By Mark McConville
THE BRAVERY of British troops during the invasion of Sicily in World War Two has been brought to light in a series of colourised images released to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the action which eventually led to the grizzly end of infamous dictator and architect of fascism Benito Mussolini.
Known as Operation Husky, stunning pictures show British troops in Pachine during the advance through Sicily, a 5.5-inch gun of 212nd Medium Regiment of the Royal Artillery in action and men of the Highland Division up to their waists in water as they unloaded stores from landing craft tanks.
Other striking shots show US Sherman M4 tanks landing during Operation Husky, Private Roy Humphrey being given blood plasma after he was wounded by shrapnel and the Liberty ship Robert Rowan as it was hit by a German Ju 88 bomber and its cargo of munitions exploded.
The original black and white photographs were painstakingly colourised over a number of months by electrician Royston Leonard (55) from Cardiff, Wales.
“These images show young people getting ready to face war to bring freedom back to Europe,” he said.
“When you look at these pictures you can see fathers, sons, brothers not soldiers. Yes they are soldiers but only a short time before they had been neighbours and friends or family.
“The pictures show what had to be done and by looking at them we can keep in mind to please never let it happen again.”
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major campaign of World War II, in which the Allies took the island of Sicily from the Axis powers (Italy and Nazi Germany). It began with a large amphibious and airborne operation, followed by a six-week land campaign, and initiated the Italian Campaign.
Husky began on the night of 9–10 July 1943, and ended on 17 August. Strategically, Husky achieved the goals set out for it by Allied planners; the Allies drove Axis air, land and naval forces from the island and the Mediterranean sea lanes were opened for Allied merchant ships for the first time since 1941.
The Italian leader, Benito Mussolini, was toppled from power in Italy and the way was opened for the Allied invasion of Italy. The German leader, Adolf Hitler, cancelled a major offensive at Kursk after only a week, in part to divert forces to Italy, resulting in a reduction of German strength on the Eastern Front.
The collapse of Italy necessitated German troops replacing the Italians in Italy and to a lesser extent the Balkans, resulting in one fifth of the entire German army being diverted from the east to southern Europe, a proportion that would remain until near the end of the war.
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