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Thread: Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two

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    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    Another excellent update. Frankly I'm alarmed at the shear speed of your updating and the breadth. Tanks to RAF to SBS. Whatever next?
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    It's because I am running out of time, since uni starts again on the 1st. What's up next.... hmmmm.......



    *whistles theme from 'The Longest Day'*
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  3. #3523
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    I'm wondering why the Mossies are not using rockets... Anyway, they've done a great job.

    The Reggia Aeronautica can begin to form new land regimients with its pilots and ground crews, if it wants to keep fighting.
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  4. #3524
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt_Steiner View Post
    I'm wondering why the Mossies are not using rockets... Anyway, they've done a great job.

    The Reggia Aeronautica can begin to form new land regimients with its pilots and ground crews, if it wants to keep fighting.
    I know which sort of rockets you are referring to, they weren't invented yet though. With hindsight it would be easy to move them up, but I decided that the brits have enough of an edge as it is. They will eventually appear though, trust me.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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    *dramatic music*


    Coming soon:


    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
    "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." - Carl Schurz
    Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two (ongoing) Last updated 08/24/14 Index - Index 2 - Index 3 - Knowledgebase -
    Inkwell Entry Visit the Dictionary!

    Possibly the world's most British German as awarded by El Pip here.

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    What Star Wars reference? I don't see any.
    Looks awesome.

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  7. #3527
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    Chapter 170





    Part One




    14th October 1941


    02:49 AM


    Airbase Bravo Three, West of Tripolis

    The long row of Dakotas stood ready to receive their cargo and carry it to the enemy. For today the black out rules had been relaxed and the field was drenched in light. In front of the planes a regiment of Paratroopers wearing the battledress of the Paras and the regimental batches of 1st Parachute Regiment ( Royal Gurkha Rifles ) stood in rows at attention. The unit was highly trained and highly motivated. It's troopers were anxious to prove themselves, as were the Paras as a whole. The concept was new, and there were many that doubted the validity of the entire theory, so this invasion was something personal for them. All around them the invasion was starting, but what little they heard or saw where New Zealand and British Spitfires roaring overhead. However their ears and eyes were trained onto Lt.Colonel ( promotable ) John Howard who had been with them when the Regiment had been formed as a normal Rifle Regiment in India, and who had been the one to guide them through their transition into Paratroopers. Like them he was dressed in the standard uniform of a Para and carried the same Sten gun as them. The only difference was that he had applied camouflage cream to his face, something that his men did not need. He was still wearing the red beret of the Paras instead of his jump helmet as he read:


    “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the British Expeditionary Force!

    You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on
    other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the Axis war machine, the elimination of tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

    Some of you have suffered during the shameful retreat from France. To you we say: Stand fast! Fight well! We are returning to the continent to fight and to stay. We shall not be forced of the coasts again.

    We have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in
    battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

    Good Luck!


    God save the King!


    SIGNED: General Sir Alan Brooke ( GOC Middle East ), Lieutenant General Alexander ( GOC Market Garden )”

    He paused as his men repeated the last sentence with one voice and sometimes heavily accented English. When the rumble had died down he spoke: “Soldiers of the Regiment. What lays before us is unknown territory for all of us. Unlike those at the top I am not a man for big words so let me tell you that I trust you will all do your duty. For King and Country!”

    The troops mounted their aircraft. One after another the engines of the Dakotas came to life and soon the field was filled with the sound of dozens of radial Engines. In a scene repeated all over the coast, the planes one after another began to move. They thundered down the runway and the crews defending these airfields watched as one after another they soared into the air and disappeared into the Darkness.



