History

Wars & Campaigns

Boer War
First World War

►►Western Front

►►►Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

►►Allied Offensive: 1916

►►►Allied Offensives: 1917

►►►German Offensive: 1918

►►►Advance to Victory: 1918

►►Siberia
Second World War
►►War Against Japan

►►Italian Campaign

►►►Sicily

►►►Southern Italy

►►►The Sangro and Moro

►►►Battles of the FSSF

►►►Cassino

►►►Liri Valley

►►►Advance to Florence

►►►Gothic Line

►►►Winter Lines
►►North-West Europe

►►►Normandy
►►►Southern France
►►►Channel Ports

►►►Scheldt
►►►Nijmegen Salient

►►►Rhineland

►►►Final Phase
Korean War
Cold War
Gulf War

Operations 

GAUNTLET Aug 1941

(Spitsbergen)

HUSKY Jul 1943

 (Sicily)

COTTAGE Aug 1943

 (Kiska)

TIMBERWOLF Oct 1943

(Italy)

OVERLORD Jun 1944

(Normandy)

MARKET-GARDEN Sep 44

(Arnhem)

BERLIN Nov 1944

(Nijmegen)

VERITABLE Feb 1945

(Rhineland)

Battle Honours

Boer War

►Paardeberg

18 Feb 00

First World War
Western Front
Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

Ypres, 1915

22 Apr-25 May 15

Gravenstafel

22-23 Apr 15

St. Julien

24 Apr-4 May 15

Frezenberg

8-13 May 15

Bellewaarde

24-25 May 15

Festubert, 1915

15-25 May 15

Mount Sorrel

2-13 Jun 16

Allied Offensive: 1916

►Somme, 1916

1 Jul-18 Nov 16

►Albert

.1-13 Jul 16

►Bazentin

.14-17 Jul 16

►Pozieres

.23 Jul-3 Sep 16

►Guillemont

.3-6 Sep 16

►Ginchy

.9 Sep 16

Flers-Courcelette

15-22 Sep 16

Thiepval

26-29 Sep 16

►Le Transloy

. 1-18 Oct 16

Ancre Heights

1 Oct-11 Nov 16

Ancre, 1916

13-18 Nov 16

Allied Offensives: 1917

►Arras 1917

8 Apr-4 May 17

Vimy, 1917

.9-14 Apr 17

Arleux

28-29 Apr 17

►Scarpe, 1917

.3-4 May17

►Hill 70

.15-25 Aug 17

►Messines, 1917

.7-14 Jun 17

►Ypres, 1917

..31 Jul-10 Nov 17

►Pilckem

31 Jul-2 Aug 17

►Langemarck, 1917

.16-18 Aug 17

►Menin Road

.20-25 Sep 17

►Polygon Wood

26 Sep-3 Oct 17

►Broodseinde

.4 Oct 17

►Poelcapelle

.9 Oct 17

►Passchendaele

.12 Oct 17

►Cambrai, 1917

20 Nov-3 Dec 17

German Offensive: 1918

►Somme, 1918

.21 Mar-5 Apr 18

►St. Quentin

.21-23 Mar 18

►Bapaume, 1918

.24-25 Mar 18

►Rosieres

.26-27 Mar 18

►Avre

.4 Apr 18

►Lys

.9-29 Apr 18

►Estaires

.9-11 Apr 18

►Messines, 1918

.10-11 Apr 18

►Bailleul

.13-15 Apr 18

►Kemmel

.17-19 Apr 18

Advance to Victory: 1918

Amiens

8-11 Aug 18

►Arras, 1918

.26 Aug-3 Sep 18

►Scarpe, 1918

26-30 Aug 18.

