Chapter 14: Conquest of Sicily
THE final assault on Sicily opened with the first large-scale airborne operations undertaken by the Allies in World War II. Two missions had been scheduled for the hours immediately preceding H-hour at 0245 on 10 July: one, coded LADBROKE, a drop in the neighborhood of Syracuse for the purpose of seizing the canal bridge south of that city to facilitate the advance of the British Eighth Army; the other, HUSKY No. 1, a drop near Farello for capture of the high ground and a road junction six miles east of Gela, a position which commanded the exits from beaches over which the American 1st Division would storm ashore in the next few hours. For each of the two missions a complicated, dog-leg course had been charted, running east from Tunisia to Malta and thence northward to Sicily--a route fixed in part by the necessity of avoiding friendly naval vessels whose orders were to fire on any aircraft in their vicinity and in part by the requirement that the planes maintain radio silence, which made visual aids to navigation essential. In LADBROKE the paratroopers would land by glider, in HUSKY No. 1 they would drop by parachute from troop carrier planes.1
LADBROKE got under way at approximately 1800 on 9 July (D minus 1) when 133 tow planes began to take off from fields in the El Djem area of Tunisia, each plane pulling a loaded glider behind it. All but 28 of the planes were American C-47's belonging to the 51st Wing of NAAF Troop Carrier Command;* except for eight British Horsas all of the gliders were American-made Wacos, but all gliders were manned by British pilots and the more than 1,600 paratroopers they carried were members of the British I Airborne Division. The formations
* NAAFTCC was under General Williams. The 51st Wing was commanded by Brig. Gen. Ray A. Dunn, and the 52d by Col. Harold L. Clark.
flew until darkness under fighter cover furnished by planes of the 1st Air Defense Wing. No enemy aircraft were encountered. A strong wind which had come up during the afternoon added to the difficulty of staying on course, and most of the planes, having drifted southward, missed the first check point on Malta. Corrections were made, however, and the planes were on course as they approached Cape Passero in southeastern Sicily.
After passing that point, they climbed to a release altitude of 500 feet for the Horsas and 3,500 feet for the Waco gliders. Some pilots, noting the velocity of the wind, went as high as 3,000 feet before signaling for the release of their gliders. Flak at several points along the coast caused many pilots to swing wide from the fire and thus to get off course. There was no fire within several thousand yards of the two release zones, one just south of Syracuse and the other over its western suburbs on the road to Floridia, and the enemy attempted no interceptions. But with the wind high and some of the planes obliged because of poor visibility to make two or three passes, the release areas became congested. Contributing further to the generally poor execution which characterized the mission was the inadequate training of the glider pilots, some of whom had not advanced beyond the first solo stage of instruction at the time of their arrival in Africa with only three weeks left for TCC to train them in navigation and night flying. Some of the glider pilots released before receiving the signal from the tow pilot. Some, unfamiliar with the American-built Wacos, on release turned their gliders in a reverse direction from the proper course. Not a single tow plane was lost, but of the 133 gliders released only 12 landed in the general vicinity of the landing zone, at least 65 came down in the sea, and the remainder landed at various points in the southeastern part of the island.
Poorly executed as it was, the mission nevertheless served a useful purpose. The eight officers and sixty-five enlisted men who came down in the drop zone (DZ) reached the canal bridge south of Syracuse and held it long enough for advance patrols of the ground troops to arrive; then the glider troops defended the bridge while a brigade of the British 5 Division moved across. Even the troops who landed far from the DZ contributed heavily to the success of the initial ground force operations. Widely scattered and groping about in the dark, they attacked such of the enemy's positions as they could find and thereby added to the confusion and disorganization of his defenses and reserves.2
HUSKY No. 1, the American paratroop operation, in many respects closely paralleled LADBROKE. The 226 C-47's, carrying 3,405 paratroopers of the U. S. 82d Airborne Division and 891 parapacks, assembled over the Kairouan area soon after 1800 hours on the 9th and flew under fighter protection until darkness. They too, and again because of the wind, missed the check point at Malta. Continued high winds, together with navigational difficulties along a complicated course running from Malta north to Sicily, west to below Gela, and then north to the drop zones, caused such delay that the planes approached the drop zones in almost complete darkness and were unable to pick out the final check points. Fires and smoke resulting from earlier bombardment by Allied planes further obscured the drop zones, and the paratroopers were dropped over widely scattered areas. Even so, enough of them landed near the objective to carry out the primary mission of seizing the high ground and road junction east of Gela, and they held the position. Others, who landed beyond the easternmost point of the American ground forces, captured the town of Marina di Ragusa and soon made contact with the U. S. 45th Division. The aggressive action of the paratroopers, together with the surprise of an enemy who apparently had not anticipated large-scale airborne operations, adversely affected the morale of the Italian soldiers, some of whom withdrew as much as ten miles.3
Both LADBROKE and HUSKY No.1 were accompanied by diversions. B-17's, especially fitted with devices to obstruct enemy RDF, were over Sicily during the operations. Hundreds of paratroop dummies dropped by Allied planes were believed to have added to the enemy's confusion. Diversionary bombing missions employing incendiaries also proved effective, although in HUSKY No.1 the fires and smoke which they produced interfered with accurate dropping of the paratroopers.4
The Assault Phase
The airborne operations constituted but one of a variety of responsibilities shouldered by NAAF on the eve of the amphibious assault on Sicily. To the planes of Coastal Air Force, assisted by the 33d Fighter Group from its new base on Pantelleria, had fallen the task of protecting initially the great convoy of over 3,000 vessels as it moved with the assault forces toward Sicily. Within a radius of fifty miles from Malta the responsibility passed to the planes of that island, which included a
part of the U. S. 79th Fighter Group. The 31st Fighter Group on nearby Gozo also shared in the effort. That the enemy attempted no air attack on the convoy detracts nothing from the precision and skill with which the covering mission was executed. Admiral Hewitt, who commanded the Western Naval Task Force, regarded the air force coverage of the convoys as "the most carefully planned and most successfully executed" phase of HUSKY.5
As the assault forces approached Sicily, the USAAF and the RAF smashed hard at the enemy and his installations in immediate preparation for the landings. Twelfth Air Force planes during the closing daylight hours of D minus 1 undertook in repeated bombing attacks to soften resistance at and adjacent to the beaches, to prevent the movement of enemy reserves to the threatened areas, and to pin down German and Italian aircraft. Wellingtons, Halifaxes, and Liberators of the RAF through the night hours struck at a variety of targets in southeastern Sicily, most of them in the Syracuse area. With daylight, B-17's and B-25's took over again to hit the Gerbini, Trapani/Milo, and Sciacca airfields and also the town of Palazzolo ahead of the Eighth Army. In addition, P-38's swept over the western and southeastern parts of the island on strafing missions.6
Meanwhile, the assault waves had started ashore under the protection of naval gunfire, most of them on schedule or not more than a few minutes behind, with the exception of the 45th Division whose landing was delayed a full hour. From east to west the American sub task forces of the Western Task Force hit the beaches as follows:* CENT (45th Division) on the right flank from Scoglitti to Fiume Agata; DIME (1st Division less the 18th RCT) between Fiume Agata and Gela, with the Ranger Force assaulting Gela frontally; JOSS (chiefly the 3d Division plus CCA of the 2d Armored Division) from six miles east to six miles west of Licata. All of the forces achieved a large degree of tactical surprise owing, apparently, to a combination of carefully controlled security, a good cover plan well executed by the air forces, and Coastal's success in shooting down enemy reconnaissance planes. By 0600 hours all landings had been successfully completed. Once ashore the troops made good progress throughout the day.7
At daylight, fighter planes had established defensive patrols over the beaches and shipping. It had been expected that the enemy would endeavor to throw the full force of his available air power against the
* See map, p. 443.
beaches and offshore shipping on D-day, but the Allies did not have enough fighter strength to maintain continuous cover over all beaches during the sixteen hours of daylight. Although there were enough fighters present in the theater, several factors limited their full employment: the operational capacity of the fields on Malta and Pantelleria, the long distance from the bases there to the assault areas and the resulting short time which each sortie could give to flying cover, and the heavy commitments to fighter escort for bombing missions. Consequently, the air forces could provide continuous fighter cover throughout the day only over two of the beaches. But all beaches would receive continuous protection for the first two and the last one and one-half hours of daylight and, in addition, from 1030 to 1230 and 1600 to 1730 hours. A fighter wing also was held in reserve to reinforce any area where special assistance might be required.
In accordance with this plan, five RAF Spitfire squadrons from Malta provided protection during the stipulated hours over the ACID, BARK, and CENT beaches, the U. S. 31st Group from Gozo covered DIME, and the U. S. 33d Group from Pantelleria took care of JOSS. All of these units operated under the control of the AOC Malta, but XII Air Support Command (Advanced), through its fighter-director units on the USS Monrovia, gave forward direction via VHF/RT in the DIME and JOSS areas and over the CENT area through similar units on the USS Ancon. The director units lacked combat experience and adequate training as a team. Moreover, plans for fighter protection of the assault areas had not been completed until after the convoys were at sea. Even so, in Admiral Hewitt's opinion, they turned in a most creditable performance.8
Later, there would arise the usual differences of opinion between the U. S. Navy and the air forces as to the effectiveness of the air cover. The Navy insisted that close support by aircraft in amphibious operations, as understood by the Navy, did not exist. In support of that categorical statement it pointed out that the average number of fighters maintained over the American beaches was approximately ten; that on two occasions there were no fighters in any of the areas and on several other occasions no cover over one or two areas; and that because of the limited number of planes available, patrols had been maintained at only one level. NAAF, on the contrary, presented strong arguments in support of its view that the cover had been effective. Not only had its Spitfires and P-40's flown 1,092 sorties on D-day but, in contrast to the
Navy's anticipated loss of up to 300 ships during D minus 1 and D-day, there stood the actual loss to enemy air action of only twelve vessels. To the airmen that record acquired additional significance in view of two facts: fire from friendly ships had forced Allied fighter patrols up from 5,000 and 8,000 feet to 10,000 and 14,000 feet with a consequently increased danger of enemy aircraft breaking through, and many ships had been anchored so far from shore (up to six miles) that our fighters had found it difficult to cover simultaneously ships, landing craft, and beaches. NAAF's side of the disagreement received strong support from the Admiralty, whose "Battle Summary of the Invasion of Sicily" stated that casualties to shipping in the several invasion areas were considerably less than had been anticipated. According to Adm. Sir B. H. Ramsay this was the result of a very high degree of air superiority which resulted in a "surprising" immunity from air attack. Additional evidence of the effectiveness of the air cover came from Admiral Cunningham, Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, who called the number of Allied fighter sorties "prodigious" and who declared that the navies and armies "owed a great debt to the air for the effectiveness of the protection offered them throughout the operation." To the admiral it seemed "almost magical that great fleets of ships could remain anchored on the enemy's coast." 9
After the outline air plan had been agreed upon but before the invasion was launched, it had become evident that the rate of disembarkation of supporting arms for the land forces might not be sufficiently rapid to assure the security of the beachheads. Consequently, the air forces undertook a special effort toward interdiction of the enemy's movements from the interior toward the assault areas. They met the new commitment by temporarily transferring two groups of U. S. P-3 8 fighter-bombers from Strategic Air Force to reinforce the two U. S. A-36 groups of Tactical. The P-38's were assigned to the eastern area and the A-36's to the western and central area, with orders to attack all movement. Formations dispatched every thirty minutes throughout D-day destroyed many enemy transports. Especially effective were attacks delivered along the eastern coastal road and the roads radiating from the Axis concentration area around Enna in central Sicily.
