Operation Husky with Mark Zuehlke

| July 4, 2018

Juno Beach and Beyond
Operation Husky with Mark Zuehlke

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”.

Canadian troops en route to Sicily (Source: Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/MIKAN no. 3516219).

Time Stamps

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

Guest Biography

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.

To check out Bond of Strangers, the documentary about Operation Husky 2013, visit their website.

The following links offer more information on the topics discussed in this episode:


Dieppe Raid

Operation Husky 1943 (includes information about the various battles Mark covers)

Battle of Ortona

D-Day 1944

Weapons & Formations

Canadian Army Units in Sicily

No. 417 Squadron RCAF (scroll to ‘The Mediterranean Theatre’)

No. 331 Wing RCAF (scroll to ‘Royal Canadian Air Force 6 Group’)




Winston Churchill

Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery

William Lyon Mackenzie King

Lieutenant-General H.D.G Crerar

Major-General Guy Simonds

Lieutenant-Colonel Bert Hoffmeister


Agira Canadian War Cemetery


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 jbca@junobeach.org.

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