In about a year from now, you will be reading more about the Normandy Invasion.

We predict, it will hit the news worldwide big time when it reaches the 75th Anniversary. 

 

   But as this summer is upon us, it would be a great idea to see what happened 75 summers ago, deep in the middle of 1943.  This past Tuesday, July 10, 2018 none of the major news networks here in the United States said a peep on what happened 75 years ago, namely the invasion of Sicily, known as Operation Husky.  The author was watching them all, but nada.  Seven Allied divisions were involved; initially 80,000 men and about 600 tanks.  Awaiting them were 230,000 Italian troops and 30,000 German soldiers.  Germany still had a powerful air force of about 800 aircraft, but they were scattered all over Sicily, Sardinia and Italy. 

   Overseas, the Germans were basically fighting a war on 2 fronts.  When the invasion of Sicily got hot, Hitler was forced to redeploy armored units out of the Russian Front.  His major offensive at Kursk quickly curtailed after a week and it meant his strength on the Eastern Front was reduced.  See this map

Introduction to 1943

Operation Husky and Popular Culture

   In 1943, Hitler was still running the show in much of Europe, and that meant millions of people were under his police state.

 Author Mr. Valentine has composed seven books, three are published.   Titles: A Toast For You And Me, America’s Participation, Sacrifice and Victory.  The following is an arrangement from his research of 1943.  

   First is a sample of what the American public saw at the Home Front.  This is  a United News newsreel on Sicily.  Too bad the video does not convey how it really was--unless you look closely because there was a huge storm on July 9th.   In those times, the news were shown in local theaters via newsreels  They were informative clips made by Movietone News, United News, Paramount News, RKO Pathe and Universal News. The March of Time films were not newsreels, they approximated screen journalism reports, made by Time Magazine.  None are in color. History need not always be crummy and boring. 

 

   Exactly 75 years ago, in America there were some 200 foods rationed—like veggies, meat, butter, all canned and frozen foods, fish and cheese— there was rationing of gas and tires and paper drives, food drives, people flattened toothpaste tubes for the supply of tin with 289,903 pounds collected throughout the nation from Jan-Sept ’43.   Women donated 50,000,000 pairs of stockings in 1943 and there were also riots, not food riots but race riots

 

   Check out what kind of life existed with this short PDF; the war as it really happened with both the familiar and other items.  This PDF file helps see popular culture and super secrets, an extraordinary timeline of 1943, especially compiled for you from the author Mr. Valentine.  A 75th Anniversary of WW II, from Valentine's Day to Labor Day. 

   Note April 30, 1943.  Operation Mincemeat, it is quite educational, a daring plan actually inspired by Ian Fleming, of 007 fame.  Real espionage in WW II. 

  By 1943, there were also 27,600 Hollywood personalities and craftsman in uniform. Hollywood personalities toured the individual bases and camps abroad and at home. On your left is Hollywood star Veronica Lake. Everyone knew Veronica.  They gave performances on varying stages.

 

   Touring the States, the performers went by what they nicknamed “Circuits”--the “Hospital”, the “Blue” (of 15-1,500 people), the “Victory” Circuits (of 1,500 plus).   The Number One Star was the great comedian Bob Hope, who covered over 200,000 miles worldwide in World War II.  All throughout the war, the Big Bands of Harry James, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller, along with numerous others, joined in.

  On a serious note, it was in summer of 1943 that 2,760 naval vessels from different points were converging on the island of Sicily.

  Naval ships from Great Britain, the United States, Holland, Polish, Greek, and Indian navies formed this armada, and within 3 days over 150,000 ground troops had landed.  The ships actually began sailing on July 9. The weather was wicked and awful, as a storm hit.  The storm slowly died down around midnight.  The Italian radar system detected the oncoming fleet but when they saw the radar blimps coming they said no way, they thought it was malfunctioning.  They blamed it on the lousy storm.  A full radar alert was not sounded till the Allied ships started bombarding them. 

A few words on prayer

Invasion of Sicily

  The capture of Sicily was a strategic success, not only liberating a people, but it opened the Mediterranean Sea lanes for the first time since 1941.  On July 25, 1943, the Italian dictator Mussolini was toppled from power.  In America on August 17, it was announced on radio  that Sicily was liberated with 135,000 Axis taken. There ae many more websites explaining Operation Husky, but this one is pretty good.  Success came at a high cost, however.  The taking of Sicily had cost the United States 2,811 killed in action and some 6,000 wounded.  United Kingdom forces had 2,727 killed and 2,900 wounded.  Some had died when Allied gunners on the invasion ships fired on the second wave of transport gliders due to a mistaken belief they were German aircraft; and shot down 23 C-47s.  Pictured is a terrifying explosion caught on camera of the Liberty ship explosion after being hit by a German Hs 293 rocket.  

   The combined Axis forces lost about 8,900 men with some 46,000 wounded.  Over 140,000 Axis troops had been captured. But, the worst news of all was that they were able to evacuate tens of thousands to Italy.  The Germans evacuated some 52,000 troops, 14,105 vehicles and 47 tanks.  The Italians still loyal to Mussolini evacuated some 62,000 troops and 227 vehicles.  All across the Straits of Messina, where the so-called arsenal of democracy Allied ships, subs and planes could have been set to trap the foe.  The Allies enjoyed air superiority; they had some 3,700 aircraft as opposed to 1,600 for the Axis forces, however, they blew it.   History books say the Straits of Messina were protected by 120 heavy and 112 light anti-aircraft guns and those Axis guns and their crews did the trick. If you are visiting New Orleans, check out the big museum of WW II.