Before the end of the war in Africa, the Allies held a Casablanca Conference in January 1943 to determine the next strategic objectives.
Military planners believe that there are two places where assault can be carried out: one is Sicily.
One is Sardinia.
And its chiefs of staff believed that the capture of Sicily would lead to the downfall of Mussolini’s government and Italy’s withdrawal from the war, thus opening the way for the next military action of the allies in the Mediterranean.
They also hoped that the resulting blow to the axis forces would prompt Turkey to abandon neutrality and join the war against the axis powers.
Although the US military personnel are not very enthusiastic about this, they also believe that the Allied forces in the European theater cannot do nothing until they can land in France in 1944, and Sicily is clearly a target.
The leaders of the Allies agreed that establishing a foothold on the territory of the axis powers would greatly improve the morale of the allies.
Therefore, the meeting finally determined Sicily as the target of attack, and the operation code is “Eskimo”.
Planners believe that the success of the campaign depends on three essential factors – sea power, air power and rapid capture of ports.
Given the British Navy’s superiority in the Mediterranean, the first factor is not a problem.
However, the only landing site that can be fully supported by shore based aviation is the coastal area of the southeast corner of Sicily between likata and siracuza.
There are only three ports in the region, which can not meet the needs of a large number of Allied troops who captured Sicily.
Therefore, the planners proposed to capture the landing sites on Sicily where the Allied fighters can provide air cover, and then establish an airport to expand the cover range of the fighters.
A few days later, the landing will be carried out near the main ports of Palermo and Catania.
The plan met with opposition from and.
In this way, they believe, the reinforcements of the axis powers may break through the scattered allied forces.
Therefore, they called for a single, large-scale landing assault in an area of Sicily that could be covered by Allied fighters.
As for logistical support, naval planners believe that with the support of a large number of newly developed tank landing ships and hundreds of amphibious vehicles, the attacking army forces can replenish through the beaches in the southeast of Sicily with the support of several existing ports.
In early May 1943, the General Commander in chief of the Allied Mediterranean Theater approved the new plan of large-scale landing assault.
The Sicilian campaign plan stipulates that the offensive force is divided into two forces: the British army in the East and the US Army in the west, which will land on the South and Southeast coasts of Sicily respectively.
After landing, he launched an attack to the north and captured the whole island.
The naval assault forces carrying these two ground forces are the Western naval task force commanded by lieutenant general Kent Hewitt and the eastern naval task force commanded by lieutenant general Bertram Ramsey.
On May 19, 1943, General Alexander issued a battle order, which divided the battle of Sicily into five stages: first, the Navy and air force took preliminary measures to destroy the air force units and their bases of the axis powers to ensure sea and air supremacy.
Second, with the assistance of airborne troops, amphibious raids were carried out before dawn to ensure landing sites, including airports near the coast and ports in likata and siracuza.
The third is to build a broad base and seize Augusta, Catania and jebini airports.
Fourth, occupy the above-mentioned areas.
Fifth, capture the island.
The Directive requires that the British army will make every effort to reach Messina and control the Strait of Messina, so as to cut off the main supply routes of the axis powers.
At the same time, the US military protected its flanks and occupied important airports.
Once Messina was captured, the British and American armies carried out mobile warfare in order to put the axis forces in trouble in a place north or west of Mount Etna and prevent them from fleeing back to Italy.
They are inclined to kesselin’s opinion and are determined not to give up the Balkan territories.
He ordered six more divisions to be stationed in the Balkans, bringing the total number of troops there to 13 divisions.
He reconstituted the 90th division in Sardinia, reorganized the 15th armored division in Sicily, and sent the “Herman Goering” armored division and the 16th armored division to southern Italy.
In order to prevent Italy from surrendering, Hitler ordered to formulate a plan to disarm the Italian army if necessary and occupy the Pisa Rimini line in northern Italy.
The axis force stationed in Sicily is the sixth group army of Italy.
The commander is general guzoni of Italy.
It has jurisdiction over 8 coastal divisions, 4 Italian mechanized divisions and 2 German armored divisions, with a total force of 270000 people, including the two German divisions reinforced after the start of the campaign, and about 600 aircraft can be used for air support.
In fact, lieutenant general etlin, the German liaison officer stationed in the sixth group army, controlled the German division and guzoni.
In addition, Goering often gives orders directly to his division.
The Italian coast division was poorly equipped and demoralized, and the axis command did not expect them to resist the Allied landing.
The key is the deployment of the six mobile divisions.
Kesselin believes that when the Allied landing forces establish the landing site, the local reserve team should eliminate it near the waterline.
Etlin believed that after determining the main attack direction of the allies, the defenders launched a counter attack from the central position together with the Italian reserve team and wiped it out.
To this end, etlin ordered the mobile division to disperse its defense along Sicily with a diameter of 240 kilometers, and the allies launched a counterattack against it as soon as they landed.
The deceptive plan of the Allies pretending to attack Trapani prompted the axis powers to further disperse their forces and transfer the 15th armored division to the western end of the island.
Two Italian motorized divisions also served as the Western defense, and the other two Italian motorized divisions defended the eastern part of the island together with the “Herman Goering” division.
On July 10, the German army had only about 23000 troops on the island.
By the end of the battle, the total number of German troops invested in Sicily defense reached 60000.
As the landing day approached, the Allies began to carry out a series of attacks on Sicily’s air force facilities and nearby islands to clear the periphery.
Banterelia is the base of Italian aircraft and torpedo boats, located between Tunisia and Sicily.
In order to capture this forward base, the Allied forces landed on the island on June 11, 1943 after 10 days of bombing, captured 11000 Italian troops, and lost only 40 pilots and less than 20 aircraft.
Two days later, the AlliesAt the same time, several mobile columns were put into the far left to attack along the western edge of the island.
On July 22, the US army occupied Palermo, and about 45000 Italian troops surrendered in western Sicily.
This victory greatly dampened the morale of the Italian army.
They had only one port left in Messina.
At the same time, the British attacks on the East and west sides have weakened, the troops began to catch malaria and their combat effectiveness has decreased.
The US army arrived in San Stefano on July 31 after capturing Palermo, and the main task was changed to Patton’s seventh group army.
In order to block the retreat of Axis forces, the Allies decided to launch a new offensive on August 1, and transferred the 9th division of the US Army and the 78th division of the British army from North Africa, with a total force of 12 divisions.
On August 1, the Allied forces launched an attack on the axis defense line in Northeast Sicily, and the US troops occupied three important towns on the North Bank of the island.
On August 5, the British army conquered Catania.
From August 7 to August 16, the allies launched four small-scale amphibious leaps in an attempt to accelerate progress and intercept the retreating Axis forces, but they were slow and failed to achieve results.
On August 17, the withdrawal of the axis powers ended.
Without being seriously intercepted by the Allied naval and air forces, there were about 40000 officers and soldiers of the three German divisions and 62000 Italian officers and soldiers who withdrew to Italy across the Strait of Messina.
Carrying equipment: 9800 vehicles, 47 tanks, 135 guns, more than 2000 tons of explosives, fuel and 15000 tons of other materials.
On the morning of August 17, the third division of the US Army entered Messina.
The first unit of the eighth group army soon arrived in the city.
On the same day, all the remaining forces of the axis powers on the island were wiped out.
The German and Italian troops lost a total of about 160000 people, including 12000 German troops.
The total number of allied deaths, injuries and disappearances was more than 22000.
The Allies achieved most of the objectives of the “Eskimo” campaign at a very small cost, which completely guaranteed the safety of the Allies’ transportation lines in the Mediterranean.
This victory led to the downfall of Mussolini’s government.
However, the Allies failed to make full use of their air and sea power and acted slowly, resulting in the escape of nearly half of the axis forces.