The Campaign in Sicily and Italy

During the campaign in Sicily and Italy from July 1943 to August 1944, the 2nd Battalion advanced across the area as part of the Eighth Army.

The campaign began with the invasion of Sicily on 10th July 1943 when 160,000 allied troops, including men from the American and Canadian armies, landed on the beaches at Sicily. Their aim was to drive away the German and Italian armies from the island and open up the path to Italy. Although the Italian forces did not put up a very determined fight, the German opposition was fierce and stubborn.

Within six weeks the allied forces, including the 2nd Battalion, had advanced through the island and entered the city of Messina in the north of Sicily. However, the Italian and German forces managed to evade capture by successfully evacuating many of their soldiers, using delaying tactics such as mines and demolitions.

After a short break, the 2nd Battalion was told to prepare for the invasion into Italy. They were amongst the first assaulting forces to set foot in Italy on the 3rd September 1943.

The 2nd made a rapid advance north, almost unopposed by the enemy. However, the winter months were then spent in the mountains, often engaging with enemy soldiers. The 2nd suffered a steady toll of casualties and struggled with the severe winter conditions.

The battalion was then sent to help following the allied landings at Anzio, where they were met with heavy resistance, suffering 170 casualties in just two weeks. Despite this, the allied forces were able to gain even more ground. The 2nd Battalion acted as an advanced guard leading the 13th Brigade in the first stages of the march to Rome, which the American forces then occupied on the 5th of June 1944.

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Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion in the mountains of Italy, November 1943

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion climbing a track in the mountains of Italy, November 1943.

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Dug-out, 2nd Battalion Anzio

A dug-out used by soldiers of the 2nd Battalion in Anzio, Italy.

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Italy Star medal

The Italy Star Medal awarded for service in Sicily and Italy.