Spring 1943: Prelude to Operation Husky
In case you hadn’t seen the recent comment left by Mike Hunter, I wanted to share it as he provides a succinct and excellent background to what was occurring in the spring of 1943. Thank you Mike! And I’d be remiss in pointing out that Mike’s father, Lt-Col. Kenneth A. Hunter was my grandfather’s commanding officer in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. They were also together on Tank Landing Craft No. 8 during the Dieppe Raid.
Here’s what Mike had to say:
Some “big picture” info might be of interest to your readers.Ever since they arrived in England the Canadians have been considered to be a vital element in the “defense against invasion” strategy. Their training and their physical location (near the Channel coast) have been directed to this end. Other than Dieppe they have seen little or no action and there has been great discontent about this inactivity both at home and in England. Now (1943) the risk of invasion has virtually disappeared and everything is swinging to the offense. At the highest levels plans are afoot for the invasion of Sicily/Italy. Up until late April 1943 Canadian troops were not part of the invasion plan. On April 23, 1943, as a result of major pressure from Ottawa and from the highest levels of the Canadian military, a decision was made to replace the British 3nd Division with the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and the 1st Canadian Tank Brigade. This must have been extremely upsetting for the Brits as they had already undertaken major planning and preparation. To their credit and without any apparent bitterness, they handed over all their plans and preparations to the Canadians and then helped them to initiate the activity. The Calgary Tanks, and my father’s medical unit, were small parts of the selected Canadian forces. Despite the fact that Doc Alexander has “no idea what is going on” this move to Scotland is for training in preparation for the Sicily invasion which is only a few months away. It will not be until they are on the ships that they will know where they are going. The numerous changes in personnel reflect Montgomery’s attitude of “out with the old and in with the young” (except for him of course).