The Allied ground troops met little effective opposition from the Italian forces defending the beaches, and by the end of D-day they had secured all beachheads in both the American and British sectors and had captured Licata, Syracuse, and the landing field at Pachino. On the
11th, the Germans in a sharp reaction launched a major effort to drive the Americans back into the sea. The assault fell hardest on the 1st Division, holding the center of the line, near Gela. Hard fighting stopped the attack, as it did a second major effort on the 12th, after which the Allies promptly took the offensive. By midnight of 12/13 July the Seventh Army had captured Comiso, Ragusa, and Ponte Olivo, the British had seized Noto, Avola, and Augusta, and the two armies were in contact. The critical phase of the assault was over.10
During the crucial fighting of the 11th and 12th, the air forces had steadily increased their rate of effort against enemy movements. Almost 1,000 sorties flown by Twelfth Air Force day fighters and fighter-bombers on the 12th left the roads of Sicily blocked with burned trucks, seriously hampered the enemy's road movements, and helped the Allied ground forces to strengthen and enlarge their beachheads. Concurrently, regular and strong defensive air patrols continued to be maintained over the beaches and shipping (cover was continuous over CENT, ACID, and BARK), with NATAF's fighters shooting down fifty-two enemy planes. On 10, 11, and 12 July, Desert Air Force flew more than 3,000 sorties, of which the attached 31st and 33d U. S. Fighter Groups accounted for more than 1,000. Most of the planes flew three sorties a day11
In an attempt to send assistance to hard pressed Allied troops around Gela a third airborne mission (HUSKY No. 2) had been flown on the night of 11 July. The 52d Troop Carrier Wing provided 144 C-47's which took off from Tunisian fields with approximately 2,000 paratroopers of the 504th Regimental combat Team. Taking the same complicated course previously traveled by HUSKY No. 1,the mission faced the additional hazard of traversing the actual battlefront for a distance of some thirty-five miles. It faced, too, equal if less well-understood dangers. For the decision to mount the operation had been made hurriedly on the very day of its execution, and insufficient time had been allowed for warning Allied naval vessels along the route. Only too late was it learned that a safety corridor had not been cleared and that the enemy had retaken the drop zone at the Gela/Farello airport.
Allied naval and merchant vessels brought heavy fire to bear on the planes as they approached Sicily. Near Marina di Ragusa shore batteries opened fire, and with both friend and foe combining their efforts the corridor of approach to the drop zone "became alive with deadly machine gun fire and heavy flak." Over the DZ some of the pilots refused
to drop, feeling that it would be murderous to do so; other pilots, their formations having been broken by the intense fire, scattered the paratroopers from Gela to the east coast. And then, as if to add a full measure, some of the returning planes remained under fire for as much as twenty miles after they left Sicily.
Losses were heavy. Twenty-three aircraft failed to return and over half of those which did reach home were badly damaged. Nor were the paratroopers able to accomplish their mission. Their unheralded descent at widely scattered points caused confusion: Allied troops were alerted against German parachutists--the 1st Division even carried the 504th RCT as an unidentified enemy parachute regiment in its G-2 report-and there were encounters between Allied airborne and ground troops. As a result the 504th suffered heavy casualties which General Eisenhower considered to be "in excess of any real damage inflicted on the enemy." On 14 July the 504th and 505th were assembled near Gela, reinforced by an infantry RCT, and assigned artillery support, and thereafter they acted as an infantry unit on the extreme left of the American sector.12
Despite the unhappy experience with HUSKY No.2, it was decided to attempt one more large-scale airborne operation. Flown on the night of 13 July and coded FUSTIAN, it had the objective of taking Primasole bridge over the Simeto River north of Lentini which provided the only good exit for the British forces from the high ground into the Catania plain. Again, the mission was set up late, the safety corridor was not properly cleared (although Troop Carrier had every reason to believe that it had been), and the planes ran into heavy fire from Allied naval vessels as well as from friendly and hostile shore batteries. Of the 124 aircraft which flew the mission, 50 were damaged and 11 destroyed by friendly fire, while another 27 were forced by flak to return to base with full or partial loads. Even so, the British paratroops dropped close enough to the objective to seize the bridge, remove its demolition charges, and hold on until the ground forces took possession on the morning of the 14th.13
Four small missions intended to harass enemy lines of communication in northeastern Sicily completed the airborne operations of HUSKY.*14
* All of these missions were flown by British Albemarles of the 51st TCW. In CHESTNUT No. 1 (12 July), one of the two planes dispatched carried out its mission; in CHESTNUT No. 2 (13 July), neither plane completed its mission; in CHESTNUT No. 3 (14 July), both planes were successful; in CHESTNUT No. 4 (19 July), the one plane dispatched did not accomplish its purpose.
In retrospect, three of the four major airborne operations could be regarded as tactically successful. General Patton declared that the action of the 82d Airborne Division near Gela on D-day had speeded up the advance of his Seventh Army by at least forty-eight hours. General Alexander said that the early capture of Syracuse was "largely due" to the airborne troops, while Montgomery estimated that airborne troops dropped in front of the Eighth Army had accelerated its advance by as much as a week.15 The total loss in planes of forty-five aircraft out of the 666 troop carrier sorties flown, even when allowance is made for the heavy damage sustained by many other planes, was perhaps not too high a price to pay for these accomplishments. But there was cause for serious dissatisfaction in the fact that perhaps twenty-five of the forty-five aircraft lost had been shot down by friendly naval and ground fire and that some 60 per cent of the 5, 000 paratroopers carried had landed far from their drop zones. Whatever the tactical success achieved on three of the missions, the remaining one had ended in complete failure and none of the missions had been satisfactory from a technical or operational point of view.
Coningham felt that the operations had been handled rather amateurishly, that they had been a "soldier's air operation" rather than an airman's. Spaatz, writing to General Arnold immediately after FUSTIAN, declared that the missions had demonstrated that parachute and glider operations could be conducted without excessive losses only if surprise were obtained, that airborne troops could not be dropped into an organized battle position without incurring heavy losses, and that mutual training in identification must be thorough.16 General Eisenhower was in full agreement with Spaatz and, as soon as possible after the invasion of Sicily, he took steps to review the airborne missions in order that the experiences and lessons might be put to use in future operations. Staff officers of Troop Carrier Command and of airborne headquarters prepared critiques covering various phases of the problem, and on 23 July, Eisenhower appointed a board of officers for a special study which on completion served as the basis for a training memorandum circulated to all Allied forces in the theater.
These investigations led to the conclusion that airborne troops should be employed only on missions suited to their role, and then only when the task could not be accomplished "by other means more economical or equally well suited to the mission." All ground and naval forces should be notified of planned operations well in advance, twelve hours being considered a desirable minimum. The final decision as to
whether an operation should be carried out must rest with the air commander in chief, since every feature of the mission--such as fighter protection and routing--was an air matter until after the drop had been made. Planning should be centralized in one headquarters; and the carrying agency should be under the direct control of the air commander in chief in order to simplify problems of command and communications. In planning all airborne missions involving overwater flights, provision must be made for keeping surface vessels as far as possible out of a safety corridor of approximately five miles on either side of the route of flight. At the same time, however, aircrews must be warned of the great vulnerability of surface vessels to air attack and made to realize that naval vessels could not afford to accept the presence of aircraft in their vicinity unless the planes positively identified themselves as friendly. Finally, realistic and thorough training for air force and airborne troops in combination was required, with special attention given to training in low-level navigation at night and to the proper use of recognition signals. Where possible, the preparatory training should culminate in a rehearsal of the operation under conditions simulating the actual battle situation.17 If these conclusions gave emphasis to the basic faults in the execution of the HUSKY missions, they also pointed the way to the highly successful airborne operations later to be staged in the invasions of Italy and Normandy.
In other activities, the record showed a much more favorable balance. During the first three days of the invasion Allied fighters, which flew approximately ten times as many sorties over the battle area as did the enemy, had been conspicuously successful in air battles. Counting all types of tactical operations, they shot down some eighty-five enemy fighters and claimed almost as many more probably destroyed or damaged against the loss of around forty planes. After the 12th the enemy began to reduce his day effort and by the 16th had virtually stopped daylight operations. At the same time, however, he increased the scale of his night attacks. Fortunately, the Allies were prepared to meet this development. Ground control interceptors (GCI) had been installed on LST's in the ACID, BARK, and DIME areas, and patrols of at least three night fighters from Malta were maintained constantly on fixed lines of patrol. On the first night of increased enemy action, 12/13 July, the fighters destroyed five Ju-88's, two Cant.Z-2007s, and one DO-217. By the close of the first week of the campaign, night fighters claimed the destruction of more than fifty enemy planes against the loss of only three.18
First AAF Attack on Rome, 19 July 1943
Principal NAAF Target in Sicily During HUSKY
In addition to the more than 5,000 sorties flown by planes of Tactical Air Force during the assault stage, Strategic Air Force threw its full might against the enemy in an effort to neutralize his air force and prepare the way for the ground forces to advance. The main emphasis was on lines of communication and airfields. Four groups of B-17's and five of mediums of the Twelfth Air Force and five groups of B-24's of the Ninth operated almost continuously. Their heaviest attacks were directed against the following targets: Catania, whose marshalling yards, repair shops, and industrial installations were severely damaged; Reggio and San Giovanni on the Italian side of the Strait of Messina, where marshalling yards, ferry slips, and port facilities were battered; Messina and Agrigento, where lines of supply were struck; Sicilian airfields of the Gerbini complex, Sciacca, and Trapani/Milo and Italian fields at Vibo Valentia, Reggio, and Crotone.19
As a result of the combined efforts of Strategic and Tactical, the enemy's resistance in the air sharply declined, the 13th being the last day on which he was able to put up an at all effective opposition over Sicily. The Allied ground troops had effected their landings and consolidated their beachheads without serious interference from enemy aircraft. They had fought, moreover, against enemy forces denied adequate reinforcements and on occasion disorganized by Allied air attacks.20 Assisted thus by the air forces, by 13 July they had seized six airfields and landing grounds which were quickly put into operation. Fighter controls went ashore on the 12th, and the next day the first fighter squadrons flew into Sicily, landing at Pachino. One week after D-day there were eighteen and a half squadrons of NAAF planes--of which seven and a half belonged to USAAF--operating from the fields at Pachino, Comiso, Ponte Olivo, and Licata. On the 18th, six more squadrons of USAAF planes reached the island, and by the 20th fighter-bomber units were present. In the first week after the 13th, lack of air service personnel to move supplies and establish dumps threatened to curtail combat operations, but Troop Carrier saved the situation by flying in fuel, ammunition, rations, and other supplies; subsequently, the construction of a pipe line from Gela to Comiso, capable of delivering 2,200 barrels of gasoline a day, further eased the supply problem. The forward movement of these fighter, fighter-bomber, and reconnaissance units from the distant bases on Tunisia, Malta, Pantelleria, and Gozo greatly facilitated the bombing, strafing,
patrol, and reconnaissance operations of Tactical Air Force as it cooperated with the ground forces in the drive into the interior.21
At the end of the first week of operations the Seventh Army had reached its initial objective, Yellow Line. The British Eighth was past Piazza Armerina in the center and Primosole on the coast. In front of the Americans the enemy was withdrawing in the general direction of the Catania plain, fighting only delaying actions; but in the British sector he was putting up strong resistance. In both areas the air forces materially aided the advance of the Allies. Aircraft of NATAF bombed and strafed enemy road movement in central and northern Sicily and transportation arteries leading from the central part of the island to the south and east. They attacked on a twenty-four-hour basis, Wellingtons and mediums supplementing at night the severe raids delivered during the day by mediums, fighters, and fighter-bombers. Beaufighters of Coastal Air Force struck at enemy shipping north of Palermo, sinking several merchant vessels.
With the beachheads established and the enemy air force unable to interfere seriously with the land battle, NAAF had been able to raise its sights from the immediate vicinity of the battlefields to targets farther afield. Messina continued to serve as a primary target; on the 14th it was struck a particularly hard blow when 212 heavies and mediums plastered it with about 800 tons of bombs. NAAF directed most of its long-range effort, however, against targets in Italy proper, whence came the bulk of men and materiel needed by the hard pressed Axis forces in Sicily. On the 14th and 15th a total of 154 B-17's and 44 Wellingtons attacked Naples, severely damaging marshalling yards and rolling stock and severing or blocking most of the tracks. Other attacks accomplished extensive damage at the supply center of San Giovanni. To prevent the build-up of enemy bomber and fighter strength, Liberators of the Ninth flew from their Cyrenaican bases to bomb Foggia and a bomber base at Bari, while B-25's and B-26's of NASAF hit the fighter base at Vibo Valentia. In the latter attack, an estimated fifty out of seventy-eight enemy aircraft present on the field were destroyed.
