Friday, April 23, 2021

"Sicily '43" - a review..

Fantastic book - I have his book on Normandy in the "to read" pile and based on this one it has moved up a few places towards the top ..  

So a concise (well I say concise, but it's actually 600 or 700 odd pages... I can honestly say it didn't seem that long!) but easily read book, on what was the first Allied powers invasion into mainland Europe..   

Very much a learning exercise for the Allies, that in planning teams was a success beyond all expectations..  Holland has good coverage on the importance of naval cover (the ability to call in naval broadsides for what was predominantly a land campaign can't be underestimated), the air cover (originally from Malta cab rank style, and later from landing strips on the island itself was an absolute game changer and a significant input to the overall success of the campaign)

He touches on the the politic'ing and infighting between Patton (who I am sorry, and who despite his obvious skills as a battlefield commander, still comes across to me as a bit of a kn*b) and Montgomery (who could be prickly), and most of all the soldiers on the ground, that despite the Allied doctrine of "steel not flesh" were called on time and time again to attack well dug in, veteran and elite German forces simply because the terrain did not allow them to deploy their significant advantage in tanks and artillery...

Holland touches on the Mafia angle (and who knows how significant that was, as no one seems sure??) but my overwhelming impression was of how quick the campaign was, how important the air cover was, how hard the infantry had to fight, and how well Alexander managed the campaign.

A fascinating book.. 9 out of 10!

12 comments:

  1. Tempted to get this. David over at the Ragged Soldier mentioned it yesterday.

    I like his podcasts with Al Murray. Also didn’t realise until recently he is the brother of Tom Holland who also writes (ancient and medieval) history books. Including the excellent Persian Fire.

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    1. yes, nice coincidence, I wrote about it this week too. You sum it up very well, good review of a good book!

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    2. Nundanket/David - I wonder if the prevalence of reviews is because of the (same) Kindle offer I got mine on...?? :o) For me it was a no brainer to pick it up; with WWII as one of my main area's of wargaming interest I have never been as fascinated by the war out in the East and Far East as I have been by the Mediterranean theatre... DG reckons I have a thing about sand.. :o)

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  2. I’ve got to get this, thanks for flagging it up. Not Sicily but my grandad was at Anzio and nearly drowned there whilst going ashore. I still have his watch which filled with seawater and stopped working. He never did get it fixed.

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    1. JBM I would recommend it.. it is very easy reading while still imparting a lot of information, I like the fact that he has 1st party anecdotes from the combatants on both sides, but also civilians.. I think we all have an idea how hard the Italy campaign was.. Sicily was no walkover...

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  3. Thanks for the review and this has been added to my list of books to buy:)

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    1. Steve J. - hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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  4. Sicily is an interesting project. An early campaign for the Canadian Army too. The naval link is a plus too, as is the cooperation between US, Brit and other forces on land.

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    1. Peter - the Canadians did good.. interesting to read how much pressure the Canadian prime minister applied to make sure they were there..

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  5. I'm about halfway through this at the moment. Very readable with lots of different points of view (soldiers of all armies, civilians). 500 pages of text & 100 pages of Order of Battle, Notes, Sources and a comprehensive (18 pages) index. Going to have to take a look at the Normandy book as well.

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    1. StuRat - yeah I think I got the Normandy one on remainder in Tesco of all places... it's currently sitting in 2nd or 3rd to read.. :o)

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  6. I am also reading it at the moment and also after a kindle offer. Sicily is a fascinating place. Well worth a holiday or 2 especially the south east corner.

    Guy

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