Neither Hodson nor his men were feeling alert. The task of General Montgomery's British Eighth Army was, therefore, to capture the Pachino airfield on Cape Passero and the port of Syracuse before moving northwards to take the ports of Augusta and Catania. Now let’s return to modern day Pachino where our tour co-ordinator John Cannon has told us that a surprise is in store. Soldiers who were supposed to be driven inland, now had to walk. For the Canadians in those first heady days of the invasion it must have seemed like a relative cakewalk compared to what they had been told to expect, but that was not to last. In May it was my good fortune to stand at Maucini, a farmstead in the Pachino peninsula, and tell a group of some 80 NATO officers how "A" and "B" Companies of The Royal Canadian Regiment captured the airfield and a coastal battery in the blistering hot sun of July … Major General McCaffrey flew into the … Canadian forces served in the heat, snow and mud of the grinding, nearly two-year Allied battle across Sicily and up the Italian peninsula—prying the country from Germany's grip, at a cost of more than 26,000 Canadian casualties. The 7th Army's main objectives included capturing the port of Licata and the airfields of Ponte Olivo, Biscari and Comiso. Colonel Strome Galloway Pro Patria #17; August 1973. This was a very typical rural Sicilian restaurant with good food and excellent local wines, which are also always included gratis. We had our first such lunch today at Valle Verde, not far from our final stop of the day at Grammichele. The Royal Canadian Regiment was given the task of taking the airfield. The mountain town of Grammichele (pronounced Grammachelly) was the first place that Canadians faced troops from the well equipped Hermann Göring Panzer Division which possessed the dreaded Tiger tank. Eighth Army's tasks were therefore to capture the Pachino airfield on Cape Passero and the port of Syracuse before moving northwards to take the ports of Augusta and Catania. All told over 152,000 Italians became POWs or went awol during Operation Husky as compared to just over 10,000 Germans captured. Mussolini was always more popular in Italy than Hitler was in Germany, receiving up to 1,500 letters a week from devoted admirers (compared to Hitler’s 1,000 a month). And that’s where the Germans are in Grammichele, which sits 250 feet above the valley. JUL 10: Resistance of the Blackshirts 30. Yeah, sure. and Pachino airfield.1 The airfield was surrounded by a defensive pillbox and bunker network. In the mountainous part of Sicily you won’t find the towns in the valleys, but more often than not, on the top of the hill for reasons dictated by history. To be sure some Italian units fought bravely, particularly in some of the American sectors, (almost 4,700 were killed and over 35,000 wounded), but the overall pattern was one of surrender rather than fighting. By the time the Allies landed in Sicily the Italian armed forces had sustained huge losses in the North Africa campaign with over 22,000 killed and another 250,000-350,000 captured. Mules and donkeys were commandeered or purchased as the case may be, but they were of limited help. It wasn’t just to be a baptism of fire, but heat, thirst, pestilence and exhaustion. The areas in white are low lying coastal plains while the areas in brown or tan represent higher elevations, including some real mountains. Once you’ve been invaded by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Goths, Vandals, Moors, Turks and a few others I probably missed, you learn that the safest place to be is high on a hill, preferably behind a fortified wall.
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