Seaforth A Coy in the Salso Valley, Sicily - August 1943. The Seaforths posing with a German soldier that they just captured along with three German MG-34 machine guns and Nazi flag. (Seaforth Highlanders website). .

WW-II: Remembering a forgotten (almost) campaign July 10-Aug 7, 1943

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Sicily landings 1943- Op Husky

Almost everyone knows about the Normandy landing of D-Day in the Second World War but the prior invasion of Europe, if not forgotten, seems largely ignored. That was the invasion of Sicily and then Italy.

One Canadian man has made it his goal to remember. This came after a elderly veteran sadly said to Steve Gregory’s family that his history in the Sicily and Italian campaigns was lost. This prompted Gregory’s son to use the Sicily campaign for a school history project. The research for that project discovered that there indeed was not much information readily available. This led to Gregory deciding that the sacrifices must be remembered. He founded the Operation Husky Project, named after the code name for the Sicily landing..

In 2013, the Montreal businessman organised a commemorative trip to Sicily and has had information kits prepared for Canadian teachers about this important aspect of Canada’s Second World War history in which 25,000 Canadians took part. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Sicily invasion and Gregory will be leaving this week with an even larger group for Op Husky-2018.

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The commemorative trips are designed to raise awareness among Canadians and others of the tough battles, the sacrifices and lives lost in the Sicily campaign on July 10- August 7, 1943.

Steve Gregory speaking at a commemoration ceremony at the military cemetery at Agira during Op Husky-2013 (supplied)

That major coordinated landing was called Operation Husky which Gregory has used to name his organised trips, this one being Op Husky-2018.

Seaforth A Coy in the Salso Valley, Sicily – August 1943. The Seaforths posing with a German soldier that they just captured along with three German MG-34 machine guns and Nazi flag. (Seaforth Highlanders website). .

While the Dieppe Raid in Normandy has often been labelled as a practice run for the later D-Day landings, in fact Op Husky a huge and complex coordinated landing in Sicily was actually the far more realistic model.

A Canadian Sherman tank moves through Regalbuto during the Sicily campaign, 1943. ( Library and Archives Canada)

It was the start of a bitter campaign to push the Germans out of Sicily, and later out of Italy and limit their resources to counter the coming D-Day landings.

One of the many markers installed to remember the Canadian fallen, this one reads “July 22, 1943, soldier Norman Dwyer of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regt. died near this spot. That his spirit may rest in peace the marker records that his sacrifice will be forever remembered.

The Canadians had an extremely tough job with many incredible feats of courage and daring, including scaling a 1,100 foot cliff at Assoro which the Germans thought was impossible and so hadn’t reinforced. The Canadians scaled the cliff silently at night after an arduous overnight trek to surprise the German defenders from behind.

From an earlier Op Husky, an aerial shot of the Canadian War Graves ceremony at Agira where more than 750 gathered to perform a Roll-Call for the souls of those Canadians buried there. Courtesy of the Italian Carabinieri

From Op Husky-2013, an aerial shot of the Canadian War Graves ceremony at Agira where more than 750 gathered to perform a Roll-Call for the souls of those Canadians buried there. (Courtesy of the Italian Carabinieri)

Gregory points out that these trips commemorate the lives lost and provide markers at specific locations to ensure the memory of these events is not lost.

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