Operation Husky

Operation Husky was the codename of the invasion of Sicily of Italy by the Allies. In the period from July to August 1943, the Allies launched an attack to occupied Sicily of Italy and eventually captured the island and won the battle, which promoted the ruling of Mussolini in Italy for over 20 years to be subverted and made Italy out of the war shortly thereafter.

After several years of hard fighting, the Allies achieved victory in the Battle of North Africa. In this battle, the Allies destroyed the huge Italian troops stationed in North Africa and the troops sent by Germany to support its ally in region, therefore the Allies fully controlled North Africa and controlled the Mediterranean relying on sea and air superiority. So after May 1943 when the Allies gained victory in Tunisia, the Allies would possibly launch amphibious landing operations against southern Europe on the north shore of the Mediterranean Sea. As the southern coastline was very long and many places could be landed, so it was very difficult for the Axis to defense this region. At that time, the main forces of the Axis were used to combat with the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front.

After a heated debate, the Allies decided to first attack Italian territory Sicily in order to directly hit this major Axis country. But the intelligence agencies of the Allies spread disinformation, claiming the Allies targeted the Balkans where Greece was located, resulting that the Germans sent troops to reinforce the Balkans. The move made the defense of the Axis troops further diversify and was unable to resist the powerful Allies offensive.

The Allies troops used for the invasion of Sicily island were mainly the U.S. 7th Army and the British 8th Army, which composed of the 15th Army. Some Canadian troops were incorporated into the British. There were also a small number of Free French troops incorporated into the U.S. military units, which had just achieved victory in the battle in Tunisian in May. Various facts of the forces like personnel, equipment and morale were in a better state compared with the garrison, the forces had the advantage in troop size. The troops of Germany and Italy for guarding Sicily from a digital point of view were a large army, but most of them were composed by the Italian army, which was primarily the Italian 6th Army. But only a few divisions in the army had strong fighting capability and the remaining were some Coastal Division. These forces had weak combat capability with missing persons and were poorly equipped. Some Italian troops were still equipped with extremely old Fiat 3000 tanks. This tank served before Mussolini assumed the office of Prime Minister of Italy with the use of time exceeding more than 20 years. German defense forces stationed in Sicily had two armored divisions, but they were just newly rebuilt troops with the original one had just been wiped out by the Allies in May in North Africa. In such a short period of time, the reconstructed troops in the number of personnel, training, morale and equipment could not have a good state. The Germans, after the battle began, reinforced two divisions of troops, but the two divisions also just finished the battle of Stalingrad and were undergoing being trimmed. Its combat capability was also subject to certain weakening.

The Allies in June 11 first launched a small campaign and occupied an important island Pantelleria in the west of Sicily. The occupation of the island of Sicily cleared the obstacles of the Allies offensive. Although Italy deployed on the island more than 10,000 defenders, it surrendered to the Allies without resistance.

After about one month of preparation, on July 9 the Allies formally launched the operations of the invasion of Sicily. The Allies made use of its personnel and equipment advantage to attack from the sea, the air and the land against the garrison. Before the ground forces landed on the beach, the Allies’ airborne troops had landed behind the defenders to seize important bridges and channels. After that, the ground troops landed in a strong cover of artillery fire. The Allies battle fleet in the Mediterranean aimed to provide a strong fire support. Since it was the first large-scale landing operation of the Allies, there were a lot of problems in cooperation of the Allies. For example, it was unable to recognize the aircrafts for transporting soldiers of their own, causing many mistaken attacks. And the error occurred at the time of airborne and a lot of people got drowned in the sea. In addition, after the occupation of bridges and roads by the airborne troops in the rear of the enemy, the ground forces failed to arrive for reinforcements. But despite of all these problems, the Allies forces still used the powerful advantages and successfully landed in a few days.

The operational plan was that the British were responsible for landing in the southeast of the island and the U.S. military in the southwestern of the island landing. After landing, the British encountered tenacious blocking from the garrison, causing slow progress of attack. The U.S. troops advancing rapidly northward under Patton’s command and on July 22 occupied the capital Palermo of Sicily. The U.S. troops captured about 19,000 people. It gave the defenders some military blow while brought great political implications. Mussolini was dismissed because of the failure and was arrested by the king. Italy, as a member of the Axis powers began to shake. After the victory, the U.S. military continued to advance to the northeast, but they soon encountered a new line of defense of the Germans in peripheral area of Messina. In the meantime, the British gradually moved northward to the middle of the island. So far, the U.S. and the British attacked the new line of defense of Germans in both directions from the west and south.

From early August, the Allies troops started to fiercely attacked the new defense line of the Germans in the perimeter of Messina and moved forward to the northeast of the island where German and Italian troops still occupied. After the two battles of Troina and Centuripe, the U.S. and the British forces respectively repulsed the Germans they faced, resulting that the defenders could not continue to guard the defense line. So the defenders from August 11 began a large-scale withdrawal to the Italian mainland and then passed the Strait of Messina to enter into mainland Italy. The width of the strait was only three kilometers. Because the Allies troops failed to control this sea area before the garrison retreated, a large number of German and Italian troops evacuated to the Italian mainland and took their weapons and ammunition and supplies with them. Basically all four divisions deployed by the Germans Sicily retreated with a total of less than 60,000 people. Italy also withdrew troops of the same number. The remaining hundreds of thousands of Italian troops on the island were all captured by the Allies. Since most of the Germans managed to escape, the Italian campaign was affected to some extent.

On August 17 the occupation of Messina by the Allies marked that the battle lasting for nearly six weeks ended. At this point, the Allies fully occupied Sicily. Throughout the war in Sicily, the United States, Britain, Canada had mobilized 12 infantries and armored divisions, as well as several independent prepared infantry brigades and armored brigades to fight against the German four divisions and the Italian 11 divisions. The Allies eventually lost about 25,000 people. Germany lost about 20,000 people and Italy lost about hundreds of thousands of people. After the battle, the Italian government quickly began secret negotiations with the Allies and withdrew from the Axis camp in a short time. Afterwards, the Germans occupied northern Italy and fought there with the Allies until the end of World War 2.

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