Patton congratulates his troops for success in Sicily

General George S. Patton in command of US forces on Sicily.

General George S. Patton in command of US forces on Sicily.

The Drive for Messina 10 July - 17 August 1943: The successful German rear guard action towards the end of the campaign enabled over 100,00 Axis troops and a large quantity of equipment to be evacuated to Italy from Messina. An aerial photograph shows one of the last German ships to leave Messina on fire after being bombed by the Royal Air Force off the Sicilian coast.

The Drive for Messina 10 July – 17 August 1943: The successful German rear guard action towards the end of the campaign enabled over 100,00 Axis troops and a large quantity of equipment to be evacuated to Italy from Messina. An aerial photograph shows one of the last German ships to leave Messina on fire after being bombed by the Royal Air Force off the Sicilian coast.

The Allied invasion of Sicily had been successfully concluded with Germans and Italians driven off the island. It should have been an auspicious moment for George S. Patton who had not only driven his US Seventh Army unexpectedly quickly up to capture the city of Palermo, cutting off and capturing large numbers of Italian troops. He had demonstrated his flair for masterminding swift movement, as his troops drove east to take the final objective of Messina, just ahead of the British.

Unfortunately the “slapping incident” now cast a shadow over Patton’s achievements. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation Patton’s career now hung in the balance. His superiors, recognising his ability, wanted to play the incident down. It remained to be seen whether the matter would become public news.

Patton was forced to make public apologies to his troops, addressing them in massed audience, to try to overcome the rumours. It was a message that contrasted with the inspiring words that he wanted to deliver, contained in this written order, distributed or read to all troops:

Headquarters 7th Army U.S. Army

General Order Number 18

August 22, 1943

Soldiers of the Seventh Army:

Born at sea, baptized in blood, and crowned with victory, in the course of thirty-eight days of incessant battle and unceasing labor, you have added a glorious chapter to the history of war.

Pitted against the best the Germans and Italians could offer, you have been unfailingly successful. The rapidity of your dash, which culminated in the capture of Palermo, was equalled by the dogged tenacity with which; you stormed Troina and captured Messina.

Every man in the Army deserves equal credit. The enduring valor of the Infantry and the impetuous ferocity of the tanks were matched by the tireless clamor of our destroying guns.

The Engineers performed prodigies in the construction and maintenance of impossible roads over impassable country. The Services of Maintenance and Supply performed a miracle. The Signal Corps laid over 10,000 miles of wire, and the Medical Department evacuated and cared for our sick and wounded.

On all occasions the Navy has given generous and gallant support. Throughout the operation, our Air Force has kept the sky clear and tirelessly supported the operation of the ground troops.

As a result of this combined eort, you have killed or captured 113,350 enemy troops. You have destroyed 265 of his tanks, 2324 vehicles, and 1162 large guns, and, in addition, have collected a mass of military booty running into hundreds of tons.

But your victory has a signicance above and beyond its physical aspect – you have destroyed the prestige of the enemy.

The President of the United States, the Secretary of War, the Chief of Staff, General Eisenhower, General Alexander, General Montgomery, have all congratulated you.

Your fame shall never die.

G. S. Patton, Jr.,
Lieut. General, U.S. Army,
Commanding

British and American troops meet at a road junction outside Randazzo. Randazzo was the last strong defensive position available to the Axis forces. After its fall on 14 August, the campaign developed into an unofficial race between the Americans and British for Messina.

British and American troops meet at a road junction outside Randazzo. Randazzo was the last strong defensive position available to the Axis forces. After its fall on 14 August, the campaign developed into an unofficial race between the Americans and British for Messina.

The Drive for Messina 10 July - 17 August 1943: A British Sherman tank in the streets of Francofonte. During 13 - 14 July, XIII Corps, Eighth Army began a major effort to reach Catania. Their efforts were resisted by German paratroops in and around Francofonte who delayed the British advance for two days.

The Drive for Messina 10 July – 17 August 1943: A British Sherman tank in the streets of Francofonte. During 13 – 14 July, XIII Corps, Eighth Army began a major effort to reach Catania. Their efforts were resisted by German paratroops in and around Francofonte who delayed the British advance for two days.

General Montgomery stops his car to talk to Royal Engineers working on a road near Catania, 2 August 1943.

General Montgomery stops his car to talk to Royal Engineers working on a road near Catania, 2 August 1943.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

THOMAS MC KENNA August 24, 2013 at 12:43 am

I WAS BORN IN 1934 I CAN BARLEY REMEMBER W W 2 .BUT I THANK GOD FOR THE
AMERICAN’S WE NEEDED THEM .GOD BLESS AMERICA .MY FATHER WAS IN WW2 AND CAME OUT ALIVE . HE WAS IN THE BRITISH ROYAL NAVY .AND WAS SANK TWICE . AND ALL HE HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE U S A WAS . GOD BLESS THEM

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