►Drocourt-Queant

.2-3 Sep 18

►Hindenburg Line

.12 Sep-9 Oct 18

►Canal du Nord

.27 Sep-2 Oct 18

►St. Quentin Canal .29 Sep-2 Oct 18
►Epehy

3-5 Oct 18

►Cambrai, 1918

.8-9 Oct 18

►Valenciennes

.1-2 Nov 18

►Sambre

.4 Nov 18

►Pursuit to Mons .28 Sep-11Nov

Second World War

War Against Japan

South-East Asia

Hong Kong

 8-25 Dec 41

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily

Landing in Sicily 

   9-12 Jul 43

Grammichele 

15 Jul 43

Piazza Armerina

16-17 Jul 43

Valguarnera

17-19 Jul 43

Assoro 

  20-22 Jul 43

Leonforte

 21-22 Jul 43

Agira

24-28 Jul 43

Adrano 

29 Jul-7 Aug 43

Catenanuova

29-30 Jul 43

Regalbuto

29 Jul-3 Aug 43

Centuripe

  31 Jul-3 Aug 43

Troina Valley

 2-6 Aug 43

Pursuit to Messina

 2-17 Aug 43

 Southern Italy

Landing at Reggio

 3 Sep 43

Potenza 19-20 Sep 43
Motta Montecorvino 1-3 Oct 43
Termoli 3-6 Oct 43
Monte San Marco 6-7 Oct 43
Gambatesa 7-8 Oct 43
Campobasso 11-14 Oct 43
Baranello 17-18 Oct 43
Colle d'Anchise 22-24 Oct 43
Torella 24-27 Oct 43

The Sangro and Moro

The Sangro

19 Nov-3 Dec 43

Castel di Sangro

.23-24 Nov 43

The Moro

5-7 Dec 43

San Leonardo

8-9 Dec 43

The Gully

..10-19 Dec 43

Casa Berardi

 ..14-15 Dec 43

Ortona

20-28 Dec 43

San Nicola-San

.31 Dec 43

Tommaso

.
Point 59/ 29 Dec 43-

Torre Mucchia

4 Jan 44

Battles of the FSSF
Monte Camino

.5 Nov-9 Dec 43

Monte la Difensa-

2-8 Dec 43

 Monte la Remetanea

.
Hill 720

25 Dec 43

Monte Majo

3-8 Jan 44.

Radicosa

4 Jan 44

Monte Vischiataro

8 Jan 44

Anzio

22 Jan-22 May 44

Rome

.22 May-4 Jun 44

Advance

.22 May-22 Jun 44

to the Tiber

.
►Monte Arrestino

25 May 44

►Rocca Massima

27 May 44

►Colle Ferro

2 Jun 44

Cassino
►Cassino II

11-18 May 44

►Gustav Line

11-18 May 44

►Sant' Angelo in

13 May 44

Teodice

.
►Pignataro

14-15 May 44

Liri Valley
Liri Valley

18-30 May 44

►Hitler Line

18-24 May 44

►Aquino

18-24 May 44

►Melfa Crossing

24-25 May 44

►Ceprano

26-27 May 44

►Torrice Crossroads

30 May 44

Advance to Florence
Advance

17 Jul-10 Aug 44

to Florence

.
Trasimene Line

20-30 Jun 44

Sanfatucchio

20-21 Jun 44

Arezzo

4-17 Jul 44

Cerrone

25 - 31 Aug 44

Gothic Line
►Gothic Line

25 Aug-22 Sep 44

►Monteciccardo

27-28 Aug 44

►Montecchio

30-31 Aug 44

►Point 204 (Pozzo Alto)

31 Aug 44

►Monte Luro

1 Sep 44

►Borgo Santa Maria

1 Sep 44

►Tomba di Pesaro

1-2 Sep 44

►Coriano

3-15 Sep 44

►Lamone Crossing

2-13 Sep 44

Winter Lines
►Rimini Line

14-21 Sep 44

►San Martino-

14-18 Sep 44

San Lorenzo

.
►San Fortunato

18-20 Sep 44

►Casale

23-25 Sep 44

►Sant' Angelo

11-15 Sep 44

 in Salute

.
►Bulgaria Village

13-14 Sep 44

►Cesena

15-20 Sep 44

►Pisciatello

16-19 Sep 44

►Savio Bridgehead

20-23 Sep 44

►Monte La Pieve

13-19 Oct 44

►Monte Spaduro

19-24 Oct 44

►Monte San Bartolo

11-14 Nov 44

►Capture of Ravenna

3-4 Dec 44

►Naviglio Canal

12-15 Dec 44

►Fosso Vecchio

16-18 Dec 44

►Fosso Munio

19-21 Dec 44

►Conventello-

2-6 Jan 45

Comacchio

.
►Granarolo

3-5 Jan 44

Northwest Europe
Dieppe

19 Aug 42

Battle of Normandy
Normandy Landing

6 Jun 44

Authie

7 Jun 44

Putot-en-Bessin

8 Jun 44

Bretteville

8-9 Jun 44

       -l'Orgueilleuse .
Le Mesnil-Patry

11 Jun 44

Carpiquet

4-5 Jul 44

Caen

4-18 Jul 44

The Orne (Buron)

8-9 Jul 44

Bourguébus Ridge

18-23 Jul 44

Faubourg-de-

18-19 Jul 44

       Vaucelles .
St. André-sur-Orne

19-23 Jul 44

Maltôt

22-23 Jul 44

Verrières Ridge-Tilly--

25 Jul 44

         la-Campagne .
Falaise

7-22 Aug 44

►Falaise Road

7-9 Aug 44

►Quesnay Road

10-11 Aug 44

Clair Tizon

11-13 Aug 44

►The Laison

14-17 Aug 44

►Chambois

18-22 Aug 44

►St. Lambert-sur-

19-22 Aug 44

       Dives

.

Dives Crossing

17-20 Aug 44

Forêt de la Londe

27-29 Aug 44

The Seine, 1944

25-28 Aug 44

Southern France
Southern France

15-28 Aug 44

Channel Ports
Dunkirk, 1944

8-15 Sep 44

Le Havre

1-12 Sep 44

Moerbrugge

8-10 Sep 44

Moerkerke

13-14 Sep 44

Boulogne, 1944

17-22 Sep 44

Calais, 1944

25 Sep-1 Oct 44

Wyneghem

21-22 Sep 44

Antwerp-Turnhout

   24-29 Sep 44

Canal

.

The Scheldt

The Scheldt

1 Oct-8 Nov 44

Leopold Canal

6-16 Oct-44

►Woensdrecht

1-27 Oct 44

Savojaards Platt

9-10 Oct 44

Breskens Pocket

11 Oct -3 Nov 44

►The Lower Maas

20 Oct -7 Nov 44

►South Beveland

 24-31 Oct 44

Walcheren

31 Oct -4 Nov 44

Causeway

.

Nijmegen Salient
Ardennes

Dec 44-Jan 45

Kapelsche Veer

31 Dec 44-

.

21Jan 45

The Roer

16-31 Jan 45

Rhineland
The Rhineland

8 Feb-10 Mar 45

►The Reichswald

8-13 Feb 45

►Waal Flats

8-15 Feb 45

►Moyland Wood

14-21 Feb 45

►Goch-Calcar Road

19-21 Feb 45

►The Hochwald

26 Feb-

.

4 Mar 45

►Veen

6-10 Mar 45

►Xanten

8-9 Mar 45

Final Phase
The Rhine

23 Mar-1 Apr 45

►Emmerich-Hoch

28 Mar-1 Apr 45

Elten

.
►Twente Canal

2-4 Apr 45

Zutphen

6-8 Apr 45

Deventer

8-11 Apr 45

Arnhem, 1945

12-14 Apr 45

Apeldoorn

11-17 Apr 45

Groningen

13-16 Apr 45

Friesoythe

14 Apr 45

►Ijselmeer

15-18 Apr 45

Küsten Canal

17-24 Apr 45

Wagenborgen

21-23 Apr 45

Delfzijl Pocket

23 Apr-2 May 45

Leer

28-29 Apr 45

Bad Zwischenahn

23 Apr-4 May 45

Oldenburg

27 Apr-5 May 45

Korean War
Kapyong

21-25 Apr 51

Domestic Missions

FLQ Crisis

International Missions

ICCS            Vietnam 1973

MFO                 Sinai 1986-

Peacekeeping

UNMOGIP

India 1948-1979

UNTSO

 Israel 1948-    ....

UNEF

Egypt 1956-1967

UNOGIL

Lebanon 1958    ....

ONUC

 Congo 1960-1964

UNYOM

Yemen 1963-1964

UNTEA

W. N. Guinea 1963-1964

UNIFCYP

 Cyprus 1964-    ....

DOMREP

D. Republic 1965-1966

UNIPOM

Kashmir 1965-1966

UNEFME

Egypt 1973-1979

UNDOF

Golan 1974-    ....

UNIFIL

 Lebanon 1978    ....

UNGOMAP

Afghanistan 1988-90

UNIIMOG

Iran-Iraq 1988-1991

UNTAG

Namibia 1989-1990

ONUCA

C. America 1989-1992

UNIKOM

Kuwait 1991    ....

MINURSO

W. Sahara 1991    ....

ONUSAL

El Salvador 1991    ....

UNAMIC

Cambodia 1991-1992

UNAVEM II

Angola 1991-1997

UNPROFOR

Yugosla. 1992-1995

UNTAC

Cambodia 1992-1993

UNOSOM

Somalia 1992-1993

ONUMOZ

Mozambiq. 1993-1994

UNOMUR

 Rwanda 1993    ....

