Sunday, May 28, 2023

Research: About a Trip to Sicily (3)

 Much Has been Written about 'The Savoy' (Cave) But...

The Exact Location is Still a Bit of a Mystery

But should I be going north of there? (


I am certain I will be able to stand upon the beaches where the 80th Flotilla of Canadian Landing Craft served (of which my father - RCNVR/Combined Ops - was a member) during the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky), beginning July 10, 1943. When I visit Sicily this summer I will be staying in the city of Avola, about 10 km to the south of the Punta del Cane peninsula pictured above, and will be just a short train ride away from GEORGE Beach at modern day Fontane Bianche.  

And after standing on and exploring the beaches I will likely say to myself, "Okay. Now, where is the cave he lived in for 2 - 3 weeks - with about 50 other sailors - and fondly called 'The Savoy'? I can see the peninsula to the south (about 1 km) and the hiking trails on the closest side are easily found. Let's go!!"

All the while I'll be aware that if I have no luck to the south I can always go north the next day. I lean toward the south because it looks more pastoral in photos and maps I've found and the cave had been used to house cattle (to escape the heat) before my father and mates bedded down and cooked their meals in the relative safety of  the 'lizardly' cave. 

Below I share several pieces of information about the cave as recalled by my father and others who enjoyed its safety and 'atmosphere.' No photos accompanied any of the written descriptions I have located thus far.

The first references to the cave inhabited by men of the 80th Flotilla (5 - 6 miles south of Syracuse and approx. same distance north of Avola) are found in a 13-page report by Lt. Cdr. J. E. Koyle (DSC, RCNVR) as found in the book "Combined Operations" by Londoner Clayton Marks, pages 173 - 185. 

Life Ashore -

The conditions for men ashore off duty varied. The 81st Flotilla Officer, Lieutenant Mullins, went ashore on the second day (@HOW Sector), after a day of ferrying high octane gas through air attacks, and managed to arrange with the Army for the billeting and feeding of his men at a rough camp about three minutes walk from the beach. The 80th did not fare so well and had to fend for themselves (@GEORGE Sector). They found, after living and feeding from ship to ship until the 21st of July, a cattle cave near the beach, which provided shelter but was uncomfortable and dirty. Both Flotillas lived mainly from Army "Composite" rations and what meals they could get from merchant ships they were unloading.

However, there were compensations. After things settled down, there were frequent opportunities for visiting nearby Sicilian towns, and sampling (to say the least) the local wine, Vino. Leave expeditions were organized to Noto (15 kilometres away) and to Syracuse, where the Canadians patronized the Fascist Armoury which contained all manner of war trophies... (page 181) After resting and repairing LCMs in Malta the 80th returned to action, i.e., the invasion of Italy, Operation Baytown. The ferrying job across the Messina Straits went on for thirty-two days (beginning Sept. 3) with much the same sort of discomfort as had been experienced south of Syracuse, but the organization was rather better and Flotillas were usually able to operate as a team instead of as individual craft with better results.

At their camp near Messina the Flotillas were better off than in their cave on "GEORGE" beaches, but supplies of all kinds were still hard to get, and medical services in particular were badly strained. The Flotilla personnel were in worse shape than at any time since the operations commenced and sores developed from the slightest scrape. The Flotilla ran their own Sick Bay under the charge of a Duty Officer and sores were dressed as well as amateurs could do it... page 184.

(My father and a mate closed up Sick Bay early one day when two pregnant women came for a bit of help. GH)

Lt. Cdr. Koyle's full report can be found on my site "1000 Men 1000 Stories" in four parts (the pieces I referenced are in Part 3).

As of this writing, I located a news article approx. 2 months ago in The (Montreal) Gazette in which both Koyle and Mullins are mentioned, as was the cave and its location relative to the beaches being serviced by the 81st Flotilla. "To the north" is all I can recall re the cave, which doesn't help me much now, because hiking trails to the north and south of Fontane Bianche would both be "to the north" of the HOW Sector (or Beaches) served by the 81st Flotilla. The article is currently on a USB stick with about 30 other newspaper issues... so it will be shared soon, I hope. 

