Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Video: British Pathe Newsreels - Sicily, 1943.

Operation HUSKY - The Invasion of Sicily, July 1943.

A17918. Glimpse of the invasion coast as an armoured vehicle was being towed
ashore from landing craft during the landings in Sicily at dawn of the opening day
of the invasion. Photo Credit: RN Photographer Lt. C.H. Parnall
From the collection of Imperial War Museum (IWM).


A deep collection of WW2 newsreels can be found on many sites. A number of them can inform viewers of the role played by Canadians in Combined Operations during WW2, as they manned landing crafts and transported troops and materials of war to beaches in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France.

During the invasion of Sicily, there were four flotillas of landing craft manned by Canadians, i.e., 55th, 61st, 80th, and 81st. The 55th and 61st transported British troops ashore beginning on D-Day, July 10; and supplies followed - for almost four weeks - in LCMs manned by the 80th and 81st. The 80th, which included my father Doug Harrison, built up supplies on beaches near Avola, a town mentioned in the first video.

One can link to several producers of newsreels by visiting the following: The Newsroom Blog.

One can also view (and purchase if desired) excellent still photographs at the Imperial War Museum, U.K., by visiting the following link: Search Our Collections

A17920. Operation Husky: The Sicily Landings 9-10 July 1943: A tractor comes to
the rescue of an armoured vehicle which had stuck in the mud temporarily during the
invasion of Sicily, several landing craft can be seen in the background at dawn of the
opening day of the invasion. Photo - Lt. C.H. Parnall, and IWM.

A17955. Operation Husky: The Sicily Landings 9-10 July 1943: A Landing Craft
 Mechanised (LCM) - a Mark 3 - going ashore in the early morning during
the start of the invasion of Sicily. Lt. H.A. Mason, and IWM.

Below are links to five newsreels produced by British Pathe related to Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily, 1943. Some explanatory notes from British Pathe are included:

1. Forging Ahead in Sicily (Duration - 4min. 52sec.)

Long shot of the sea off the coast of Sicily. The sea erupts around the allied ships during a raid by enemy aircraft. Various shots of the invading 8th Army starting to move inland from Syracuse. They march along the roadways and question an Italian soldier en route. In Rosolini, another Italian surrenders and the British troops are given wine from an old jug. Evacuees returning to town. Various shots of wrecked Italian equipment which includes Renault tank. Several shots of General Bernard Montgomery observing the advance of his army from a jeep. Convoy of equipment moving along road. Signpost 'Avola'. Several shots of the troops on bren gun carrier, some even ride on donkey carts. Soldier gives a chocolate to a woman holding a child. Various shots of the American airborne troops arriving on donkey cart in Avola. Various shots of the British, American and Canadian troops together.

Airfield in North Africa with the glider fleet which played a big part in taking of Sicily. Several shots of gliders being towed until they are airborne.

Various shots of support troops arriving at Syracuse with their equipment. They wade ashore from the landing craft. Larger items like bren guns also come ashore. Various shots of a tank, bren gun carrier and lorry sending up dust from dusty road as they advance. Various shots of activity in Syracuse the morning after the occupation. Troops and civilians in the streets. Long line of Italian prisoners walking along the road.

2. Invasion of Sicily - First Pictures  (Duration: 8min. 10sec.)

Long shot of line of troopships in convoy line astern. Various shots (on one of the ships) of the officers checking the course and the men doing various things, some sewing, playing cards or cleaning guns. Several nice views of the convoy at sea. Various shots of a religious service being taken on deck of one of the ships. General Simonds, Commander of the First Canadian Division, is among congregation. Long shot of an aircraft carrier of the convoy. Various shots of the convoy of troopships and naval craft at sea. The wind slowly starts to blow until the sea gets fairly choppy, but the ships keep going forward. Commentary says: "We recall now the words spoken over the B.B.C. by Commander Anthony Kimmins in his vivid broadcast". Kimmins' voice (natural sound) saying how terrified they were for the future of the whole operation when the storm started - totally unexpected in Mediterranean at this time of year. Luckily, weather improved and operation continued.

Sun on the horizon. Several shots of the night barrage from the naval ships. Various shots of the 8th Army making their landing at dawn. They wade waist high through the water onto the beach from the landing craft. Various shots of the troops still unloading. Landing craft head towards beaches. Various shots of the navy starting to shoot again. The enemy guns send high columns of water around ships. Column of smoke shows only casualty and shipping loss in this operation. Red Cross ship. Many landing craft streaming towards beaches - shot from coast. Shots of the troops hitting the beaches with their equipment. American, Canadian and British troops just pouring ashore. Various shots of the tanks, lorries, jeeps, bren gun carriers, even bicycles coming ashore. Various shots of the Italian troops who have surrendered - they are loaded onto the landing craft to be taken back to troopships. They smile and wave into camera and pose with allied troops.

3. Invasion of Sicily - Preparations (Duration: 2min. 54sec.)

Various shots of Canadian troops with their kit, boarding troopships at a South African port. Nurses also go aboard. Loaded troopships moving off. Several long shots of pre-invasion practice by the airborne troops in Africa, they drop en masse. Various shots of the landing and assault craft assembling and loading at North African port. American tanks and half tracks. Various shots of Spitfires of the R.A.F. (Royal Air Force) taking off from Malta. Air to air shot of eleven Spitfires flying line abreast. Various shots of the invasion fleet leaving port.

4. Sicily - How They Prepared (Duration: 1min. 23sec.)

Various shots of Canadian troops prepare for the invasion of Sicily - they are in Canada*.

[*Editor: Some shots certainly must have been taken in British Columbia, perhaps near Comox (HMCS Givenchy III) or Esquimalt (HMCS Naden) along the coast of Vancouver Island. Records indicate that during WW2 most of canada's landing craft were on the West Coast.]

Planes lay smoke screens and the troops come ashore from landing craft during the training. Various shots of mass drop of American paratroops during pre-invasion exercise over their training ground.

5. Sicilian Snap-Shots (Duration: 1min. 16sec.)

Various shots of American DUKS being loaded up from main supply ship off Sicily coast. Several shots of the DUKS (amphibious vehicles) coming ashore with supplies. They drive up onto the beach and along an inland road. Various shots of civilians showing Americans the road that the Germans blew up in their retreat, a large crater. Engineer lifting a mine from roadway. Various shots of civilians cheering and writing Viva England on the walls. Various shots of the troops moving through villages getting cheers and one a kiss.

Please link to Video: British Pathe Newsreels - North Africa, 1942.

Unattributed Photos GH.

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