[July 10, 2019] Recently we rightly celebrated D-Day, the Allied invasion of France that began 75 years ago in June 1944. But it was a year earlier, with the invasion of Sicily that the real battle for Europe began. On this date, July 10, 1943, the first elements of American and British troops landed on the southern coast of Sicily to begin the drive “up the boot of Italy to destroy the Nazi war machine.”
Many of the World War II veterans that I’ve known and are part of our local Veterans Club were part of Lieutenant General Patton’s Seventh U.S. Army. They landed in Sicily just 76 years ago today. With British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery on his flank, the race to capture the entire island began.
There have been several in-depth studies of these two ‘brawny’ personalities; the most famous names of the war. Patton and Montgomery vied for the best military positions from which to free Europe. Both these generals were successful and at the apex of their careers. Each had contrasting leadership styles that suited their armies, and they were keenly conscious that they would be successful in destroying Germany. The only question was when.
In Rome, the Allied invasion of Sicily, led to the collapse of Mussolini’s government. Early on July 25th, he was forced to resign by the Fascist Grand Council and was arrested later that day. In a daring raid, German commandos rescued Mussolini from prison, but his fate didn’t end there. He was captured by Italian partisans the following April of 1944 and summarily executed.1
A good friend of mine’s father was part of this invasion force under Patton. This article is dedicated to his memory and all World War II veterans. They helped win back the continent of Europe and restored the freedoms all humans so richly deserve.