Next, an excerpt from my father's story, "Cool, Damp, Safe Rooms at The Savoy," follows (italics mine):

After about a week of being continually harassed by bombers, ack-ack fire and dog fights in the sky (we Canadians shot down a wing tank and almost single-handedly drove the Americans from the skies) one of our fellows on a short reconnoitre ashore found an abandoned limestone cave. This cave, a huge hump in the beach landscape, was to become our shelter at night for nearly three weeks. About 60 of us slept there, including another Norwich boy, the late Buryl McIntyre. The remaining Canadian boys slept in holes dug along the beach, covered over by whatever they could scrape up.

The cave itself had been used at some time to house cattle to protect them from us. It was large enough to sleep many more. The roof was 70 or 80 feet thick and supported by huge limestone pillars inside.

“The cave was large enough to sleep many more” Photo - Palermo91

We soon obtained a barrage balloon (the same way I got the rum) which we anchored on top of the cave. Unless a bomb dropped in front of the door, we were as safe as a church. There wasn’t a bomb as yet that could pierce that roof.

The limestone underfoot was almost like wet cement, but we happily trudged through this, put our hammocks down doubled up, laid our mattresses on them, curled up in our blankets clothes and all, and slept like logs. We even recessed navy lamps into the walls. The ceiling was about 20 feet high. It was cool, damp and safe and we shared our good fortune with several little green lizards who had cool feet.

Early each morning we paraded out and slung our sleeping gear over bushes or on the lower limbs of olive trees and they would be quite dry by night. We decided to free one sailor from duty and he was to take over as a cook, something we just didn’t have. The cook’s duties were to find food and cook it in a huge metal cauldron, which we had procured in the same way as the rum and barrage balloon.

The cauldron was raised on stones and heated by pouring gasoline on the limestone underneath. This worked out quite well. The cook scrounged tomatoes (pomadori) which were plentiful and we managed some bully beef (the same way as rum, barrage balloon and cauldron). This was all stirred up together and one night we had tomatoes and bully beef, and the next night we had bully beef and tomatoes. Once in a while we threw in a sea boot to add a little flavour.

Although we were like a bunch of orphans, spirits always remained high. There were hundreds of cleverly contrived anti-personnel bombs about, but we and the cook were well-schooled on these. Field Marshall Montgomery spoke highly of the Canadian flotillas through the British Admiralty and said he was glad to have us along. After about 38 days, the Army and Air Force had won the day and Sicily was freed. Our work was done.

Our commanding officer, Lt./Cdr. Koyl gave us the news and said we could now return to Malta and prepare for Italy. In our glee someone shot down the barrage balloon and we said goodbye to the cave, which we had nicknamed The Savoy.

In my opinion, the above story is littered with clues that will assist me in my search. For example, the cave should still be "a huge hump in the beach landscape." It should still be "large enough for about 60 sailors to sleep there, or more." There should be access to its entrance in order to "house cattle" and "the roof was 70 or 80 feet thick and supported by huge limestone pillars inside."

Other clues followed the ones I have mentioned, making me think of pastoral surroundings ("tomatoes (pomadori)... were plentiful) and plentiful "anti-personnel bombs" had been buried in the earth.

About the nickname 'The Savoy.' Surely a few of the sailors still had their Navy knives with 4-inch spike. (Many sailors had likely traded away their knives for fruits and vegetables and clean water during the lengthy trip aboard the SS Silver Walnut around Africa on their way to Sicily.)

What in the world would sailors use these items for, I wonder?

Did just one sailor even, do some carving or scratching on the walls of their cave? Like, "The Savoy" or "Home Sweet Home" or "D. H. + E. C." (inside a heart) or "Canada" or a "Maple Leaf" or "80th Flotilla" or "Miss Canada, LCM 1022," etc.? I aim to find out. 

[Note to Self: Take sturdy shoes, a flashlight, dark pencil and tracing paper - for rubbings]

Questions or comments about the voyage of the SS Silver Walnut? Readers can connect by email with Editor at

From the collection of Doug Harrison. Initially he did not like the 'Walnut'
at all. His opinion greatly changed after arriving in Port Said, Egypt safely.

Canadian sailors Joe Malone (left) and Doug Harrison working on
their tans aboard Silver Walnut. From the Norwich Gazette, 1995

Now, back to 'the cave.'

I located two short (still significant) references to 'the cave' in Volume 1 of St. Nazaire to Singapore, Canadian Amphibious War. The first is by navy officer David Lewis, co-creator of the two-volume set of WWII navy veterans' stories. 

On page 182 Lewis shares a story entitled "Airborne Mishaps Off the Sicilian Coast" in which we read the attached three paragraphs:

 The other reference is found on page 193 in the short story "Miss Canada" LCM 1022, 80th Flotilla:

I think the above stories leave the impression that the cave was close to George Beach, where the sailors were assigned to work for a lengthy stint.

Chuck Rose, Ted Sale, John Rimmer and others arrived in Port Said (after their trip around Africa) aboard HMS Keren. They appear with other members of the 80th Flotilla of Canadian landing crafts in the photo below (from the collection of Doug Harrison):

I'll add one last brief reference to the caves by Lloyd Evans, (RCNVR, Combined Ops) originally from Ottawa, and living in Markham, ONT when I met him a few years ago. He had his memoirs in a book as I did re my father's (we traded one another and discovered each book contained a photo in which the other appeared!). I came out the winner, I believe. Lloyd's son sent me his father's WWII photo collection after Lloyd passed away.

[I would add here that one of the challenging aspects of connecting with my father's mates via their kin is that I am often reminded that the sailors are gone, their stories are mostly gone if not written down (which is generally the case), their wives are gone. Their loss is our generation's great loss. "Oh, if we'd only talked to them more often - or shown some genuine interest in their experiences - when they were alive." "Such is life," as my father would say.]

I cannot link you to Lloyd's book, but his memoirs appear on a website re Comb. Ops by Scotsman Geoff Slee. (And that's how I found Lloyd, through Geoff, both kindred spirits). 

Lloyd's reference from 'My Navy Chronicles' follows: 

After we finished unloading our mother ship, it sailed off and we moved onto the beach. There was still plenty of work unloading supplies from other ships in the area. Good accommodation was hard to find, so we moved into a big cave. It was damp inside, so we put our hammock mattresses on stretchers. Even so they and our blankets were wet through in the mornings and had to be hung out to dry.

Before bedding down at night, we had the ritual of shaking bugs and beetles from our beds. However, these deprivations were better by half than the ever present threat of enemy bombs. Several of our boys picked up an infection and ended up in the hospital with a high fever similar to malaria, although we had all been talking anti-malaria pills.

At one point, Army Intelligence thought the Germans were going to land paratroops to recapture the beach with the aim of cutting off our inland troops from their supplies. We anchored our landing craft off the beach and stayed on them that night instead of sleeping in the cave.

The army moved in a group of Indian troops that night with orders to finish off anybody who wasn't wearing a turban! The Indians were excellent at that type of operation but didn't get the chance to show what they could do, since it turned out to be an uneventful night. Perhaps the presence of our Air Force had caused the enemy to think twice about such an attack... our beach was near the town of Avola... 

Many of Lloyd's recollections are so similar to my father's that at first I thought they had to be twins or best of mates. Please click here to read Lloyd's full story. 

Will I find 'The Savoy?' You'll hear it here first if I do.

More to follow re my upcoming trip to Sicily.

Please click here to read About a Trip to Sicily (2)

Unattributed Photos GH

Friday, May 26, 2023

Video: "Stealing Chickens" by G. Douglas Harrison

 While in Messina, 1943, Canadian Sailors Grew Hungry

"Lt. Andy Wedd, RCNVR, Spotted Some Beautiful Hens"

Dad, 'The Master,' knew how to keep a chicken quiet in stressful times


My father, Gordon Douglas (Doug) Harrison, was a member of RCNVR and Combined Operations from 1941 - 1945 and recorded many stories of his varied experiences - in memoirs, news columns for his hometown paper (The Norwich Gazette) and submissions to two rare volumes of Canadian Navy veterans' stories, i.e., St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War 1941 - 1945. Click here to link to Volume 1.

In the top photo he is standing in front of his barn, home to a chicken coop and, usually, several laying hens.

Doug Harrison's barn, in Norwich ONT. As painted by Edith Harrison, his
wife, my mother (a talented painter and writer). Chicken coop is attached
to the barn, behind bent tree, far left. From the collection of GH. 

Coming soon to a theatre near you, "Stealing Chickens": Please click here to link to one of Doug's stories, now on YouTube. [Length - 3min:00sec.]

Here is the same video in 8 seconds! Please maintain a sense of humour at all times:

Proof that I do not know how to use all features on my iPhone!

I include the written version below for those who prefer written versions:

Here’s a Canadian WW2 story from Sicily called “Stealing Chickens”

In mid-September, 1943 at Messina, after Operation Baytown was well-underway, members of the 80th flotilla of Canadian landing crafts settled into a less-stressful routine.

My father writes the following:

We weren’t too busy and the officers (who ate separately but had the same food as the regular sailors, like me) were growing tired of their diet, the same as we were, even though they had a Sicilian cook.

One day Lt. Andy Wedd asked me if I knew about poultry. I informed him that the subject was right down my alley. He then told me of the location of six or eight beautiful hens and asked if I would help him.

He said, “How be we put on some sneakers and gaffle them.” (Or steal them).

I said right then, “Okay by me, but I get a portion for my part of the deal.”

When he asked me how we could keep the hens quiet, I told him, with an axe! Or, we could firmly grasp their necks and tuck their heads under one wing and rock them for awhile. We chose the second plan because it actually works. By now, of course, our mouths are watering.

We went in at dark, like another raid, and entered the outside pen with a flashlight, a kit bag and wearing mitts. Andy slowly caught each one by the neck, handed them to the master who rocked them to sleep and lowered them quietly into the kit bag. Without a squawk we cleaned the roost and proceeded to the officers’ mess, with the kit bag between us. Lt. Wedd asked the Sicilian cook to prepare them. And a little while later a couple of drum sticks were handed out the window to me.

Next morning, the Sicilian cook came in as mad as could be. Someone had stolen his chickens. Little did he know when he cooked them that they were his own - because his wife and his mother looked after them. Lt. Wedd and I kept that story secret for many years.

The story is from “Dad, Well Done,” pages 36 and 70

For those who wish to know more re Doug's memoirs,
please connect me at

Doug Harrison loved his bantam ("banties") roosters and hens

Please click here to view another video re Doug Harrison's 'Navy days' entitled Video: "Faint Footsteps, WWII" (Part 9)

Photos, Videos by GH

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Research: About a Trip to Sicily (2)

 I Certainly Have Lots to Learn About GEORGE Beach

"It's Linked to Maj. Peter Young, Commando 3? Really?"

From Jubilee of Death, Collected Poems of R. Souster, 
as found in St. Nazaire to Singapore, Vol. 1, pg. 196


As I prepare for an upcoming summer trip to Sicily to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy (beginning July 10 and September 3, 1943 respectively), I am collecting information about the places my father served in 'The Med' as a member of RCNVR and Combined Operations. He manned landing crafts at GEORGE Sector or Beach and I shared details about its exact location in "About a Trop to Sicily" (1).

Since sharing that post I have collected a bit more information about George Beach and surrounding area and I am sharing it here. Some of the new details have to do with the various types of ships stationed offshore (I was helped along by a particular map, shared in Part 1), including LSTs and Liberty ships. I also recently discovered that Maj. Peter Young and Commando 3 had a hard time finding George, the Beach that is, and my father's sharp eye helped me add one more item to my travel itinerary. 

As readers may recall, I shared the following map re the 81st Flotilla of Canadian landing crafts in the previous post. Yes, it definitely tells us how deep the water was offshore, from Fontane Bianche to Gallina in July 1943, but it tells us a good deal more too.

From St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War, pg 179

Earlier I identified Big Foot Wallace (at C2) and Mayo Brothers (at B3) as U.S. Liberty ships. They were not alone as some may have already guessed.

Other Liberty ships have been identified on the above map of Sicily's eastern shore as of July 10, 1943 Appendix A: O Henry (at D2), George Rogers (G.R.) Clark (at B2), George H. (G.H.) Dern (at C3), Leslie M. Shaw (at D1). Dilwala (at A1), J.C. Cannon (at A2) and Tederberg (sp?) (at B1) have not been identified. Lists of Liberty ships can be found here.

It is also possible to learn more about some of the LSTs (Landing Ship, Tanks) that are listed on the map, i.e., LST 409 (LST 409, also at another site), LST 413 (LST 413, also at another site, see photo below) and LST 368 (see photos following LST 413). 

LST 413, second from left, as found here

Imperial War Museum photo as found at NavSource Online

Below, how the ships may have looked while stationed offshore the east coast of Sicily in July 1943:

Liners right inshore, 4 miles south of Syracuse unloading troops
and landing craft. Photo - Roper, F G (Lt) © IWM A 18090

How the Canadian sailors in four flotillas of landing craft served in their roles (transporting troops and all the materials of war to the right beach at the right time) is described in this news article (August 17, 1943) from The Montreal Gazette after several weeks on the job:

The general locations where the four flotillas served can be seen on the map below:

As found in Combined Operations by Londoner Clayton Marks

More information re the sinking of the hospital ship, HMHS Talamba has been found:

While all this bombing was hard on the nerves (i.e., about every two hours for the first three days during the initial landings), it didn’t accomplish very much. However, about noon one day, three Stuka dive bombers came screaming from behind the mountain and out of the sun. They dropped three bombs, hitting two ships directly and damaging another from a near miss. For a few hours, the black smoke from the exploding ships turned day into night.

On another occasion, during a heavy bombing attack, a hospital ship lying off our beach was sunk. Hundreds of bombs were dropped at this time on the numerous ships around the beach, so the incident might have been accidental. After a Canadian Spitfire squadron became operational from a nearby grass runway there was a big reduction in enemy air activity.

From "my naval chronicle" by Lloyd Evans, RCNVR, Combined Operations

Duties and details related to SS Empire Charmian, in its station just south of HMHS Talamba (see below)have also been located:

From St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War,
Volume 1, page 175

From the diary of Bill Lindsay (who shared the map of Sicily's coastline and position of many ships), including references to Emoire Charmian::

From St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War,
Volume 1, pages 186 -187
Bill Lindsay, a member of the 81st flotilla of Canadian landing crafts, served at HOW Beach or Sector, a mile or two away from GEORGE Sector to the north. He mentioned the transport of 1,000 tons of gear per day, that many sailors were getting sick, though he was eating pretty good... "had chicken last night," and much more. But he makes no mention of the members of the 80th flotilla who lived in limestone caves for a few weeks. Nor did he see any Commando units. Lucky for him. They would have been in a bad mood!

In an article sent to me by S. Fagone of Sicily, in answer to a question about airfields in the area (see Lindsay's entry from July 20 above), we read the following:

Major Peter Young had a disappointing start to Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily on 10 July 1943. He was the commanding officer of half of 3 Commando, and he had been ordered to neutralise Italian defences on the shoulder of George Beach, prior to the main seaborne forces arriving. However he and his men spent the night in their landing craft shuttling from one wrong position to another. They finally arrived off George Beach after the assault waves had gone in and the beach had been captured. Already annoyed at missing the action, he was even more frustrated when his men were then given what was in effect a lowly garrisoning role, well behind the front lines. (Click here to read the full article - 3 Commando - The Storming of Torre Cuba)

 Details are provided about the location of a significant airfield in or near Cassibile, and it was visited by Canadian sailors, including my father, who spotted Allied planes in the air over their heads and wanted to go see what was going on just out of curiosity. In two separate instances, sailors met Canadian friends from their hometowns. Details will be shared in a future post.