    They were the first wave of the 6th Airborne Division, but by no means the first British troops to set foot on Italian soil. Shortly after midnight another ten Dakotas, painted in dark black camouflage paint and with low-visibility markings sneaked into Italian Airspace right on the tails of the first wave of bombers that once again hammered the airfields in the region. The landing areas had been scouted in the last few days by reconnaissance Spitfires from Malta and now the Special Air Service was at last doing the job Colonel Stirling had initially thought it for. The job of No.6 Commando was simple on paper but more than difficult in reality. They were to go in even before the first wave and mark the landing zones for the main paratrooper assault, delay the Italian and Axis response and generally create havoc that might ease the job for the main assault. The SAS was equipped with the best and newest equipment the Empire and her Dominions could muster. Generally they looked like ordinary British Paras, save for the different machine Carbines and the fact that they wore a different patch on their uniforms and on the berets they had stashed away below their uniforms. On closer inspection more minute differences became apparent. Not all of them wore the stylized Union Flag on their right shoulders, in fact there were flags from all over occupied Europe. Belgians, Dutch, Polish, some where from the Empire's Dominions, all nationalities were represented. They also wore a different sort of jump gear, their harness was in a dark blue colour, as where their Parachutes themselves. This was due to one of the troopers suggesting the colour when they had had a night exercise with a live jump and the defending Red Force had seen the enemy come in due to the way their bright white 'chutes gleamed in the darkness. The men were motivated, the men were SAS, the men were the originals.

    Drake sat near the open door of the Dakota as he watched the Mediterranean Sea make way for the shores of southern Italy. It was time to get ready.

    “STAND UP!” The men stood up. “HOOK UP!” The men hooked their parachutes into the line that was going from the front of the aircraft to the back. “EQUIPMENT CHECK!” The men checked the equipment of the man in front of them and signalled all clear by a slap onto the shoulder. After that Drake turned around and waited for the green light to come on. When it did, Drake leaped out into the darkness. His parachute opened and he began his descent into Battle. The ground descended upon him fast and he brought himself into the prescribed position as he crashed through the overhanging trees and brushes. Once on the ground he freed himself from his parachute and went off to find the rest of his patrol. They had been right behind him, so they had to be nearby, most likely on the nearby clearing which was their nominal landing zone. He un-shouldered his weapon and walked the few metres towards the clearing where his men were already on the lookout for their equipment container. When Drake appeared on the clearing they almost shot him, but that was only to be expected. When he saw that Albin 'Sobbie' Sobczak was still without his new belt-fed Bren gun, he approached them and said in a low voice: “Where is the equipment container?” “No idea, Captain. Last I saw was that it was drifting towards these trees over there.” Sobbie said and indicated the direction. “Bloody hell, our signal lamps are in there.” Drake took a second to think and then said: “Allright. Single file, spread out and find that container.” The SAS troopers formed up and the three Patrols went into action as around them the Italian Air Defences tried to fight off the Royal Air Force. It took them the better part of an hour to find the container, only to discover that none of their signal lamps had survived the impact. After sending some expletives towards whoever had designed them, Drake ordered. “That doesn't change our mission. We have to clear the landing zone for the Paras, these men depend on us. Take the rest of the stuff and prepare to move out.” “And what about the markings, Cap?” “We'll improvise. After all, it's near that hamlet we talked about...”

    So they moved out. The hamlet commanded one of the few reasonably large flat areas in these hills, and was near a strategic bridge over a valley that was one of the few in the area that could take heavy armour, and that made it a prime strategic target, and had an entire regiment assigned to it. The Italians also saw the importance of this bridge, but since no one expected any form of attack besides from the air, it was only lightly guarded by two Blackshirt machine gun posts. The hamlet nearby was was guarded by the rest of the squad and it contained a telephone line that no one knew about. It was the first target for the SAS troopers, and as they screwed the silences onto their guns lest they alerted the enemy too early, they knew that they had less than half an hour left to do their job before the parachute and gliderborne Infantry would arrive. For the next minutes the people living in the hamlet, mainly a farmer and his extended family along with some hands had the terror of their lives as twelve dark figures swept through the houses. The civilians were locked in their cellars, the Blackshirts, where they were not shot for resisting were bound and locked up inside the shed of the main farmhouse. After two minutes it was over, and Drake had not lost a man. The Blackshirts however had fired several shots. The machine gun posts near the bridge had heard them of course, but discounted them as accidents or drunk target practice. This allowed the British to secure a perimeter. However they still had the problem that there was no way to effectively mark the landing zone, but soon Drake had an idea. Rushing outside onto the flat ground they quickly dug a few shallow holes with their entrenching tools, filled them with a mountain of hay and then set them on fire, feeding them with whatever more they could find.

