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Operation Husky - The Allied Invasion of Sicily


Operation Husky - The Allied Invasion of Sicily

Lt. Gen. George Patton with Lt. Col. Lyle Bernard during the Sicily Campaign, 1943

Photograph Courtesy of the National Archives & Records Administration

Operation Husky - Conflict:

Operation Husky was the Allied landings on Sicily in July 1943.

Operation Husky - Dates:

Allied troops landed on July 9, 1943 and officially secured the island on August 17, 1943.

Operation Husky - Commanders & Armies:

Allies (United States & Great Britain)

Axis (Germany & Italy)

  • Gen. Alfredo Guzzoni
  • Field Marshall Albert Kesselring
  • 405,000 men
  • Operation Husky - Results:

    After battling through the mountains of Sicily, the Allies succeeded in driving Axis forces back to the mainland. The fall of Palermo led to the collapse of Benito Mussolini's government in Rome. In the fighting, the Allies suffered 23,934 casualties, while Axis forces incurred 29,000 and 140,000 captured.

    Operation Husky - Overview:

    Allied planners consented to Operation Husky after deciding it was not feasible to conduct landings in France during 1943. The invasion of Sicily was designed to open the shipping lanes in the Mediterranean, eliminate the island as an Axis base, and to encourage the fall of Mussolini's government. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was given overall command with British Gen. Harold Alexander designated as the ground commander. The principle forces for the assault were the US 7th Army under Lt. Gen. George S. Patton and the British Eighth Army under Gen. Bernard Montgomery.

    On the night of July 9/10, Allied airborne units began landing, while the main ground forces came ashore three hours later on the southeast and southwest coasts of the island. The Allied advance initially suffered from a lack of coordination between US and British forces as Montgomery pushed northeast towards the strategic port of Messina and Patton pushed north and west. As Montgmery's army began to get bogged down, Alexander ordered the Americans to shift east and protect the British left flank. Seeking a more important role for his men, Patton sent a reconnaissance in force towards the island's capital, Palermo.

    When Alexander radioed the Americans to stop their advance, Patton claimed the orders were "garbled in transmission" and pushed on to take the city. The fall of Palermo helped spur Mussolini's overthrow in Rome. With Patton in position on the north coast, Alexander ordered a two-prong assault on Messina, hoping to take the city before Axis forces could evacuate the island. Driving hard, Patton entered the city on August 17, a few hours after the last Axis troops departed, and a few hours before Montgomery. The successful campaign taught the Allies valuable lessons that were utilized the following year on D-Day.

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