|Title:||The Invasion of Sicily 1943 - Images of War|
|Published:||Pen & Sword|
Jon Diamond has already authored a number of books in the Images of War series, and this is another good one. Most photos are from the National Archives in the USA and they tell an interesting story by just looking at them and reading the captions. But there’s more.
The landing in Sicily (Operation Husky, 9 July - 17 August 1943) by US, British and Canadian troops from, is one of many important operations in the European theatre of World War 2. The book provides a long and thorough introduction as to the discussions and battles leading up to it. It tells about the differences in opinion between the Americans and the British, between the military leaders and the politicians. The Americans rather wanted to attack Europe via the Channel and hit at Germany directly from there on, while Churchill and his military advisers were weary of yet another failed landing on a heavily defended coast.
In the end it was agreed to first attack North Africa (Operation Torch) and occupy Algeria and Morocco, thus attacking the Italians and Germans in North Africa from the west, while the British continued their drive towards Tunis from the east. After that, renewed discussions took place and Churchill ‘won’ again, now getting the Americans to agree to attack Italy via Sicily. The reasoning was that this would force German troops to be deferred from the Russian front, to (hopefully) take Italy out of the war, and to take control of the Mediterranean, thus protecting the supply routes to the Suez canal (to India) and provide bases for the allied air force to attack Italy from there.
The author explains all this in detail and the first chapter also has a lot of photos from the battles in North Africa, adding significant information to the actual Sicily battle story! In the next chapter the author shows the terrain and fortifications the allied were up against on Sicily. Most bunkers and fortifications were built by the Italians, who were also greatly assisted by the rough terrain in the center of Sicily and along the (northern) coast.
In chapter three Jon Diamond introduces us to the commanders on both sides, including some of the decision making and ‘politics’ that put those people where they were. The textual overview is then followed by many photos showing us the commanders and the combatants.
From page 160 onwards, chapter four, we get an overview of the troops and strategy involved in the actual attack by the allied, and the counter-attacks by the Axis forces (mainly the Germans). Again, there are many good photos showing what happened, and fortunately many of them are in large format. Again most come from the NARA, but also quite a few from the USAMHI (US Army Military History Institute).
Chapter five then shows the action after the initial landings and the securing of the bridgeheads, with the British pushing north along the eastern coast towards Messina, and the US troops fighting their way north through the mountainous center of the island, and west along the southern coast.
The many excellent photos provide a clear insight in the problems the fighting parties encountered in this mountainous and arid country. It also shows some of the destruction to civil life that inevitably took place, although some Italian sources have more on this aspect than this book shows.