    Luckily for them the area was not very easy. The bridge was almost five-hundred yards beyond a bend in the road, and so the trees and a small hill concealed the fires. Not that the Blackshirts noticed. By the time the first engines of the Dakotas and Stirlings were heard, the SAS had already closed to their position. Drake was the first to raise his gun, but then he stumbled over a tree trunk he had not seen in the dark and thereby alerted the Italians. The two men inside the small sandbag fortification fired a few short bursts, alerted the other post and filled the night with gunfire. “GRENADES!” Drake yelled, and five seconds later four grenades exploded the guard post and the men in it with a tremendous bang. Drake quickly went over his options. He had only seven men with him, the others were to greet the Paras on the landing zone. He also had little time, because behind him he could already hear the massive roar of engines from the transport aircraft that would deposit paratroopers all over the area this night. So he decided to simply rush the bridge. “Up and forward, lads!” he yelled and sprung to his feet. No more than three seconds had passed since the grenades had exploded and now the British were rushing over the bridge.



    At the same time Lt. Colonel Howard was doing his own leap into the darkness and descended unto the clearing that was marked by the fires. Around him, the rest of the Regiment did the same and he wished there were more Horsa Gliders available. Still, when he touched the ground and had risen from it, he saw that most of his men were coming down where it was desired. One was landing right in one of the fires, but quickly extinguished the flames. He walked towards the Hamlet and was, much to his relief greeted not by gunfire but rather by some strangely amused fellow Paras that wore a cap badge that was unknown to him. One of them, with the rank badges of a Captain said: “Major Howard I presume?” “Indeed, Captain...” “Drake, Sir. Malcom Drake. I hear you are here for the bridge?” “You secured it already?” Howard asked with some disbelief. “Oh yes, Sir. Turns out the Eyties only had a few rickety machine guns defending it, not the 'better part of a battalion'. Courtesy of 22 Special Air Service Regiment.” The two Officers walked over to the Bridge with the Gurkha Paras behind them. “I heard about your lot, Captain.” “All rumours, Sir. Now if you excuse me, we have some hell to raise.” With a quick salute Drake moved off, gathered his men and disappeared into the fading darkness. Howard meanwhile entrenched himself, because sooner or later the Italians would try to send reinforcements through here to defend against the main landings. As he walked back towards the hamlet where three of his men were guarding the Prisoners, he thought of Drake and his men. Doing what his own Regiment had done was dangerous enough, but these men had jumped into enemy territory with no guidance at all, and yet they were cheerful and seemed to see this almost like a sportive event....



    Headquarters of the German Military Mission to Italy, outside Taranto

    two hours later

    The aide de Camp to Lieutenant General Rommel shook his commander's shoulder. Rommel refused to open his eyes and asked: “Why do you wake me, Meyer?” “Sir, there are reports of British Paratroopers landing to the west of here, reports are sketchy, but at least four Regiments worth!” Rommel was suddenly wide awake and had his boots on within a second. As he was putting on the rest of his uniform he asked: “Where are these reports coming from?” “The Italians South-Western Defence district, Herr General. They lost contact with most of Calabria about two hours ago, and when they send some motorized patrols to investigate, they ran into several ambushes. Heavy air activity with paradrops following is also observed.” “Get me General Marconi on the telephone and ask him what the hell is going on.” They entered the map room of the headquarters and Rommel asked next: “Has the 25th already been called back?” “Yes, Sir, as per your standing orders. 7. Panzer is ready to move within three hours.” Rommel wished it was faster, but simply nodded. “Sir, do you think it's....” Rommel laughed and said: “If it is, Meyer, then for both them and us it will be the longest day.”







