Seventy-five years ago, Canadian troops spearheaded the liberation of Europe. The 1st Canadian Infantry Division — supported by the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade and airmen from the Royal Canadian Air Force — surged ashore at Pachino, in the island of Sicily’s southeast corner. What followed was a hard campaign against a determined enemy in the hot summer. The Canadian role was crucial to driving German forces from the island, opening the Mediterranean to Allied shipping, and toppling Fascist Italy. By campaign’s end, the Germans had come to respect the Canadian soldiers, who they nicknamed the “Red Patch Devils”.
2:20 Operation Husky and Why the Allies Targeted Sicily
4:20 The Canadian Army’s Involvement
8:57 Canadian Preparations for Operation Husky
10:12 The Canadians Approach Sicily
12:30 The Canadian Role in Operation Husky
17:03 The Canadian Assault and Who They Fought
19:54 The Canadian Drive: Leonforte and Assoro
25:30 The Drive Continues: Nissoria
27:09 Agira and the Seaforth Highlanders Pipe Band
29:05 Axis Defences Compromised in the Frying Pan
31:45 Did the Germans Snatch Victory from Defeat?
34:00 Operation Husky and the Wider War
37:57 The Cost to Canada and The “Red Patch Devils”
40:05 The Canadians Invade Italy
41:55 Canadian Junior Officers in Sicily
46:25 Remembering Operation Husky
Mark Zuehlke is Canada’s foremost popular military historian. He is best-known for his Canadian Battle Series of books on the Canadian Army in the Second World War. Operation Husky is the seventh volume in the series. It is the most detailed account of Canadian army operations in Sicily ever published. In 2013, Mark participated in a commemorative initiative called Operation Husky 2013. Along with fellow Canadians, he walked the route of the Canadian advance in Sicily, stopping at towns and villages along the way for moving remembrance services. He later published a memoir of his experience called Through Blood and Sweat. Mark has also received the prestigious Pierre Berton Award for his historical writing for popular audiences in Canada.
The Legion Magazine article Mark refers to can be found here.
For more information about Operation Husky 2018 (the commemorative initiative in Sicily) visit their website.
The following links offer more information on the topics discussed in this episode:
Operation Husky 1943 (includes information about the various battles Mark covers)
Weapons & Formations
No. 417 Squadron RCAF (scroll to ‘The Mediterranean Theatre’)
No. 331 Wing RCAF (scroll to ‘Royal Canadian Air Force 6 Group’)
Juno Beach & Beyond is hosted and edited by Alex Fitzgerald-Black, the centre’s Digital Projects Coordinator.
Seaforth Highlanders Band audio from the Bond of Strangers YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybKtHe7nAIE
Mackenzie King’s speech to British Parliament from the British Pathé YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SlEvclY5LE&t=48s
Artillery firing sounds from the CBC News: The National YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsCSQ4uWR1Y
Female veteran’s voice (Eileen Green, née Short) Courtesy of The Memory Project, Historica Canada: http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/383:eileen-green-nee-short/
Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech from Jonathan Thomas’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB5wZtV1MWM
Spitfire sound effect from Jason Kirby’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgZI4tAoMN0
Dramatic Interlude by Alexander Nakarada | https://www.serpentsoundstudios.com
Music promoted by https://www.free-stock-music.com
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at email@example.com.