UNAMIR

Rwanda 1993-1996

UNMIH

Haiti 1993-1996

UNMIBH

Bosnia/Herz.1993-1996

UNMOP

Prevlaka 1996-2001

UNSMIH

Haiti 1996-1997

MINUGUA

Guatemala 1994-1997

UNTMIH

Haiti 1997    ....

MIPONUH

 Haiti 1997    ....

MINURCA

C.Afr.Rep. 1998-1999

INTERFET

E. Timor 1999-2000

UNAMSIL

Sie. Leone 1999-2005

UNTAET

E. Timor 1999-2000

Exercises

 

Landing in Sicily

Landing in Sicily was a Battle Honour granted to Canadian regiments that participated in the assault landings on the island of Sicily during the Second World War. The battle honour officially recognizes actions fought from 9 to 12 July 1943.

Background

The background to the assault landings in general are given in the article on Operation HUSKY. That code name was applied to the plan for the invasion of Sicily, which was finalized early in May 1943 and remained for the most part unchanged by D-Day, set for July 10. A significant feature that would change on D-Day was the name of the formations landing; Force 343 became the U.S. 7th Army and the British 12th Army, temporarily designated during the planning phase, reverted back to its historic designation of 8th Army.

 

Overall Plan

The 2d U.S. Corps was to land the 1st and 45th Divisions in the Gulf of Gela, with the 3rd Division and 2d Armored to land further west and seize Licata and both the port and airfield there. Paratroops of the 82d Airborne Division were to land four miles from Gela to assist the 1st Division. The 8th Army’s ambitious plan was to make five simultaneous landings on two coasts; on the right, the 13th Corps was to land the 5th and 50th Divisions, preceded by the 1st Airborne’s gliders and amphibious landings by commando troops. Their goals were Syracuse and Catania.

On the left, 30th Corps was to land the 1st Canadian Division and the 51st (Highland) Division along with the independent 231st (Malta) Brigade astride the Pachino peninsula. The Highland Division was to land at BARK SOUTH beach and occupy Pachino itself, with BARK EAST designated for the Malta Brigade and the Canadians, driving for Pachino airfield, landing at BARK WEST, with a Special Service Brigade under command, comprised of No. 40 and No. 41 Royal Marine Commandos. It was expected the 8th Army would meet the U.S. 45th Division in the vicinity of Ragusa.

Naval Forces

  • Force “H” – four battleships, four cruisers, two aircraft carriers, and eighteen destroyers – concentrated in the Ionian Sea as a deception plan, feigning an invasion of western Greece.

  • Force “Z” – in reserve in the western Mediterranean, to reinforce “H” or replace casualties at Sicily, as necessary.

  • Western Task Force – mainly U.S. Navy forces, divided into a Control Force and three Task Forces that corresponded to the three American beach landings.

  • Eastern Task Force – mainly Royal Navy forces, divided into Force “A” (13th Corps/231st Brigade) arriving from the Middle East), Force “B” (51st Division, arriving from Tunisia) and Force “V” (1st Canadian Division, arriving from the U.K.) Force “K” consisted of four cruisers and six destroyers tasked with close gun support for the landings.

Air Support

RAF fighter support from Malta and US fighter support from Tunisia was expected to operate with little opposition; enemy garrisons on Pantelleria and Lampedusa – small island garrisons lying between Allied-held Africa and the invasion beaches – were reduced by Allied bombing and assured the element of surprise to the naval forces. Pantelleria became home to Allied fighter squadrons, just 100 miles from the invasion beaches. In all, over 4300 aircraft from 250 Allied squadrons were available to operate against a much smaller Axis force.

1st Canadian Division

Terrain

The Amber Coast (Costa dell’ Ambra in Italian) extends from a point two miles west of the extreme end of the Pachino peninsula, running five miles to the north-west in an arc, bounded by two headlands, the Cape of Ants (Punta delle Formiche) in the south and Castle Point (Punta Castellazzo) in the north. The long beach is divided in two naturally by “the Caves” (le Grotticelle), a small outcropping of limestone. It was this stretch of sand that became BARK WEST, the left half code named SUGAR and the right ROGER.

