- Operation Date
- 10 July 1943
REPORT ON THE LANDING IN SICILY.
REPORT ON THE LANDING IN SICILY.
PHASE I. At 0300 hrs. on the 10th. July 1943 the Commando embarked from M.V. "Derbyshire" into the 127th. Flotilla. Commando landed at 0315hrs. on right of alterative beach, Force I and Force II were both one troop short, one Pl. of "Y" Tp. one Pl. of "P"Tp. and the whole of "Q" Tp. The former, hitting a sandbank and losing the Flotilla, whilst the L.C.A.'s of "Q" Tp. got mixed up with L.C.A.'s of another Flotilla. The leading L.C.A. of "Q" Tp. contacted an M.L. and were given a course on which to move, which should have brought them to Commando Cove. However, it turned out to be the wrong beach, being recognised as the main POZZALO beach. After having been fired on by pill-boxes and shore defences, and returning the fire, the L.C.A.'s withdrew and set out to search for the correct beach. Having found the correct beach, "Q" Tp. landed at 0530hrs.
Meanwhile 5 Pl. of "P" Tp. were landed on the right of the Canadian Division, some miles further down the coast. They found very little opposition, and were able to make their way across country and join up with the remainder of their troop. It appears, that whilst lowering the L.C.A. containing the missing Pl. of "Y" Tp. from M.V."Derbyshire" it was damaged, and whilst proceeding to the shore, became waterlogged, and all ranks were forced to use steel helmets to bale out. This slowed up their speed considerably and consequently they lost the Flotilla, a landing was attempted, but the L.C.A, sunk and all ranks were transferred to an L.C.I. and then re-transferred to an M.L. which landed them on ROGER beach at 0700hrs. From here the PL. moved across country and joined up with the main body. The main body having landed, the two Forces formed up, Force II being approximately 50 yards inland and Force I about 30 yards inland. When the order was given to move off, Force II moved inland and came across a double-apron fence which was cut by "P" Tp. Force I moved along the coast, they too encountered a double-apron fence which was cut by "A" Tp. who shortly afterwards discovered and cut a telephone wire running along the coast. Owing to the absence of "Y" Tp. HQ and one Pl. of "Y" Tp. the remaining Pl. of "Y" Tp. joined up with "X" Tp.HQ and "X" Tp.Support Pl.under command of Capt.Maude, together with them they operated as a troop in the initial stages of the attack.
Force I moved towards the first battery (which was put down on the invasion map) but found that this was non-existent. During their advance all houses were searched but no Military personnel were encountered, whilst "A" Tp. advancing contacted a section of "A" Tp.41 R.M. Commando, who were a long way off their route, and set them on their correct course.
Meanwhile Force II advancing further inland found very little opposition, they searched every house but found no Military personnel. At one house two young male civilians rushed at a TSM gunner of "P" Tp. with an axe, the Tommy Gunner was forced to fire to save himself. One civilian was wounded and the other seeing that his comrade was hit, made off and was not seen again. An L.M. Gunner, hearing voices from a house, opened fire on the house later two dead Italians were discovered.
No C.D. Battery was found to be in the vicinity, both forces re-formed and the advance continued, Force II moving inland, to attack the rear of the second C.D. Battery, and Force I moving along the coast. Next, Force I with "A" Tp. leading, came across a group of houses and pill-boxes. The houses were successfully cleared and one Italian prisoner taken. The pill-box was tackled, the thatched roof was set on fire with incendiary bullets and the assault was carried out with grenades. It was discovered later that two Italians were killed and a heavy machine gun destroyed. Force I then halted some 50 yards to the West side of the pill-box, whilst Force II recced the area further West, to discover whether there was a C.D.Battery in existence. Finding no C. D. Battery, the whole Commando was ordered to withdraw to the beachhead. On their arrival there, the Commando took up a defensive position facing inland, the time being approximately 0600hrs. At this spot, the Commando was sniped at from a ridge some 800 yards inland. "A" Tp. was sent forward to clear the area. They advanced in open formation and came under fire which was hotly returned, grenade parties went forward and bombarded thick patches of scrub from where the fire was directed. The enemy was observed to withdraw hastily, some being killed by rifle fire. Four BREDA machine gun posts were captured, and in the ensuing assault on the ridge some seven enemy were killed and fifteen captured. The whole area was consolidated, and patrols sent out. At the beachhead the Support Pl. of "X" Tp. were detailed to defend the beach Dressing Station as well as guarding the prisoners of war. At approximately 0800hrs. "Q" Tp. joined up with the main body, after having gone adrift in the landing, the only tps. who were now short were one Pl. of "Y" Tp. and one Pl. of "P" Tp.
PHASE II. Commando to move inland and take up position on high ground.
At 0800hrs.Commando were ordered to advance to the high ground around 881908, and take up a defensive position, facing roughly North West, object being to protect the left flank of the Canadian Division. The Commando moved forward without meeting any enemy resistance, and the Commando took up their position. Slit trenches were dug and the Comando entrenched, but there was no sign of any enemy activity. Patrols were sent forward, but all returned with negative information. At 1400hrs. 6 Pl. of "P" Tp. were fired upon by long range Italian mortars, but suffered no casualties. The day passed uneventfully and at 1600hrs, the Commando again moved forward, to take up a defensive position on a ridge to the front. During the afternoon, 5 Pl. of "P" Tp. joined up with the main body after having been landed on the right of the Canadian Division and succeeding to make their way across country. When the Commando moved forward, a number of snipers were active, these were stalked and either killed or captured; "Q" Tp. accounted for a number of them, and brought back fourteen prisoners. Continuing the advance the Commando reached their positions at 1730hrs. It was in this position that "Q" Tp. were heavily engaged by long-range mortars and suffered two casualties. One Officer-Lieut.Cross and one marine. Considering the heavy fire, the casualties were remarkably light. However a 4" Mortar of the Seaforths of Canada dealt with the enemy mortar position and silenced it. The situation remained quiet during the evening and the night. Patrols were sent out and a few snipers were stalked and killed. It was at this position that the missing Pl. of "Y" Tp. joined up with the main body, arriving at 2100hrs, after having travelled across country from ROGER GREEN Beach. F.O.O.Party arrived at approximately the same time, and so the Commando was almost complete.
PHASE III. Commando taking up forward defence line with HQ at 851923.
During the advance to this position nothing was seen or heard of the enemy and the Commando arrived in position at 14.00hrs. The remainder of the day was uneventful, a quiet night passed and the following morning the Commando moved off into the Canadian Divisional Reserve. The Canadians took over our sector. Commando commenced their march back to the reserve positions at 1030hrs. It was extremely hot marching, the roads being very dusty, and the unaccustomed glare hurt the eyes. The Commando arrived at the reserve positions at 1530hrs. and here they were given an area in which to settle down and rest. Slit trenches were dug, rations were issued, and everybody settled down for the night.
The following day, the Rear Party arrived with the unit's transport and a proportion of stores.
Source : National Archives ADM 202/87