    [Notes: You didn't expect that, did you?]
    Last edited by trekaddict; 23-09-2009 at 19:41.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
    "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." - Carl Schurz
    Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two (ongoing) Last updated 08/24/14 Index - Index 2 - Index 3 - Knowledgebase -
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    Possibly the world's most British German as awarded by El Pip here.

  8. #3528
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    Howard's in it, it's real Panzers this time they'll facing. One more thing, are the Allies on other fronts the Resistance in Europe?
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  9. #3529
    Manners Makyth Man Demi Moderator Lord Strange's Avatar
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    Will there be a British version o Saving Private Ryan? Saving Captain Howard perhaps?

    We have returned to Europe. Watch out Hitler, 'cause we are coming to get you!
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  10. #3530
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Ciryandor Yes on all three accounts.

    Lord Strange Not yet.

    And yes, the British are there to stay.





    I also just spotted a major typo. Howard was supposed to be a Lt.Colonel ( promotable )....
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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  11. #3531
    Monarchist Griffin.Gen's Avatar
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    That was AWESOME AND EPIC PARATROOPER ACTION!
    ...
    Time to watch some more Band of Brothers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    “Sir, do you think it's....” Rommel laughed and said: “If it is, Meyer, then for both them and us it will be the longest day.”
    Cheesy sir, most cheesy. Yet also strangely awesome. Like much of this AAR it combines lines you know in unfamiliar circumstances to produce something more than the sum of it's parts.

    Though you do realise you've now set the bar very high for the rest of Book IV?
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    Griffin.Gen Thank you!


    humancalculator


    El Pip Yes, but I couldn't help myself... As for the bar, well I strive to surpass myself.
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    Poor Rommel. Always getting into the mess when he was not expected to be in that show...
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    Kurt_Steiner Well, he is a local lad so to speak, so I had to use him.



    Chapter 170






    Part Two


    From “The Day of Days” 1988 edition, Khartoum University Press


    “For the most part the initial paratroop landings went off without anything major going wrong. The SAS pathfinders did a magnificent job and almost all of the advanced groups landed where they were supposed to be. Then however things started to go wrong. The second wave of landings, the one that was supposed to reinforce the paras to a strength where they would be able to do the actual fighting and to seek out and destroy the meagre forces the Italians had in the area was caught in the beginnings of the unexpected and unpredicted rainstorm that would hamper and delay the British Invasion for most of the next few days and mostly missed their drop zones, which lead to sometimes massive casualties when troopers fell on rocks, into rivers and sometimes came down right in the villages. General Browning, Corps Commander and nominal CinC of the front until a link up with the seaborne troops could be achieved, missed his own dropzone for this reason and had to spend almost two hours trying to get out of the ravine he had landed in and into the fight, so when the first Blackshirt Battalions, reinforced by Squad and Platoon sized groups from the regular Army attacked, they ran into scattered elements of the 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions. The first unit of the 6th that was attacked was the 1st Parachute Regiment ( Royal Gurkha Rifles ) under Major Howard. The Italians had been suffering numerous ambushes by the roving SAS patrols that screened the Paras while they were organizing, but still had a massive numerical superiority. They did however not expect the fierce resistance by the Regiment that repulsed wave after wave whilst suffering minimal losses. This story was essentially repeated all over the toe of Italy when the Paras held of sometimes massive enemy numbers.

    The third wave suffered the worst. It was this wave that had the majority of the Horsa Gliders in the BAMTAC inventory. The reason was that the bulk of the 7th and 8th Divisons was to guard the northern approaches and roads towards the planned landing sites, and had to capture several Italian Airfields to do so. For that reason four battalions of the 9th and 10th Airlanding Brigades had to do assault landings on the defended airfields. However the same winds blew against their direction of travel, delaying them by almost an hour, and by that time the Italians were alerted by the air attacks and the sounds of Battle to the south.



