Saturday, March 11, 2017

Articles: D-Day Sicily, July 11-12, 1943 - Pt 4.

More Wartime Coverage by The San Bernardino Sun

A few hundred Canadians in RCNVR and Combined Operations were
heavily involved, on various types of landing craft, during Operation HUSKY,
on D-Day (July 10, 1943) and for about four weeks thereafter.
Photo Credit - The San Bernardino Sun

Introduction: Below are listed several news reports and screen images as found in The San Bernardino Sun, issued on Sunday, July 11 and Monday the 12th, 1943.

Copyright and Photo Credits: Several Californian digitized newspapers can be located at the California Digital Newspaper  Collection.

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By EDWARD GILLING (Representing combined British press)

ALGIERS, July 10 (AP) The successful landing without serious loss of the big Allied force on the beaches of Sicily early today was another great tribute to the combined staffs that serve under Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

For some time before the successful conclusion of the Tunisian campaign, planning was begun for the invasion of Sicily by various British and American naval, military and air force experts at allied headquarters. That the allies have been able to launch an attack of this size less than two months after the end of the Tunisian campaign gives some indication of the excellence of the planning.

In the field, British and American troops fight side by side, while air forces of the two countries no longer are divided by nationality. Pilots of both nations are mixed in groups suited to the particular functions they have to perform.

Some British pilots fly American-made machines while some Americans fly British-made aircraft.

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EDITORIAL - Invasion Begins

The great moment for which the world has been waiting - the allies with confidence and expectation and the axis with dread and fear - has arrived.

The invasion of Europe proper has begun!

The British-American-Canadian forces have made the long-expected landing on Sicily, and in the days ahead will come the demonstration of the ability of the allies to land on the shore of the enemy and by frontal attack crush the defenses.

In the months ahead other landings must be made, for there is no idea that the allies can march from Italy into Germany. The route is too hazardous.

This first invasion will develop the pattern that will be followed when the allies send huge armies across the channel to France, Belgium and the Netherlands and from the eastern Mediterranean up through the Aegean sea into the Balkans.

The invasion of Sicily was preceded by intensive aerial bombardment, plus support from the guns of warships. That must be the initial strategy in every future invasion attempt. Whether the recent intensive bombing of Europe from Britain is both a pre-invasion softening-up process and an effort to destroy the inside of Germany, remains to be seen.

It would seem that the allies must strike at many places in order to relieve the pressure that Germany is putting on Russia. It may be some days before the extent of the German thrust into the Russian lines becomes apparent, for it should be remembered that in the early phases of the two previous German advances the Russian version was highly optimistic. The Russians have not been prone to reveal their own military weaknesses, even to their allies.

If the Russian armies give evidence of inability to prevent the encirclement of Moscow, a desperate crisis would threaten. Whether the English and American armies in the English isles are ready for an invasion across the channel, there is no public information. For more than a year, however, those armies have been training for that very step.

The most recent strategy has been to await the outcome of the test as to whether air-power alone could drive Germany out of the war. If the danger on the Russian front is not too great, that is the course which common sense seems to dictate. The loss of life would be far less than the toll of an infantry invasion. The situation in Russia, however, might not permit the conclusion of such a test.

Certainly the high command of the allies has long since carefully appraised the situation. The commanders have known what are the chances that the Russians can hold their lines. The commanders have also known whether it is possible this year to undertake a crossing of the channel by an army sufficient to make a successful landing.

What is to happen in the remaining months of summer has long since been planned. If invasions other than on Sicily are to come, they will not be ordered on the impulse of the moment.

Most observers do not expect an invasion in western Europe in the immediate future, but it could be that the allied commanders have been exceedingly careful in disguising their plans. The world has known that the allies intended to invade Sicily in June or July, but it is obvious that the world does not know anything of the allied plans beyond Sicily.

In any event, with the Germans pressing on Russia, the allied landing in Sicily and the American push in the South Pacific, it is evident that the War of the Summer of 1943 is rushing toward its full fury. Before winter comes there will be a clearer picture of the beginning of the end of the war in Europe.

