The United States and Britain defeated the Germans in northern Africa at the end of 1942. The Germans had been trying to take over Egypt and the Suez Canal which was an important shipping route.
The Suez canal is a man made waterway that allows shipping between Europe and Asia without having to go around Africa. The allied powers saw the invasion of Sicily as the next step in gaining control of the Mediterranean. It would also draw German troops away from the eastern front where they were fighting the Russians.
The landing in Pachino, Sicily, July 10th, 1943 • The allied invasion first had to travel through heavily defended waters and three freighters were reported missing as a result of u-boat attacks. • The landing on Sicily was quite uneventful and many Italian troops surrendered. • The Italian military offered very little resistance during the invasion.
Landings effected with very little opposition and by 1200 hrs today all objectives for phase one were in my hands. Ineffective counter attacks in afternoon were repulsed. Casualties very light and first reports indicate do not exceed total of seventy-five killed and wounded including 40 and 41 Marine Commandos. We took over 700 prisoners and some material. Morale high and troops very confident of themselves. Details will follow. Success mainly due to excellent co-operation Royal Navy and RAF." - Major-General Guy Simonds to General A.G.L. McNaughton, July 10th, 1943.
The German troops stayed in the northern part of the Island for the most part. On the 5th day of the invasion the Canadians were attacked by German artillery. The allied troops defeated the Germans in 38 days but the fighting was fierce at times and 562 Canadian troops were killed in action. Sicily was liberated on August 6th 1943 The Germans managed to evacuate 100 000 of their troops to mainland Italy.
"Back with L.O.B.s [Left out of Battle] again, who had strict orders not to meddle forward. See plenty of signs of Jerry at shelled red house just beyond Nissoria. Don Newson lands right on top of me in one dive. Tank battle 200 yards ahead. Many German dead and some of our own along the road. Five Sherman tanks burnt out, also some German tanks an 88 mm guns. Shelled most of the day. Lie up. Have cramps and vomiting… "- Captain B.G. Parker, Seaforth Highlanders, Diary, 27 July 1943.
On the road to Agira, Allied jeeps driving by torched German vehicles, around July 28th, 1943
Régiment de Trois-Rivières tanks entering the ruins of Regalbuto, August 4th, 1943
Canada 562 killed and 1,848 wounded • Britain 2,721 killed and 10,122 wounded • United States 2,237 killed and 6,544
Two weeks after the invasion of Sicily, Benito Mussolini, the leader of Italy, was kicked out of power and arrested. The Italian government did not sign a ceasefire right away but their support for Germany was over. Germany was left alone to prevent the allies from liberating the rest of Italy. They became an occupying force.
Objectives of the Italian Campaign To take advantage of the collapsing Italian military. To create a second front so that Germany would have to take troops away from the Russian front as well as France To gain complete control of the Mediterranean To take over Italian airfields which could then be used to bomb Germany
The allies invaded Italy on Sept 3, 1943 On September 8th the Italian Government surrendered Similar to the invasion of Sicily the Canadians met little to no resistance at first. The German military had retreated to the north with orders to defend Rome at all costs and set up defensive positions in the mountains.
"Stop briefly at 1:00 a.m. and sleep where we drop. No sleep last night and evidently very little tonight. One meal only yesterday. At 2:00 a.m. men line the road, fallen by the wayside dead-beat. I can't go much farther. I am nearly done. It is pitch black here in the avenues of woods. I am sweating with weakness. At 2:30 a.m. we overtake men of the Patricias and kip down. Too dazed to remember much. John Gowan gives me two biscuits, a lump of bully beef (like chicken) and a bar of chocolate. Sleep on rocks with just my gas-cape over me. Get up at 7:00 a.m. stiff with cold and wet, stale sweat. Blessed tea, and two pieces of hardtack and cheese. One mile from our objective, they say. (I wonder?) The sun rises at 8:15 and warms us as we march off. Soon we near the summit of Mount Basilica. Forests of pine, beech, poplar and elder wood. Settle at 1:30 p.m. at big convalescent hospital for children and sleep for six hours in a real bed. Had almost forgotten it was the Sabbath. Have a feeling God will understand…"- H/Captain Roy Durnford, Regimental Chaplain, Seaforth Highlanders, Diary, September 4th, 1943
The Allied forces made good progress in the first weeks of the campaign. The Germans had been instructed to retreat until they could take up a solid defensive position. The Germans took advantage of Italy’s rugged landscape to defend against the allied invasion.
As the Canadians moved north they were met with increasing resistance. They were continuously bombarded by German artillery and suffered many losses. Eventually they reached the town of Ortona, where they had to battle for every house and street to advance. After 8 days of fierce fighting the Canadians emerged victorious.
