Monday, January 23, 2023

Videos: Operation HUSKY, Sicily, July 1943 (Pt 2)

 Canadians in RCNVR and Combined Operations in Sicily, 1943

YouTube Selection of WWII Videos Grows Every Year

Page 180. Stories by Canadian RCNVR/Combined Ops veterans


In the previous post I shared informative videos from two significant sources, i.e., British Pathé and Associated Press (AP) related to the invasion of Sicily beginning July 10, 1943. The 80th Anniversary of that invasion takes place this year, as does the subsequent Allied invasion of Italy beginning September 3, 1943 at Reggio di Calabria, on the toe of the boot.

Visiting archival resources for videos produced in 1943 by people with 'boots on the ground' is an excellent way to inform oneself of events of the day, and as many readers already know, YouTube provides access to more historic films than one could conceivably 'shake a stick at' in one lifetime.

Below please find a number of items from the aforementioned British Pathé and AP archives and a few other sources related to Operation HUSKY, during which members of four Canadian Landing Craft Flotillas (55th, 61st, 80th and 81st) were very active on the beaches between Noto and Syracuse, (including my father at Avola)

Map - Combined Operations by Clayton Marks of London, Ontario

Please visit any or all of the following links to informative videos:

1. Title - Forging Ahead in Sicily (1943) by British Pathé on YouTube

Time - 04min:52sec

Storyline - Editor: The early days of the invasion of Sicily beginning July 10, 1943

Shot List if available - Long shot of the sea off the coast of Sicily. The sea erupts around the allied ships during a raid by enemy aircraft. Various shots of the invading 8th Army starting to move inland from Syracuse. They march along the roadways and question an Italian soldier en route. In Rosolini, another Italian surrenders and the British troops are given wine from an old jug. Evacuees returning to town. Various shots of wrecked Italian equipment which includes Renault tank. Several shots of General Bernard Montgomery observing the advance of his army from a jeep. Convoy of equipment moving along road. Signpost 'Avola'. Several shots of the troops on bren gun carrier, some even ride on donkey carts. Soldier gives a chocolate to a woman holding a child. Various shots of the American airborne troops arriving on donkey cart in Avola. Various shots of the British, American and Canadian troops together. Airfield in North Africa with the glider fleet which played a big part in taking of Sicily. Several shots of gliders being towed until they are airborne. Various shots of support troops arriving at Syracuse with their equipment. They wade ashore from the landing craft. Larger items like Bren guns also come ashore. Various shots of a tank, Bren gun carrier and lorry sending up dust from dusty road as they advance. Various shots of activity in Syracuse the morning after the occupation. Troops and civilians in the streets. Long line of Italian prisoners walking along the road.

2. Title - Campaign in Sicily, a U.S. Army production on YouTube via PublicResourceOrg

Time - 19min:54sec.

Storyline - NA [Editor - good narration and filming from American POV; bombing and take over of the island of Pantelleria in June, 1943; ships assembling in Alexandria in July, prior to invasion of Sicily; 3,000 ships embark; then we see US landings, goals and progress, e.g., from Palermo to Messina; many views as well of British 8th and landing craft so there is some value and balance to the video.]

Shot List if available - NA [Editor - same video via Nuclear Vault also on YouTube; no storyline or shot list provided]

3. Title - Sicily... the End by British Pathé as found on YouTube

Time - 02min:47sec.

Storyline/Shot List - Various shots of the British tanks and armoured vehicles moving through Messina. Large shelter which used to be used by the Sicilians. Various shots of the wrecked harbour of Messina and the damaged oil storage tanks. Long shot across Straits of Messina towards the coast of Italy. Several shots of the American flag being hoisted outside the Municipal Building in Messina, the Royal Navy hoist their flag nearby. Various shots of General Bernard Montgomery going among his troops in Sicily - he hands out tins of cigarettes to them. Long shot across the Straits of Messina. Various shots of shore batteries and ships in the Straits opening fire on the Italian coast.

