The rugged countryside of Sicily impedes travel. Contemplate this corkscrewed road approaching Taormina from Syracuse.
In the Allied invasion of the island in 1943 (which involved more forces than Normandy’s D-Day), the American Seventh Army under Patton pressed Messina from the west. The British Eighth, under Montgomery, pressed to the same goal from the south. Both arms of this liberation effort, dubbed “Operation Husky,” had to contend with terrain like this. And of course, in this “great race” of WW2, the modern network of highways, bridges, and tunnels did not exist. There were just two roads that led all the way to Messina.
As Montgomery put it, “Sicily is very mountainous and [vehicle] movement off the roads and tracks is seldom possible. . . In the beach areas there was a narrow coastal plain, but behind this the mountains rose steeply.” It was evident from the start “that the campaign in Sicily was going to depend largely on the domination of main road and track centres.”*
The terrain you see here was covered by the British Eighth. In fact, the village of Taormina (at the top of this hill) would become Montgomery’s HQ.
*For this quote and more on Operation Husky, see the article here.
Our boots are about to hit the dirt again. We’re meeting a group from Chantilly, Virginia for a tour of Israel-Palestine this week. Temperatures should be on the cool side as we circle the country through Galilee, the Jordan Valley, the Judean Wilderness, and Jerusalem.
Know that you are always invited to participate in one of our adventures in culture and history. See the list of trips scheduled for 2019 here.