Canadian Armed Forces commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Sicilian campaign

Backgrounder / July 24, 2013 / Project number: BG 13.032

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Sicilian Campaign this July.  The recognition of significant historical milestones, such as the Sicilian Campaign, enables the CAF to develop a deeper appreciation of the sacrifices and achievements of those who have served and continue to serve.

From July 25 to August 1, a contingent of 60 CAF personnel from the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force will retrace parts of the route marched by the Canadian soldiers who landed on the beaches of Pachino, Sicily in 1943.

Operation SICILY

Operation SICILY is the CAF participation in the privately-led commemorative effort Operation HUSKY 2013.  Eager to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation HUSKY, the operation that launched the Sicilian Campaign, a group of private citizens organized Operation HUSKY 2013, a symbolic march from Pachino to Agira, between July 10 and August 1.

Through Operation SICILY, the CAF is joining with Canadians to commemorate a significant moment in history.  The CAF contingent will join the Operation HUSKY 2013 marchers in Piazza Armerina and continue marching with them on the schedule outlined below:

  • July 25: CAF contingent arrives in Sicily;
  • July 26: Piazza Armerina to Enna;
  • July 27: Leonforte to Assoro;
  • July 28: Raddusa Agira-Station to Catenanuova;
  • July 29: Catenanuova to Adrano;
  • July 30: Agira Cemetery;
  • July 31: Catania; and
  • Aug 1: CAF contingent returns to Canada.

Operation HUSKY in 1943

The 1st Canadian Infantry Division and the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade sailed from Great Britain in late June, 1943, to join the British Eighth Army in the assault on Sicily. En route, 58 Canadians drowned when enemy submarines sank three ships of the assault convoy, Motor Vessels Devis, St Essylt, and City of Venice. Nevertheless, the Canadians arrived late in the night of July 9, to join the invasion armada of nearly 3000 Allied ships and landing craft.

Just after dawn on July 10, Canadian troops disembarked near Pachino, close to the southern tip of Sicily, and formed the left flank of the five British landings that spread more than 60 kilometres along the shoreline.  The Canadians pushed forward through mountainous terrain in extreme heat, over tortuous mine-filled roads, and faced increasing resistance from German troops as they pushed inland.

Significant fighting took place between Canadian and German forces at Grammichele, Leonforte, and Assoro.  Further resistance was met as the Germans made a determined stand on the route to Agira. Three successive attacks by the Canadian troops were beaten back before a fresh brigade, with overwhelming artillery and air support, succeeded in dislodging the enemy.  After five days of hard fighting, and at heavy cost, Agira was taken.

Canadian troops then progressed through Catenanuova and Regalbuto before overcoming the rugged mountainous terrain to break through the main enemy position and capture Adrano.

During the Sicilian Campaign, Canadian troops fought through 240 kilometres of mountainous country, farther than any other formation in the Eighth British Army.

In the fighting, 562 Canadian soldiers lost their lives, 664 were wounded, and 84 were taken as prisoners of war.


Date modified: