Wednesday, April 15, 2009

World War II in Sicily and Italy

Our son Andy gave me a book to read when I last saw him in Mexico at his wedding.  He thought it was a natural read for me and he was absolutely correct.  This very interesting book is titled "THE DAY OF BATTLE - The War in Sicily and Italy 1943-1944" by Rick Atkinson.

This book does a fantastic job depicting the bravery, determination and, unfortunately, the various blunders on both sides of the battlefield that cost many unnecessary "friendly fire" deaths.

I was intrigued in the fact that he even made a distinction between Sicily and Italy in the title which I believe most Sicilians would find perfectly O.K.

This is a MUST read book for anyone remotely interested World War II history, a fascinating and very thorough work.  It was, I must admit, a little creepy flying into Germany last week after finishing this book on the flight into Munich.

Road Sign

We saw this sign out near the airport and had to investigate.

It led us to Catania's British World War II Cemetery

1,219 fallen soldiers from various parts of His Majesty's Royal Empire are buried here.

The nearest American World War II Cemetery is located at Nettuno near, appropriately, Anzio.  Anzio was the scene of much misery for the Allied Forces during the Italian campaign.

When I first started teaching in 1970 at Thousand Oaks High School one of our older teachers was a man named Easy Hellerstein who prided himself at having served at Anzio during World War II.  I really had no idea what "being at Anzio" meant at the time but after reading this book I wish I could go back and speak with Easy about his ordeal.

A Very Serene Location

Laurie's maiden name was Gardner

A member of Brian's family?

We have good friends named Murphy too.

The Cemetery's Huge Center Piece

After reading this book, walking this cemetery certainly made me reflect on the sacrifices that so many people made to allow me the opportunity to live in Sicily 65 years later.


Andrew said...

Glad you liked it!

susanjane said...

Dear George, I have a google alert whenever "Sicily 1943" appears on blogger. Your blog is the very best yet. Very good photos. I have been researching the invasion of Sicily for a number of years. I have almost completed the path of my Dad's time there. I have recently spoke with a veteran that was in Dad's battalion.... he filled in many spaces that I would never have located in books. I met Rick Atkinson at the military library here in Chicago. Like you said, he is thorough. Another writer in the wings is Thomas Nutter of St Louis, MO. I met him on (very thorough account of Operation Husky. http://www.militaryhistoryonline.
com/wwii/husky/default.aspx. We have been communicating ideas back & forth. Thou he is a lawyer by trade, he has a Master's and a Doctorate degree in diplomatic/military history. I think he will publish very soon.

I plan to write a more personal manuscript regarding one private's life thru this war. I will complete the project by returning to the beaches of Gela; the small villages before Palermo; and the rugged road to Messina. I now believe he did make it to the Italian mainland, Paestum, just south of Salerno. My Mother survives my Father and is always eager to hear new information I have located.

Thankyou so much for having this tribute.

Susan Bohdan
River Forest, IL

George said...


Wow! Glad I could be of some help to you. This is a very fascinating topic for me as I spend my second season coaching in Sicily. If you go back in my blog the last two months, I have pictures of other WWII related sights in Sicily.