I was curious about the position of the airfield because it might have helped me decide which way to travel in my search for the caves in which many sailors of the 80th flotilla spent their days and nights, safe from German planes and bombings. As I learned, however, Cassibile is directly behind or west of GEORGE Sector, by about 2 kilometres. So, it will be close, but offers no hint re "should I travel north, or south?" (At least I'll be in the right neighbourhood if I start on the beach at Fontane Bianche).

One excerpt from a story about the 80th and 81st flotillas sounds like it is providing a brilliant clue, but I have my reservations:

From St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War,
Volume 1, pages 182

Please note that the author of the above excerpt states the members of the 80th "found a cave on one of their beaches...".

Come on. I don't think that's possible!

More to soon follow about my search for 'The Savoy.'

Please click here to read another item re - Research: About a Trip to Sicily (1)

Unattributed Photos GH

Friday, May 5, 2023

Photographs: The Invasion of Sicily, July 1943 (1)

 Operation Husky, From the Imperial War Museum Vault

News Articles are Plentiful, Photographs Even More So

Allied troops land in several areas in south eastern Sicily.
Map found in Combined Operations by C. Marks

Some troops and Navy members were in pretty hot action

According to Ross Munro, some had an easy landing!


Not only will readers find more entries re news clippings from The Montreal Gazette on this site (please check recent months in the Blog Archive in right hand margin; entries are entitled Research: Three Months in the Mediterranean, 1943)  but many excellent photographs will be shared as well. A link to the last set of photographs re the armada of ships involved in the invasion of Sicily is provided at the bottom of this entry.

With each photo shared below, including one video, a link will be provided to the Imperial War Museum (IWM) for more information, e.g., re the photographer's other photos during the war.

Any questions or comments re the photographs can be addressed to

Photos re Sicily Invasion


[For more information re e.g., 'SICILY: ALLIED TROOPSHIPS ANCHOR CLOSE INSHORE', visit the Imperial War Museum Collections and enter part or all of the heading that comes with each photo.]

Liners right inshore, 4 miles south of Syracuse unloading troops and 
landing craft. Photo - Roper, F G (Lt)  © IWM A 18090 


Full video re invasion of Sicily is 2min:47sec. in length and can be
found at The 50th Division landing in Sicily. © IWM AYY 502/7/1 
By Baker, Robert Sidney at War Office Film Unit (Production co.)


Part of the huge invasion fleet on the way to Sicily. © IWM A 17976 
Photo - Royal Navy official photographer, Priest, L C (Lt)


The Drive for Messina. American troops pass a wrecked Italian tank at their
first objective, the coastal town of Gela. In the foreground are the residents
of the town, July 1943. Photo by US official photographer © IWM NY 3094


The Drive for Messina. Italian gunboat GENIERE lies on its side in Palermo Harbor
after being hit by a bomb, 23-26 July '43. The Americans entered Palermo on 22
July, cutting off 50,000 Italian troops in the west of the island. But the mobile Axis
forces, including most of the Germans, escaped to the NE corner of the island


Glimpse of the invasion coast as an armoured vehicle was being towed ashore
from landing craft during the landings in Sicily at dawn of the opening day of
© IWM A 17918 


Prisoners of war marching along the beach to awaiting ships, watched by Naval
Commandos, one of whom is armed with a Tommy gun at dawn of the opening
day of the invasion of Sicily. A landing craft infantry (large) (LCI (L) 124) and
two landing craft tanks LCT 382. Photo by Parnall, C H (Lt) Royal Navy
official photographer © IWM A 17913 