Thus, as the first week of the Sicilian campaign drew to its close, the Allied ground forces had occupied approximately one-third of the island, while the air forces had effectively neutralized the air resistance based there, had struck hard and effectively at enemy movement and lines of communication to the combat areas, and had carried its offensive with great power onto the mainland of Italy. During that period,
Tactical Air Force flew 7, 036 fighter and fighter-bomber sorties and 768 bomber sorties, 510 of the latter against enemy positions and lines of supply. Strategic flew 1,720 bomber sorties, of which 1,031 were against positions and lines of communication, and 827 fighter sorties. Coastal flew 1,562 sorties, four-fifths of which were on convoy escort, while coastal-type aircraft put in 487 sorties. Reconnaissance squadrons of NATAF and PRU Spitfires, NASAF P-51s, and sea reconnaissance Wellingtons and Baltimores added 315 sorties. The total for all elements was 12,715 sorties. The weight of bombs dropped came to 4,530 tons. Planes of Troop Carrier and Air Service Command added an undetermined but substantial number of sorties to the total, flying, in addition to the airborne drops, many missions which carried supplies and personnel to Sicily and which brought out hundreds of wounded and sick soldiers.22
Reduction of the Island, 17 July-17 August
After the firm establishment of the beachheads and the seizure of initial objectives during the first week of the campaign, the Seventh Army drove north and west with the object of seizing the port of Palermo. Simultaneously, the Eighth Army moved to reduce Catania. The accomplishment of these missions would eliminate effective opposition in the western half of the island and permit a twin drive from Palermo eastward and from Catania northward against the Messina area. In general, XII Air Support Command cooperated with Seventh Army and Desert Air Force with Eighth, with the planes of Tactical Bomber Force divided between the two.
The Seventh Army advanced along three lines. The II Corps moved north and northwest for an attack on Palermo from the east; I Provisional Corps advanced in a northwesterly direction to approach the city from the south and southwest; the 2d Armored Division followed I Provisional Corps in readiness to exploit a breakthrough or to extend the envelopment to the west. The advance started slowly on the 17th against stiff opposition and local counterattacks, but by the 19th the three prongs of the enveloping movement were gathering momentum. On the 20th the 3d Division moved beyond Mussomeli; the 82d Airborne Division took Sciacca on the southwest coast; and the 1st Division captured the important supply base of Enna. The swift seizure of Enna offered a striking commentary on modern warfare: in the early
Middle Ages the town had held out for thirty-one years against the Saracens.
By this time it was apparent that the Italian troops had no heart for the battle. It also was evident that the Germans intended to put up a stiff fight only in the northeastern part of the island, adjacent to their principal supply center of Messina. This plan was designed to contain large Allied forces, prevent the full strategic use of Sicilian airfields, and gain time for organizing the defenses of Italy. The Seventh Army met little opposition in the last two days of its advance; on 22 July the 2d Armored Division entered Palermo; on the 23d Trapani fell. The Seventh then swung eastward toward the accomplishment of its final objective: to drive the enemy into the Messina peninsula.23
The American ground forces' drive to Palermo was so swift and the enemy's air opposition so meager that it was neither possible nor necessary for Tactical's XII Air Support Command to engage in large-scale close support. Air activity in the area of the Seventh's spectacular advance consisted almost entirely of strafing and bombing missions by fighters of Strategic Air Force against communications and targets of opportunity.24 On the Eighth Army front, south and southwest of Catania, however, aircraft of TAF were constantly in action from the 17th to the 24th on behalf of the ground forces as they struggled slowly forward against severe enemy opposition. The Eighth was operating along two main axes: northward along the coast, and eastward along a line Leonforte-Regalbuto-Adrano. The Germans had been able to strengthen their forces around Catania by withdrawing troops from in front of the Seventh Army; the movement, beginning as early as the 13th, had been made easier by the failure of the British to cut two of the lines of communication from central Sicily to the east coast. The enemy also had moved troops from the northern part of the island into the area around Mt. Etna.25
During the grim struggle in the Catania area the tactical air forces played a major role.* The principal communications centers formed a circle around Mt. Etna, the more important being Fiumefreddo, Randazzo, Troina, Adrano, and Acireale. In an attempt to isolate the battle area by systematic bombing of all lines of enemy approach, Tactical flew a total of 84 medium, 705 light, and 1,170 fighter-bomber
* On 15 and 18 July, respectively, control of the USAAF 31st and 33d Fighter Groups reverted from Headquarters, Malta to XII ASC. However, the two groups continued to operate over the Eighth Army.
sorties from the night of 19/20 July to the end of the month against these and other targets on the circle. Aided by these air operations the Eighth pushed slowly forward, capturing Leonforte and reaching the outskirts of Agira on the 25th.26
During the week 17 to 24 July the Axis ground forces had no fighter-bombers support, nor did Allied bombers over Sicily meet any fighter opposition. (It was officially reported that a Canadian division, moving against Catania from the west, had "not seen one hostile aircraft" since coming ashore.) By the time the Seventh Army reached Palermo enemy air activity from Sicilian bases was nonexistent; his operating planes were based almost entirely in Italy. The overwhelming air superiority of the Allies left our bombers free to hit lines of communication in Sicily, but not entirely free to operate against distant targets. It continued to be General Eisenhower's policy to give priority to air operations which would directly affect the land battle; any strength over and above that required for such operations would be used against critical points in the enemy's lines of communication. Hence, in the week which ended with the fall of Palermo, the chief targets attacked by the heavies and mediums were Italian rail centers and ports between Rome and Reggio and airdromes in southern Italy.27
The principal communications targets were Naples and Rome. On the 17th heavies and mediums of the Ninth and Twelfth struck the marshalling yards at Naples in one of the largest air raids of the summer. In the morning 77 B-24's of the Ninth attacked; they were followed that afternoon by 97 B-17's and 179 B-26's of the Twelfth. One hundred and sixty-four P-38's furnished escort. The 353 bombers dropped some 650 tons of bombs which destroyed large parts of the yards and the central station, industrial areas north and south of the railroad, and fuel installations to the east.28
On the 19th almost the entire strategic air force in the Mediterranean was sent against Rome in one of the most significant operations of the war. The decision to bomb the capital of Fascist Italy was based upon both military and political considerations and with full appreciation of the possibility of unfavorable reaction from the Roman Catholic Church, as well as from many artists, architects, historians, and others throughout the world. From the military point of view Rome was the heart of the Italian system of communications. All rail traffic between northern and southern Italy, with the exception of that routed direct from Bologna to such east coast points as Foggia and Bari, passed
through Rome's two large marshalling yards, the Littorio and the San Lorenzo. From the political angle an attack on Rome might be expected to have a tremendously adverse effect on Italian morale, already showing signs of sagging under the weight of constant national reverses; an attack might even drive a strong wedge between Mussolini and the bulk of the Italian people.
Rome, however, was no ordinary target. It was the "Eternal City, "the cradle of Western civilization; it was the seat of the Pope, the center of the Catholic world. Every precaution had to be taken to bomb only targets of military significance; places of religious or historic importance must not be damaged. Both the CCS and General Eisenhower recognized the importance of careful selection and training of crews, of distinguishing between bombing Rome itself and bombing its marshalling yards, and of telling the story of the raid as quickly as possible after the event and in such a way as to stress the limited nature of the objective and the care taken to strike it and it alone. Not even the enemy's military headquarters would be touched; all targets lay in the suburbs.
On 19 July the carefully trained and thoroughly briefed USAAF crews carried out the mission substantially as planned. More than 500 bombers participated, hitting the Lorenzo and Littorio yards in the morning and the Ciampino airfields in the afternoon; in all, they dropped around 1,000 tons of bombs. Photographs taken on 24 July showed that four groups of B-17's had placed many hits in the Lorenzo yards, causing widespread and severe damage to tracks, rolling stock, installations, and near-by industrial plants. At the Littorio yards five groups of B-24's had placed direct hits on the tracks in at least forty-four places, smashed or burned out a large amount of rolling stock, and put five direct hits on the main line to Florence. At both Lorenzo and Littorio the yards were out of action. The effect of the damage should be viewed in conjunction with the raid of 17 July on the Naples yards. The two attacks produced a gap of some 200 miles in the Italian railroad system between points north of Rome and south of Naples and prevented for at least several days the movement of Axis troops and supplies by rail from central to southern Italy.
Two groups of B-25's and three of B-26's, with P-38 escort, severely damaged the airdrome at Littorio and the two at Ciampino. Buildings, stores, facilities, and grounded aircraft were destroyed, and the landing and dispersal areas heavily cratered.
Nonmilitary objectives suffered only slight damage. No major religious or historic shrine was touched, save for the Basilica of San Lorenzo which, together with its cloisters, was badly damaged. The operation was a tribute to American precision bombing, but General Spaatz reported to General Arnold that the attack had "very little interest" from an air force standpoint because it was "too easy." Enemy opposition, indeed, had been very slight. Not more than thirty Axis planes attacked, none of them aggressively, while flak was heavy and accurate only over the Ciampinos. Out of the force of more than 500 Allied aircraft only 2, a B-25 and a B-26, were lost.29
The five B-24 groups of the Ninth Air Force which had participated in the Rome mission were thereafter withdrawn from participation in HUSKY to begin training for a low-level attack which had been scheduled for 1 August against the Ploesti oil refineries.* The Twelfth Air Force, however, continued its attacks against communications targets in southern Italy. On the night of 20/21 July a small force of Wellingtons raided Naples; on the 22d, seventy-one Fortresses of the 97th and 99th Bombardment Groups hit Foggia, forty-eight B-25's bombed Battipaglia, and fifty-two B-26's pounded salerno. The rail lines of the three places were so badly damaged that all traffic was stopped pending extensive repairs.
From the 17th through the 23d the Twelfth attacked airdromes in southern Italy on a round-the-clock schedule. The bulk of the enemy's bomber force was by this time based at Foggia, with small formations at Grottaglie and San Pancrazio in the Heel and at Viterbo and Ciampino near Rome. Most of his fighter-bombers and single-engine fighters were in the Heel and Toe, while the twin-engine fighters were around Naples. Besides the attacks on the Littorio and Ciampino airdromes in connection with the attack on Rome, the Twelfth struck hard at Pomigliano, Montecorvino, Aquino, and Capodichino in the Naples area, at Vibo Valentia and Crotone, at Leverano in the Heel, and at Grosseto located halfway between Rome and Pisa. The cumulative effect of these intense and generally successful attacks further reduced the already dwindling Axis air strength in the central Mediterranean, deprived the enemy's land forces of effective air support in Sicily, and reduced to I per cent per mission NAAF's wastage rate from enemy action.30
Following the capture of Palermo, the Seventh Army had turned
* See below, pp. 477-840.
eastward. Driving against determined enemy resistance, the 1st Division captured Nicosia on 28 July and the 45th advanced along the coast to within five miles of San Stefano. Concurrently, the Eighth Army held its line below Catania with little change in positions, except that the Canadians, swinging on the Catania area as a door on a hinge, made some progress in the central sector against stiff opposition and succeeded in capturing Agira on the 28th.31
During these limited advances Tactical's planes were constantly in action. All units of the U. S. 64th Fighter Wing had moved to Sicily before 30 July; except for the 111th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, they were used almost exclusively as fighter-bombers. The majority of missions flown were either against ground targets located by air reconnaissance or against shipping; the remainder were against targets of opportunity. Principal objectives included the towns of Traina, San Stefano, Regalbuto, and Randazzo; the ports of Catania, Messina, and Milazzo; and such targets as supply dumps, roads, bridges, motor transport, ships, and port areas. During the last week of the month a particularly heavy effort was directed against Milazzo, which at this stage was one of the enemy's busiest ports as well as his most active seaplane base. Between 24 and 30 July, 38 B-25's, 196 Bostons and Baltimores, and 251 fighter-bombers visited the town. Another major target, Regalbmo, was an important communications center; on 26 July alone, 215 USAAF A-20's and RAF and SAAF Bostons and Baltimores attacked it, severely damaging the town and its approaches.32
With the capture of Nicosia and Agira on the 28th the stage had been set for an all-out assault on the Etna line. The enemy at that time held a triangular section of Sicily, marked off by Messina, San Stefano, and Catania. The battle line ran from a few miles west of San Stefano to the sea below Catania, by way of Troina, Regalbuto, and Catenanuova. The terrain along this eighty-mile front favored the defenders: Mt. Etna dominated the area and narrowed the front on which attacks could be launched; the wild mountain country provided few roads, and the principal routes were commanded by hilltop towns which a handful of men could hold against greatly superior numbers. Even when the defenders were driven from a position, a few well-placed mines and demolitions would sharply impede Allied advances and give the enemy time to fall back on other prepared positions. In addition, the Allies would have to fight the remainder of the campaign almost altogether against German forces, which not only were battle-tested
but had been strengthened by units of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division sent from southern Italy. The enemy's obvious intention to impose a maximum of delay on the Allied advance presaged hard fighting for the Seventh and Eighth Armies.33
On 31 July a directive of the Seventh Army laid down the general plan for its part in the final phase of the campaign. The II Corps was to advance on Messina along two main lines: one, the north coast road; the other, the road from Nicosia to Randazzo. I Provisional Corps was to organize and consolidate western Sicily, defend Palermo, and support the advance of the II Corps by moving reinforcements to the east. The British Eighth Army would concentrate its offensive along the lines Regalbuto-Adrano and Raddusa-Adr; mo while maintaining heavy pressure in the Catania sector.
