Sicily

During the Second World War, due to its geographic position, Sicily was regarded as a stepping stone for an eventual invasion of Italy. With the successful conclusion the North African campaign in May 1943, Allied attention turned to Sicily, which was invaded in an operation code-named Husky, on 10 July 1943. The Husky landings were second only in size to the D-Day landings of June 1944. The Axis forces in Sicily conducted a skilful delaying defence, utilising Sicily's rugged terrain to their advantage, and withdrew towards the island's north-eastern tip. Allied operations were handicapped by poor co-ordination between the ground and air forces, and between the British Commonwealth and American components of the invasion force. The bulk of the Axis forces were able to withdraw across the Strait of Messina to Italy on the night of 11 August 1943 almost unscathed, and hostilities ended on the island on 17 August. Four RAAF squadrons, 8 RAN corvettes, and numerous Australian personnel serving with British units were involved in supporting the Sicilian campaign.