4. Title - Invasion of Sicily - First Pictures, 1943 by British Pathé as found at YouTube

Time - 08min:11sec

Storyline/Shot List - 8. Long shot of line of troopships in convoy line astern. Various shots (on one of the ships) of the officers checking the course and the men doing various things, some sewing, playing cards or cleaning guns. Several nice views of the convoy at sea. Various shots of a religious service being taken on deck of one of the ships. General Simmonds, Commander of the First Canadian Division, is among congregation. Long shot of an aircraft carrier of the convoy. Various shots of the convoy of troopships and naval craft at sea. The wind slowly starts to blow until the sea gets fairly choppy, but the ships keep going forward. Commentary says: "We recall now the words spoken over the B.B.C. by Commander Anthony Kimmins in his vivid broadcast". Kimmins' voice (natural sound) saying how terrified they were for the future of the whole operation when the storm started - totally unexpected in Mediterranean at this time of year. Luckily, weather improved and operation continued.
Sun on the horizon. Several shots of the night barrage from the naval ships. Various shots of the 8th Army making their landing at dawn. They wade waist high through the water onto the beach from the landing craft. Various shots of the troops still unloading. Landing craft head towards beaches. Various shots of the navy starting to shoot again. The enemy guns send high columns of water around ships. Column of smoke shows only casualty and shipping loss in this operation. Red Cross ship. Many landing craft streaming towards beaches - shot from coast. Shots of the troops hitting the beaches with their equipment. American, Canadian and British troops just pouring ashore. Various shots of the tanks, lorries, jeeps, Bren gun carriers, even bicycles coming ashore. Various shots of the Italian troops who have surrendered - they are loaded onto the landing craft to be taken back to troopships. They smile and wave into camera and pose with allied troops.

Photograph NA4072. Men of 2nd Seaforth Highlanders embarking onto
landing craft at Sousse en route for Sicily, 5 July 1943. Photo by Sgt. Stubbs,
No. 2 Army Film and Photographic Unit and Imperial War Museum (IWM).

Please click here to view more photographs re Operation HUSKY from the Imperial War Museum.

Back to the video links:

5. Title - Sicily - Nearing the End, 1943 by British Pathé as found on YouTube

Time - 07min:08sec.

Storyline/Shot List - 8Various shots of Spitfires taking off from Malta. Air to air shots of formation of Spitfires patrolling the skies over invasion fleet. Various shots of RAF (Royal Air Force) Squadron coming ashore in Sicily. RAF trucks and equipment arriving ashore by sea - they release a barrage balloon for protection. A good shot at Comiso airfield of a RAF Spitfire taxiing past German Stukas. Various shots of the wrecked hangars and planes at the airport. Close up shot of map of Sicily. Allied convoy anchored off Syracuse. Close up shot of a sign 'Siracusa'. General Bernard Montgomery driving through Syracuse. Several shots of Monty standing in his car to observe the distant bombing taking place at Augusta across the large bay. Various shots of the British troops on trucks and tanks moving through Francofonte, the towns people give them oranges and other gifts. On the road out of Francofonte the British troops run into some sniper fire and have to take cover and return the fire. Italians surrender waving white flag. A Scottish piper leading a line of British troops along the dry dusty road. Several shots of the large canvas water storage tanks being filled with water near the beach. Various shots of food being handed out to civilians by the allied troops. Several shots of endless line of Italian prisoners. Sequence showing German and Italian prisoners boarding a ship for England and arriving at British ports and stations. At one station they are given a bun and a sandwich. Flashback to Benito Mussolini walking past some of his troops. Flashback to Italian King Victor Emmanuel taking salute. Library sequence showing Mussolini in various uniforms and on various occasions. One shot of him with Adolf Hitler standing in open car.

6. Title - Sicily News, 1943 by British Pathé as found on YouTube

Time - 03min:29sec.

