Sharpshooter News

70 Years On - Invasion of Sicily 10 July 1943

For first year of their service in the Western Desert, 3CLY and 4CLY were brigaded together in 22nd Armoured Brigade, part of 7th Armoured Division (The Desert Rats). After the battle of Alam Halfa in August 1942, after a toss of the coin, 4CLY remained in 22nd Armoured Brigade. They fought at El Alamein and in the subsequent pursuit of the Afrika Korps which ended in the capture of Tunis in May 1943. 3CLY meanwhile had become part of 4th Armoured Brigade (an independent Brigade) and spent the period Sept 1942 to July 1943 converting to the Sherman tank and training for the first major allied amphibious landing of the war. They embarked on their LSTs (Landing Ships Tank) in Tripoli on 7 July 1943.

Extracts from War Diary of 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters)

10 July 1943

At 0245 the assault landing on Sicily was made by 15th and 17th Infantry Brigades on GEORGE BEACH and on HOW BEACH. Their first objective was the high ground West of CASSIBILE. This assault was successful and was carried out with very few casualties against only slight enemy opposition.

At first light the LST convoy (including 3CLY) was well in sight of the Southeast coast of SICILY and it sailed at reduced speed until approx 0900 when it hove-to and lay off the coast. At this juncture naval personnel manoeuvred into position the two pontoons attached to the four LSTs and made general preparations for the landing. Tank crews and echelon personnel unshackled their tanks and vehicles and warmed up the engines. Meanwhile the only sound of firing came from the Monitor HMS EREBUS which was lying off the coast South of SYRACUSE and engaging with great effect coastal batteries, shore defences and ammunition dumps. There was still no sign of enemy aircraft. A constant air cover was provided by a squadron of Spitfires.


Sherman tank of 3CLY landing on How beach 10 July 1943

Sherman tank of 3CLY landing on How beach 10 July 1943

At 1130 the order was received from the Beach Master for the LSTs to carry on landing. LST 414 (in which there were 2 tanks of RHQ ( Lt Col GGL Willis DSO),  3 troop of B Sqn commanded by 2Lt JN Crews, and 2 tanks of 3 troop C Sqn commanded by Lt WH Palmer) sailed towards the beach at full speed and grounded. As soon as the pontoons were in position the tanks went ashore and proceeded to the assembly area. On the way to the assembly area we passed the junior half of C Sqn comd by Capt. R Gale who had just landed and they were given orders to proceed to the assembly area and take up covering positions.

So far there was no sign of enemy opposition except for 2 enemy planes which carried out a hit & run raid on GEORGE BEACH. At 1430 the junior half of B Sqn comd by Capt. OFJB Woods landed and proceeded towards the assembly area. Orders were received from 5th Division HQ to send the junior half of B Sqn to join 17th Infantry Brigade who were advancing along the coast road to SYRACUSE. The situation at 1630 was that 2 tanks of RHQ, the junior halves of B & C Sqns had landed with their respective echelon packets. C Sqn were standing by for orders. At 1810 C Sqn (Capt. R Gale) were ordered by 5 Div to proceed to contact 13 Inf Brigade. At 2002 contact was made with 13 Inf Bde. B Sqn contacted 17 Inf Bde at map ref 123311 at approx 2010.

At 2000 A Sqn packet, comd by Major CB Wrey landed on HOW BEACH and moved to the assembly area where they leaguered for the night. The CO proceeded to 5 Div Tac HQ and leaguered in their area. At 0100 an ammo dump exploded quite near A Sqn area and wounded Sgt Longstaff.

Tank State at 0857 hrs

                        Landed & OK            U/S                 Still on Ship

A Sqn                       15                      1?                       

B Sqn                         9                     -                              7

C Sqn                       15                      1                            -

RHQ                           2                     -                              2

Total                           41                    2                             9                           52

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