CANADIANS IN ITALY
THE RED PATCH DEVILS IN SUNNY SICILY
This eight-scenario pack is compatible with MMP’s ASL™ System and
modifiable to be used with other miniature Wargaming systems.
Canadians in Italy #1 uses ASL boards (2,4,12,18,40,43,44,49,50,51) and HoB boards (I, II)
|15 July 1943… The British Eighth Army’s drive stalled in the face of the stubborn and skilful German defence, Montgomery had to turn to the US 7th Army for help, only to discover that most of the Americans had gone off in the opposite direction. This forced the Eighth Army into a gruelling campaign in adverse conditions against a determined and resourceful enemy in easily defended terrain. His only chance to salvage success lay with the one formation of his army that had not fought in the desert, the First Canadian Division. Moreover, he was pinning the Eighth Army’s hopes on the efforts of a single untried division of Canadians. Outside Vizzini, the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment (Hasty P’s) passed through the Royal Canadian Regiment as the First Brigade led the way to the paved Route 124, the infantry riding in lorries or on tanks of the Three River Regiment. The next major town was Grammichele, ten miles from Vizzini. The Hasty P’s and the Three River tanks ran right into the German ambush…..
|16 July 1943… The British Eighth Army advanced had stalled on the edge of the Catania plain and General Montgomery had instructed General Leese of XXX Corps to “Drive the Canadians on Hard!”. The First Canadian Division began their eastward advance on Caltagirone with the 48th Highlanders proceeding cross-country. Lt-Colonel Jefferson’s Loyal Edmonton Regiment and a Squadron of tanks from the Three Rivers Regiment formed the vanguard, headed for the next large town, Piazza Armerina. Just beyond San Michele di Ganzeria, Route 124 joined the Gela-Enna highway; Route 117, the highway had been hijacked from the Americans. The Loyal Eddies had smooth sailing until noon when three miles south of Piazza Armerina they ran into elements of the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division…..
|18 July 1943… While RCR clung tenaciously to the roadside a mere half-mile south of the town, Brigadier Graham had committed his remaining battalion. He sent the 48th Highlanders to take Valguarnera by making a long right hook. The Toronto regiment was to launch its final approach on Valguarnera from a ridge two-miles south of the town, but when the Highlanders arrived they found the ridge to be strongly held by the Germans. Enemy snipers and machine-gunners pinned down the Toronto infantrymen for long minutes, until an English-born corporal took matters into his own hands…..
|22 July 1943… Unlike Assoro, there was no unguarded backdoor, Leonforte had to be attacked frontally. And the town was held in strength by tanks and troops from the 104th Panzer Grenadier Regiment. A savage street battle ensued and all four Edmonton rifle companies were soon involved. With neither artillery support nor anti-tank guns, the Eddies were faced with the choice of remaining in Leonforte and being wiped out, or withdrawing to safety. The battalion commander Jim Jefferson made up his mind quickly ordering his embattled companies to pull out of Leonforte under small arms covering fire provided by the Seaforth Highlanders. At Second Brigade HQ, a despondent Brigadier-General Chris Vokes received a ten-year-old Italian boy named Antonio Guiseppe, who dodging bullets, shells and German patrols made his way to the Canadian lines to pass a message from Jefferson. Vokes acted decisively, organizing a flying column of troops from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, four Shermans from the Three Rivers Regiment and four 6-pounders from the 90th AT-Battery and led by a PPCLI Company commander, Captain Rowan Coleman…..
|24 July 1943… The Second Brigade, which was to support the First Brigade had difficulty moving into position around Assoro and when patrols from the divisional reconnaissance unit, the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards encountered heavy fire on Route 117 near Nissoria. At noon, he signalled a 24-hour postponement in favour of a set-piece attack, supported by every available artillery piece. Under Simmonds’ plan, The Royal Canadian Regiment would attack at 1500 hours advancing behind a barrage which would advance at a rate of a hundred yards every two minutes. Half-mile ahead, a smoke screen 2,000 yards long would precede the attackers and guided Kittyhawk fighter-bombers assigned to bomb and strafe targets along the road, while six squadrons of medium bombers plastered Agria and environs. A total of 5 field regiments and 2 medium regiments, over 150 guns would support one battalion…..
|2 August 1943… It fell to the Canadian troops to launch the beginning of the end of the Sicilian campaign. Temporarily attached to the British 78th Division, the Canadian Third Infantry Brigade was to mount a preliminary operation near the village of Catenanuova. The West Nova Scotia Regiment played a key role in the capture of Catenanuova. After the Royal 22nd Regiment captured Monte Scalpello, a razorback ridge towering 3,000 feet over the valley of the dry Dittaino. The 3rd Brigade had done its job, giving the 78th Division a springboard for its attack towards Centuripe. And while casualties had been light tougher times were in store for the brigade and particularly for the West Novas. While the 78th struck out for Centuripe northwest of Catenanuova, the 3rd Brigade moved cross-country to fill the narrowing gap between the 78th and the First Canadian Division further north. German prisoners warned that the paratroopers of the 3rd Fallschirmjäger Regiment held the hill…..
|4 August 1943… With the fall of Regalbuto, the Canadians had unknowingly entered the final phase of operations in Sicilian campaign. Three notable features had to seized along the way to Adrano, Hill 736, Monte Revisotto and Monte Seggio. The Loyal Eddies loaded up their ammunition, food and water as well as the 3-inch mortars and medium machine-guns of the supporting Saskatoon Light Infantry on to pack mules and headed into dry river valley. The battalion spent the nex t four days moving into position for the assault on Hill 736, clashing several times with German outposts cleverly concealed in the wilderness terrain. Major Archie Donald led the Loyal Edmontons, supported by 25-pounders from the 3rd Canadian Field Regiment, up the hill under heavy machine-gun and mortar fire…..
|5 August 1943… The loss of Agria, Regalbuto and Centruipe to XXX Corps had convinced the Germans to abandon their endangered defences in front of Catania and to withdraw into the main defensive position around the foot of Etna. Montgomery urged XXX Corps to step up its efforts to capture Adrano, the loss of which would disrupt the German defence. 4 August, the 78th Division continued its push northwards across the Salso and Simeto rivers via Route 121, while the Canadians were to capture Monte Revisotto and Monte Seggio, then force their way through the valley of the Salso. Major-General Guy Simmonds saw one of the rare opportunities to properly utilize tanks…..