1. What is the purpose of this military action and the final outcome?
This is the code of the operation of the invasion and capture of Sicily of Italy launched by the Allies in July 1943. In May 1943, the Allies gained complete victory in North Africa battlefield and then began to attack the Italian territory in order to directly attack the most important ally for Germany. With huge military advantage, the Allies eventually in five weeks annihilated the defenders of Sicily. And because the war extended to the territory of Italy, resulting that Mussolini government ruling Italy for over 20 years collapsed.
2. Why Mussolini’s government collapsed during the Allies invasion of Sicily Island?
Italy from participating in World War 2 met a lot of failures and setbacks. It not only failed to expand its existing territories and spheres of influence, but also even lost a lot of territories gained before World War 2. In May 1943, the North African campaign ended. Italian territories in North Africa were fully occupied by the Allies. This meant Italy not only lost the last piece of territory in Africa, but also started to subject to huge military threat. Besides, Germany, the main ally of Italy, began to face unfavorable warring situation, resulting in a lot of people being aware of the need to make changes to the situation. In July after the landing in Sicily, the Allies in just over 10 days occupied the capital Palermo of the island. Therefore, distrust against Mussolini burst out and eventually led to his being removed from office and imprisoned.
3. Is it possible that the Axis would win in the combat in Sicily?
It is unlikely. The bilateral military strength gap was too large. Despite of the large number of Sicilian defense forces, they were mainly composed of weak Italian army. There were only two German armored divisions stationed on the island before the operation broke out. And these two divisions were actually just rebuilt troops. The troops with the same designation had already been annihilated two months before by the Allies in Tunisia. The newly formed troops had many problems in personnel training, morale and equipment. Italian army was the same. Italy’s most elite troops had been wiped out in North Africa. Some Italian army guarding Sicily used tanks even produced in early 1920s. The Allies forces mainly consisted of the troops just won the battle in North Africa, including the British 8th Army that had been fighting in North Africa for a long time and with a lot of combat experience as well as the U.S. 7th Army that had just gone through the Tunisian campaign. These forces were prepared completely with advanced equipment and also had advantage in troop size. Since attacking Sicily required amphibious landing, and at this time the Allies had completely mastered the sea control of the Mediterranean sea, the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy dispatched a large number of ships to support the landing forces. But the Italian Navy could only use a few submarines and torpedo for defense. The Allies air forces also had advantages, because the Allies had strong production capacity and the number of aircrafts equipped was far much more than the number of aircraft equipped with the Axis forces. After the comprehensive comparison of these, the Axis could only make the Allies’ occupation of the island slow down , but did not have the strength to hold onto the island.
4. How much effect did a series of pre-war intelligence works conducted by the Allies to disperse the defenders have?
Due to the large military disparity between the two sides, it could not been clearly seen the role of these intelligence works. Before the invasion of Sicily, the Allies spread a lot of disinformation and claimed to invade Greece, which made the Germans send some troops to reinforce the Balkans where Greece was located. But the whole southern region had extremely long coastline, so the Allies mastering the sea control of the Mediterranean sea could land in any possible place. The Germans could not have given reinforcements for each region. After the outbreak of the Battle of Sicily, the Germans rapidly reinforced two divisions of troops to the island. But since then it failed to mobilize more troops when German troops were mainly used in the East and the Soviet Union to fight. And the Germans had the situation of a shortage of troops on all fronts, so the Allies’ disinformation perhaps had played a role, but it did not constitute an important factor in the outcome of the battle.
5. Is the Sicily campaign lasting five weeks a fierce battle?
Both sides put a total of nearly one million troops in the Sicily campaign. During the campaign, except the number of the captured, the Allies’ casualties were about 20,000 people and the German casualties reached 20,000 people too. The Italian army’s casualty figures should not be less than this amount. So there may be 60,000 casualties in five weeks with 2000 died or injured for each day on average, indicating that the fighting was fierce.
6. Who commanded the Sicily campaign?
Commanders involved in this battle were all prestigious and many of whom later served higher duties. The supreme commander of the Allies was Dwight Eisenhower. He later became the commander of the Allies in Europe and after the war he became the U.S. president. Moreover, Patton and Montgomery was respectively supreme commander of the armed forces of the U.S. and the British. Their boss was the famous Harold Alexander. The latter led Patton and Montgomery to combat in North Africa. The future Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Omar Bradley was only an army commander at this time under the leadership of Patton.