Operation Husky – 75 years on

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Recommended reading: Operation Husky
Battle for Sicily – Stepping Stone to Victory

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£19.99

Battle for Sicily – Stepping Stone to Victory by Lieutenant Colonel Ian Blackwell.

On the night of 9-10 July 1943, an Allied armada launched the invasion of Sicily, a larger operation than the Normandy landings the following year. Over the next thirty-eight days, half a million Allied servicemen fought the Germans and Italians for control of this rocky island, which was to become the first part of Axis homeland to fall during World War II.

Despite their success in capturing the island, inter-Allied and inter-service divisions and rivalries robbed them of the opportunity to inflict a crushing defeat on the Germans and Italians, who were able to conduct a fighting withdrawal to the Italian mainland and save sizable forces to continue the war. Regarded by some as a ‘blind alley’, by others as the way into Europe via the ‘soft underbelly’, the decision to invade Sicily was – and remains – controversial.

Notwithstanding the campaign’s failure to achieve its potential, invaluable lessons were learned which contributed to success in France later. Many of the leading generals who were to take prominent roles in North-West Europe – amongst them Eisenhower, Montgomery, Bradley and Patton – brought with them the experience of Sicily.

Glider Pilots in Sicily

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£25.00

Glider Pilots in Sicily by Major Mike Peters.

This well-researched book by an expert of his subject lifts the veil on the first large scale British use of gliders in action. This occurred in July 1943 as a key part of Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Sicily from bases in North Africa.

Flying in large numbers of troops by night over sea against a well trained enemy would be a challenge at any time. But, as the author reveals, the newly formed airlanding forces and the pilots of the Glider Pilot Regiment woefully lacked the necessary training and experience. The result was little short of a total disaster with over 300 men drowned and few troops landing successfully enough to carry out their missions.

Thanks to shining examples of collective and individual heroism by survivors, a total catastrophe was averted. The successes and failures of this overly ambitious venture make for fascinating reading and classic military history. The book also covers the formation of air landing and airborne forces.

The men of the Glider Pilot Regiment, which had the highest casualty rate of any British unit of the War, certainly lived up to their motto – Nothing is Impossible.

The Invasion of Sicily 1943

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Images of War – The Invasion of Sicily 1943 by Jon Diamond.

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 underbelly 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.

Slaughter Over Sicily

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£12.99

Slaughter Over Sicily by Charles Whiting.

Victory in North Africa was a triumphant beginning but the Allies knew that there was no time to lose. ‘Festung Europa’ (Fortress Europe) had to be cracked and Operation Husky was the bold beginning. As well as a massive seaborne invasion, Roosevelt and Churchill ordered their military commanders Eisenhower, Alexander and Montgomery to initiate a major airborne assault. Unfortunately, as Whiting reveals, those responsible for planning were at loggerheads from the outset. While mercifully the outcome was successful, the immediate results were nearly catastrophic and it took great leadership and acts of bravery to overcome the flaws that underlay the concept. Thanks to painstaking research, this book reveals not just the errors but the lessons that were learnt the hard way.

With the East Surreys in Tunisia and Italy 1942-1945

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£25.00

With The East Surreys in Tunisia and Italy 1942 – 1945 – Fighting for Every River and Mountain by Bryn Evans.

The East Surreys were in near continuous action from November 1942, when they landed in North Africa (Operation Torch) through to the end of hostilities in May 1945. During these three years of bitter fighting they cleared the Germans from Tunisia, took part in Operation Husky, (the invasion of Sicily) and fought up through Italy as far as the River Po.

Trained as mountain troops, the East Surreys saw set piece and patrol action in the Atlas Mountains, on the slopes of Mount Etna and Monte Cassino, and in the countless unforgiving hills and valleys of the Apennines. They were called upon to cross many rivers, often opposed by a determined enemy, culminating in the River Po with its vast waterlogged valley. Veterans’ graphic personal accounts describe the hardship and action and vividly illustrate the magnitude of the East Surreys’ task.

This superbly researched record of the East Surreys’ contribution demonstrates how a single battalion can make a huge difference. It is more than a regimental history as it gives the reader a real feel for the campaigns involved, particularly the gruelling and costly slog up Italy which has been too often neglected.

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Glider Pilots in Sicily The Battle for Sicily The Invasion of Sicily 1943

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The Quiet Gunner At War With The East Surreys in Tunisia and Italy 1942 – 1945 The War in Italy 1943-1944

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The Alexander Memoirs, 1940-1945 Sunk by Stukas, Survived at Salerno Battles of a Gunner Officer

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