The 45th Division, with the U. S. destroyer Rowan furnishing naval fire support, took San Stefano on the night of 30/31 July, while the "Fighting First" drove to within five miles of Troina. The 3d Division then relieved the 45th in the coastal area. On 1 August the Allies delivered coordinated attacks along the entire front. On the 2d the British launched a heavy attack through the Dittaino bridgeheads, and by the end of the 3d were fighting on the outskirts of Adrano, the capture of which would sever the enemy's lines of communication around the base of Mt. Etna. To meet this threat the Germans withdrew from the Catania area, and on 5 August the British entered what had been the enemy's main stronghold without firing a shot.34
The struggle for Catania provided a fine example of the isolation of the battlefield through the medium of air power. The communications nexus formed by Paterno, Misterbianca, Adrano, Regalbuto, Troina, Cesaro, Bronte, Randazzo, and Fiumefreddo was relentlessly attacked, while connecting roads were constantly strafed. Catania itself, from 10 July to 5 August, was subjected to attacks by 39 heavy bombers, 172 mediums, 10 light bombers, and 309 fighter-bombers.35
As the enemy began to evacuate Catania, the Eighth increased the pressure on the Adrano sector. The air effort also was intensified, and from 1 to 6 August, 129 medium, 223 light, and 24 fighter-bomber sorties were flown against the town, troop and gun concentrations, ammunition dumps, and roads in the vicinity. The effectiveness of the air assault was well illustrated when twelve B-25's of the 340th Bombardment Group dropped twenty tons of bombs on a very limited area in an effort to knock out three 88-mm. guns which were holding back the
Canadians. The historian of the 340th reported that "the bombs landed 200 yards away from the Canadians, wiped out all three guns, and the Canadians swept through." After very stubborn resistance Adrano fell on 6 August. Its capture rendered untenable the enemy's plan for holding a line south of Mt. Etna and made imperative a further withdrawal in the coastal area north of Catania.36
Meanwhile, in the American sector the main effort had been directed against Troina. The battle began on 1 August, but blown bridges, damaged roads, numerous mine fields, and enemy resistance of the most determined and vicious type delayed the advance. On the afternoon of the 4th the 1st Division launched a full-scale attack which began with a fifty-minute artillery and air assault. Eight and a half artillery battalions fired on enemy positions, while waves of thirty-six fighter-bombers dropped 500-pound bombs on the defenders of Troina. Although heavy casualties were inflicted by this bombardment, the enemy continued to fight stubbornly and held the Americans to a slow and limited advance. On the 5th the attack was renewed with XII Air Support Command furnishing direct aid by sending three dive-bomber missions against defense positions; in addition, twelve B-25's of 12th Bombardment Group (M) laid down a good pattern on Troina, and twenty-four RAF and SAAF Baltimores bombed road targets. On the following day the enemy withdrew, after having launched twenty-four counterattacks in five days, and the Americans entered the town. The struggle for Troina was probably the Seventh Army's most bitterly contested battle of the Sicilian campaign; Maj. Gen. John P. Lucas considered it the toughest battle fought by Americans since World War I.37
In the capture of Troina and Adrano, both key positions in the center of the Etna line, the Tactical Air Force played a direct and important part. From 18 July to 6 August its planes flew 265 fighter-bomber, 97 light bomber, and 12 medium bomber sorties against Troina. They inflicted such severe damage that, according to a ground force officer, thirty-six hours were required for the engineers to make a single-line traffic passage through the town. Yet Adrano was the harder hit. From 10 July to 7 August, 140 fighter-bombers, 367 light bombers, and 187 mediums battered the town, leaving it untenable. Again, engineers had to spend many hours clearing a road.[as] Troina and Adrano provided good examples of one of the problems which confronted the Allies in Sicily and, later, in Italy: was it wise to
lay on concentrated air attacks and drive the enemy from a strongpoint when the destruction levied made impossible any chance of rapidly exploiting the situation? In terms of lives saved and morale strengthened, it generally seemed wise to smash the objective; certainly, a combination of strong air attack and superior firepower allowed the ground troops to maneuver and so eliminated costly frontal attacks.
After capturing Troina and Adrano the Allies immediately launched a two-pronged offensive against Randazzo, the enemy's last stronghold in the center of the Etna line, with the purpose of splitting the Axis forces in half and forcing a general retirement along the two coast roads to Messina. The Seventh Army drove along the road which ran through Cesaro; the Eighth pushed toward Bronte. In order to maintain pressure along the entire front and keep the enemy from shifting troops to the center, the Eighth also continued to exert pressure along the line Catania-Acireale and the Seventh drove eastward on the northern coast road.
The drive to Randazzo was accompanied by intensive air attacks, for as the value of the air effort to the ground action became more widely known and appreciated, increasing demands were made on it. Randazzo itself quickly became one of the most heavily bombed targets in Sicily. The peak of the bombing effort was reached on the 7th when 104 U. S. Mitchells and 142 U. S. Bostons and RAF and SAAF Bostons and Baltimores plastered the town and its approaches. This effort was not surpassed on any succeeding day, but the pressure was maintained at a high degree of intensity. Between 1 and 13 August a total of 425 medium bombers, 248 light bombers, and 72 fighter-bombers attacked the town; during the entire campaign 1,180 sorties were flown against it. Though maintaining resistance of the most obstinate sort, the enemy yielded to the steady pressure of the ground forces and the severe air assault, and on 13 August the Allies occupied the town.38
With the fall of Randazzo, the enemy lost the last road junction connecting his positions in the north with those on the east coast. He had then no choice but to pull back the two ends of his line. Actually, the withdrawal already was well under way, with the Allies contributing heavily to the process by driving along both coast roads. Between the 5th and 13th the Eighth had advanced from Catania to a few miles below Taormina on the coast and to a point near Linguaglossa in the interior; the Seventh had passed San Fratello and Cape Orlando and was nearing Barcellona.
The British advance was largely a matter of clearing a path through extensive and systematic demolitions and of pushing back the enemy's rear guard. Acireale fell on the 8th. The enemy then stiffened and held his lines with little further change until the 12th when the British swept quickly to beyond Riposto, taking Fiumefreddo on the 13th. During this advance fighter-bombers maintained their daily strafing missions, while Bostons and Baltimores flew sorties against defended positions and towns.40
The progress of the Americans along the northern coast road was more difficult and more spectacular. There the Germans, with fresh troops and the able assistance of steep gorges, were able to conduct a slow withdrawal after the loss of San Stefano on 31 July. In this situation the Seventh Army resorted to leapfrog landings which greatly accelerated its advance. The first of these was carried out on the night of 7/8 August at a point in the enemy's rear two miles east of San Agata. Some seventy-five fighter sorties covered the landing. The move completely surprised the enemy, broke all opposition around San Fratello, and enabled the main units to capture San Agata and gain contact with the landing force late in the day.
The second amphibious operation took place on 11 August when infantry, armored artillery, and tanks landed two miles east of Cape Orlando, where they captured a position across the coastal highway and railroad. The assault offered a fine example of cooperation between the three services. Naval gunfire from Task Force 88 supported the ground troops while XII Air Support Command attacked troop concentrations and gun positions in the area of the landing and on the roads approaching it. The landing, together with an attack by the 3d Division, forced the enemy to evacuate the Cape Orlando-Naso area, and by the end of the 12th he had retreated east of Patti.
Tactical Bomber Force fully supported the advance of the U. S. ground troops; on 12 August its planes flew twelve missions, involving eighty-four B-25's, thirty-six A-20's, and twenty-four Baltimores, and dropped approximately 126 tons of bombs on troops, ammunition dumps, and guns around Patti, Barcellona, and Novara. An observer described the work of the air arm in the drive along the north coast as "perfect, both in covering the advance, in dive-bombing the targets immediately in front of the Infantry, strafing the roads, [and] bombing the centers far in the enemy's rear." 41
After the fall of Randazzo on the 13th the Sicilian campaign drew
swiftly to a close as the Allies plunged up both coast roads toward Messina. A third amphibious landing northwest of Barcellona early in the morning of the 16th helped the Seventh Army to take Spadafora, twelve miles west of Messina. Before the end of the day American artillery was firing at enemy batteries around Villa San Giovanni on the Italian mainland, and at 1600 hours the Seventh pushed its first strong patrols into Messina. In the Eighth Army sector Allied troops entered Taormina, Castiglione, Novara, and Mazzarra on the 15th. Emulating the successful tactics of the Seventh Army, the British made commando landings at Scaletta on the nights of 15/16 and 16/17 August, and on the 17th joined the Americans in Messina.42
During the last week of the campaign Northwest African Air Forces directed its main effort toward preventing the enemy's withdrawal across the Strait of Messina. The Germans had planned the retreat well ahead of the loss of their last positions in Sicily. Even as early as the last week of July there were indications of a limited evacuation by sea, and a document captured from the Hermann Goering Division dated 2 August 1943 revealed that the Germans intended to remove as much equipment as possible. There was nothing hurried about the withdrawal, but by 11 August the movement of both personnel and equipment, especially tanks, was in full swing. A fleet of small craft, protected by a tremendous concentration of flak, operated day and night across the narrow strait. According to Admiral Doenitz it transported daily up to 7,000 men with equipment, 10,000 without equipment. NAAF struck at this evacuation fleet at the Sicilian ports, in transit, and off the beaches of Italy.43
This air offensive, designed not only to damage the evacuation route but to interfere with the movement of supplies from the mainland to the Axis troops on Sicily, was launched during the last week of July when A-36's and P-40's bombed and strafed merchant vessels, barges, freighters, Siebel ferries, and other small craft. In the first week of August large-scale attacks were delivered on Messina and on the beaches north of that city to Cape Peloro. Between 1 and 7/8 August, inclusive, B-17's flew 121 sorties, Wellingtons 269, USAAF and RAF fighter-bombers 225, and U. S. P-40's 200. Messina was the principal target. The heavies bombed all supply points in the city, the mediums hit the marshalling yards (and the beaches below Cape Peloro), the fighter-bombers concentrated on shipping and docks, and the fighters attacked shipping in the harbor.