Operation Husky: The Sicily Landings 9 - 10 July 1943: Italian prisoners, captured
while manning coastal machine gun posts, board a Royal Navy landing craft before
being transported to North Africa. Photo by Wackett, Frederick (Sergeant) No. 2
© IWM NA 4196 


Just after dawn men of the Highland Division are up to their waists in water
unloading stores from landing craft tanks*. Meanwhile beach roads are being
prepared for heavy and light traffic during dawn of the opening day of the
© IWM A 17917 *landing craft tanks, aka LCTs


A loaded landing craft tank (LCT 412) taking Royal Air Force personnel
to the Sicilian shores near Pachino during the invasion of the island.


The Operation Husky, 9 July–17 August 1943. Troops of the 44th Royal Tank
Regiment having a laugh at a duck, possibly their regimental mascot, which
perched on one of their trucks passing through Acireale, 10 August 1943.


A German Panzer III Ausf M (turret number 533) moves along a dusty road
in Sicily, August 1943. German official photographer © IWM MH 6341 


A Martin Baltimore of the Tactical Bomber Force of the North West African
Air Forces, flying over its target by a road in Sicily, while bombing retreating
German forces heading for Messina, August 1943. Royal Air Force official
photographer © IWM C 3772 


The Operation Husky, 9 July–17 August 1943. A group of Italian POWs and their
regimental mascot dog awaiting on the beach for evacuation from the island by a
landing craft, 21 July 1943. Note British troops and their Universal Carrier in the
background. Photo by Dawson (Sergeant) (Photographer) No. 2 Army Film and


A British soldier reads up on Sicily, the target for the next Allied invasion,


Transport travelling through Linguaglossa, Sicily, on its way Northward. 
© IWM NA 5970 

More photographs related to the invasion of Sicily to follow.

Please visit the following entry related to the world's largest armada in military history as it approaches Sicily - Photographs: Armada to Sicily, July 1943 (3)

Unattributed Photos GH

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Research: Three Months in the Mediterranean, 1943 (6)

D-Day Sicily, Operation Husky Begins, July 10, 1943

More 'Gazette' News Clippings from July 12

Fortunately, it did not take long for beachheads to be formed and for
all materials of war to be stockpiled for Allied use. Photo as found in
"They Left the Back Door Open" by Lionel S. B. Shapiro, pg. 15

Photo Credit - Lieut. Dwight E. (Joe) Dolan, No. 21538, Album 61 of 110 (LAC)


As mentioned in the previous post, not all news stories concerning the first day of the invasion of Sicily made it back to Montreal in time for Gazette staff to insert them into the D-Day edition (a Saturday). Just as well, readers surely don't want their favourite columnists or war correspondents to scrimp on details just to get their story flashing back to Canada on the underwater cable.

After the Sunday break, Monday can sometimes be a slow news day. But not today! Not after D-Day + 2:

Members of the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve and Combined Ops (a
British org.), "Represent Cross Section of Dominion from Maritimes to B.C."* 

[*about 1,000 Canadians volunteered for Combined Operations during WWII, beginning with the first draft in November - December, 1941 (including my father D. Harrison, Ontario, listed on hammock above), and were soon learning how to handle landing crafts in S. England (Hayling Island) and NW Scotland (Inveraray). Their first action was the Dieppe raid, soon followed by the invasion of N. Africa, Sicily, Italy and Normandy, France. The hammock was given to Sub. Lt. Davie Rodgers by Leading Stoker W. Katana on their way to Operation Husky (invasion of Sicily). It was much later donated to the Navy Museum in Esquimalt, B.C. Ross Munro reported on Canadian troops in SE Sicily while the 55th, 61st, 80th (marked on hammock) and 81st Flotilla of Canadian Landing Crafts served on the eastern shores of Sicily, south of Syracuse.]

