The Invasion of Sicily 1943...


...a new Images of War from Pen and Sword


Title: The Invasion of Sicily 1943

Author: Jon Diamond

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47389-609-3

The prolific rate of new books in the Images of War series from Pen and Sword is a good indicator of the popularity of this series of photo reference histories.  For this one, author Jon Diamond, who adds another one to his list of books in the series looks at the story of the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.  After over 3 years of war in North Africa the Allies finally defeated the German and Italian forces in the region.  What followed, prior to an invasion of the Italian mainland, was to be a useful practice in a large scale amphibious assault, in readiness for a future invasion of North West Europe.

The book is divided into 5 chapters, plus an Epilogue to round things off.  The first tackles the Strategic Prelude to the Invasion of Sicily.  The final stages of the war in North Africa are outlined, along with the situation in the Mediterranean following that capitulation.  Airfields on Sicily still presented a major threat to supply lines through the Med.  British and American planners didn't see eye to eye on things, but it was finally accepted that an assault on Sicily would not only remove the airborne threat but also provide a simple jump to reach the Italian mainland.  It might also result in Italy choosing to surrender.  The pages of explanatory text, including maps, are followed by a useful set of photos which illustrate the various leaders involved plus lines of Axis prisoners captured in the North Africa aftermath. This is followed with a chapter considering Terrain, Fortifications and Installations.  The island is mountainous and the location of important targets and a limited road network meant a significant impact on the lines of attack for both the British and American Armies who undertook Operation Husky.  Chapter three considers the Commanders and Combatants from all sides, along with the numbers of the forces they gathered on both sides.

In chapter 4 the timeline moves on to the 'Allied Landings and the Axis Counterattack'.  This includes plenty of pictures of the landing beaches, and the assorted landing craft employed in the landings.  It does also include the less successful glider landings, where losses 

 exceeded expectations.  That is followed up by coverage of the 'Allied Advances and Sicilian Objectives Captured'.  A good mix of photos, including troops in Sicily, equipment in use and captured/knocked out.  We see the competition that arose between Patton and Montgomery while the Epilogue considers some of the 'What if.,,' question-mark s that remain.  A good quantity of equipment and thousands of both German and Italian troops were able to escape across the Straits of Messina, back to the Italian mainland.  QUestions remain on whether or not the tactics were right, or should there have been effort applied to stopping that evacuation before it could take place.  Either way, the invasion did result in the choice to withdraw from the Axis and surrender.

The text with each chapter makes for an interesting account of the operation, as well as the photos which illustrate the story of events and which in turn have more useful captions that tell more of the story.  The terrain, the villages all give a good illustration of both the atmosphere and the character of the war that came to Sicily.  For the modellers, there is some helpful detail on uniforms and equipment of the place and time which could be helpful as ideas and inspiration for a variety of dioramas.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.