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The German garrisons in Sicily had been reinforced in the first few days of the invasion by two regiments of the 1st parachute Division. On July 16th the Headquarters of the 14th Panzer Corps arrived to assume command, and the 29th Panzer Grenadier  Division began moving over from the mainland. The Corps Commander, General Hans Hube, with direct instructions from Hitler's headquarters "to fight a delaying action and gain further time for stabilizing the situation on the mainland," acted promptly and with skill. T secure his lifeline to Italy he organized the defences of the Messina Strait, placing a highly capable officer in complete command. To meet the American threat to his right flank (for by July 22nd, the Seventh Army had captured Palermo and was beginning to push eastward along the northern coast) Hube placed the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division between the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division and the north coast, thereby establishing a continuous defence line across north-east Sicily from Catania to San Stefano.

On July 21st General Montgomery, deciding that Catania could not be taken by frontal attack without incurring heavy casualties, directed all formations of the Eighth Army except the Canadian 1st Division to pass to the defensive along the line of the Dittaino River. The Canadians would carry the army attack pending the arrival of the 78th Division, which he had ordered over from Tunisia to reinforce the 30yj Corps for a drive through Adrano around the west side of Mount Etna.

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