Hutchinson's Pictorial History of the War, Series 22 No 1

HUT CHIN SON’S PICT O RIAL HISTORY OF THE WAR HALIFAX BOMBER ABOUT TO TAKE OFF A familiar scene a t a Bomber Command station just before the start of a big raid. As darkness begins to fall the first of a formation of Halifax bombers receives the signal to take the air from the group-captain commanding officer. many. And even then what was to beheld in Italy might only beheld for a time, as a large-scale rear­guard position. The Italians would not have been told, but they could hazard a shrewd guess, that the Germans would lay hands upon all available transport and petrol so that if a further withdrawal were necessary from their point of view the maximum proportion of their forces could be withdrawn across the Brenner or at all events into Istria —the land round the top of the Adriatic— and onto the heights covering the Brenner. It was not an enticing prospect and one cannot be astonished that it led first to tin fall of Mussolini and soon afterwards to the dissolution of Fascism. But the fall of Mussolini and the dissolution of Fascism did not suffice to get Italy out of the wood. She still had the Germans heron hands. She was still faced by the promise of further allied attacks if they did not go. She could not avoid the consequences of the Fascist Govern­ment’s greed, treason, and stupidity simply by getting rid of the Duce and his system. The Allies were and are determined to make the most of the victories they had won at so great a cost. Any plan which may have been conceived by the Badoglio Government for Italian neutrality for the rest of the war would have been— even if the Germans had consented to it— quite useless to the Allies. They must have Italy as abase for future operations. They must have opportunities to extend their footing on the Continent, to pierce the outer walls of the European fortress and to closeup to the inner walls which surround and defend Germany itself. It would be intolerable, it would be simply fantastic, if Italian havering had been allowed to block their path towards their chief enemy, the enemy to settle accounts with whom Britain and the British Empire entered this war nearly four years ago. No, our message to Italy could only be :“Out of the way !”Meanwhile, after preparations adequate for so big an enterprise, the attack on the last Axis stronghold in Sicily, the north-eastern tip, was begun on ist August. Generally speaking I should say that the operation was a more difficult one than even the final phase in Tunisia, except that the defence is considerably wr caker numeri­cally in proportion 10 the strength of the attack and that the Italians, who fought quite well in Tunisia, do not seem to have much heart left in them. The country is even less favourable for the use of armour, and on the southern and central sectors of the front every move must be made under the eye of observers perched on the slopes of Mount Etna. But the greatest confidence seems to be felt as to the result, as I know it was from the first about the whole enterprise, landing and all. I talked about betting odds just now. What would our neutral bookmaker give us about the allied chances in Sicily ?It would be buying money to bet with him. GERMAN D EFEN C E BATTERY ON THE ATLANTIC COAST This photograph, taken from the emplacement of a heavy German artillery battery ,shows a big pun in one of the defence zones along the Atlantic coast. To camouflage the position heavy netting has been erected overhead. 2]
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