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  • Battle Study - Sicily

    Battle Study-Sicily* is the first in a series of threads designed to inform and generate discussion among the ACG community.

    On 9 July 1943, Allied forces initiated Operation Husky, the Allied plan to conquer the island of Sicily.
    As carried out, the US 7th Army under Gen. George S. Patton Jr landed on the south coast of the island at Gela while the Brit. 8th Army under Gen. Bernard L. Montgomery landed on the east coast just south of Syracuse. The US 82nd & Brit. 1st Abn Divs assisted by dropping inland from Gela and Syracuse respectively.
    The plan was for the 7th Army to protect Monty's left flank while 8th Army moved up the east coast of the island to cut off the German retreat at Messina.

    Results were mixed.
    Although Sicily was taken after a month of very tough combat, the Germans were able to evacuate more than 50,000 troops WITH their heavy equipment, despite a massive Allied superiority in the air and at sea.


    I now present 2 alternative scenarios for discussion.

    1. In the original plan for Husky, US 7th Army was to undertake a landing on the north coast of Sicily at Palermo and Brit. 8th Army was to land in the south-east corner south of Syracuse. This COA would have provided BOTH Armies with a capable deep water port to bring in supplies. Furthermore, the north coast of the island was much more lightly defended than the rest; perhaps allowing 7th Army an easy march to Messina(the bulk of the enemy's forces were concentrated in the south-east sector of the island).

    2. Gen. Montgomery's 8th Army lands near Reggio di Calabria on the "toe" of Italy and at Messina to cut off any possibility of a German escape. Patton's 7th Army lands on the east coast of Sicily at Catania. The US 82nd & Brit. 1st Abn Divs would be used to capture the Gerbini group of airfields inland from Catania. Although Palermo would be left to allow German forces an escape, the long transit required for an evacuation from this port would have guaranteed catastrophic losses in German shipping.

    For reference:

    http://www.combinedops.com/husky.htm

    *These Battle Studies will give a very brief account of the battle. A link will be provided for every battle to give the reader the option of exploring the battle more in depth.
    Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

  • #2
    This all sounds interesting, and I would, off the top of my head favor Patton's plan. But that's because I'm an Ameriphile and a Patton fan. That said, though, weren't these alternatives considered and then dropped because lack of range of Allied fighter planes from Africa in covering an invasion on the north end of the island?
    I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Tom DeFranco
      This all sounds interesting, and I would, off the top of my head favor Patton's plan. But that's because I'm an Ameriphile and a Patton fan. That said, though, weren't these alternatives considered and then dropped because lack of range of Allied fighter planes from Africa in covering an invasion on the north end of the island?

      Option #1 was actually the plan submitted by Task Force 141, a planning HQ set up by Eisenhower and under the direct control of AFHQ in Casablanca.
      The beaches at Palermo were well within the range of Allied airbases in Tunisia and the newly captured island of Pantelleria. In fact they were closer to the airbases than the beaches at Syracuse.
      Option #2 was a plan that was rejected by Task Force 141 on the grounds that the defences in the Messina/Reggio area were too strong and that an invasion of Italy proper had never been officially approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at the Casablanca Conference.
      Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Tigersqn
        Option #1 was actually the plan submitted by Task Force 141, a planning HQ set up by Eisenhower and under the direct control of AFHQ in Casablanca.
        The beaches at Palermo were well within the range of Allied airbases in Tunisia and the newly captured island of Pantelleria. In fact they were closer to the airbases than the beaches at Syracuse.
        Option #2 was a plan that was rejected by Task Force 141 on the grounds that the defences in the Messina/Reggio area were too strong.
        Why did option 1 get nixed? Was it as stated in "Patton"?
        I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tom DeFranco
          Why did option 1 get nixed? Was it as stated in "Patton"?
          2 reasons.

          1.There was a lack of suitable airfields in the Palermo area to support the battle inland.
          2. It eliminated all possibility of mutual support if resistance proved stronger than anticipated; providing the enemy a possible opportunity of crushing either or both invasion forces.
          Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

          Comment


          • #6
            Those interested in Exploring the original Sicily Invasion Plan and who like PC Wargames can try out the Panzer Campaigns Sicily '43 by HPS.


            Some info on the Series is on my website:
            http://members.shaw.ca/gcsaunders/gamesPZC.html

            Sicily '43 is fourth from the top - click on the image.

            There are a number of smaller scenarios and a half dozen Campaigns - the historical of course and this one:

            "Operation HUSKY, Sicily, late in the evening of July 9th 1943:
            According to historian Carlo D'Este, Montgomery called the original
            plans for the invasion of Sicily with the US in the west "a dog's
            breakfast". There were a number of plans, all of which were bedeviled by contradictory needs, Air Force requirements, naval issues, and squabbling over the role the US Army would play. Furthermore, the campaign in Tunisia wasn't over when planning for HUSKY began, and this distracted the ground commanders who were to mount the new operation. This scenario covers one of the plans the Allies considered but rejected. It features the historical Axis setup and Allied invasion date, but with very different landing zones and initial Allied forces. The Allied invasion plan used here comes from "Historical Maps of World War II", by Swift and Sharpe, and is a plan from the March - April period that has an (unspecified) British division used at the Gela (DIME) Sector. The British are responsible for the entire southeast portion of the island, and the US Western Invasion operations begin on D+2 at Sciacca and D+5 near Palermo. [Size large]

            +++

            There is another interesting one where the Allied player picks his invasion plan unseen by the Axis of course and then the Axis picks from a couple different setups, without knowing where the attack will be.

            Anyway - we've had a lot of fun gaming this situation. If you want more info you can drop me a line from my website.

            Glenn

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            • #7
              Sicily: the baptism of fire for numerous Canadian units. Leonforte comes to mind.
              http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

              Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by dannybou
                Sicily: the baptism of fire for numerous Canadian units. Leonforte comes to mind.
                Err....so what? Do does Grammichele.

                I think any plan would have been preferable to the embarrassing campaign that was actually laid on for 38 days. The Germans played both their Italian "allies" and their enemies like a fiddle and managed to withdraw the bulk of their forces from the island intact.

                A landing at Reggio would have prevented that, however, one has to wonder how tenable such a move would have been. The Germans did show an ability to move forces south in September when the Italian government fell, whether or not they would have been willing to do so in July, and all the way to Reggio, is another matter. I imagine Kesselring might have been happy to leave German garrisons further north, though extracting the Hermann Goering Division may have been a strong incentive to action, too.

                Consider that Kursk was very much on their mind also in July 1943 and you can see that the Germans may have been a little resource poor.

                What kind of Italian units were in the "toe" in July 1943?
                http://www.canadiansoldiers.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael Dorosh

                  What kind of Italian units were in the "toe" in July 1943?
                  Good question.:thumb:

                  I'll have to look that up

                  As for German units moving as far south as Calabria, the road net in that area is very limited. If the Italians actually there in July '43 were of the same quality as the majority of those in Sicily, it would have been relatively easy for the Brits to take the area and block a German advance to the toe. But again, I'll have to check in on that.

                  The Germans would have been able to bottle up the Allies on the toe I'm sure, but that couldn't have prevented the Allies from achieving their objective.
                  Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tigersqn
                    2 reasons.

                    1.There was a lack of suitable airfields in the Palermo area to support the battle inland.
                    2. It eliminated all possibility of mutual support if resistance proved stronger than anticipated; providing the enemy a possible opportunity of crushing either or both invasion forces.
                    With the intell help that they had from the Mafia, and knowing (I'd think) that the Germans had to weaken their defenses because of the upcoming Operation Zitadelle at Kursk, you'd think that reason 2 would've been ignored. As it was, it was ignored by George Patton anyway.
                    I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tom DeFranco
                      With the intell help that they had from the Mafia, .......
                      That has never really been established with certainty. According to D'Este, there are no known records of the "Luciano Affair" in US archives.
                      It is known however that 4 New York police officers went ashore at Sicily armed with contact lists provided by the New York mafia.
                      This would seem to suggest that most of the intel provided through these contacts was obtained AFTER the landings.

                      As a reference see Appendix N of Carlo D'Este's "Bitter Victory". He writes specifically about the Mafia connection for Husky.
                      Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tigersqn
                        Good question.:thumb:

                        I'll have to look that up

                        As for German units moving as far south as Calabria, the road net in that area is very limited. If the Italians actually there in July '43 were of the same quality as the majority of those in Sicily, it would have been relatively easy for the Brits to take the area and block a German advance to the toe. But again, I'll have to check in on that.

                        The Germans would have been able to bottle up the Allies on the toe I'm sure, but that couldn't have prevented the Allies from achieving their objective.
                        This is what I've got so far.
                        The only substantial German forces in Italy at the time in question(July '43) were those deployed in Sicily.
                        I can't find any specific Italian formations that were deployed in Calabria at that time, but von Vietinghoff stated after the war when speaking of an Allied assault on Calabria: "On both sides of the strait, this would have been possible without any special difficulty".
                        This would seem to imply that Axis strength in Calabria was minimal.

                        But I'll keep looking.
                        Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Finally found some info on deployments in the Italian "toe".

                          Near as I can tell, there were only 3 fortress battalions and some assorted Flak units in the Reggio di Calabria area for July 1943. These were all Italian units of questionable combat value.

                          According to D'Este's book "Bitter Victory", the Luftwaffe had been roughly handled in the weeks leading up to Operation Husky.

                          Based on this info, I believe an assault landing on the Calabria coast near Reggio was well within the realm of possibility.
                          Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            As many times as I've been through here, how did I miss this one?...

                            Just off the top of my head, Pierre, should we mention the British-contrived 'Major Martin' ploy? (You wouldn't happen to know the real name of that soldier, eh?)

                            I seem to recall from somewhere there was stated twelve Italian divisions there, six static and six mobile, some 240,000 troops.

                            As for the Messina port, it was out of the reach of fighter aircraft from North Africa, and was ruled out as an initial objective.

                            I can recall a good bit of the airborne phase of Op Husky, if the conversation turns that way...
                            Stay Alert, Stay Alive!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by dannybou
                              Sicily: the baptism of fire for numerous Canadian units. Leonforte comes to mind.

                              Danny

                              Werent the Red Devils in the invasion? Akin to our Army Rangers??
                              Govenour Of Texas and all southern provinces. Kepper Of The Holy Woodchipper.

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