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

 

Battle of Sicily

The Battle of Sicily was the opening move in the Italian Campaign of the Second World War. The battle would also mark the first protracted combat deployment of a Canadian formation during the war.

The Allied invasion of Sicily began with parachute assaults on the night of 9-10 Jul 1943, followed by amphibious landings in several locations on the south coast the next morning. Operation HUSKY was the largest amphibious operation of the Second World War up to that point in time, in terms of troops involved.

While the Battle of Sicily achieved the operational goals of evicting Axis forces from the island, criticism at the handling of the battle by senior commanders has suggested that too many Axis troops were allowed to withdrawn in good order across the Straits of Messina to the Italian mainland, particularly high quality German formations such as the Hermann Goering Division.

The battle served as an effective indoctrination for the Canadians involved; Major General Guy Simonds and subordinate commanders received battle experience and by all accounts handled the division well. Canadian soldiers also received accolades from both higher command and their German enemies for their conduct of the battle.

Background

Allied grand strategists had long discussed the options available to them for re-entering the continent of Europe and liberating it from The Axis. The entry of the United States into the war in Dec 1941 gave great impetus to the planning for such a venture. At the time of the Dieppe Raid in Aug 1942, many in the Allied camp were still calling for a direct invasion of France. With considerable forces already engaged in North Africa, Britain and the US expanded their efforts there. Canadian participation had been limited to the attachment of individuals to British units in order to gain battle experience. With the defeat of Axis troops in Tunisia in May 1943, the next phase of Allied strategy had already been determined: an invasion of Sicily.

The decision to attack Italy rather than France has continued to be debated by historians. Equally controversial, then and in ongoing debates since the war, has been the decision to split the forces making up First Canadian Army in the UK. The 1st Canadian Infantry Division and the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade were both selected for employment in Operation HUSKY.

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily - Southern Italy - The Sangro and Moro -
Battles of the FSSF - Cassino - Liri Valley - Trasimene Line - Advance to Florence - Gothic Line - Winter Lines

The Battle

US forces landed in the Gulf of Gela with British forces landing on the south-eastern portion of the island. The initial landings of US forces were met with heavy resistance, including a counter-attack by armour of the Hermann Goering division. Strong winds hampered the airborne assault, and when airborne reserves were called in on the second day of the invasion, a costly friendly fire incident saw several transport planes shot down by the Allied fleet in the belief they were German bombers.

Soldier of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry photographed with his Bren Gun near Valguarnera. The photo gives an indication of the tropical climate. LAC Photo. Men of The Edmonton Regiment in a Universal Carrier near Valguarnera on 17 July 1943. The umbrella provides some degree of relief from the merciless sun. LAC Photo.

A 25-pounder Gun of the 2nd Field Regiment, RCA, firing in support of the 2nd Brigade at Nissoria on 28 July 1943.  LAC Photo.

 

Canadian Landing

The Canadian landings at Pachino were done on a two-brigade front, with spirited resistance offered against only one of the brigades. Many transport vehicles and items of equipment had been lost by the 1st Division when a ship was torpedoed and sunk on the way to Sicily.

Campaign

Once ashore, there was no master plan to co-ordinate the activities of the US 7th Army and the British 8th Army, and the two formations operated independently during the campaign.

After initial heavy counter-attacks against the Americans, which were repulsed by the use of naval gunfire, resistance stiffened on the British front while US forces broke away from the beachhead. Faced with the formidable obstacle of Mount Etna, the 8th Army commander, General Montgomery, persuaded the 15th Army Group commander, General Alexander, to shift the inter-army boundary and allow room to maneuver to the west. During this operation, the US 45th Infantry Division was forced to break conact with the XIV Panzer Corps, which escaped a likely encirclement.

The 1st Canadian Division - described by Montgomery as "fat" - were given time to rest and acclimate (while most of the 8th Army formations were veterans of the desert, the Canadians had moved to the Mediterranean from Scotland where they underwent amphibious and mountain operations training). Once they were moving, they first saw action at Grammichele and Piazza Armerina.

Other actions to the north included Valguarnera on 17-18 Jul, the first true divisional operation of the war for Canadian soldiers. The Canadians traded 140 casualties for 500 Germans killed, wounded and captured. The battle saw the first combat use of the Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank, the first combat shoot of the entire divisional artillery, and the first true combat actions for several battalions such as The Royal Canadian Regiment.

The US 7th Army, relieved of the burden of fighting up the centre of the island where the Canadians and British were now employed, pressed to the northwest in an impressive but tactically irrelevant sweep to capture the city of Palermo. Strategically, the capture of Palermo led to a coup that deposed Mussolini, Italy's dictator and war leader.

