The Invasion of Sicily 1943
With victory in North Africa complete, the Allies had a choice. The Americans wanted an early cross channel attack from Britain on North West Europe. Churchill favoured invading the soft under-belly of Italy to weaken the Axis forces and gain Italian surrender. With Eisenhower’s army and battle-hardened Eighth Army in North Africa, Churchill prevailed.
The ambitious Operation HUSKY required meticulous planning. Montgomery’s Eighth Army and Patton’s Seventh landed successfully although the air landing proved costly. While the outcome was not in doubt the mountainous terrain acted in the defenders favour. The German presence was higher than expected and the vast bulk of the enemy were Italian. In little over a month, the first Americans reached Messina.
The strategic plan was successful: the Italian capitulated, Hitler had to reinforce his Southern flank relieving pressure on the Soviets and valuable lessons were learnt by the Allies for D-Day.
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