The beach itself offered no real obstacle; behind lay a limestone ridge with a maximum rise of 10 feet, with gently sloping ground behind covered in sand and patches of poor soil. Behind SUGAR lay marshy terrain, including the Pantano Longarini, a large slough impassable to motor vehicles. Farmer’s fields were bounded by “dry stone” walls, and a rough cart track connected the provincial road running Pachino-Ispica to a point a mile inland from Grotticelle. Pachino’s airfield sat at the junction of these roads – the only such airstrip on the peninsula – and the town lay a mile further east, home to 22,000 people, some three miles beyond ROGER.

The real obstacles lay to sea, where false beaches were discovered offshore, meaning infantry disembarking from landing craft might find themselves marooned on sandbars, on the wrong side of lagoons too deep to wade through to get to the island itself. One such sand bar was found off ROGER by a submarine patrol, over 600 yards long, 18 inches under the water, and with a nine-foot drop-off on the landward side. A shallower sandbar at SUGAR still had a five-foot drop. To meet this contingency, the Canadians put three assault companies into LCT landing craft carrying DUKW amphibious trucks.

Enemy Defences

Italian defenders from the 206th Coastal Division had an array of pillboxes, machine guns and two batteries of 6-inch guns. The Canadian official history described the defences all along the coast as "not very formidable." In the BARK WEST sector, there were fifteen pillboxes and about 20 machine gun posts, "some barbed wire" on the beach, and suspected anti-tank mines. Other defended positions lay inland, particularly towards the airfield. The two coastal batteries lay 1-1/2 miles north-east of ROGER, and two miles east, the latter in the sector of the 51st Division. A third battery (found to include four 6-inch howitzers) was sited on Pachino's northern outskirts, able to cover the approach to the airfield. Manned by determined troops, all of these defences would have been troublesome; as it was, the Canadians counted on enemy inexperience as well as aerial superiority and naval gunfire to help win the day.1


Canadian Plan

The plan called for the 1st Brigade to land on ROGER east of le Grotticelle, destroy the enemy battery at Maucini, capture the airfield at Pachino, and make contact with the British 30th Corps. The 2nd Brigade was to land to the west of le Groticelle on SUGAR, destroy beach defences, assist the Special Service Brigade and occupy positions north of the Pantano Longarini marsh from which it could patrol to the northwest. The Commandos of the Special Service Brigade, landing west of Punta Castellazzo, were given the responsibility of securing the extreme west flank of the 8th Army's assault zone; their landing was to precede H-Hour by ten minutes. The two infantry brigades were scheduled to land at H-Hour, set for 0245.

The monitor HMS Roberts provided gunfire support with its 15-inch guns, assisted by the cruiser Delhi and three destroyers. Each brigade also had a destroyer and four smaller craft for close escort to shore; the run-in was to be silent unless the enemy opened fire, to preserve surprise.

The 3rd Brigade, 12th Army Tank Regiment (Three Rivers Regiment), and various artillery and medical units, held as divisional reserve, were to be landed while the assault brigades advanced on high ground astride the Pachino-Ispica road. The third phase of the assault landing was to be an advance to the north-west alongside the 51st (Highland) Division.2

The Landings

In the words of one historian, '(w)hile the Second Brigade, on the left, encountered only minor difficulties, the First Brigade's assault came dangerously close to complete collapse."3

2nd Brigade Landing

The Seaforths and PPCLI were transported to shore in LCA (Landing Craft, Assault), which were small, flat bottomed assault craft capable of carrying a single infantry platoon. . The PPCLI found little small arms fire greeted them; the Seaforth Highlanders found themselves put ashore too far to the right - in fact, on the wrong side of the Patricias.4

The day was a relatively easy one for the Seaforths;

The (Carrier Platoon), led by Major Forin, turned westward following the water-line to avoid mines. En route he ran into some of the Seaforth Platoons from "B" Company which were perplexed as to their location but he directed them to the right area. By about noon the carriers had met up with the remainder of the unit which was busy consolidating on the intermediate objective overlooking the beaches northwest of the inland lake.

