Allied Invasion of Sicily 

U.S. #2765c from the 1943: Turning the Tide World War II sheet.

On July 10, 1943, the Allies launched their successful invasion of Sicily, dubbed Operation Husky.

The main wartime disagreement among the Big Three – Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt – concerned the Allied invasion of western Europe. Although it was agreed a second fighting front should be established in western Europe, Roosevelt and Churchill could not agree on when and where to invade.

U.S. #2765c – Invasion of Sicily Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

F.D.R. wanted to take northern France as soon as possible; Churchill felt an invasion of France before Allied forces were fully prepared would be disastrous, and opted for invading Italy instead. In January of 1943, the two met in Casablanca, where they agreed to invade Sicily. It was hoped that this move would make the Mediterranean safe for Allied ships, as well as drive a war-weary Italy out of the war.

U.S. #1026 pictures General Patton along with two tanks that bear his name.

That April, German agents discovered the body of a British pilot with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. Adolf Hitler examined the enclosed documents and found that the Allies planned to attack Sardinia and Corsica and sent his troops and ships there. However, the body was a diversion, meant to draw them away from the actual invasion of Sicily.

U.S. #3394 – Bradley commanded the 7th Army at Sicily.

The battle got underway just after midnight on July 10, 1943 with American and British airborne troops making a combat drop. Later that morning, the Allies launched one of the largest amphibious operations in history. This included 150,000 American and British troops, 3,000 ships, 600 tanks, and 4,000 aircraft.

Ignorant of the enemy’s plans to attack Sicily, the Axis forces were ill-prepared on that fateful day. Coastal defenses, manned mainly by Sicilians unwilling to turn their homeland into a battleground, rapidly collapsed. The fight went on for several weeks, with the Allies forcing the German and Italian troops into northern Sicily.

U.S. #4249 – Journalist John Hersey was with the Allies when they invaded Sicily.

Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini was arrested on July 24 and replaced by Marshal Pietro, who began secret peace talks with the Allies. By mid-August, the German and Italian armies began evacuating to Messina. General George Patton expected one final battle there, but found all the Axis troops had disappeared. Though the Allies had taken Sicily, they failed to capture Axis troops, which would make the fight in the Italian mainland more challenging. By September, Italy was under Allied control.

Click here for a video from the invasion.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. Very interesting story. I have seen the stamps before but the story behind the stamp makes it alive.

    1. It would have been better to listen to Churchill, and attack northern France
      instead of Sicily in July, 1943. The Germans were heavily engaged on the
      Russian front, and the many patriotic French civilians could have assisted the American,British, Canadian and other Allied troops on the campaign
      in northwestern France. The extra year awarded to the Germans allowed their more extensive fortification of their Atlantic Wall, and gave Germany
      an extra year to kill more millions of innocent civilians in their barbaric
      genocide. Roosevelt was wrong in this decision.

  2. I believe that the last sentence should read “By September, Sicily was under Allied control.”, not Italy. That was the month when the Allies landed in southern Italy. Although Rome finally was taken on June 4, 1944, after a nine month slug fest, the Italian campaign dragged on for almost another year.

  3. There is an error. Italy was not secure by September. I think the autor meant to say Sicily was secure

  4. The “British pilot with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist” was not a British pilot but a man who had died of pneumonia (& thus would appear to superficial examination to have drowned) in a British hospital. A 1956 movie about this, with some liberties taken with the history, “The Man Who Never Was”, can be found here - . It’s a bit less than 1.5 hours long.

  5. Was Roosevelt right…should the Allies have invaded France in 1943? Or was Churchill right…the invasion of France should be delayed until the Allies were better prepared? The invasion at Normandy came eleven months later, Operation Overlord, began on June 6, D-Day, and it was a slugfest. The Allies were better prepared but so were the Germans who had those eleven months to prepare costal defenses. Churchill referred to Italy as the “soft underbelly” of the Axis, but as Dr. Zeimat has pointed out, the Italy campaign was no soft underbelly.

  6. Definitely like these Daily Vignettes that combine several Stamps into a cohesive story, bringing US History alive within Stamp Philately.

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