    2nd Battalion The South Staffordshire Regiment was tasked with attacking an Italian Airfield near the town of Maierato. When they arrived forty-five minutes behind schedule, the Italians let themselves be surprised as no one expected the British to land right on the airfield. However even before the gliders came to a full stop, a hailstorm of small arms fire began to impact on the gliders, killing many of the Paras before they even disembarked. The Lieutenant Colonel in Command was one of the first ones to die, leaving a Captain in command. The British paras were instantly forced to retreat and lost most of their Equipment and Ammunition to the Italians. However they managed to take a hanger and an adjacent administration building and in those two held on by their fingernails, repulsing repeated attacks by the Regia Aeronautica and Army soldiers. Low on ammunition, low on water and with almost all of them wounded, they held until a column from the 1st Indian Infantry Division ( motorized ) relived them.


    The second airfield assault almost failed even more spectacularly. This time the gliders were still in the air when the ack-ack fire hit them and forced them to scatter. As one glider crashed into a hangar, killing all aboard all the others landed on the fields around the perimeter. The unit that was to gain lasting fame on that day was 1st “Eagle” Battalion. The peculiar thing about this unit was that it, like the entire Brigade did ( and does ), consisted only of Americans that had been recruited in the United Kingdom, but mainly in Canada after being carefully vetted and swearing an oath of loyalty. Under the command of then-Lieutenant Colonel Athony Mc Auliffe the Battalion had as much to prove as the Gurkhas had. Their position however was far worse than that of the troops under Colonel Howard. They were scattered, under fire from at least three directions and due to the fragmentation essentially not coordinated. Mc Auliffe however refused to withdraw. The Paras had been given an objective and by god he would damn well take it. The wireless set he had with him was of invaluable help, even though not all of the bits and pieces of his command had a set to answer him. In the end he did however manage to get a company-sized group together and proceeded to attack the western perimeter fence of the airbase. The Italians had expected the American troops to lay low and wait for reinforcements, and the fierce attack took them by surprise. Mc Auliffe and his men managed to break through the fence and take out two of the machine gun posts. Then however the Italian mechanics counter-attacked and drove the Americans back towards the perimeter fence where they were stopped by precise and deadly fire from the Battalion Browning/RO .50 cals and several Brens that had found their way to the breakthrough. By now the better part of two of his four companies had been assembled at the breach, all in all roughly a hundred men. Mc Aullife had them form a perimeter around the breach while he climbed a nearby guard tower. From the elevated position he could see that his men had come down all around the airfield, just not on the airfield itself, except at the corner opposite his own breach where he could see the wrecks of two gliders and the crews fighting around them. In an interview conducted shortly before his death in 1979, Mc Auliffe said that it was like watching the siege of a castle of old.

    He then climbed back down and ordered the attack to begin again. Two squads apiece were to clear the buildings left and right from the breach, while the rest was to cross the narrow road and clear the hangars up to the runway which would essentially cut the field in half as the runway bordered the perimeter fence on the other side. The Americans attacked. Since the Italians lacked a equivalent to the RAF Regiment and had already suffered losses they broke easily and by 0933 the airfield was secured at the cost of sixty dead Anglo-Americans and roughly twice that number Italian dead. On mid-day the Paras had taken their objectives for the most part and were digging in, awaiting the inevitable Axis counterattack.