Map from Combined Operations, by Londoner Clayton Marks, pg. 76

Gazette article continues:

From the editorial page, July 12, 1943:

Also from the editorial page:

Please click here to read an excerpt (Part 6 of 8) from a sailor's memoirs concerning the Dieppe Raid, as he recalls delivering Canadian troops in a landing craft to the stony, murderous shores that lay ahead. The Dieppe Raid: August 19, 1942 - Part 6:

The Gazette editorial continues:

Yes, I do shine the spotlight on the Canadian navy, especially those in RCNVR. To balance things out, here are a few words about the Italian navy:

[A few words and photos about Italian 'human torpedos' will be shared in a later post.]

Memories of Dieppe return to a Canadian soldier after a very damaging attack:

On November 10, 1942 (as the invasion of North Africa - Operation Torch - began), Winston Churchill said this: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” I believe this is where we are today.

About one year later, a writer brings up part of that phrase in his remarks re the "spectacular landings of Allied forces on the shores of Sicily": 

Everyone will have different opinions related to the "Best War Photos" especially since 1000s of better quality photographs related to WWII are now easily at our disposal. Imperial War Museum alone is reported to have over 11,000,000 in their own collection! And if I can find the originals re to the ones below, I will do so:

Here is one example of the original:

Some of the two thousand vessels in the Allied convoy cross the Atlantic to
the N. African coast to take part in Operation Torch. Photo Source -

And, "close but no cigar":

Convoy en route for Algiers. © Imperial War Museum A 12737
Photo by Hampton, J A (Lt) Royal Navy official photographer


Another near miss:

Many factors, including technological advances and rapid ship production,
enabled the Allies to win the Battle of the Atlantic, but the most important
was adoption of the convoy system. U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive

"Best War Photos" continues:

Anti-Aircraft Fire Lighting Up The Sky - WW2 Algiers (This mid 20th
century US Military History print features ack-ack fire being used by the
Allied Forces to counter a Luftwaffe air raid by the Nazison Algiers,
French Algeria in 1943. Photo -

"Best War Photos" continues:

I may not have found the exact same photo but I'm confident it is "same time, same place":

Allied troops boarding assault craft in a North African port, apparently Bizerte,
Tunisia, en route to Sicily for Operation HUSKY in early July 1943.

*Note to Readers: The Liberation Trilogy is one of the best sets of books I've read about World War II. About ten years ago I found Volume 1 (An Army At Dawn) at Chapters Book Store and soon had all three volumes. I said a few words about Volume 1 here.

And now, back to news clippings from The Gazette:

The significance of Canadian war correspondent Ross Munro's "first story" cannot be understated. Whoever was sitting at "the Canadian Press clable (sic - cable) desk in New York" must have been waiting with bated breath!

It seems that Russian leaders are not as excited about Operation Husky as everyone else!

I tip my hat to Ross Munro. Not only first in line but very thorough. Names of some officers listed below will perhaps lead to more searches and research on my part, e.g., "Sub-Lt. Andrew Clark of Hamilton, Ont." who was "at Oran during the original North African landings last autumn, taking American shock troops into the beaches." As was my father and several other members of RCNVR and Combined Operations (COps), just east of Oran, at Arzeu beginning on November 8, 1942.

One of the other war correspondents mentioned above is Lionel Shapiro, and many of his articles will be a part of this series re 'Three Months in The Med.' Some other officers listed are from my home city, London Ontario. So, a bit more searching is almost certain. 

Troops and ammunition for light guns being brought ashore from a landing craft
assault (ramped) (LCA 428) on Arzeu beach, Algeria, North Africa, whilst another
 LCA (287) approaches the beach, during Operation 'Torch', Nov. 1942. IWM
The Canadian sailor (centre) is Doug Harrison, Norwich, Ont. RCNVR/COps

American troops landing on the beach at Arzeu, near Oran, from a landing
craft assault (LCA 26), some of them are carrying boxes of supplies.
Photo Credit - Imperial War Museum (IWM

More to follow from The Montreal Gazette.

Please link to Three Months in the Mediterranean, 1943 (5)

Unattributed Photos GH