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From The San Bernardino Sun, 12 July, 1943:


Mother Has 10 Children in Army, Navy

LOS ANGELES, July 11 (UP) With 10 children in the armed forces Mrs. Rose Radzindki writes a lot of letters - and today she had a year's supply of V-mail blanks as a gift from Postmaster Mary Brlggs.

Mrs. Radzindki explained she has nine sons in the "army and navy, two of whom are missing in action, and a daughter in the W.A.C. Mrs. Briggs supplied her with 520 V-mail blanks to keep her children informed of events at home.

"They may not last a full year," Mrs. Radzindki said, "Generally I manage 20 letters a week."

The postmaster assured her of a future supply whenever it was needed.

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Russians Halt Fierce German Tank Offensive

400-Machine Assault Fails; Foe Thrown Out of Two Towns

LONDON, July 12 (Monday) (AP) A 400-tank German assault, perhaps the greatest of the war, failed to budge the red army from its positions on the Orel - Kursk front Sunday and the Russians were able to throw the disorganized mechanized masses from two populated places in that sector to climax the first week of the great summer offensive, Moscow announced today.

Nowhere along the 165-mile Kursk salient from Orel to Belgorod could the Germans achieve anything resembling a break through, the midnight communique said, adding that throughout the day red army troops continued to beat off massed enemy tank and infantry assaults.

(A London broadcast recorded by C.B.S. said that in a week's fighting the Germans had driven a 20-mile wedge north of Belgorod up the railway toward Russian-held Kursk, but that the Russians were counterattacking at both the tip and the base of the wedge.)


A German broadcast heard by the Associated Press claimed that the Russian losses in the Belgorod sector were "enormous" and made the assertion that "at no other time in the whole war" had the Russians suffered such heavy casualties.

During Sunday's fighting, Moscow said, 165 more German tanks were destroyed or disabled and 31 planes were brought down for a week's total of 2,500 tanks and 1,068 planes.

"In the Orel-Kursk area," said the midnight communique, "the enemy, having so far achieved no successes in his offensive, again tried to break Soviet defenses using large forces. The Germans sent about 400 tanks and large numbers of infantry into battle.


"Red army men of one formation beat off the fierce enemy attacks. All subsequent attacks of the Hitlerites failed. By the end of the day the enemy was hurled back to his former position leaving many disabled and burned out tanks on the battlefield."

A large group of Soviet planes pounced on a German tank division forming for an early morning attack on the Orel-Kursk front, smashed "several dozens" of them and dispersed two regiments of enemy infantry. Afterwards Soviet ground forces attacked "and dislodged them from two populated places."

Stiff battles were acknowledged in the Belgorod area, where the Germans shelled Russian positions heavily and sent tank and infantry attacks against them from several directions. One column of 100 tanks was engaged by Soviet defenses which destroyed 34 tanks, three armored cars and 14 guns.

An air communique declared that Russian aircraft bombed the railway junction at Belgorod where a large concentration of enemy trains was observed the night of July 10. Large numbers of fires and explosions resulted, the bulletin said.

Front line dispatches continued to assert flatly in Moscow that the German offensive had been halted and the Nazis confined to small gains....

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History's Largest Armada,
More Than 2,000 Vessels,

Takes Part in Invasion of Sicily

"Sicily Bound Troops Wave Good-Bye"

Caption for above photo reads: Packed in a ship of the invasion fleet of more than 2,000 craft which carried them to Sicily, Allied assault troops wave good-bye in this U.S. Army Signal Corps photo, radioed from Algiers (N. Africa).

AN ALLIED FORCE COMMAND POST, July 11 (AP) There were more than 2,000 vessels involved in the landing operations in Sicily.

(The Sicilian armada thus be came the greatest by far in all history, more than doubling the 850 warships and merchantmen which comprised the invasion fleet for North Africa last fall.)

It was a stupendous task to take these great convoys through one of the narrowest channels to their destination, so that each ship should arrive at its scheduled landing beach at the right minute. Weather made the task even a more gruelling one for the personnel of the landing craft, most of whom were young and inexperienced.

It was an outstanding performance to got such a force ashore without any real mishaps.

An American naval force covered the landing of American troops. On the beaches where the Americans landed, there was a very heavy swell but their assault troops all were put ashore on time.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower today paid tribute to the work of the allied navies in the landings: "In the Sicilian operations, the United States and Royal navies have again proved that even while engaged in operations covering the seven seas, they can plan and successfully execute vast and intricate movements in support of land operations and can do this, despite obstacles of distance, weather and enemy opposition," he said.

"In this matter, the skill of the allied naval commands and the staffs under the leadership of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew B. Cunningham and his principal lieutenants - American Vice-Admiral Henry K. Hewitt and British Admiral Bertram Ramsay - are reflected in the precise timing and perfect technique displayed on the beaches of Sicily where there were landed hundreds of ships and boats whose ports of origin were scattered over half a world.

"Their comrades of the air and ground forces unite in an enthusiastic and grateful well done."

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Battle Develops Near Gela,

First U. S. Beachhead

AN ALLIED FORCE COMMAND POST, July 11 - (AP) - American airmen supporting allied land forces in Sicily tonight brought back an account of what appeared to be heavy skirmishing six to eight miles southeast of Gela, the southern port where U. S. troops had landed Saturday.

Three airfields have fallen to the allied invasion forces including the American parachutists and British glider troops, which tonight still were striking inland without major resistance after solidly establishing a 100-mile bridgehead in southeastern Sicily.

(A Rome radio broadcast recorded by the British ministry of information reported that more allied paratroops landed on Sicily Sunday night.)

The latest official reports in the opening battle for Europe gave this picture of the campaign tonight:

Smudge-faced American parachutists who dropped on the big island Friday night had made a contact with American infantrymen who landed later in assault barges - capturing two airfields in the Gela area, about 55 miles west of the southeastern tip of Sicily. The booted, toughly-trained parachutists had suffered "negligible losses" in gaining these objectives on their first large scale assault.

The Americans had collided with an enemy tank column when they landed near Gela, but easily mastered it with the aid of a barrage of shells hurled ashore from guardian warships.

British and Canadian troops to the southeast joined ranks across the narrow Cape Passero, capturing a third air field at Pachino on the cape's tip after hard fight ing. Casualties were believed to have been slight in all these operations, a communique said.


With piles of guns, vehicles and supplies pouring ashore behind them, the allies were fanning out and striking inland. The big ships of the American and British navies continued to shunt more and more equipment ashore, while a dominating air force guarded the skies and raked axis concentration points all over the island.

(An Algiers radio broadcast recorded in London said the allies already had set up regimental and divisional headquarters in Sicily.

(Axis reports relayed through Stockholm also said that allied troops had landed at seven points, including Licata, 15 miles west of Gela, and at Canicatti, 15 miles north and inland from Licata. The latter city probably was a parachutist objective.)


More Canadian reinforcements have reached north Africa from Britain, presumably to swell their "invasion sea trains" sweeping across toward Sicily.

The fact that the major German-Italian counterattack has not yet developed indicates that the allied high command won an important tactical victory, completely surprising the defenders with the massive flow of ships and men to southeastern Sicily.

(A British correspondent said an invasion armada of 2,000 ships participated in the assault - more than double the allied force of 850 ships used in the invasion of north Africa in November, which up to that time had been history's largest.)

Military sources said that a full axis counterattack still is to come. It is expected at any moment. Such resistance as was encountered by the allied troops probably was offered by Italians alone, semi-static units of the Sicilian coastal defense.

Nevertheless an Italian army radio broadcast heard here said that "severe fighting" had broken out, apparently referring to the engagements at Gela and Cape Passero. These actions were described here as relatively unimportant compared to what is expected from the enemy.

The capture of the three airfields was a development of major importance. But it has not yet been announced whether allied planes are using these advanced bases in their thus far excellent Sicilian operations which have afforded a "rolling barrage" paving the way for steady allied ground advances.


(Berlin reports to Sweden said German military observers had acknowledged that allied air power was playing a big part in initial landing operations, not only blocking sea transport between Sicily and the mainland but also smashing cable and telephone communications so vital for the deployment of defending axis troops.)

The Americans. British and Canadians now have established positions where the sea is on both flanks - the Ionian sea to the east below the Messina Strait, and the Mediterranean on the west.