    Meanwhile the citizens of sleepy Italian fishing village Gioia Tauro had not yet realized that war was coming to Italy. However they were about to find out. Even before sunrise the fishers rose from their beds and went to what they believed would be an honest day's work. They began to fix some last damaged bits of their nets, sewed patches on the sails of their boats and generally prepared themselves. However when dawn broke, they began to see that something was wrong. The horizon, normally a smooth and diffuse line was dotted with grayish-black shapes. Ships. A lot of them. One by one the men stopped working and wordlessly watched the spectacle unfolding just as one of them who owned a pair of binoculars from his own Army days tried to find out whose they were. At exactly 0600 however it became a moot point, because the entire line of shapes suddenly was aflame with muzzle flashes. Those that had been in the Navy at one point or another knew what that meant and dove to the deck, but the shells did not fall into the town, but instead onto the roads leading out of it and the fields beyond. Then slowly smaller ships and boats began to separate from the British fleet that continued to blast the rear areas of the coast. A new sounds joined the freight-train noises of the passing shells and the thunder of explosions in the rear as British carrier aircraft began to patrol in the skies over the town to cover whatever was going on. Then the shelling stopped and smaller ships and boats began to separate from the fleet and head for the coast. It was a landing! The British were invading Italian soil! Not a single shot replied, not a single artillery shell fell amongst the now swarming landing craft that began to form up for their drive towards the beach, not a single bomb fell among the assembled warships. The locals helplessly watched as the landing craft edged ever closer to the shore. For the most part the boats were heading for the beach to the left and right of the town, but one group of the smaller ones headed directly for the pier and their own position. Soon it became clear for the fishermen and they left everything as it was and scrambled back towards their home and their families, to guard them against what propaganda had termed uncivilized and savage English colonial troops. However the Gordon Highlanders would have been very much annoyed had they known so. Upon disembarking from the landing craft the commanding Officer of the Regiment turned to his piper who was standing ready with his instrument. “Miller!” “Yes, Sir!” “Highland Laddie!” “Yes, Sir!” the piper said and soon the regiment formed into platoon-sized groups and began to march off to their objective to bagpipe music as personnel of the Royal Military police began to search through the buildings of the town. The orders from above were clear, the civilian population was to be treated with respect where this did not interfere with military necessities, so the occupants were simply shoved outside to allow the RMP to search the premises and to watch the Highlanders raise the British flag over the town hall.

    Farther east on the coast the 2nd Royal Hussars were wishing that their torment was over. Being experienced tank troops or not, most of them were seasick, and the landing craft their tanks were in stank of a mix of diesel oil and sick. But at last the landing craft shifted course and headed towards the beach. Lieutenant Colonel Niemczyk was sitting in his tank, fighting to keep his stomach under control and wishing that he had joined the bloody Air Force. He was relieved when he felt the landing craft hit the beach with a jolt and come to rest. Maxwell fired up the engine and Battleaxe II rolled into battle. As soon as the treads were on the beech, Jan decided to risk it and stood up in his seat. He could not see any enemy activity, and the RN beachmasters were already directing platoon-sized groups of the 1st Indian Division off the beach over the roads the Royal Engineers had cleared. The tanks of the Regiment were instantly sent off to their rearward assembly area, roughly four-hundred yards inland. There they would assemble in troops and move off towards their objective.


    The 2nd Royal Hussars riding into Battle


    I (UK) Armoured Corps would be the one to link up with the Paras and most likely face the first big counterattacks by the Italians and more importantly, the three German Divisions belonging to the Military Mission. Since two of these were Panzer Divisions, the plan had been changed at the last minute and the Corps had been assigned to bolster the line of the Paras instead of leaving that job to the 57th Highland and 40th Infantry Divisions. Instead these two Divisions would reinforce the rest of VI and VII Corps that had the job to hop across the strait of Messina and clear the nine Italian Divisions from said Island, which would allow the RAF to use it as a staging ground to better support operations in southern Italy. The Divisions on Sicily were mostly static Coastal Defence Divisions and would soon crumble under the weight of concentrated air attack and a mass of Artillery. For most of the day the landing operations went on undisturbed, but during the by the time the 7th Armoured was fully ashore the Italian Air Force at last made an appearance.


    [Notes: Nothing right now.]
    Last edited by trekaddict; 24-09-2009 at 15:56.
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