The scale of attacks was increased in the ten days from the 8th to the end of the campaign. From the night of 8/9 August to 13/14 August night-flying Wellingtons worked almost exclusively on evacuation beaches; thereafter, they bombed ports along the Italian shore. They flew an average of around eighty-five sorties per night. Mediums and fighter-bombers conducted an even heavier offensive by day, flying 1,170 sorties from the 8th to the 17th. Most of these were against vessels in the strait, but some were against craft along the Italian beaches and landing points on the shore. The greatest intensity of effort came on 15, 16, and 17 August when, in the face of severe flak, Wellingtons, Mitchells, Bostons, Baltimores, Warhawks, and Kittyhawks made round-the-clock attacks, bombing and strafing troop-laden craft at the evacuation beaches, in the strait, and along the mainland.44
In spite of the efforts of both Tactical and Strategic the Germans effected a partially successful withdrawal, saving the equivalent of at least one division with equipment.* Several factors made this achievement possible. The Germans, as has been indicated above, had planned and started the withdrawal well in advance, some of the heavy equipment such as tanks having been removed during the latter part of July. Sicily's mountainous terrain made it possible for the defenders to delay the Allies by the use of mines and demolitions. The enemy used extensive night traffic which he protected with a good concentration of flak on both sides of the narrow strait--which could be crossed in a matter of minutes. Even so, the air forces took a large toll of enemy shipping. Claims listed the destruction of 23 craft, direct hits on 43, and near misses on 204.45
While Tactical Air Force operated so as to be of direct assistance to the ground forces in the reduction of the island, Strategic played a dual role: it joined Tactical in the attack on enemy ports and shipping, as noted above, and it continued to bomb communications targets and airdromes in southern and central Italy as part of the plan to force the enemy to abandon his Sicilian positions. The attack on Italian targets, however, was on a somewhat reduced scale after the fall of Palermo, and until the end of the campaign Strategic never equaled its effort of the period 10 to 24 July. The main reason for this was combat fatigue, which developed quickly in the Mediterranean theater during the
* Of equal importance to future operations was the fact that the enemy's delaying action gave him needed time in which to bring into Italy large numbers of troops from Germany, France, and Austria.
summer months where the weather almost never forbade flying nor interfered with aircraft maintenance. Any effort to increase the frequency of operations was certain to result in lower efficiency and higher losses; the only satisfactory solution was a higher replacement rate of aircrews-which, currently, was not possible.46
In spite of combat fatigue and extensive operations against evacuation ports and shipping, Strategic was able to continue on a fairly large scale its offensive against lines of communication and airdromes in Italy. The principal communications targets were San Giovanni, salerno, Paola, Marina di Catanzaro, Battipaglia, Sapri, and Naples on the Tyrrhenian coast, and Rome and Bologna. The most significant of the attacks was the one against Rome. A mission planned for 1 August had been canceled by General Eisenhower who felt that the endurance of the bomber crews and long-range fighter pilots was just sufficient to complete the Sicilian campaign, to which priority in all operations had to be given. By the 13th, however, the land battle was going so well that it was decided to carry out on that day a second large-scale raid against the Littorio and Lorenzo marshalling yards. The attack was handled by 106 B-17's, escorted by 45 P-38's, and by 102 B-26's and 66 B-25's escorted by 90 P-38's--all from the Twelfth Air Force. The planes dropped approximately 500 tons of bombs, heavily damaging the yards, rolling stock, and installations and the airdrome at Littorio. As in the attack on 19 July damage to nonmilitary targets was negligible. In spite of interception by a force of some seventy-five enemy fighters the Twelfth's planes completed the attack with the loss of only two B-26's, while the enemy losses were listed as five planes destroyed and five probables.*47
One of the interesting operations during this period came in an attack on 4 August against rail and road bridges at Paola and Catanzaro by more than 100 mediums of NASAF. The operation was not successful but it brought into the spotlight a new type of objective which, until the end of the war in the Mediterranean, would be a primary target for the Allied air forces. The topography of Italy required an unusually
* NAAF's attacks on communications during the last days of HUSKY were complemented by RAF Bomber Command night raids from the United Kingdom. Milan was bombed on 7, 12, 14, and 15 August by a total of 916 planes; Turin was hit on the 7th, 12th, and 16th by 380 planes; and Genoa was attacked on the 7th by 73 planes. On 16-17 August, 140 B-17's of the Eighth Air Force bombed Regensburg, then flew to North African bases; a week later 84 of the planes returned to the United Kingdom, bombing Bordeaux en route.
large number of bridges, many of them in isolated areas where defense and repair were difficult. The bridges were much harder to hit than were marshalling yards, but their repair was apt to be slower and rerouting of traffic more difficult.48
The second major objective of Strategic during the last three weeks of HUSKY was airdromes. Attacks were directed against fields from which enemy fighters and bombers might reach Sicily and the Allied lines of communication in the central Mediterranean: Scalea, Capua, Montecorvino, Capodichino, Viterbo, Aquino, Grottaglie, Pratica di Mare, Crotone, Grazzanise, and Foggia, all located in southern or central Italy. Heavies, mediums, dive bombers, and single-engine fighters participated, and results generally were good. With a few exceptions these counter-air operations met only limited enemy opposition. The heaviest air battle developed on 16 August during an attack on the Foggias by B-24's of the Ninth Air Force. Between 75 and 100 enemy fighters engaged the Liberators; eight of the B-24's were lost but the heavies claimed forty-five of the enemy. These final HUSKY operations brought to 4,846 effective sorties and 8,009 tons of bombs the total effort by planes of NAAF, Ninth Air Force, and RAF, ME against Italian, Sardinian, and Sicilian airfields between 4 July and 17 August. The total tonnage dropped on the three areas since the beginning of the war came to more than 13,000.49
NASAF's offensive operations were not confined to missions by its heavies and mediums. Its P-38's and P-40's carried out extensive fighter sweeps over Sardinia and the Toe of Italy. Lightnings of the 1st, 14th, and 82d Fighter Groups handled operations against mainland targets. From 8 through 17 August they flew daily missions against the enemy's evacuation route, bombing and strafing trains, tracks, motor transport, radar stations, bridges, and targets of opportunity. Carrying 500- or 1,000-pound bombs and meeting little opposition or none, the P-38's did considerable damage to the enemy's supply and escape route, especially by destroying transport and railway equipment already jammed by earlier bombings.
Sardinia, which had been such a frequent target for bombers prior to the invasion of Sicily, required after D-day only the attention of Allied fighters and fighter-bombers, which directed their sweeps and raids against supply centers, factories, bivouac areas, gun emplacements, etc. On some of the raids heavier opposition was encountered than in missions over Sicily and Italy. In particular, on 30 July a major
air battle developed in the course of which the enemy lost twenty-one planes against an Allied loss of one P-40. The poor tactics and coordination displayed by the enemy pilots indicated that they were inexperienced and had little knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of their own Me-109's or of the Allies' P-40's.50
In the last three weeks of the Sicilian campaign the Axis air forces furnished scant support to the hard pressed ground troops. Enemy fighters were seen only rarely over Sicily, the evacuation route, or southern Italy; occasional night fighters were reported over the Strait of Messina, but no combats were reported. Allied heavy bombers met sporadic opposition, some missions seeing no enemy fighters and others running into as many as 75 to 100.
Offensively, the GAF increased the scale of its bomber activity. Fighter-bombers raided Allied shipping on the north and east coasts of Sicily and attacked the ground troops which made the leapfrog landings between Palermo and Messina. Bombers struck at landing grounds in Sicily and shipping in North African ports and along the convoy routes. The heaviest of these raids involved from twenty-five to fifty planes, and on two of them (4 and 14 August against Bizerte) "window" was used, but the attacks came so infrequently and were so well handled by NACAF's fighters that the total damage inflicted was small. Most of the enemy's long-range bombers operated from the Foggia complex and Viterbo, but in the last week of the Sicilian campaign Allied reconnaissance revealed 140 He-111s, DO-217s, and Ju-88's based in southern France. This figure represented a sharp increase in strength and on 17 August NASAF sent its first mission over this new and fertile hunting ground. A force of 180 B-17's from the 2d, 97th, 99th, and 30lst Bombardment Groups dropped 25, 619 x 20-pound fragmentation bombs on the Istres/Le Tubé and Salon airdromes, located about twenty-three miles northwest of Marseille. Strike photos showed ninety-four aircraft destroyed on the ground and some twenty-eight others damaged, in addition to extensive damage to hangars and workshops at Istres and to administrative buildings at Salon.51
Throughout the campaign Coastal Air Force had continued to carry out its routine but numerous and important tasks of coastal defense, convoy protection, air-sea rescue, and antisubmarine patrol. By the last week of July convoys moved unmolested along the coast of North Africa, and this lessening of the enemy's air and submarine effort, together with a decline in the number of ships to be protected, afforded
Coastal an opportunity to operate offensively over Italian waters. From 22 to 28 July, Beaufighters sank four merchant vessels and a schooner, damaged six craft, including a destroyer and a 4, 000-ton merchant vessel, and shot down eight aircraft; during all of HUSKY, Allied planes sank seven Italian merchant ships. Air-sea rescue increased as HUSKY lengthened out, as did defensive flights caused by enemy air activity against Allied shipping and ports. In spite of the fact that NACAF's organization was relatively new and its equipment limited, it performed its duties so capably that General Spaatz declared: "You have excelled in all of the many fields of your activities." 52
In the midst of the Sicilian campaign, on 1 August, Mediterranean based heavies executed one of the outstanding air operations of the war. This was the low-level B-24 attack on the Ploesti oil refineries in Rumania--the first large-scale, minimum-altitude attack by AAF heavy bombers upon a strongly defended target and the longest major bombing mission, in terms of distance from base to target, undertaken up to that time.53 The mission was not perfectly executed-but it heavily damaged the objective and as an example of brilliant conception, painstaking preparation, and heroism during execution,* the operation had few if any equals.
Oil had been given a high priority in the planning of the Combined Bomber Offensive, but Ploesti, most inviting of all oil targets, lay beyond the reach of planes based in the United Kingdom. It was estimated that crude oil provided two-thirds of Germany's petroleum resources and that 60 per cent of her crude oil came from the Ploesti fields†--which was to say, approximately one-third of her total supply of liquid fuel.54 These fields, with an estimated annual capacity of nine million tons, were considered to be of special advantage to the Germans in their operations on the eastern front, and thus an attack on Ploesti offered the means for rendering immediate assistance to the U. S. S. R. The Russians themselves had bombed the fields several times in the summer of 1941 and again in September 1942, but with limited success.55 Within a month after Pearl Harbor the Americans were studying the feasibility of bombing Ploesti,56 and AAF planes had struck at it from the Middle East in the ineffective Halverson attack as early as
* No less than five Medals of Honor were awarded to participants in the mission.
June 1942.* Since then the Ninth Air Force had been heavily committed to other operations in the attempt to drive Rommel out of Africa, and the heavies of the Twelfth Air Force, based between Algiers and Constantine, were too far from the target. Only with the impending defeat of the Axis forces in Tunisia had circumstances combined to suggest the possibility of a mass attack on Ploesti from North Africa bases.
Principal contributors to the development of the plan included General Arnold, who, in April, had ordered the Plans Division of Headquarters, AAF to revive the project; Lt. Col. C. V. Whitney of the Ninth Air Force, who evolved a plan for a medium-sized, high-level attack to be mounted from Syrian bases; and Col. Jacob E. Smart of General Arnold's advisory council, who originated the idea of a minimum-altitude, mass attack from the Bengasi area.57 Colonel Smart's plan was approved by General Eisenhower and by the CCS early in June. But because both Eisenhower and the CCS were unwilling for the operation to deprive HUSKY of too many heavy bomber sorties, the planners agreed that NAAF would furnish only two groups of B-24's to Operation SOAPSUDS (formerly STATESMAN, later, TIDALWAVE) and that the remainder of the striking force would be provided by transferring two groups of B-24's from the Eighth Air Force (93d and 44th) and diverting one group (the 389th) originally scheduled to move to the United Kingdom.58
General Brereton, as commander of the Ninth Air Force, had charge of conducting the operation. His was the final responsibility for deciding to launch the raid from Libyan rather than Syrian bases and to attack at low instead of high altitude. Under his direction the detailed plans for the operation were worked out and training conducted.59
Final planning for the mission became the responsibility of a special staff at Brereton's advanced headquarters which included, in addition to Colonel Smart, specialists in such matters as low-altitude operations, intelligence, and weather.60 It was finally decided to hit a limited number of key installations in each of Ploesti's nine major refineries. More than forty distilling units, cracking plants, and boiler houses were selected and grouped into seven general targets, five of which were at Ploesti, one at near-by Brazi, and one at Campina, some eight miles away. Originally, 154 planes were allotted to targets, roughly according to importance and number of key installations; final allotments, however,
* See above, p. 10.
totaled 177 planes. Forces assigned to the seven general targets were as follows: the 376th Bombardment Group-the oldest group of heavies in the Mediterranean-was given Target WHITE I (the Romana Americana refinery) and the honor of leading the flight; the 93d, which would fly directly behind the 376th, had Targets WHITE II and III (the Concordia Vega, Standard Petrol Block, and Unirea Speranta refineries); the 98th was assigned Target WHITE IV (Astra Romana and Unirea Orion) ; the 44th got Targets WHITE V (Colombia Aquila) and BLUE (Creditul Minier at Brazi); the new 389th, which would fly an individual effort, was responsible for Target RED (Campina).61
Other major problems which had to be solved by the planners concerned the type of bombs to be used and the requirement of a different kind of bombsight from the one used in high-altitude bombing. Eventually, it was decided to arm the mission with 1,000-pound and 500-pound demolition bombs, totaling 311 tons, plus 290 boxes of British type and 140 clusters of American-type incendiaries. The number of demolitions was 170 more than the number estimated as required to insure destruction of the targets; all had delay fuzes, those to be dropped by the first and second waves carrying delays of from one to six hours and those by the last wave of forty-five seconds. The planes were equipped with a new low-level bombsight and with two auxiliary bomb-bay tanks, which gave them a fuel capacity of 3,100 gallons.62
The 93d, 44th, and 389th Groups arrived in the Mediterranean between 26 June and 3 July.63 There they joined the 376th and 98th in missions on behalf of HUSKY, partly for training purposes and partly to strengthen the air arm during the most vital part of the Sicilian campaign. Between 2 and 19 July, inclusive, the five groups flew 1,183 sorties-more than double the normal effort-against a total of seventeen different targets. These operations reached their climax with the attack on Rome of 19 July.64 On the following day the five groups were withdrawn from operations for intensive training near Bengasi. Between that date and 1 August the crews practiced flying and bombing from minimum altitude and absorbed great quantities of data dealing with the route to be flown, the targets, enemy defenses, and the dozens of other items which had to be clearly understood and appreciated by the air crews if TIDALWAVE was to be a success. A dummy target--a flat reproduction of the Ploesti targets laid out in a remote section of the desert--was bombed again and again until, as a crew member wrote,
Ploesti Attack As Planned
Ploesti Attack As Flown
"we could bomb it in our sleep." Strenuous practice in flying virtually wing tip to wing tip and wave on wave was conducted. On 28 and 29 July the entire task force participated in two coordinated and fully successful mock missions; on the second dry run the bombers "completely destroyed" the targets in less than two minutes.65
Soon after dawn on 1 August the 177 planes, carrying 1,725 Americans and 1 Englishman, took off under the command of Brig. Gen. Uzal G. Ent.66 The 376th led the formation, followed (in order) by the 93d, 98th, 44th, and 389th. The route passed the island of Corfu, then swung northeastward across the mountains of Albania and Yugoslavia. Before the formation reached the Danube near Lorn in Bulgaria, towering cumulus clouds destroyed its unity. Integrity might have been restored by the use of radio but this would have sacrificed the great advantage of surprise; consequently, the two lead groups reached the target somewhat earlier than the others, which cost the groups the advantage of delivering simultaneous blows and sent the following units over the target after the defenses had been alerted.
The first initial point (IP) was Pitesti, some sixty-five miles from Ploesti. There the 389th left the formation and proceeded to its target at Campina. There, too, all planes dropped to the minimum level of approximately 500 feet. Halfway between Pitesti and the final IP at Floresti (thirteen miles northwest of Ploesti), the commander of the leading 376th mistook the town of Targoviste for Floresti and turned southeast. Followed by the 93d the 376th flew to the outskirts of Bucharest before realizing that a mistake had been made. Unfortunately, Bucharest was the headquarters of Rumanian defenses, which were promptly alerted.
The 376th and 93d now turned northward toward Ploesti. Near the city they ran into such severe fire from ground defenses that the 376th turned east and then north in an attempt to reach its target from a less heavily defended direction. When the group reached a point northeast of Ploesti and in the vicinity of its target (Romana Americana), it met such intense AA fire that General Ent directed the planes to attack any target of opportunity which presented itself. Most of the group's bombs fell in the general target area but only those from six planes led by Maj. Norman C. Appold, which flew directly into Ploesti and emerged covered with soot, were unloaded on an assigned target, the Concordia Vega.
When the 93d reached the outskirts of Ploesti it did not turn east
with the 376th but, instead, flew straight against the targets on the south side of the city. In spite of heavy flak and enemy fighters the group, going in at altitudes of from 100 to 300 feet and losing 11 planes over the target, did a good job on the Astra Romana, Unirea Orion, and Colombia Aquila refineries. Unfortunately, these were targets assigned to the 98th and 44th Groups.
Meanwhile, the 98th and 44th, commanded by Cols. John R. Kane and Leon W. Johnson, arrived at the correct IP just after the 93d had finished its run. They found the defenses thoroughly alerted. Equally bad, they had to fly through fires and the explosions of delayed action bombs left by the 93d. The two groups would have been justified in turning back; instead, they drove straight against their targets through intense flak, explosions, flames, and dense black smoke which concealed balloon cables and towering chimneys. B-24's went down like tenpins, but the targets were hit hard and accurately. As the two groups left Ploesti, they were jumped by enemy fighters, and on the way home were attacked by every kind of plane from Me-109's to unidentified biplanes, the last attacks coming after the Liberators were over the Adriatic. The 98th claimed thirty-three enemy planes destroyed, but it lost twenty-one over the target and on the return trip; the 44th claimed thirteen victories but lost eleven planes.
The less experienced 389th, led by Col. Jack Wood, had some trouble in getting into the right valley for its run against Campina, but it reached the target area with all the aircraft that had been dispatched and completely destroyed its objective. Its losses were the lightest of any of the four groups which actually attacked selected targets.
The bombers could not follow closely the flight plan for the return home from Ploesti because the groups had bombed at different times and in some instances had left the target accompanied by enemy fighters. No attempt was made to resume route formation as a unified force; each group, or part of a group, followed its own course, although the 98th and 44th remained together and most of the sound planes of all the groups followed the prescribed route to Berkovista, Corfu, Tocra, and Bengasi. Planes in distress generally made for Turkey or the nearest Allied fields on Malta, Sicily, or Cyprus. The final count showed that ninety-two planes reached Bengasi, nineteen landed at other Allied fields, seven landed in Turkey, and three crashed at sea.
The Ploesti mission fell short of expectations and entailed heavy losses. Final reports showed that fifty-four planes had been lost, forty-one
of them in action. Lost, too--dead, prisoners, missing, or interned were 532 airmen.67On the credit side stood some very accurate bombing and a high degree of damage to the refineries--damage which might have been greater had not many bombs failed to explode. An estimated 42 per cent of Ploesti's total refining capacity was destroyed. Possibly 40 per cent of the cracking capacity was knocked out for a period of from four to six months, and the production of lubricating oils was considerably reduced.68 But though the over-all damage was heavy, it was not decisive. The Germans made up for lost refining capacity by activating idle units at Ploesti and by speedy repairs to damaged plants.69 The hope for virtually complete destruction of the selected targets with results enduring for a long period of time had been defeated by errors of execution. No plan had been made for following through with other attacks. Until the late spring of 1944 Ploesti went untouched as tactical operations and strategic targets considered to be of greater priority than oil claimed the attention of the Mediterranean based heavies.
Before the B-24's on loan from the Eighth Air Force returned to England they participated in a mission against Wiener Neustadt on 13 August. The mission was the first flown from the Mediterranean against a target within the limits of greater Germany. It had been planned originally as part of a coordinated attack by Mediterranean based and Eighth Air Force planes on the enemy aircraft production centers at Regensburg and Wiener Neustadt* (Operation JUGGLER), but hopes for a coordinated attack were defeated by the weather and the mission against Wiener Neustadt was flown independently four days in advance of the famous Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission by the Eighth Air Force (17 August).
The mission was executed by the same five groups which had participated in the attack on Ploesti. Flying at a distance of over 1,200 miles from bases near Bengasi and through heavy clouds which tested to the utmost the skill of the navigators, the sixty-five planes which reached the target achieved complete tactical surprise--the 389th, the lead group, saw neither AA fire nor enemy fighters--and the bombing, through clouds unexpectedly thin, substantially damaged hangars, assembly plants, and grounded aircraft. None of the B-24's ran into trouble over the target or on the return trip except those of the 44th, which encountered five to ten FW 109s over the target and ten to fifteen /p>
See below, pp. 683-84.
Me-109's as the formation cleared the southeastern tip of Italy. The length of the trip forced the bombers to return to intermediate bases: one landed in Sicily, one in Malta, and sixty-one in Tunisia. Only two were lost.70
HUSKY in Retrospect
The conquest of Sicily in thirty-eight days was in many respects a model campaign. In it were combined air, ground, and sea power in an operation which involved a large-scale triphibious landing followed by a hard-fought campaign against a tough enemy whose defense was strongly supported by mountainous terrain. That the Allies swept so swiftly to victory was owing in large measure to superiority in men, planes, and ships. In the two latter categories the predominance was overwhelming, but while the Navy was unchallenged by enemy surface forces, the air arm had to maintain its superiority by a constant and strong offensive against a skillful enemy.
The air phase of the campaign followed a pattern which later would be repeated on more than one occasion in the European and Mediterranean theaters. Prior to the landings, the air forces reduced enemy resistance by an offensive against airfields and lines of communication. At the time of the assault they covered the invasion fleet before, during, and after the landings, dropped airborne troops, and protected the beachheads. Then they made a concentrated effort against vital centers of communication to isolate the battle areas and gave direct cooperation in the land battle by tactical bombing and strafing in advance of the ground forces. As the campaign developed, they struck heavy blows against evacuation points and movements. Finally, the strategic air forces were relieved of participation in the land battle and began again long-range attacks against airdromes and communications centers in preparation for the next forward movement of the combined forces.
During HUSKY some U. S. commanders continued to experience difficulty in accepting command arrangements which gave full control of air forces to the air commander. There were ground and naval commanders who still expressed, despite the experiences in the Western Desert campaign and in the conquest of Tunisia, an understandable desire for personal control over the air units operating locally in coordination with their forces. But it was generally admitted that once the invasion was under way the new system worked so successfully that ground casualties from enemy action were comparatively light, that
shipping suffered little molestation, and that cooperation between Allied air and ground forces was satisfactory. Perhaps the principal criticism of the operations by the air arm on behalf of ground troops was that air support arrived too slowly when the Germans counterattacked during the first week of the invasion--a tardiness that would seem to be explained chiefly by the distance between the front line and the bases from which the planes were required to fly. Perhaps more prompt and more accurate close support might have been provided if TBF had been divided between XII ASC and DAF; in fact such a division of TBF's light bombers later was found to be advisable during the Italian campaign:71
One of the main reasons for the small losses suffered by the invasion force was the overwhelming Allied air superiority which had been gained largely through the systematic, persistent, and heavy bombing of enemy airfields. The success which attended these attacks was probably the outstanding feature of HUSKY. The pre-invasion blitz drove about one-half of the German and Italian planes out of Sicily; at the end of the first week of the ground campaign a further withdrawal was forced so that only single-engine fighters were left on the island, and these were reduced in number from 240 to 125. They too were then driven to mainland bases. Proof of the effectiveness of the counter-air offensive was found in 1,100 abandoned enemy aircraft, 600 of them planes of the German Air Force, and in the approximately 740 planes which the Allied air arm destroyed in combat (against NAAF losses of around 375 planes) as the air assault forced the enemy to come up and fight.72 Although the Sicilian campaign had its own special conditions which would not be fully duplicated in later campaigns or in other theaters, it appeared safe to conclude on 17 August that well directed and heavy air attacks against the enemy's air arm and installations were essential both before and during an invasion and could be relied upon to reduce sharply the degree of loss of ground, naval, and air forces.
Tactical operations designed to isolate the battlefield at first found good targets, but as the campaign progressed the number of rail targets became very limited, and in the later stages attacks were discontinued to avoid damage to a means of transportation which the Allied armies wished to use themselves. Attacks against roads were directed largely against movement. They caused the enemy considerable trouble, as was shown in the later stages of the campaign by the absence of targets
unquestionably helped to break the enemy's center which, in turn, led to the collapse of his entire position.73
In direct cooperation with ground troops--the most difficult of all air operations--achievements varied in direct proportion to the degree of coordination, timing, and training obtained. In some instances planes undershot the bomb line and bombed or strafed friendly troops; in other cases, ignorance of the exact location of Allied troops forced the air arm to pass up large areas of enemy troops. On the other hand, there were outstanding examples of excellent cooperation which materially aided the ground forces, for example, during the landings and at Troina. Kesselring considered the cooperation as very successful, stating that Allied successes in Sicily (and, later, in Italy) "must be attributed, in the first place, to the Allied air forces." In general, the campaign pointed a need for more attention to combined training, for accurate and up-to-date information on the location of troops, for acquainting the ground troops with the fact that a direct-support operation takes time to mount, and for improvement in means of identification of targets and troops. Similarly, the number of times when ground troops fired on friendly planes indicated a need for training in identification of aircraft and for improved ground-air liaison.