Both the 7th and 8th Armies now turned to the task of capturing Messina, and heavy resistance was offered both armies. Canadian successes described as "brilliant" took place in the hilly terrain southwest of Mt. Etna from 20-22 Jul, including a surprise night attack by the 1st Brigade at Assoro which was followed by successful defence against persistent counter-attacks, and the capture of Leonforte by the 2nd Brigade.

Operation HARDGATE began on 29-30 Jul, intended to open the way for the British XXX Corps, and aimed at taking Regalbuto, Centuripe and Adrano. Canadian and British units took all these objectives in the first week of Aug, with other actions at Agira on the way.

When Adrano fell to the British 78th Division, the Canadians found themselves "squeezed out" of the line of battle, as US forces in the north and British forces to the east converged and carried on to the northeast to Messina. Only one unit, The Ontario Regiment, saw action after Adrano during the Pursuit to Messina, and the 1st Canadian Division was withdrawn to the centre of the island.

As the Allies raced to Messina, substantial numbers of German troops with their equipment managed to withdraw to the Italian mainland. Some 100,000 men and 10,000 vehicles were so evacuated during the course of the battle.

Aftermath

The battle officially ended on 17 Aug 1943 after Allied troops entered Messina and the last Axis forces on the island surrerendered. In all the Allied campaign had lasted 38 days, in wich the Axis suffered 29,000 killed and wounded and 140,000 (mostly Italians) taken prisoner.

Allied Casualties

US

British

Canadian

Killed

2,237

2,721

562

Wounded/Captured

6,544

10,122

1,748

Canadian troops remained on Sicily in anticipation of the next phase of the Italian Campaign which began with the Landings at Reggio in Sep 1943.

Many historians have questioned the conduct of the Sicilian campaign and wondered if it was worth the costs in blood and tears. Carlo D'Este, the best known American student of the campaign, describes Sicily as a "bitter victory" because much of the German army escaped across the Straits of Messina to fight another day. He also argues that the differences between the British and Americans over strategy were aggravated by national and personality conflicts among the Allied generals that were to influence operations for the rest of the war.

The leading Canadian historian of the campaign, Bill McAndrew, is careful to distinguish between the military achievements of the Canadians who fought so successfully at the section, platoon, company and battalion levels and the higher command. The failure "to prevent, stop or even hinder the German evacuation of the island" was, he writes, "a combined operations debacle." Perhaps so, but the navy and air force both had good reasons for not committing resources to the costly task of closing the straits and the army had quite enough to do overcoming a determined enemy holding such favourable ground. Sicily was the first real test of what Canada's citizen army could accomplish in battle and they passed with highest honours.1

Battle Honours

The following Battle Honours were granted for Canadian units participating in the Battle of Sicily:

  • Sicily, 1943

    • Landing in Sicily

    • Grammichele

    • Piazza Armerina

    • Valguarnera

    • Assoro

    • Leonforte

    • Agira

    • Catenanuova

    • Regalbuto

    • Centuripe

    • Adrano

    • Troina Valley

    • Pursuit to Messina

Dramatizations and Portrayals

  • Colin McDougall's book Execution, published in 1958, is reported to have been based on his experiences in Sicily and Italy as a PPCLI officer. The novel opens during the Battle of Sicily. The book was later turned into a film called Firing Squad but the location was changed from Sicily and Italy to North-West Europe.

  • The invasion of Sicily was featured in the film Patton (1970), and focused on the "race to Messina."

  • Lone Canuck Publishing released several scenarios for the Advanced Squad Leader game series set in the Sicily Campaign.

  • The computer game Combat Mission: Afrika Korps also focuses on tactical combat in the Mediterranean, including Canadian units in Sicily and Italy.

Bibliography

  • Volume II of the Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War by Gerald Nicholson is entitled The Canadians in Italy, 1943-1945 and was first published by the Queen's Printer on 15 Sep 1956 with a second, corrected edition appearing in Feb 1957.

  • Dancocks, Daniel G. D-Day Dodgers: The Canadians in Italy 1943-1945 (McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, ON, 1991) ISBN 0771025440

  • Mitcham, Samuel W. Jr., and Friedrich von Stauffenberg The Battle of Sicily: How the Allies Lost Their Chance for Total Victory (Crown, 1991). ISBN 0517575256

Notes

  1. Copp, Terry. "Taking The Rough Land Of Sicily", article in Legion Magazine


© canadiansoldiers.com 1999-present