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Invasion of Sicily

The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from Italy and Nazi Germany. It was a large-scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. It launched the Italian Campaign.

 

Husky began on the night of July 9, 1943, and ended August 17. It was the largest amphibious operation of the war in terms of men landed on the beaches and of frontage. Strategically, Husky achieved the goals set out for it by Allied planners. The Allies drove Axis air and naval forces from the island; the Mediterranean's sea lanes were opened and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was toppled from power.

 

The casualties on the Axis side totalled 29,000, with 140,000 (mostly Italians) captured. The U.S. lost 2,237 killed and 6,544 wounded and captured; the British suffered 2,721 dead, and 10,122 wounded and captured; the Canadians suffered 2,410 casualties including 562 killed and 1,848 wounded and captured. For many of the American forces and for the entire Canadian contingent, this was their first time in combat. The Axis successfully evacuated the entire garrison in Messina. Rescuing such a large number of troops from the threat of capture represented a major success for the Axis. In the face of Allied naval and air superiority, this evacuation was a major Allied failure.

 

After the battle, Allied command was forced to improve interservice coordination, particularly with regard to use of airborne forces. After several misdrops and a deadly «friendly fire» incident, increased training and some tactical changes kept the paratroopers in the war.

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