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As dusk fell the glider borne 1st Airlanding Brigade (of the British 1st Airborne Division) and American paratroops or the 82nd Airborne Division - in all 5,000 strong - took off from Tunisian airfields for Sicily. Their mission was only partly successful, both formations being widely dispersed. By  late evening a gale which had threatened to postpone the seaborne assault moderated, and the first landings were made covered by naval bombardment shortly after midnight. They achieved success in all sectors. Caught completely by surprise, the Italian costal defences offered little organized resistance, and captured all their initial objectives.

Major-General G.G. Simond's 1st Canadian Division made its assault with the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades on a five-mile stretch of coast just west of the tip of the Pachino Peninsula, while farther west a Special Services Brigade of two Royal Marine Commandos, also under General Simonds, carried out simultaneous landings on the extreme left of the Eight Army's front. Meeting only very slight resistance the 1st Brigade seized in rapid succession an Italian coastal battery and the deserted Pachino airfield, while on the left the 2nd Brigade linked up with the Commando forces and exploited three of four miles inland. Canadian casualties in the first 24 hours of the invasion were almost negligible.

Neither Army had yet encountered any Germans. On the east coast the 13th Corps, which was commanded by Lieutenant-General Miles C. Dempsey, had made rapid progress during the morning, and by 9:00 PM the 5th Division had reached Syracuse to take the port undamaged. On the right of the Canadians the other formations of Lieutenant-General Sir Oliver Leese's 30th Corps - the 51st Division and the Malta Brigade - had secured Pachino and the eastern half of the Peninsula. The assault divisions of the U.S. Seventh Army, having landed in generally rougher surf conditions on the more exposed western beaches, had warded off scattered Axis bombing and  strafing attacks, and by nightfall were holding firm bridgeheads about Licata and Gela.



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