During HUSKY a number of developments distinctly improved air-ground cooperation. II Corps experimented with mobile fighter-control parties which used a jeep and a VHF radio frequency set; this method of directing fighter-bombers later became SOP during the Italian campaign.74 GCI's mounted on LSTs off the assault beaches proved a most useful innovation; these forward control stations enabled night fighters to operate efficiently and reduced losses from enemy night attacks. Another development was the highly successful use of cub planes in directing artillery fire.75 Valuable, too, was the experience acquired in the setting up and use of communications between air headquarters, Army headquarters, and the tentacles located with the ground troops.76
In the final analysis, any evaluation of tactical operations during HUSKY must necessarily end with the conclusion that an occasional undershot bomb line or plane knocked down by friendly fire was not nearly so important to the campaign or to future operations as the fact that tactical air missions were controlled by the air arm and not by ground commanders and were under a centralized operational control which kept air power from being frittered away piecemeal and permitted
it to use its great qualities of mobility, flexibility, and concentration. It was, indeed, in the Mediterranean that most of the basic principles which governed tactical organization in the European theater and upon which were based the conceptions of air support as it was to be provided throughout the campaign in northwest Europe were originally evolved.77 Even the airborne operations, unsatisfactory as was their execution, provided experience later put to good use.
In January 1943 the objectives of the Sicilian campaign had been described as follows: to make secure the Allied line of communications in the Mediterranean; to divert Axis strength from the Russian front during the critical summer period; to intensify pressure on Italy. HUSKY accomplished all of these objectives. It accomplished more: it required Germany to extend military commitments into southern France and the Balkans, made Sardinia untenable and threatened Corsica, forced the resignation of Mussolini on 25 July, and led to an Allied-Italian armistice on 3 September.
Notes to Chapter 14:
1. Gen D. D. Eisenhower, Report on the Sicilian Operations (hereinafter cited as Eisenhower Rpt.); Hq. NAAFTCC, Report of Operations and Activities Including the Sicilian Campaign, 18 May-31 June 1943; interview with Brig. Gen. Ray A. Dunn, 14 Oct. 1943; Report on Airborne Operations-Sicily, July 1943, and msg., MAC to Air Ministry, 28 July 1943, in BAM (AHB). In preparing the story of the USAAF in the Sicilian campaign the writer has made extensive use of AAF Historical Study No. 37, Participation of the Ninth and Twelfth Air Forces in the Sicilian Campaign, a monograph written by Mr. Harry L. Coles.
2. Eisenhower Rpt.; NAAFTCC, Report of Operations and Activities Including the Sicilian Campaign; memo for Chief, Unit Training Div. from Lt. Col. F. K. MacMahon, Chief, Troop Carrier Br., Conference with Maj. Gen. Swing, CG 11th AB Div., 30 July 1943; Report on Detachment of Group Capt. T. B. Cooper to North Africa, June-July 1943; memo for Gen. Arnold from Maj. Gen. Clayton Bissell, AC/AS, Intel., Report of Allied Force Airborne Board, 5 Nov. 1943; memo for C-in-C AFHQ from Brig. Gen. P. L. Williams, 13 July 1943; Military Reports of the United Nations, No. 11, 15 Oct. 1943; F/Lt. D. A. Grant, Operational Attachment to No. 295 Squadron, 8th June to 6th Aug. 1943, in Special Reports, MED/ME, Volume I, Sec. 2; Dunn interview; Col. W. S. Stone to CG AAF, attn. AC/AS, OC&R, Weather Div., Amendment to Report of Operations and Activities Including the Sicilian Campaign; Francis de Guingand, Operation Victory, p. 290; Proceedings of Board of Officers Considering Airborne Operations (AFHQ), 23 July 1943, and attached memo from Maj. Gen. F. A. M. Browning, Report on Airborne Operations. According to Troop Carrier, the wind velocity (25 to 30 m.p.h.) was twice that of the actual forecast, but according to the AAF Weather Wing the velocity was forecast exactly. (See ltr., Hq. Weather Wing to CG AAF, 27 Mar. 1944; statement, Capt. W. E. Dickey, staff weather officer, 64th TCG, 29 Jan. 1944; ltr., Col. Peter S. Rask, XII TCC [Prov.] to regional control officer, 12th Weather Region, 28 Jan. 1944.) For a full discussion of the inadequate training received by the glider pilots, see especially the report by F/Lt. D. A. Grant, Operational Attachment to No. 295 Squadron, as cited above, and Hq. 38 Gp., Despatch Review 6, Airborne Assault Operations, Feb. 1946, in files of BAM (AHB).
3. NAAFTCC, Report of Operations and Activities, Report on Airborne Operations in HUSKY, 15 Aug. 1943 (hereinafter cited as Billingslea Rpt.); Eisenhower Rpt.; memo for Gen. Arnold from R. C. duPont, special asst., glider program, 25 Aug. 1943; Proceedings of Board of Officers (AFHQ), 23 July 1943.
4. NAAFTCC, Report of Operations and Activities; msg., Force 141 to NAAF (Adv.), 11 June 1943; memo for 3 SAAF Wing from TBF, n.d.; memo for AOCTAF et al. from Norstad, 3 July 1943, in TBF Air Operations, in BAM (AHB).
5. Report of NATAF/RAF Med. Review Nos. 3, 4, 8, 9; Stat. Control and Operations Sec., Air Hq. Malta, Preliminary Report on HUSKY Operations by Malta based Aircraft, 9-17 July 1943; Report of Western Naval Task Force; NAAF Weekly Intel. Sums. 34 and 41, 3-9 July and 21-27 Aug. 1943; Report of NAAF on HUSKY; Eisenhower Rpt.
6. RAF Med. Review No. 4; CM-IN-8206, Spaatz to Arnold, 11 July 1943; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 140 and 141; History, 27th Fighter-Bomber Gp., July 1943. On D minus 1 the Ninth Air Force complemented the Twelfth's operations with forty-six sorties by heavies against Sicilian airfields and eighteen against an enemy headquarters at Taormina. (See msgs., Q107E, Q108E, and Q109E, 10 July 1943, in files of BAM [AHB].)
7. Eisenhower Rpt.; Report of the Seventh Army; ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 14 July 1943.
8. Eisenhower Rpt.; Report of Western Naval Task Force; Report of the Seventh Army; Report of NAAF; Hq. MAAF, A-3 Monthly Opns. Bulletin 9, Dec. 1943; Hq. 64th Fighter Wing, Summary of Operations, Sicilian Campaign; Report of Malta-based Aircraft; Hq. MAC, Signals Report on Amphibious Operations in the Mediterranean from July to September 1943, 22 Oct. 1943; additional info. from BAM (AHB).
9. ONI, The Sicilian Campaign, p. 34; Report of Western Naval Task Force. Admiralty Battle Summary No. 35, The Invasion of Sicily, pp. 35-42, 53-76, 124-30; msg., War Cabinet Offices to All Sictel Addressees, 20 July 1943; Report of Western Naval Task Force; Report of NAAF; Report of Malta-based Aircraft; hr., Spaatz to Arnold, 14 July 1943; Report of NATAF; History, 324th Fighter Gp., July 1943; Hq. 64th Fighter Wing, Summary of Opns.
10. Report of Seventh Army; Report of Western Naval Task Force; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sum. 160, 6-13 July 1943.
11. Report of NATAF; 12th AF Weekly Intel. Sum. 35, 10-16 July 1943; ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 14 July 1943; History, Bd Fighter Gp., Volume I; History, 31st Fighter Gp.; Hq. RAF, Malta Daily Intel. Sums. 742-830, 2 July-30 Sept. 1943, in files of BAM(AHB); NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 141-44; Hq. 64th Fighter Wing, Summary of Opns.; memo for CG Seventh Army from Col. L. P. Hickey, 18 July 1943. The enemy's air attacks were so weak that on and after D plus 1, Allied fighter patrols were reduced from twelve to eight aircraft. (Information from BAM [AHB].)
12. Eisenhower Rpt.; Military Reports of the United Nations, No. 11; NAAFTCC Rpt. 85; memo for Chief, Unit Training Div. from Lt. Col. F. K. MacMahon, Chief, Troop Carrier Br., Conference with Maj. Gen. Swing, CG 11th AB Div., 30 July 1943; histories, 53d and 59th Troop Carrier Sqs., 316th Troop Carrier Gp.; Billingslea Rpt.; CM-OUT-1108, Marshall to Eisenhower, Freedom Algiers, 28 July 1943; CM-IN-21022, Eisenhower to Marshall, 29 July 1943; Proceedings of Board of Officers (AFHQ), 23 July 1943, with attached memo from Capt. B. P. Disque, Jr., Hq. 52d TCW, I2 July 1943; Admiralty Battle Sum. 35, The Invasion of Sicily, pp. 146-47.
13. Eisenhower Rpt.; Dunn interview; Military Response of the United Nations, No. 11; Guingand, Operation Victory, p. 296; Proceedings of Board of Officers (AFHQ), 23 July 1943; memo for CG NAAFTCC from Lt. Col. O. G. Birtwistle, 14 July 1943; memo for C-in-C AFHQ from Brig. Gen. P. L. Williams, 15 July 1943; F/Lt. D. A. Grant, Operational Attachment to No. 295 Squadron; Despatch Review 6, Airborne Assault Operations, Feb. 1946; Report on Airborne Operations-Sicily. The last three documents are in the files of the British Air Ministry (AHB).
14. NAAFTCC Rpts. 88 and 89; msg., NAAFTCC to CG AFHQ et al., 15 July 1943.
15. CM-IN-21022, Algiers to WAR, 29 July 1943; NAAFTCC Rpts. 88, 89, 104; Eisenhower Rpt.; Report on Airborne Operations-Sicily; additional info. from BAM (AHB).
16. Ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 14 July 1943; ltr., Eisenhower to Marshall, 17 July 1943; memo for Maj. Gen. T. T. Handy from Brig. Gen. J. E. Upston, 21 July 1943; memo for Gen. Arnold from R. C. duPont, 25 Aug. 1943; Report on Airborne Operations-Sicily; msg., MAC to Air Ministry, A825, 28 July 1943; CM-IN-21022, Algiers to WAR, 29 July 1943; additional info. from BAM (AHB).
17. Eisenhower Rpt.; AFHQ Training Memo 43, 2 Aug. 1943, in Air Force Board Report. See also memo for Gen. Vandenberg from R. C. duPont, 30 Aug. 1943. Numerous offices and officers both air and ground, passed judgment on the airborne operations and suggested ways by which they might be more effective and losses be reduced in the future. Among the better were: msg., War Cabinet Offices to All Sictel Addressees, 20 July 1943; Joint War Office/Air Ministry Report on the Employment of Airborne Forces; Report on Detachment of Group Capt. T. B. Cooper to North Africa, June-July 1943; F/Lt. D. A. Grant, Operational Attachment to No. 295 Squadron, in files of BAM (AHB); C. S. 20166, Dir. of Opns., 7 Oct. 1943, in files of BAM (AHB); other data from files of BAM (AHB).
18. Report of NAAF; Report of NATAF; History, 33d Fighter Gp., Vol. I; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 145 and 146; msg., War Cabinet Offices to All Sictel Addressees, 20 July 1943; Hq. MAC, SIgnals Report on Amphibious Operations. The GAF losses were so severe that on the 12th the enemy brought some Ju-88s out of retirement only to lose an entire flight to Malta-based Spitfires. (See The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, Pt. 3, chap. II, D of I , in BAM [AHB].)
19. 12th AF Weekly Intel. Sum. 35; NASAF, Participation in the Sicilian Campaign from 15 June through 25 July 1943; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 140-43; 9th AF A-2 Periodic Rpt. 40; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sum. 160; AFSHO Special File 77.
20. Report of NAAF; histories 31st and 33d Fighter Gps.
21. Report of Malta-based Aircraft; Report of NAAF; Hq. 64th Fighter Wing, Summary of Operations; histories of various USAAF fighter units; Report Technical Observer (Col G. W. Nolan) to CG NAAF, 24 Sept. 1943, in BAM (AHB). The only airfield in southern Sicily fully destroyed by the Germans was Pachino. The British repaired it in forty-eight hours. (See C.O.H.Q. Bulletin R/1, Notes on Airfield Construction in Sicily and Southern Italy, 27 Nov. 1943, in BAM [AHB].)
