• Si Biggs

Operation Husky - Invasion of Sicily

Operation Husky, the Invasion of Sicily, was the first major Allied assault on German occupied Europe. Churchill described Sicily and Italy as the soft underbelly of Europe but the Italy campaign was hard fought and only came to an end in May 1945.

Royal Marines Units

  • No. 40 (Royal Marine) Commando

  • No. 41 (Royal Marine) Commando

  • 7th Battalion, Royal Marines

The Landings


In the afternoon of D-1, an unseasonable, force 7 north-westerly gale blew up, causing the smaller craft in the invasion fleet to toss about like corks. On D Day itself, the Canadians and Americans landed in very rough conditions, suffering the double discomfort of seasickness and a drenching through to the skin.


The conditions on the leeward side of the island were better, as the landing craft moved inshore. However, these generally unfavourable conditions caused the enemy to relax their guard in the mistaken belief that a landing in such conditions was most unlikely. Initial resistance was, consequently, less than expected.


Photo; British troops wade ashore. © IWM (NA 4275).

The high winds caused problems in the air too but, this time, with dire consequences for British and American troops being flown from Kairouan in Tunisia to Sicily in 137 gliders and 400 transport aircraft respectively. Due to poor flying and navigational conditions, combined with inadequately trained pilots, the planes and gliders were badly scattered.


Only a fraction of the elite troops reached their targets but in sufficient numbers to complete their assigned tasks. Of the gliders in the British sector, about a dozen were released early and were lost in the sea, with many casualties. To compound the self inflicted air losses on or around D + 3, a number of Allied supply aircraft were shot down by friendly fire, as they strayed over the battleground. The aircraft were certainly off their approved course but the primary cause was a failure in aircraft recognition by the spotters and gunners on the ground.


(Combined Operations)





See: Amphibious Lessons Learned - Operation Husky 10 July 1943


7th Ballalion - 75 Mile Yomp


Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines


Location: Sicily


Period/ Conflict: World War II


Year: 1943


Date/s: 10 July 1943


7th Battalion RM conducted a 75 Mile yomp into Sicily to support 51st Highland Division. Compass march toward the enemy. River Dittaino. Italian prisoners shot by the Germans. Dug in on forward and reverse slope, forward during the night and reverse in daylight.


7th Ballalion RM - 31st Beach Brick


Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines


Location: Sicily


Period/ Conflict: World War II


Year: 1943


Date/s:


The comparatively small Force 'N' under Captain Lord Ashbourne RN in HMS Keren had sailed from the Middle East as part of Force ‘A’ and had with them the 231st (Malta) Infantry Brigade commanded by Brigadier R E Urquhart.


This force landed in Nan Sector of the Bark East Assault Area assisted by RN Beach Commando K. 1st Middle East Beach Brick/Beach Brick 31: 7th RM Battalion formed the nucleus of this unit and was enlarged as Beach brick 31 in 1943.


Landed in Sicily, before reverting to infantry role under XXX Corps on D+7. (7th Battalion, Royal Marines, including companies from 3/10 Baluch and the 31st Beach Brick RAF Component)



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