Germans near Rome...
Posted 30 December 2002 - 03:39 PM
July 11, 1943
At 6:15 AM on July 11, 1943 General Conrath, commander of the German Hermann Goering Panzer Division, started moving his attacking panzer and panzer grenadier columns, toward the port of Gela. The previous day's attacks had been uncoordinated and repulsed by the American troops of the 1stU.S. Infantry Division and the elite 1st and 4th Ranger Battalions. Now, however, after having regrouped Conrath,was ready. He had a powerful panzer force including seventeen of the Tiger I tanks (2/504 Heavy Panzer Battalion). They were almost unbeatable in battle, if they could get to the enemy front lines (they kept on constantly breaking down).
In addition the Italians the day before had severely damaged the Gela pier and do to the poor beaches and wind, no U.S. armor had yet arrived in the Gela beachhead. Patton would need the help from his tanks and naval gunfire support to be able to repel Conrath's counterattack. The German/Italian attack on the 10th was broken up by infantry/anti-tank guns and naval gunfire, which had proved to be invaluable.
On the German right flank the sixty medium tanks of the reinforced IInd Battalion of the HG Panzer Regiment overran the 2nd Battalion of the U.S. 26th Infantry Regiment/1st Infantry Division. General Conrath himself led the column of the 1st Battalion of the HG Panzer Regiment with twenty-one medium panzers and with heavy artillery support. The U.S. 2nd Battalion, most of which were recent replacements, partly broke and ran when confronted by the panzer force. The remaining 50% of the battalion stayed put and put up a fierce firefight, but to no avail. The 1st Division's center was now caved in and was in serious trouble. The 26th Infantry's anti-tank guns had not arrived being sunk on a LST. On the German left flank, Kampfgruppe Links pierced the front line breaking through the remnants of the 180th RCT. Here were the Tiger tanks and they continued on toward Gela driving the Americans to Biazzo Ridge and later penetrated the regimental command post. The Tigers were now about only two miles from Gela.
By 9:30 AM the U.S. positions were being pushed back in all sectors. General Patton had come ashore and gave much encouragement to the engineers attempting to repair the pier so his tanks could land. The U.S. 7th Army formed its final defensive positions on the sand dunes south of the coastal road almost on top of the invasion beaches. The 32nd Field Artillery deployed rapidly after just arriving on shore. In addition the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment and the 18th RCT took up these final positions awaiting the German thrust. The Shermans finally made it ashore but got stuck in the soft sand. The German forces were nearing Gela. Patton needed his tanks desperately.
Casualties, however, were mounting in the HG Panzer Division as it continued to fight toward Gela. The U.S. cruisers Savannah and Boise with the destroyer Glennonpoured round after round into the German ranks. At 11:00 AM the battle reached its climax. The navy could do no more due to the fact that both sides were too close for naval gunfire. The battle was a free for all with combat at close quarters. The U.S. 16th Infantry had been badly mauled with only 2 of 9 anti-tank guns left and had retreated into the U.S. final defensive line. The other units of the 1st Infantry and elements of the 82nd Airborne still held some of the positions in the hills.
Conrath was within 2000 yards of the beach and his gunfire had raked supply dumps and landing craft already. Victory seemed within his reach very shortly and he would push the Big Red One into the sea. The German attack, however, was halted just in front of the final defense line by the combined firepower of the U.S. 32nd Field Artillery Battalion, the 16th Cannon Company, the heavier weapons of the 18th RCT and the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, plus four Shermans which had finally gotten off the beach. After 10 panzers were knocked out and others damaged, the German tankers hesitated and then slowly retreated. Now there was breathing room for naval gunfire and the Boise opened up on the German forces with its 6" guns. The Germans retreated faster. The American forces did not pursue so at 2:00 PM General Conrath, after failing to get his troops reorganized sufficiently to launch another attack, called off the battle retreating to his original starting positions.
Posted 31 December 2002 - 07:46 PM
The axis defenders were under the overall command of General Alfredo Guzzoni´s Italian sixth Army.The Italian troops were organised into six coastal divisions, four infantry divisions and a variety of local defence forces. Many were poorly trained and equipped , and their morale was questionable. The 30,000 german troops were grouped in the 15th Panzergrenadier Division and the elite Hermann Göring Panzer Division.
Guzzoni realized his only chance of success was to crush the Allies on the shore before they could consolidate their beachhead.He therefore spread his coastal units in a thin line around the island´s perimeter and placed two Italian infantry divisions in the island´s western and southeastern corners. He wanted to concentrate the German divisions in the southeast, too, but Field marshal Kesselring transferred the bulk of the 15th Panzergrenadier division to western Sicily before the invasion to cover the eventuality of the Allies landing there. As a result, only the Herman Göring Division was in a position to launch a counter attack during the first few hours of the invasion.
The invasion took place during the night 9/10 Jul. Opposition from the despirited and ill-equipped Italian coastal units was negligible, and by the end of the first day the 8th Army was on its way to Augusta, having taken Syracuse easily. Resitance in the US sector was not much stronger. The next two days saw resistance stiffen as Guzzoni committed Hermann Göring Division, but by the 13th the 8th Army had still advanced as far as Vizzini in the wwest and Augusta in the east. There, progress slowed down due to a combination of difficult terrain and the arrival of the 1st Parachute division.
The 1st parachute Division, under the command of general Major Richard Heidrich, was formed from the 7th Flieger Division in May 1943. From the end of May it was stationed in Flers near Avignon.France, coming under the command of XI Flieger Corps, Army Group D. On 11 July the division was ordered to prepare for a move to Sicily, and the next day the first units were airlifted to Rome. These units were the 1st and the 3rd battalions of the 3rd Parachute Regiment, the 4th parachute Regiment and the division´s machine gun battalion. Once they arrived in Rome, the 4th Parachute regiment and the machine gun battalion were loaded onto gliders and Ju 52 air craft and dropped around Syracuse and Catania. It would be two days before the 3rd parachute Regiment was desptached to the island, while the 1sr Parachute Regiment was sent to a holding area near Naples to await further orders.
On Sicily, the German paratroopers set about preparing defensive positions. the machine-gun battalion, backed up by Fallschirmjäger antitank and artillery elements, dug in around Primasole Bridge over the river Simeto in the east of the island.The bridge was an important objective for both sides, highlighted by the fact that several hours after the German paratroopers arrived their adversaries in the British 1st Parachute Brigade ( under the command of brigadier C. W. Lathbury and consisting of the 1st,2nd,3rd Battalions and 21st Independent Company-Pathfinders )jumped in on 13 July. A savage battle began, in which the British paras were forced to retreat with some loss.
Fallschirmjäger of the 3rd Parachute Regiment jumped onto Catania airfield on 14 July, which at the time was under fire from allied aircraft and naval artillery. Meanwhile, the men of the Fallschirmjäger machine-gun battalion, expecting relief, mistook British paras for their own side, and in the confusion the British captured Primasole bridge. However, the machine-gun battalion and the newly arrived 3rd Parachut Regiment mounted a counterattack a few hours later which retook the bridge. The Germans crossed the river to the East, and under attack from thre directions the remnants of the 1st Parachute Brigade were forced to withdraw into a small perimeter to the south.
THE LOSS OF PRIMASOLE BRIDGE
During the night of 14/15 July the two fallschirmjäger engineer companies jumped onto Catania airfield.They marched to Primasole bridge and took up positions on the south side of the bridge. During the morning the British, with the support of tanks of the 4th Armoured Brigade, attacked the bridge again. Again they were flung back by a combination of antitank, machine-gun and mortar fire. The paras came back again, this time reinforced by troops of the Durham Light infantry, but gain they were beaten off by the Germans. The latter had brought up an 88 mm gun, but this was subsequently destroyed by intensive allied artillery fire.The engineers on the south side of the bridge were badly mauled, and by the afternoon Fallschirmjäger casualties had reached a point whereby further defence of the bridge was untenable.Another British attack finally wrested the bridge from the paras. Two days later the Fallschirmjäger retook Primasole bridge, before finally losing it on the 18th.
As the remnants of the two engineer companies amalgated with the 4th parachute regiment and retreated, the 3rd Parachute Regiment was cut off and embroiled in fighting around the town of Carlenini. Breaking through the British encirclement, the unit managed to reach the realtive safety of german lines. But now time was beginning to run out for the Germans in Sicily.By 24 July the US seventh Army was in control of the entire western half of the island. Most Italian units were showing little inclination to fight, and even less so when the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was deposed on 25 July and replaced by Marshal Pietro Badoglio.
Though fighting continued in Sicily, de facto Italian participation ended. Those Axis forces still fighting had decided to make a stand in the island´s rugged northeast corner, around the strongpoints along the so-called Etna line, and Guzzoni still talked of putting up resistance.But his units were disintegrating, and Berlin made the decision to withdraw from the island.From this point general Hans Hube, commander of the newly formed XIV Panzer Corps, led axis units in Sicily. He began tu pull his forces back to evacuate them across the strait of Messina
to the Italian mainland. The paratroopers were detailed to plug any gaps in the Axis line as the evacuation commenced. Elements of the 1st parachute Regiment were evacuated on 11 August, while all other Fallschirmjäger units had left the island by the 17th, only hours before the first allied units entered Messina.
With the relatively easy victory in Sicily, Allied planners began to look at an invasion of the Italian mainland. Eisenhower authorised a landing by the Eighth army, codenamed "Baytown", on 16th August.The assault would take place across the Strait of Messina between 1 and 4 September to tie down enemy units that might interfere with US landings farther north. The latter, operation "Avalanche", would take place on 9 September when the US Fifth Army went ashore in the Salerno area. Both armies were grouped under the Allied Fifteenth Army Group, commanded by General Sir Harold Alexander.
[ 04. January 2003, 11:09 AM: Message edited by: Kai-Petri ]
Posted 31 December 2002 - 08:59 PM
The Americans still want to concentrate on the cross-Channel invasion of France, but at the Casablanca Conference somewhat reluctantly agree to go ahead with the Sicily landings. Amongst the benefits will be the opening of the Mediterranean to Allied shipping. The final plan is approved in mid-May and not much more than a month later the first US troop convoys are heading across the Atlantic for an operation even greater than the French North African landings the previous November.
The grand total of 2,590 US and British warships - major and minor are mostly allocated to their own landing sectors, but the Royal Navy total includes the covering force against any interference by the Italian fleet. The main group under Vice-Adm Sir A. U. Willis of Force H includes battleships "Nelson", "Rodney", "Warspite" and "Valiant" and fleet carriers "Formidable" and Indomitable". Seven Royal Navy submarines act as navigation markers off the invasion beaches.
Many of the troops coming from North Africa and Malta make the voyage in landing ships and craft. As they approach Sicily with the other transports late on the 9th in stormy weather, Allied airborne landings take place. Sadly, many of the British gliders crash into the sea, partly because of the weather. However, early next day, on the 10th, the troops go ashore under an umbrella of aircraft. The new amphibious DUKWS (or "Ducks") developed by the Americans play an important part in getting the men and supplies across the beaches
There is little resistance by the Italians and few Germans, and the counter-attacks that are mounted are soon driven off. Syracuse is captured that day and within three days the British Eighth Army has cleared the south east corner of Sicily. The Americans meanwhile push north and northwest and capture Palermo on the 22nd. By then, Eighth Army has been checked south of Catania. Nevertheless, at month's end the Allies hold the entire island except the north-eastern part.
As the capture of Sicily progresses, important political developments take place in Italy. On the 25th Mussolini is arrested and stripped of all his powers. Marshal Badoglio forms a new government, which immediately and in secret seeks ways to end the war. By August the surrender of Italy is being negotiated with the Allied powers.
German and Italian aircraft sink and damage a number of warships and transports in the invasion area including a US destroyer on the 10th. On the 16th carrier "Indomitable" is damaged by Italian torpedo aircraft
Axis submarines have fewer successes than the attacking aircraft in and around Sicily. Two British cruisers are damaged, but in return 12 of their number are lost over the next four weeks into early August:
11th - "FLUTTO" off the southern end of the Strait of Messina in a running battle with MTBs 640, 651 and 670.
12th - "U-561" torpedoed in the Strait of Messina by MTB-81; Italian "BRONZO" captured off Syracuse by minesweepers "Boston", "Cromarty", "Poole" and "Seaham"; "U-409" sunk off Algeria by escorting destroyer "Inconstant" as she attacks a returning empty convoy.
13th - Italian "NEREIDE" is lost off Augusta to destroyers "Echo" and "llex"; and north of the Strait of Messina "ACCIAIO" is torpedoed by patrolling submarine "Unruly".
15th - Transport submarine "REMO" on passage through the Gulf of Taranto during the invasion is lost to submarine "United".
16th - Cruiser "Cleopatra" is torpedoed and badly damaged off Sicily by submarine "Dandolo".
18th - "Remo's" sister-boat "ROMOLO" is sunk off Augusta by the RAF.
23rd - Cruiser "Newfoundland" is damaged off Syracuse by a torpedo from "U-407", and as Italian "ASCIANGHI" attacks a cruiser force off the south coast of Sicily she is sunk by destroyers "Eclipse" and "Laforey".
29th - "PIETRO MICCA" is torpedoed by submarine "Trooper" at the entrance to the Adriatic in the Strait of Otranto.
30th - "U-375" is lost off southern Sicily to an American sub-chaser.
Sicily - As the Germans and Italians prepare to evacuate Sicily across the Strait of Messina, the Allies start the final push - US Seventh Army along the north coast aided by three small amphibious hops and Eighth Army up the east side from Catania with one small landing. Gen Patton's men enter Messina just before Gen Montgomery's on the 17th. Sicily is now in Allied hands but 100,000 Axis troops manage to escape without any serious interference.
[ 31. December 2002, 03:00 PM: Message edited by: Kai-Petri ]
Posted 04 January 2003 - 05:17 PM
Here´s a map of the Primasole area:
"Of the 1,900 members of the British Parachute Brigade who were despatched to Sicily, only about 200 men and three anti-tank guns reached the Primasole Bridge and seized it. They promptly removed the German demolition charges and set up a perimeter defence, but they constituted a pitifully small force to hold out until the ground forces arrived overland.
By coincidence, the bridge was near the Catania airfield where the regiment of the German 1st Parachute Division - the first contingent of the division to arrive in Sicily - had dropped a few hours earlier as Kesselring had watched. The German paratroopers reacted savagely to the intrusion of the British Paratroopers, and a fierce battle that started at daylight of 14th July lasted all day. At nightfall, having hung on despite heavy losses, the surviving British withdrew from the bridge to a piece of high ground overlooking the structure, and from there they covered the bridge by fire and at least prevented the Germans from damaging it."
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users