Monday, January 9, 2023

Videos: Operations Baytown and Avalanche, Sept. 1943 (1)

Canadians in RCNVR and Combined Operations in Italy, 1943

(British Pathé Film Service Has a Huge Collection to Explore)

Troops from 51st Highland Division board landing craft at Catania, 2 Sept. 1943.
Photo - NA6169. Sgt. Loughlin, No. 2 Army Film & Photographic Unit, IWM.


The last operation my father and many mates (RCNVR, Comb. Ops) were involved in took place in Italy, beginning September 3, 1943, i.e., Operation Baytown. The main port my father mentions in memoirs was Messina (he was attached to the 80th Canadian Flotilla of Landing Crafts) but I would not be surprised if some Canadian sailors were attached to landing craft crews in Catania (see above photo). A few participated in Operation Avalanche, the invasion of Italy at Salerno beginning September 9.

Both Operation Baytown and Avalanche are mentioned in the book Combined Operations by Londoner Clayton Marks. The book contains his own stories as well as those of other Canadian Navy WWII veterans.

Please click here to read a short story re the invasions of Sicily and Italy by Clayton Marks.

Click here to view newspaper articles from The Ottawa Citizen re 'context for Operation Baytown': Baytown (Italy WWII) - September 1 - 10, 1943, Parts 1 - 5

Videos: Operations Baytown and Avalanche, Sept. 1943

Below, readers will find details about and links to several wartime videos archived at the British Pathé film collection. Readers are encouraged to visit the individual films and others that are related to it by subject. The drop down menu "collections" may also be of interest to some viewers.

Happy hunting, I say!

Time - 2:35

Short Summary - Operation Baytown commences as the British Eighth Army spearheads the invasion of Italy, guarded by the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force... DUCKS (U.S. Amphibious 3 ton lorries) enter water in darkness from Sicily; supplies follow... Shipping in Straits of Messina crossing to Italy... night barrage... navy escorts. Montgomery visits troops in Sicily... decorates men.. .speaks to assembly from car... amphibious ducks enter water... first wounded arrive from Italy.

2. English Eighth Army Under Montgomery Invades Italy

Time - 2:48

Short Summary - General Montgomery and the British Eighth Army attack the soft underbelly of Europe in liberation of Italy during Operation Baytown. Our Armies in Italy, i.e., Messina and Reggio di Calabria... British Army invades Italy, includes footage of boats and airplanes... R.A.F., first airport seized by Allies in Italy... ASSAULT LANDING CRAFT, troops embark L.C.I's at Sicilian Port, cross straits of Messina... land on beaches (Italy)... DUCKS (U.S. Amphibious 3 ton lorries) Naval motor launch towing Duck takes Montgomery from Sicily to Italy... Ducks land on beaches... lined up in harbour (Sicily)... White Ensign flies over Reggio Harbour

Time 3:11

Short Summary - British Eighth Army and U.S. Fifth Army invade the soft underbelly of Europe through Italy... Broken Axis, Italian Surrender Disintegrates Three-Power Pact... ARNOLD, Major General at Citadel, Quebec for Conference w. Allied Chiefs... Troops & equipment embark from Sicily... land at dawn in Italy... disembark. Last line - "this was some of the story of the landing". (So, there's surely more out there!)

Canadians in Combined Operations at HMS Saunders (top) and Cairo
Photo as found in Combined Operations by C. Marks, London

Time 6:06 (No audio)

Short Summary - Various shots of the troops landing in Italy... Operation Baytown, crossing the strait of Messina, 4th September 1943. Several shots of the ships at sea. Various shots of the bombing of the unknown village. Long shots showing a coastal town with sea and a big island in background. Various shots of the troops in lorries, jeeps etc., driving through the Italian village - a word Duce is seen on house wall. Several shots of an officer being interviewed. Pan along line of officers posing for photographs. Several shots of ships and landing crafts in a harbour. Various shots of long lines of different vehicles at the beach. Several shots of the ships at sea. Several shots of the jeeps and lorries landing on beach.

Time - 3:35

Short Summary - Allied troops start invasion of Italy. Various shots of the ships of the American and British fleet assembled off Salerno preparing for invasion. Various shots of naval barrage, some shots below decks of the shells being loaded into guns. Various shots of the ships including troop transporters near the mainland. Various shots of the The Anglo-American 5th Army landing on Salerno with its equipment which includes heavy artillery guns and trucks. More naval barrage. Various dawn shots of the allied landings on Salerno. One of the ships gets hit and column of smoke rises. Various shots of German prisoners being rounded up. More supplies and men coming ashore from landing craft.

Time- 4:27

Short Summary - Combined operations in Italy sees continued troop and material landing while Royal Air Force is active... R.A.F. Field guns clear Germans from Monte Corvino 'field in Italy... R.A.F. servicing commandos preparing field for operational use... German supplies intact... ours unloaded... SEAFIRE lands & refuels... smashed German plane w. marking on Monte Corvino airfield in Italy... field guns firing on field.. supplies left by German... British tommy eating apple during rest in Italy... More A.L.C's at SALERNO.. land w. troops & equipment... NEW TYPE w. DOUBLE DOORS opens & troops disembark w. tank

Time 1:19

Short Summary - USS cruiser 'Savannah' recovers after being hit by the enemy during landing at Salerno, Italy. Long shot of the USS cruiser 'Savannah' which has received a direct hit while supporting the allied landings at Salerno. Various shots of the fire fighters in action onboard the 'Savannah'. The injured are brought out and cared for. Through the grey haze the 'Savannah' goes to action again.


Time 1:53

Short Summary - Allied troops paving the way for attack of Naples. Various shots of the soldiers of the Anglo-American 5th Army coming ashore at Salerno, Italy, from landing craft. Equipment including tanks and trucks coming ashore. Various shots of the shells falling around the landing craft. Shelling does not slow the landings down. Various shots of the troops moving inland along roads. German prisoners going the other way. Italian officer showing royal engineers where mines and booby traps are placed. Large artillery gun rapid firing. Soldiers advancing.

9. Salerno 1944

Time 6:28

Short Summary - Allied navy at the coast of Salerno - they are slowly disembarking. Various long shots of town of Salerno, Sicily, from the sea. Several shots of ships at sea. Several shots, from the ship, of Salerno and coastline around the town. Several shots of the ships approaching the coast. Several shots of the men onboard one of the ships, some soldiers and some civilians. They are seen talking in small groups, smoking, walking along the deck, reading etc. Various long shots of the activities along the coast, taken from ship. Battleships, troopships and landing crafts are seen along the coast - troops disembarking, equipment unloaded etc. Smoke screen and shelling - troops still at work etc. Various shots of the ships at sea with smoke screen in the background - they are protecting themselves from shelling - some explosions are seen around ships. More shots of the ships at sea, explosions etc.

Time 5:12

Short Summary - Filmed in Italy, Italian language is used. Good video of Reggio di Calabria on the toe of the boot. This is where many Canadians in Combined Ops landed on September 3rd. Reggio served as a main port to land supplies for several weeks.

More videos, from another source, also about Operations Baytown and Avalanche, will soon follow.

Please click here to view more videos - Combined Operations, Odds 'n' Sods

Unattributed Photos GH 

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