The addition of the carriers, together with "B" Company's arrival, brought the Seaforths up to strength except for the administrative echelons which were due to arrive later. At some points on the high ground the men could see Ipsica, a town nestled on a rocky ridge about seven miles to the northwest where the first real resistance was expected after landing. So far the enemy had been flushed out without too much trouble, and the Italian prisoners were a sorry looking lot as they were despatched to compounds set up on the beach area now teeming with men, vehicles and supplies.5

The "silent" run in was abandoned as HMS Roberts bombarded Pachino airfield with its 15-inch guns, an experience the infantrymen in the landing craft reported as reassuring. Both units of the brigade reported only scatted small arms fire on the run-in to shore, which ceased as the troops reached land. According to the official history:

Once ashore, they easily cut through or blew up the few wire obstacles in their path, quickly disposing of a few machine-gun posts manned by a handful of bewildered Italian soldiers. At about three o'clock the headquarters and the remaining companies of each battalion followed the assault companies ashore. An hour later Brigadier Vokes, who was still afloat with his headquarters, had received success signals from both his assaulting units. Thereafter the two battalions proceeded inland towards their first phase objectives.6

The Special Service Brigade to their left landed farther west than planned, but the defenders in their sector evacuated their positions as soon as they faced danger, and the Commandos were quickly inland, making contact with the Seaforths in the vicinity of the southwest corner of the Pantano Longarini at 0640, having suffered light casualties. On the extreme left flank came the only serious resistance of the day, when late in the afternoon an Italian Blackshirt unit stopped the Commandos' advance with anti-tank and mortar fire, then threatened to penetrate the junction between the Seaforths and the Special Service Brigade. The 4.2-inch mortars of the Saskatoon Light Infantry were brought to bear to support the Commandos, who had no heavy weapons of their own, and 160 accurate rounds forced a withdrawal of the Italians, who abandoned their guns, horses and large amounts of ammunition.

1st Brigade Landing

The 1st Brigade was delayed in its attack because of the switch from LCAs to LCTs/DUKWs due to the discovery of the false beach. The LCTs were only due to arrive at 1215 on the day of the invasion; as a contingency the attack was to go ahead in LCAs as originally planned if the three LCTs (carrying 21 DUKWs) failed to arrive from Malta as scheduled. Due to radio silence, the brigade commander was thus forced to be prepared to go ahead with two different landing plans on short notice. The LCTs were also required to find the troopships in the dark, in rough weather, and in the event arrived late, the first not reaching its rendezvous until 0140, when the brigade had already begun embarking into the LCAs. A reorganization was ordered, and the first flight of Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment soldiers was ready to lower at 0226, by which time the first RCR companies were loading into LCTs as well. Loading was further delayed by the rough seas. Divisional HQ and the naval commanders sent word of their impatience; at 0315 the message "Will your assault ever start?" was sent to the Senior Naval Officer Landing on HMS Glengyle by Rear-Admiral Vian, commanding Force "V".

By this time, the two lead companies of the Hastings were ready to head for shore, in LCAs. The first flight of RCR did not depart until 0400, two and a half hours late. The Maucini battery fired on the craft, but was silenced by return fire from the Allied fleet. Both regiments landed in good order, though "A" Company of the Hastings, one of the reserve companies, landed 5,000 yards too far to the west, coming down in the Special Service Brigade's sector. The regiment suffered only two killed and three wounded during the landing, one of the dead being Company Sergeant Major Charles Nutley, killed by machine gun fire at the water's edge as he came ashore with "A" Company. No serious opposition was reported anywhere on ROGER Beach, and most Italians had fled by the time the Hastings landed proper at 0445 and the RCR at 0530. The 1st Division reported to 30th Corps at 0645 that it was on its first objectives.

The RCR cleared the buildings at Maucini where a dozen prisoners were taken, and the entire garrison of the battery (three officers and 35 men) succumbed after a single warning shot was fired by an RCR sergeant. They reached the airfield at Pachino by 0900 finding it deserted and ploughed up; British engineers had the strip in operating condition by early afternoon. British tanks in support of the 51st Division made contact with "C" Company in the north-east corner of the airstrip, having passed through Pachino itself. Aided by "A" Company of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, they cleared barracks north of the airfield, and headed towards the artillery battery north of Pachino. Machine gun fire killed two and wounded two more, but 130 Italians surrendered when the advance pressed on, and all four 6-inch guns were taken. Canada's first valour awards of the campaign went to the RCR, with a Distinguished Conduct Medal and a Military Medal granted for this action. "C" Company pressed on northeast of the airfield, taking 100 more prisoners and finally pausing at 1800 to eat their first meal in fourteen hours.7

Reserve Landings

The reserve battalions of the 1st and 2nd Brigades (48th Highlanders and The Edmonton Regiment, respectively) followed up with their own landings on ROGER and SUGAR respectively. Following them came the divisional reserve, with a complete squadron of The Three Rivers Regiment landing on ROGER from Landing Ship Tanks (LST) by 1015, followed by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade. The 142nd Field Regiment (Royal Devon Yeomanry), a British self-propelled field regiment attached to the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, came ashore as well.

Other assaults on Sicily were equally successful; the 30th Corps had captured Pachino and occupied the eastern half of the peninsula, as well as taken Avola and Cassibile to the east. Syracuse was taken, undamaged, by 0900. The Americans landed in rougher surf than the 8th Army and taken their D-Day objectives, though their 3d Division faced strong air attacks at Licata's port and airfield. While complete surprise had not been possible - enemy aerial reconnaissance had clearly spotted the Allied fleet just 10 hours before H-Hour and the enemy concluded that a major invasion was imminent - the attackers were aided by the poor weather, which prevented some enemy units from being alerted, as it was thought invasion unlikely during the storm that was seen on 9 July.

Only the airborne attacks had not fared well; 50 of the 134 gliders carrying the British 1st Airlanding Brigade crashed in the sea and only 12 arrived in the drop zone. The American 82d Airborne Division was scattered over fifty miles between Licata and Noto. High winds, inexperienced pilots and anti-aircraft fire from both the enemy and Allied ships firing in the darkness contributed to the poor placement. The paratroopers nonetheless played a part in preventing the German Hermann Göring Panzer Division from reaching the American beaches.

Second Phase

After darkness on 10 July, units of the 2nd Brigade moved northwest of the Pantano Longarini towards Ispica, continuing to gather prisoners, while the 3rd Brigade advanced to Burgio, a large winery three miles to the west of Pachino. The West Nova Scotia Regiment captured 25 Italians for no loss, while the Commandos were withdrawn on 11 July back into Army reserve, having fulfilled their mission. In all the first day had resulted in 7 Canadian other ranks killed, and 25 soldiers wounded (3 officers and 22 other ranks). The Special Service Brigade had lost 6 killed and 19 wounded. The 1st Canadian Division reported 650 prisoners in its cage at 1845, mostly Italians but included about 20 German Air Force men, and the total grew during the evening and night. Enemy killed were estimated at 100.8

On 11 July, the 1st Canadian Division resumed a general advance to the interior of the island as the left flank unit of the 8th Army, the immediate objectives of 30th Corps being the Noto-Pozzallo road, and the Iblei Hills commanding roads leading to Palazzolo and Ragusa. The 51st Division (with the 231st Malta Brigade under command) and the 1st Canadian Division were ordered forward simultaneously with the Pachino-Rosolini road as the divisional boundary. The 1st Canadian Brigade was ordered to the right, the 2nd the left, with the 3rd in reserve.

Just after noon, the advance on Ispica began with The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (still not aware that they had been renamed, the regiment would not actually receive notice of their name change until October) setting off for a six mile march towards the town, which sat on a 150 foot cliff from which it commanded the coastal plain. Here, too, warning shots from the Edmontons brought about an instant surrender of the garrison, weary from naval and aerial bombardment the night before. The Royal Canadian Artillery was able to coordinate with naval forces in the early stages of the Sicily campaign, and enemy supply lines on exposed coastal roads were prime targets. Combined with a weak enemy submarine effort, Allied aerial superiority, and good weather, conditions for the navy to operate were unmatched and long-range bombardment by off-shore vessels even caught the notice of the German theatre commander, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring. The first Canadian Military Cross of the Italian campaign went to a Canadian artillery observer for his exploits in communicating with offshore guns.8

The Canadians were walking everywhere in the hot sun - or scrounging rides where they could be found, from carriers or tanks - because the Slow Assault Convoy had been attacked during the trip from Britain to Sicily, and 500 vehicles went to the bottom of the Mediterranean when three ships were sunk by U-Boats.9

The enemy was obviously not intending to make a stand; the 51st Highland Division entered Rosolini unopposed late in the morning and PPCLI passed through the Edmontons later in the afternoon, marching through the night without opposition to a position overlooking Modica. The Seaforths moved to Modica also, detaching a company to Pozzallo which had surrendered to landing parties of HMS Blankney and Brissenden. Distributing food to the locals in the wake of a collapsing government from the local granary, the Seaforths also collected 260 prisoners and a pile of equipment.

The 1st Brigade departed Burgio in the wake of the 51st Division; the RCR headed towards Ragusa riding on tanks of the Three Rivers regiment as well as making use of captured enemy vehicles. They arrived four miles to the east of the town, waited as British artillery dropped several shells into it, then sent a patrol in to secure its surrender only to find the U.S. 45th Division had already taken it. Modica, sitting in a deep gully, was also shelled early on the morning of 12 July by a 15-minute concentration after which PPCLI sent in a patrol to secure the a large number of prisoners. Later in the day, however, after Canadian units moved on, enemy soldiers re-appeared in the town and ambushed both a Seaforth ration and ammo party, and the RCR anti-tank platoon as they drove through what they thought was secured territory. The two parties, under fire, joined forces and called down artillery and captured eight cannon in the main square of the town, all covering roads converging on the town. Several hundred more Italian soldiers now flocked out to surrender.

Modica was also the location of the headquarters of the Italian 206th Coastal Division; their commander, Major-General Achille d'Havet had not been pleased to find - according to some reports - that a sergeant of the PPCLI who had been on the initial fighting patrol into the town had been the one to capture him. An apparent stickler for protocol, the general insisted on finding a captor of suitable rank to whom he could personally surrender. The request went up the chain of command, and he was escorted by the Brigade Major to the divisional headquarters of 1st Canadian Infantry Division where the first enemy general officer to be captured by Canadian troops in the Second World War formally had his personal capitulation accepted.10

The 2nd Brigade had dutifully secured the flanks, with a platoon of Edmontons cleaning out Scicli with a troop of tanks in support - just three shots fired by the tanks induced 1100 prisoners to surrender. The brigade moved on to Ragusa by nightfall, where still more Italians waited their turn to give up.

The 1st Brigade advanced north from Rosolini to join the RCR at Ragusa during 12 July also, and by the morning of 13 July had arrived at Giarratana, taken without trouble by the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment. The 1st Division was now thirty miles from its landing points on the Pachino peninsula, "as the crow flies", and over fifty miles by the circuitous hillside roads. Supplies were becoming stretched, particularly in light of the shortage of transport. Sleep had been at a premium for the men in the battalions as well. It was noted at higher headquarters also that the 1st Canadian Division was the only formation in the 8th Army not to have been acclimated to tropical conditions, coming directly from the United Kingdom rather than other points in the Mediterranean.

Aftermath

By the evening of 12 July 1 (Canadian Infantry Division) had taken Giarratana at which junction they were given a day's rest by (8th Army commander General) Montgomery who fully appreciated the exhausting conditions they were undergoing. They were also treated to a series of Monty's ... pep talks. At the end of the day Montgomery confided to his diary his confidence in his new Canadians.11

Divisional headquarters was relocated from Ispica to the vicinity of Modica, and new vehicles were obtained to ease transport shortages. General Montgomery was able to visit all units of the division, welcoming them to the 8th Army and expressing his confidence in their abilities during the upcoming battles.

Battle Honours

 

The following Canadian units were awarded the Battle Honour "Landing in Sicily" for participation in these actions:
 

Image:1tankbde.gif 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade

  • 12th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Three Rivers Regiment)

Image:1gif.gif 1st Canadian Division

  • 4th Reconnaissance Regiment (4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards)

  • The Saskatoon Light Infantry (MG)

Image:1gif1bde.gif 1st Canadian Brigade

  • The Royal Canadian Regiment

  • The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment

  • 48th Highlanders of Canada

Image:1gif2bde.gif 2nd Canadian Brigade

  • Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry

  • The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada

  • The Loyal Edmonton Regiment

Image:1gif3bde.gif 3rd Canadian Brigade

  • Royal 22e Regiment

  • The Carleton and York Regiment

  • The West Nova Scotia Regiment

Notes

  1. Nicholson, Gerald Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War: Volume II: The Canadians in Italy

  2. Ibid

  3. Dancocks, Daniel G. D-Day Dodgers: The Canadians in Italy 1943-45 (McLelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, ON, 1991) ISBN 0-7710-2544-0 p.32

  4. Ibid, pp.32-33

  5. Roy, Reginald The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada: 1919-1965 (Evergreen Press, Vancouver, BC, 1969) pp.162-163

  6. Nicholson, Ibid

  7. Ibid

  8. Ibid

  9. McKay, Donald A. Gaudeamus Igitur "Therefore Rejoice" (Bunker to Bunker Books, Calgary, AB, 2005) ISBN 1894255534 pp.46-51

  10. Nicholson, Ibid

  11. McKay, Ibid, p.51


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