Historical: Messina falls, Sicily occupied
To my, semi-concealed, delight the LSSAH division pops into existence in Palermo – up to full strength with the plethora of Armour RPs saved from destruction in Africa. Carrying on the Axis strategy of “hitting ’em on the beaches”, it and an Italian tank regiment (with the help of the Strat reserve fighter cover) burst through the egg-shell defence covering Trapani (at 3532) vaping another infantry division, then run amok through the “little people” building the airfields and repairing the ports. OK, so this wasn’t part of the Allied Cunning Plan, but if we were able to cut off Leibstandarte’s retreat, it would be a great scalp to get. Derek had even done the decent thing and broken it down into bite-size portions in the exploit phase.
However, the Allied turn was a disappointment. Deliberately looking for the exchanges with low-odds attacks, we ‘unluckily’ rolled high and they escaped with DRs. Further consolidation secures the beachheads from all but the heaviest Axis attack.
But the focus has shifted again and by early August, the Brits, bolstered by heavy reinforcements from England, are ready to rumble again. Sardinia is only lightly held, and with heavy fighter top-cover, the landings proceeded like clockwork. Beachheads are established to the east (2008) and west (2010, 2111 & Sant’Antiocho) of Cagliari, just beyond its Danger Zone. This is not to say there wasn’t opposition – indeed the Axis flew a lot of missions, but consequently, ° of their invaluable anti-shipping bombers are now out of action.
The Axis Aug II turn is pretty quiet – there is little to be done about the landings in Sardinia, and with the Americans well ensconced in Sicily, the Axis forces fall back to the northern coast railroad, keeping Palermo supplied. In their turn, the Americans overrun a small Italian stack near Caltanissetta (3929) and strike out eastward. A bit of luck and some hefty ground support pushes the defenders out of Catania, whose fall signals the death knell for Italian Malta – it’s now unsupplied without access to the east coast supply run. The LSSAH regiments have again hidden themselves well, in fully armoured stacks in the rough. 1st Armoured swings north-east smashing through some Italians to hook round Mt Etna and haul up beside Messina and the cadred HG. This cuts the coastal railroad, but it needs a Big Effort from the remaining Allied bombers to close the Palermo port down and leave the LSSAH assets out of supply.
In Sardinia, despite harassment from Marseilles bombers, the Canadians and Brits surround Cagliari. With engineers and NGS thrown in, a 5:1 isn’t too much of a stretch, and the city falls. Monty breathes a sigh of relief as regular supply floods in through the liberated port. A major construction program already has 4 airfields in the Sardinian south, so the island looks well secured, as long as we can prevent the units in the north escaping from the battered minor ports.
Throughout the adventures in the Med, the dozen fighters left in Britain, combined with the partisans and the ETO Strat forces have been leaving their marks all over north and central France. Only a third of the original forces are left in England now.