Second World War History Logo

Operation Husky - Allied Invasion of Sicily Timeline

Authored By Dan Alex | Last Updated: 5/5/2014

The march towards Rome required a pit stop at the island of Sicily to which some 2,600 Allied ships and 478,000 Allied soldiers took part.

Tweet

With Northern Africa free of fascist tyranny, the Allies now focused their attention on the Italian mainland in an effort to knock out the weaker Italian forces from under the Axis banner. But before the Italian coast could be hit, the Allies would need a staging point - this staging point became the German-held island of Sicily.


A massive invasion forces rolled over heavy seas on the morning of July 9th, 1943. Within the fleet were two distinct invasion forces made up of Americans, Canadians and the British. The American 7th Army was led by none other than General George S. Patton while the British 8th Army was headed up by legendary General Bernard Law Montgomery. Patton's forces would make an invasion landing on the west coast of the island while Montgomery's forces would be charged with making headway in the east. Before them stood approximately 300,000 enemy soldiers, with the bulk of these made up by Italian Army personnel.


British airborne elements took off in gliders towed behind their transport planes but rough skies jostled the group about. An American paratrooper force took off a few hours later only to be greeted by the same skies. The rough air forced down some of the transports, hands and all, while others made it to their locations in Sicily. Still others were forced completely back to home base. As can be expected, many of the airborne forces that survived the trip to Sicily landed in locations other than those that were expected.


British forces soon landed via the sea and quickly overtook the surprised Italian defenders along the coast, their batteries captured in full. Some alert Italian artillery units further inland opened fire on the British invaders but these installations were quickly annihilated by offshore shelling from the Royal Navy. With the beachhead in place, British and Canadian forces began making their way to shore en mass.


To the west, the American 7th Army faced an alert Italian coastal defense. Offshore artillery shelling of the positions ultimately cleared the path for Patton and his forces to come ashore. Despite a response from German and Italian aircraft, both invasion forces began making headway inland. The invasion of Sicily was now in full swing.


With chaos and confusion being brewed by the misplaced Allied paratrooper elements inland, the invasion forces operated at speed. Ponte Grande was in British hands for the moment but an Italian offensive beat the outnumbered British invaders. A handful of British soldiers remained and controlled the bridge point for a time while another detachment made their way into contact with the invasion force, bringing back with them some mechanized firepower. The returning forces quickly took the bridge back and further advances towards Syracuse itself were made in the process. Syracuse was in British hands by the end of the first day of the invasion.


The American 7th Army has conquered some 40 miles of beachfront property and equally benefited from the paratrooper's antics inland. Within two weeks, Patton's forces had made it to the northern coast and had also captured the Sicilian capital of Palermo. Canadian forces made their way inland and could lay claim to taking Enna in the center of the island.


With Italian dictator Mussolini overthrown back in Italy and Italian soldiers less-than-eager to continue the fight, Hitler was forced to evacuate the remaining Axis soldiers and equipment from the northern coast. In the two-day operation, some 100,000 soldiers were saved from capture. Operation Husky proved an overwhelming Allied victory when the US 3rd Division in Messina at the northeastern tip of the island signaled victory.


The first steps toward invading the European mainland had now been taken.


Text ©2003-2014 www.SecondWorldWarHistory.com. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Permitted. Email corrections/comments to SecondWorldWarHistory at Gmail dot com.

There are a total of 21 Operation Husky, the Allied Invasion of Sicily Timeline Events. Entries are listed below by date of occurrence.

1943
Friday
July 9th

The Allied invasion fleets sail out to Sicily.

1943
Saturday
July 10th

Operation Husky begins. Target - German-held Sicily. Some 2,590 naval vessels take part in the invasion which encompasses two army groups of American and British forces invading at two different coasts of the island.

1943
Saturday
July 10th

15th Army Group begins their initial assault to the south.

1943
Saturday
July 10th

The British 5th Division takes Cassibile.

1943
Saturday
July 10th

US 82nd Airborne Division and British 1st Airborne Division paratroopers land at strategic locations across Sicily prior to the invasion force's arrival.

1943
Sunday
July 11th

The Hermann Goring Panzer Division engages the US 1st Infantry Division at Gela. US forces are assited by offshore bombardment from Royal Navy ships and repel the German attack.

1943
Tuesday
July 13th

Allied airborne elements parachute into Sicily and capture key bridges. However, a German counter-attack drives back any gains of the day.

1943
Tuesday
July 13th

By this date, some 478,000 Allied troops have landed on Sicily.

1943
Wednesday
July 14th

German Paratroopers repel Allied forces from the Primasole bridge.

1943
Wednesday
July 14th

British and American forces finally meet at Comiso and Ragusa.

1943
Wednesday
July 14th

The Allies control key airfields across the island, allowing air support more resources from which to work with.

1943
Saturday
July 17th

The Primsole bridge is recaptured from the Germans.

1943
Thursday
July 22nd

US General George C. Patton and his fabled 7th Army move along the west of the island at speed, claiming the Sicilian capital of Palermo in the process.

1943
Sunday
July 25th

With Mussolini deposed back in Rome, Hitler has few options but to plan a retreat for his overwhelmed forces in Sicily. As such, he orders an official withdrawel.

1943
Thursday
August 5th

After some time, the British finally capture the port at Catania. Though a vital and strategic victory, their advance delays the operation some.

1943
Sunday
August 8th

In an attempt to cut off the retreating Germans, the US 7th Army conducts a flanking amphibious attack.

1943
Wednesday
August 11th

The US 7th Army undertakes another amphibious jump to head off the German retreat.

1943
Wednesday
August 11th

The evacuation of Axis forces from Sicily begins.

1943
Thursday
August 12th

Some 100,000 Axis soldiers are successfully rescued from Sicily. The rest are captured by advancing Allied forces.

1943
Sunday
August 15th

One last amphibious assault by the 7th Army is conducted. The Germans now in full retreat to the northern tip of Sicily.

1943
Tuesday
August 17th

The US 3rd Division gives the official "all clear" from their position in Messina. Operation Husky is a success and Sicily is firmly in Allied hands.