Wednesday morning. As I write it is 8:30 a.m. and a roaring barrage has been going on for almost four hours. Danny and I go up the line and stay there. The R.A.P. [Regimental Aid Post], which is an old barn attached to a house, begins to fill with wounded. Incredible suffering and unbelievable bravery. Cliff Preece and the M.O. [Medical Officer] of the North Irish Horse work ceaselessly throughout the day with a marvellous staff of uncomplaining helpers. The battlefield is very near. The house is a BHQ [Battalion HQ] as well as a hospital, and it is a hive of activity: intelligence staff, signallers, anxious officers and battered and war-weary men weave about everywhere. Shells dropping all around the area frequently wound German prisoners who stand near the R.A.P. These Germans are either dull with shock or nervous and excitable; pale, dirty and utterly exhausted, they stagger down the line. I make tea endlessly, and soup. The boys keep coming in-some bomb-happy, some terribly broken and shell-shocked, some with limbs torn off, some almost gleefully with light wounds.... Johnny McLean has been wounded. Lieut. Whiting got up to the barbed wire. I'm told; he is reported killed, with others. The men of the North Irish Horse who are with us have been wonderful. Their casualties have been heavy. Ours are extremely severe. Syd Thomson is feeling the strain but has been marvellous all day. Who has not? "How are things going, Syd?" I asked him. "I don't know, Pad," he said, "but I think I've got about 100 men left in all the rifle companies, and three officers." I can't begin to tell all I have seen, but it has been our best and our worst day.- H/Captain Roy Durnford, Regimental Chaplain, Seaforth Highlanders, Diary, 23 May 1944
Canadian gunners during the attack against the Gothic Line, around August 24th, 1944.
The Germans had two armies defending Rome along the Gustav line. The allies first attacked in the spring of 1944 with one of the most intense artillery barrages of all time. After two years of intense fighting and huge losses on both sides, the German commander in Italy surrendered on May 2, 1945
During the Italian campaign 300 000 Allies were killed • 500 000 Germans were killed • 30 000 Italian resistance fighters died fighting the Germans. • Canada lost over 5000 soldiers with 19 000 wounded.
Soviet advance—pushing Hitler’s troops backward Axis forces with 2 million casualties are outnumbered and outgunned Early 1944, Siege of Leningrad ends; more victories for Soviets followed Axis forces driven back into central Europe Soviets within 40 miles of Berlin by February 1945
The invasion opened up the second front in Western Europe • The sea assault was led by General Eisenhower the Allied Supreme Commander. • June 6, 1944, The d-day invasion occurred at Normandy in Northern France along a 50 mile beach front. • The intent of the invasion was to establish a landing area for more troops.
3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 2nd Armored Brigade were tasked with establishing a bridgehead on the beach codenamed Juno They were to clear the beach for further landings and then take Carpiquet airfield, 18 kilometers inland. 574 men of the 3rd Canadian Division were wounded and 340 were killed on the first day As they Canadians moved inland they were met with increasingly intense resistance from the Germans.
Some 326,000 men and 45,000 vehicles would eventually land in Normandy. The invasion was the beginning of the end for the German occupation of Europe but there would be two more years of hard fighting and a huge amount of death and destruction before this would occur.
As we moved farther from the mother ship and closer to shore, it came as a shock to realize that the assault fleet just behind us had completely disappeared from view. Suddenly there was just us and an awful lot of ocean) or English Channel if you prefer. All that remained within sight was our own fleet of ten assault craft, moving abreast in the early-morning silence in a gradually extending line facing the shore, the A Company boats on the right and the B Company boats on the left. Daylight. We had never felt so alone in our lives."- Charles Cromwell Martin, Battle Diary, 1994, p. 4
A LCA just launched off HMCS Prince Henry carrying troops towards the Normandy beaches.
The United States' contingent suffered over 6,000 casualties. The Canadians saw 340 of their men killed, 574 wounded, and 47 captured.
Battle of the Bulge • -December 1944, Germany takes one last stand • They engage in a counterattack against the allies in Belgium • Germany is able to advance leading to a bulge in the line • They manage to slow the allied advance but are eventually defeated leading to their eventual downfall. • - The British and American armies along with the Canadians are now in a race with the Russians to get to Berlin first.
The Germans Surrender • The Soviets manage to reach Berlin first. • Adolf Hitler was found dead in a bunker—a suicide • Berlin surrenders on May 2, 1945; Germany follows five days later • Victory in Europe(V-E Day) is proclaimed May 8, 1945 • The war in Europe is finally over after nearly six years