22. Report of Seventh Army; Report of NAAF; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 144-47; NACAF Weekly Intel. Sum. 10; RAF Med. Review No. 4; 12th AF Weekly Intel. Sum. 35; 9th AF A-2 Periodic Rpt. 40; Adv. Hq. DAF, Report on Lessons Learnt from Operation HUSKY, App. C, 15 Aug. 1943, in files of BAM (AHB).
23. Report of Seventh Army; NATAF Opn. Instruction 15, 21 July 1943.
24. NAAF Opnl. and Intel Sums. 148-51; RAF Med. Review No. 4 (July-Sept. 1943), p. 26.
25. Report of Seventh Army.
26. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 147-62; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sum. 162; AFHQ, G-2 Weekly Intel. Sum. 48; RAF Med. Review No. 4; NAAF Weekly Intel. Sum. 36.
27. NAAF Weekly Intel. Sum. 36; CM-IN-2592 (4-8-43), Eisenhower to Marshall, 4 Aug. 1943; ltr., Eisenhower to Marshall, 17 July 1943; additional info. from BAM (AHB).
28. Memo for AC/AS-2 from Hq. NAAF, A-2 Sec., Preliminary Analysis of Strategic Targets in Italy and Sicily, 3 May 1943; NASAF's Participation in the Sicilian Campaign; 9th AF A-2 Periodic Report 41, 27 July 1943; RAF Med. Review No. 4, p. 24; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sum. 161; Report of NAAF, p. 10.
29. Air Ministry Weekly Intel. Sum. 204, 31 July 1943; CM-IN-5722, Algiers to WAR, 8 July 1943; CM-OUT-8801, CCS to CG Freedom Algiers, 19 June 1943; CM-OUT-10814, CCS to Eisenhower, 25 June 1943; MC-IN-6633, AGWAR from CCS to Eisenhower, 16 June 1943; CM-IN-12771, Eisenhower to WAR, NAF 292, 18 July 1943; Hq. NAAF, A-3 Sec. Opns. Bulletin 5, 1-31 Aug. 1943; JICA AFHQ Detailed Interp. Rpt. D-73, 7 Sept. 1943; NASAF's Participation in the Sicilian Campaign; ltrs., Lt. Gen. Carl Spaatz to Gen. H. H. Arnold, 27 and 30 July 1943; CM-OUT-13091, Algiers to WAR, 18 July 1943; CM-IN-10360, Eisenhower to AGWAR for CCS, 15 July 1943; CM-OUT-6169, Algiers for USFOR, 15 June 1943; CM-IN-14181, Adv. AFHQ to WAR, 20 July 1943.
30. NASAF's Participation in the Sicilian Campaign; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 148-53; NAAF Weekly Intel. Sum. 37; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sum. 161; RAF Med. Review No. 4, p. 30.
31. Report of Seventh Army.
32. NAAF Monthly Opns. Bulletin 9; Report of NAAF, p. 13; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 157-62; ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 30 July 1943; Hq. 64th Fighter Wmg, Sum. of Opns.
33. Edgar McInnis, The War: Fourth Year, p. 322.
34. Report of Seventh Army; AFHQ, G-2 Weekly Intel. Sum. 50. The ground situation for the period 2-8 August is well summarized in CM-IN-2931, 3218, 3428, 4290, Algiers to WAR, 4, 5, 5, 6 Aug., and CM-IN-5716, AFHQ to WAR, 8 Aug. 1943.
35. Report of NAAF, p. 15.
36. RAF Med. Review No. 4; History, 340th Bomb. Gp. (M), 1 Apr. to 1 Oct. 1943; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 16268; CM-IN-3428, Algiers to WAR, 5 Aug. 1943.
37. Report of Seventh Army; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sum. 167; war diary, 527th Fighter-Bomber Sq. (86th F-B Gp.), Aug. 1943; memo for C-in-C from Maj. Gen. J. P. Lucas, 26 Aug. 1943.
38. Report of NAAF, p. 16; History, 340th Bomb. Gp.; Guingand, Operation Victory, p. 309.
39. RAF Med. Review No. 4; Report of NAAF, p. 19; Report of Seventh Army; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 169-75; ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 30 July 1943.
40. AFHQ, G-2 Weekly Intel. Sum. 51. RAFME Weekly Intel. Sum. 165.
41. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 169, 172-73; Report of Seventh Army; ltr., Col. Paul Harkins to Brig. Gen. R. W. Harper, inc. to memo for CG ASCPFO, from Gen. Harper, 13 Oct. 1943.
42. Report of Seventh Army.
43. RAF Med. Review No. 4; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sum. 165; extracts of reports from Fuehrer conference of 26 July 1943, translated by BAM (AHB), 18 Oct. 1947.
44. RAF Med. Review No. 4; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sums. 171-75; Report of NAAF, p. 19; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 155-79; CM-IN-8830, Algiers to WAR, 12 Aug. 1943.
45. NAAF Weekly Intel. Sum. 40; NATAF report; Operations of British, Indian, and Dominion Forces in Italy, Pt. I, Sec. F, in BAM (AHB).
46. Ltr., Spaatz to Arnold, 30 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-2592, Algiers to WAR, 4 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-8830, Algiers to WAR, 12 Aug. 1943.
47. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 154-78; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sums. 162-63; NASAF's Participation in the Italian Campaign; NAAF Weekly Intel. Sums. 38-39; RAF Med. Review No. 4; CM-OUT-464 (8-2-43), CCS to Eisenhower. CM-OUT-675 (8-3-43), 2 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-1637 (8-3-43) and CM-IN-2592 (8-4-43), Eisenhower to Marshall, 3 and 4 Aug. 1943. An attack on Rome to be delivered on 3 August was canceled when the theater received from Washington a garbled signal referring to negotiations to make Rome an open city. (Information from BAM [AHB].)
48. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 165, NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 157-60, 173, 178; NAAF Weekly Intel. Sum. 39;
49. NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 157-60, 173, 178; NAAF Weekly Intel. Sum. 37; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sums. 164-65; memo for C/S MAC from Capt. J. J. Jacobi, Hq. MAC, 24 Oct. 1943, and accompanying charts; Hq. MAAF, Bombing Survey Unit Report 5.
50. RAF Med. Review No. 4, pp. 73-76; NAAF Opnl. and Intel. Sums. 152, 156, 163-68; History, 317th Fighter Sq.; NASAF Intops Sums. 18-27; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sum. 165; NAAF Weekly Intel. Sum. 40.
51. NAAF Weekly Intel. Sum. 40; RAFME Weekly Intel. Sum. 165; RAF Med. Review No. 4.
52. NACAF Weekly Intel. Sums. 12-15; Report of NAAF, p. 19; Italian Merchant Shipping Sunk in the Mediterranean, 10 June-8 Sept. 1943, in BAM (AHB).
54. OSS, Roumania, Dissemination A-12330; also, High Command, Bureau of the Services de Renseignements and Services de Sécurité Militaire, 8 Sept. 1943,in Ninth AF Evaluations (1943).
55. New York Times, 26-28 June, 19 July 1941, 15 Sept. 1942; paraphrase of code cablegram sgd. Ratay, Mil. Attache, Bucharest, 1 July 1941; report of P. Lambright, in AFIOP Target Folder; interviews with G. Mattingly and Paul Lambright, 22 Jan. and 27 Apr. 1942.
58. TRIDENT,4th Mtg., 21 May 1943; CM-OUT-16097, Algiers to AGWAR, 25 May 1943; CM-IN-1957, Eisenhower to Arnold, 3 June 1943; CM-OUT-3272, CCS to Eisenhower, 8 June 1943; CM-IN-3107, AFHQ to WAR, 5 June 1943; CM-OUT-8585, Arnold to CG Eighth AF, 20 May 1943. During the period of preliminary planning the mission was criticized on the ground that only long and sustained attacks would have any real effect on Ploesti's oil production. (From documents in BAM [AHB].) The observation proved to be sound.
59. Ploesti Mission, Ninth U. S. Air Force, August 1, 1943 (cited hereinafter as Ploesti Mission); The Brereton Diaries, pp. 191-192; CM-IN-15896, Cairo to AGWAR, 25 June 1943; memo, sgd. Brereton, Operation TIDALWAVE, 2 July 1943. After the groups had begun training for the mission, General Devers (supported by Air Marshal Portal and General Eaker) urged that they first be used in a blow against German fighter factories at Wiener Neustadt, but the CCS rejected the proposal. (See CM-OUT-7556, C/S to Algiers, 19 July 1943, and CM-OUT-9495, CCS to Algiers, 23 July 1943; also CM-IN-14163, Adv. AFHQ to WAR, 20 July 1943; msg., Air Ministry to MAC, 16 July 1943; CM-IN-12257, USFOR to WAR, 17 July 1943; msg., Air Command Post to Air Ministry, 22 July 1943; msg., Air Ministry to MAC, 21 July 1943.) Opposition to the Devers proposal came from Generals Marshall, Eisenhower, Arnold, and Spaatz, and Air Marshal Tedder.
60. Ploesti Mission; CM-IN-14181, Adv. AFHQ to WAR, 20 July 1943.
63. 63. CM-IN-1639, 17138, 987, Eaker to Marshall, 26, 27 June, 2 July 1943.
64. 64. CM-IN-11479, Algiers to WAR, 18 June 1943; Brereton to CG AAF, 8 Aug. 1943, in Ploesti Mission; History, IX BC, Volume IV.
67. AAFRH-3, p. 99; CM-IN-11891, Ankara to CNO, 15 Aug.1943; CM-IN-11558, Steinhardt to Sec. of State, 13 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-1364, Cairo to AGWAR, 2 Aug. 1943; msg., R2E245 from IX BC, 2 Aug.1943, supplied by BAM (AHB).
68. Lt. Col. W. L. Forster, Report on Roumanian Oil Targets, 13 Aug. 1943, with covering memo for ACM A. Tedder, Air C-in-C, MAC from Hq. RAFME, 14 Aug. 1943; Mr. L. Eisinger, Report on Roumanian Oil Targets, 22 Aug. 1943; Maj. John M. Wisdom, Target Info. Br., AFIOP, Damage Report to AFABI on Ploesti Oil Refineries; CM-IN-7846, from Steinhardt, 8 Aug. 1943; msg., IX BC to Air Comd. Post et al., 2 Aug. 1943, in BAM (AHB).
69. AAFRB-3, p. 107; msg., Forbes to Air C-in-C, 9 Dec. 1943.
70. CM-IN-11401, Cairo to AGWAR, 15 Aug. 1943.
71. Comments on the Execution of the First Phase of the Sicilian Combined Operations, in NAAF files (date and author not given, but on the basis of internal evidence it appears that the author was a high-ranking air officer); ltr., Lt. Gen. George Patton to Maj. Gen. Handy, 18 July 1943; Adv. Hq., DAF, Report on Lessons Learnt from Operation HUSKY, 15 Aug. 1943, in files of BAM (AHB).
72. Comments on Sicilian Operations, as cited in n. 71; Air Ministry, Air Attacks on Airfields: A Review of Methods Adopted and Weapons Used from the Commencement of the War to the Summer of 1943, dtd. Sept. 1943; Hq. NATAF, Memorandum on Lessons from Operation HUSKY, 18 Sept. 1943; The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, Pt. 3, chap. II, D of I (0), in files of BAM (AHB).
73. NATAF report; Report of Seventh Army; AFHQ Training Memo 50, Lessons from the Sicilian Campaign.
74. Incl. 7 to Allied Force Board Report on Airborne Operations in HUSKY; Hq. 64th Fighter Wing, Sum. of Opns.; Questions regarding the General Strategy during the Italian Campaign by Field Marshal Kesselring and General Westphal of the Cavalry, trans. by Ernest W. Matti, MS B270.
75. 75. NATAF report; memo for C-in-C from Maj. Gen. J. P. Lucas, 26 Aug. 1943; Report by the Long Committee for D. M. T. (Brit.) North Africa, Combined Operations, 14 Oct. 1943.
76. Main Hq., Eighth Army, First Lessons from HUSKY, in files of BAM (AHB). The Eighth Army considered the communications as "generally excellent" but felt that they had been set up rather tardily. Desert Air Force was more critical, declaring that the land lines were laid too slowly, that there were not enough of them, and that the circuits were overburdened because too many headquarters had to have full signal facilities. (See Adv. Hq., DAF, Report on Lessons Learnt from Operation HUSKY, 15 Aug. 1943.)
77. See especially, monograph by Maj. Tewson, Air Support in Western Desert, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, chap. ix A, in files of BAM (AHB).