Storyline/Shot List - Various shots of General Dwight Eisenhower and Lord Gort outside the headquarters in Malta where final plans were completed for invasion of Sicily. Air to air shot of RAF (Royal Air Force) Baltimore bombers flying out towards Sicily and over mount Etna. As soon as they get over Milazzo they release their bombs. Various shots of British artillery in action firing on Catania. Newsreel cameraman is seen at work. Smoke rising over Catania. Various shots of the Canadians advancing and moving through village of Leonforte. In another village a proclamation of occupation by the British is read out to the inhabitants. General Bernard Montgomery talking with Major General Simmonds over a map. Infantry advancing through the bushes. Civilians who tried to organise themselves to fight the allies were easily rounded up and disarmed near Vizzini. Several shots of lines of prisoners being marched in, some start to run. Various shots of the allied troops moving through Militello, they are greeted by the people. Several shots of meeting between General George Patton, General Montgomery and General Lord Harold Alexander.

Caption: One of the most-bombed ports in Sicily is Messina, the city just across
the straits from the Southern tip of Italy, whose hills are seen in the background.
Photo Credit - The San Bernardino Sun, issued July 11, 1943

Please click here to view newspaper stories about Sicily from various newspapers found on microfilm, online.

Back to the video links:

7. Title - The Invasion of Sicily, 1943 by British Pathé as found on YouTube

Time - 08min:42sec.

Storyline/Shot List - Several high ranking American officers, General Eisenhower amongst them, standing, looking on. Various shots of troopships of the Allied forces in Mediterranean getting ready for invasion of Sicily. Several shots of the ships at sea. Voiceover explains roles of different armies in the invasion. Various shots of the troops, vehicles and supplies landing at Sicily - fire heard. General Patton landing in Sicily with a cigar in his mouth. More shots of the troops and equipment landing, some civilians seen waving. Various shots of the American troops, tanks, lorries and other vehicles moving through the streets of a Sicilian town. Several shots of the bomb damage in the town. Troops searching buildings for snipers. Civilians surround American troops and greet them with smiles. Surrendered Italian troops rounded at the town square. More shots of the allied troops moving through several coastal town and countryside on their way to Messina. Engineers clearing roads of mines. Several shots of the allied aircraft on airfield. Fuel supplies arrive and they are off. Several shots of the planes in the air. Long line of dead enemy soldiers lying scattered on the road. Vehicles, tanks, artillery abandoned on roads. Several shots of allied artillery in action. Troops are seen advancing through countryside.

8. Title - Near Catania Sicily 1943 - On Sleeve as Catamga 1943* by British Pathé, on YouTube

Time - 02min:54sec. No Audio, but good quality shots with shot list below to help viewers

Storyline/Shot List - Allied supply with trucks lined up on deck. WS. Supply ship dock doors lowering. WS. Trucks leaving ship pan to dockside WS. From inside supply ship as trucks drive off WS. Crew leaning over deck rail pan down to see trucks leaving. WS. Across port showing landing craft and supply ships. MS. Pontoon decking. WS. Port packed with supply ships. WS. pan across port packed with Military equipment. WS. Pan to see supplies being loaded onto ships. MS. Munitions cases. WS. British troops with supply ships and landing craft behind. WS. Ammunition cases stacked on dockside ships behind. WS. Dockside. LS. Truck leaving landing craft. LS. Jeep pulling trailers behind. MS. Truck being loaded with supplies. WS. Sicilian countryside towards Mount Etna hazy in the distance. LS. Very hazy Mount Etna.

*'Catamga' (i.e., Catania, but quickly scribbled) was likely written on a tag atop a film canister, and someone thought they should add it to the title! "Maybe that's how it's actally spelld," he thought.

9. Title - Highlights of 1943 by British Pathé 

Time - 09min:10sec

Storyline - Review of the main events of the year 1943.

Shot List if available - (a short description is provided re each month of the year) E.g., July. Several shots of the Allied fleet during invasion of Sicily - sea battle. Barges filled with troops embarking to Sicily. Montage of shots of Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini who has lost his power. August. Various shots of the formations of planes flying over sea accompanying ships convoy. Convoys are much safer when crossing the Atlantic due to severe Nazi U-boats losses. Several shots of the allied aircraft raids of occupied territories in Western Europe - including Berlin.

If readers find other detailed, informative videos related to Operation HUSKY, please let me know. I will be very happy to add suitable suggestions to the above or future entry.

GH email - <>

Please click here to view Videos: Operation HUSKY, Sicily, July 1943 (Part 1)

Unattributed Photos GH

No comments: