Sicilian Campaign (July and August 1943)

During the Second World War, Allied maritime traffic in the Mediterranean was under constant threat of Italian and German attack. In an effort to turn the tide, at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, the Allies proposed an invasion of Sicily, code named “Operation Husky.”

Two Canadian soldiers on board a warship.

Canadian troops en route to Sicily. Source

After long months of preparation, Allied troops, made up of American, Canadian, British, French, Australian and South African units, landed in the night of July 9 to 10. The 1st Canadian Infantry Division and the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade were under the command of Major-General Guy Simonds. Canadian troops fought in difficult conditions, dealing with very hilly terrain and temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius.

Six soldiers advancing past a tank on a narrow road. Three other soldiers are positioned on top of the tank.

Personnel of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry advancing past a Sherman tank, Valguarnera, Italy, July 19, 1943. Source

From their landing point on the Sicilian beaches near Pachino, Canadian troops advanced toward the interior of the island, taking part in the battles at Grammichele, Piazza Armerina and Valguarnera. The towns of Leonforte and Assoro, situated in good strategic positions at the top of hills, put up a strong defence, but the Canadians prevailed in the end. A total of 562 Canadian soldiers lost their lives during this campaign.

The Sicily landing opened the way for the Allies to launch the Italian campaign a few weeks later.

Library and Archives Canada holds a large collection of military documents relating to Operation Husky and the Sicilian Campaign. Other examples can be accessed via the links below.

Discover also:

To view more photos, please visit our Flickr album.

1 thought on “Sicilian Campaign (July and August 1943)

  1. Pingback: Second World War – Sicilian Campaign | Roots to the Past

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