Caption: One of the most-bombed ports in Sicily is Messina, the city just across
the straits from the Southern tip of Italy, whose hills are seen in the background.

Observers emphasized that a concerted axis counteroffensive could be expected as soon as the German and Italian generals could decide whether the southeast coast landings constituted an allied feint to cover a real invasion from another point or were in fact the real thing.


"With our beaches firmly held and our troops advancing, the allied navies' most important task during the day was the landing of further troops with their vehicles, guns, fuel, equipment and stores," said a headquarters communique.

At Gela, a vital port and road junction on the Gulf of Gela, the Americans established their beach objectives in three hours after the predawn landing Saturday, fanning out to the right and left to contact other forces on their flanks. Gela was the first city to be disclosed officially as a point attacked in the invasion of the island, 300 square miles larger than Vermont.

As the American troops waded ashore, allied warships caught sight of an enemy tank column rumbling toward Gela and opened up on it with a shattering barrage.

“Although few details have yet come in, it is clear our operations against Sicily continue to go according to plan," the allied communique said. "During the course of the day's fighting good progress has been made and the advance continues. Information in regard to casualties is not yet available but it is believed they have been slight."

There was no suggestion that any of the many American, British and Canadian thrusts made in the early morning hours yesterday had been halted or turned back.

(A dispatch from Canadian Press Correspondent Ross Munro said Canadian forces landed four miles southwest of Pachino on the southeast tip of the island, smashing through beach defenses with very little determined opposition to establish an extensive bridgehead.


(Munro's dispatch, the first eye witness report to be sent from the island, said large numbers of prisoners were being captured Saturday. "They have been coming back from the front since dawn in batches of 50 or 100, guarded by one or two Canadians," he wrote.)

Although few details were contained in today's communiques, they served to round out the picture of the gigantic operation in which synchronized land, sea and air forces carried out their tasks with the precision of a fine watch.

American and British parachute troops and glider-borne forces preceded the ground units, attacking inland objectives on the island in the biggest operation of this kind since the German capture of Crete.


They went over in huge transports flown by troop transport command pilots who actually were over the objectives before axis antiaircraft crews spotted them and opened fire.

Although heavily loaded with men and equipment, the planes maneuvered through the antiaircraft fire and began unloading. Gliders were cut loose from the transports just over the objectives. All this was three or four hours before the zero hour for the sea borne infantry to come ashore.

The British gliders landed on eastern targets while the American paratroopers bailed out over targets to the west in the invasion zone. These airborne forces achieved success with "negligible losses," an official announcement said.

Twenty-eight allied planes were listed officially as lost during the invasion operations and 22 enemy planes were shot down.

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Fascist Chiefs Meet in Rome

LONDON, July 11 (AP) Secretary-General Carlo Scorza called an urgent meeting of the Italian Fascist party directorate for tonight and Benito Mussolini appealed to King Vittorio Emanuele to address the nation, Zurich dispatches reported as the axis asserted that Italian and German troops were counterattacking in Sicily.

The Swiss advices indicated that the Fascists saw themselves faced by an immediate national crisis.

It was reported that a great number of arrests had been made in Naples, turbulent metropolis of the south, in an "antigossip” campaign evidently designed to stop defeatist rumors.

Axis radios broadcast that the German and Italian troops in Sicily had opened a big counterattack against the allied forces and said that it had met "considerable initial success."

Rome reported that many allied parachutists had been killed as they descended and that others had been surrounded and wiped out.

However, the German-dominated Vichy radio said: "The number of airdromes in allied possession seems to be rather high."

The Swiss radio, heard here, reported that 100,000 tons of allied shipping were massed at Port Said, entrance to the Suez canal, and estimated the total of allied troops in Syria presumably the middle east at 1,000,000.

(The Svenska Dagbladet of Stockholm quoted Berlin military commentators as saying they had information that the attack on Sicily was made before the allies were ready, because of an ultimatum from Moscow demanding a second front immediately.)


British press dispatches from Stockholm reported that the "remnants" of the Hermann Goering division - which was wiped out in Tunisia - had been transported by air from Calabria, on the Italian mainland, to Sicily.

Radio Rome said that Italian torpedo planes, attacking invasion ships and landing craft off southeastern Sicily, had gravely damaged numerous ships.

Rome said that some landing craft carried barrage balloons as protection against aerial attack.

Italian bombers raided Valletta, Malta, and caused great explosions on ships, the Rome broadcast asserted, and one ammunition ship blew up. A "liner of nearly 15,000 tons was badly damaged," Rome reported.


Other torpedo planes in an attack on a naval formation hit two cruisers of nearly 7,000 tons, Rome said, and claimed that one "could be considered lost." One torpedo plane was credited with sinking an 8,000-ton ship, another hitting a 6,000-ton ship, a third with sinking an 8,000-ton ship, another hitting a 6,000-ton ship, a third with sinking a 5,000-ton ship.

Sunday's German high command communique asserted that 64 allied planes had been shot down Saturday and that fierce battles were in progress in Sicily between the ground forces. The communique credited axis planes with damaging three allied cruisers and numerous transports and landing craft in addition to sinking three ships totalling 13,000 tons.

Superman says, "Here's dirt in your eyes."

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Axis Defenses Overwhelmed
By Sky Forces

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS IN NORTH AFRICA, July 11 AP Tough American and British airborne troops spearheaded the allied Invasion of Sicily, swooping out of a black sky Friday night with such rapidity that axis antiaircraft guns couldn't begin to fire on all of them, it was disclosed today.

The Americans, armed with daggers and tommy guns and led by a colonel who had risen from the ranks, went into action on the western side of a 100-mile coastal area of southeastern Sicily. The British took the eastern side.
Glider troops of both sides struck precisely at 10:10 p.m., In the first operation by that type of allied forces. At 11:20 p.m. parachute troops began dropping.


An official statement said the airborne forces "played the key role" in the invasion. It was revealed that the airborne troops were ordered to capture coastal defenses by attacking them from the rear instead of making for airdromes first.

Both glider troops and parachutists promptly made contact with ground forces according to plan.

The enemy, desperately trying to locate the sky invaders, turned on many searchlight batteries but the allies already had begun dropping in such numbers that antiaircraft guns could not get into effective action. The landings were made successfully despite high winds.


The leader of the advanced American unit was Lieut.-CoL John Cerny, of Harrison, Idaho, who already had distinguished himself in parachute landings early in the north African campaign.

Most of the Americans and British were veterans of north African landings and many had fought in the hottest sectors of Tunisia. An official statement said that clouds and haze obscured the moon, making the night so black that it was difficult to distinguish the terrain.

"The air discipline displayed by the combat teams was beyond my expectations," Colonel Cerny was quoted. "Formations came in close all the way, even after light failed us. The fact that all the ships went directly ahead through flak fire from pill boxes and searchlights on the side, demonstrates the courage, skill and fighting spirit of the pilots who showed remarkable courage in continuing to the target and dropping an entire battalion in one area alone."


Colonel Cerny made the statement on his return to base after personally leading a flight of his forces.

The Americans were rugged, tough young men with the appearance of light-heavyweight boxers, blocking halfbacks and running guards. Almost ail were 20 to 26 years old, tall and flat-bellied with broad shoulders.

Among the first Americans who landed were Pvts. Ed Walsh, Logansport, Ind., and Walter Leginskl, Chicago, and Corp. Bernard A. Driscoll, Gary, Ind. The trio touched Italian soil minutes after their officers had told them: "You will be among the first troops to land on the Italian island of Sicily, which is your destination."

More 'Tough Young Men'


Flying to Sicily, the men sat relaxed. Some even appeared to be dozing. They wore full gear, including daggers, gloves, three-quarter length boots, net-covered helmets and other equipment.

As the red lights flashed inside the transport planes they came to life suddenly. Tight little lines formed around their mouths. Some had their heads and necks drawn slightly into their shoulders.

Then the green lights flashed the "go ahead" signal. They began jumping into the black night and after that were "on their own."

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More ads and a cartoon from The San Bernardino Sun, July 1943:

Please link to Articles: D-Day Sicily, July 10, 1943 - Part 3.

Unattributed photos GH

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