Following the German defeat in North Africa, Hitler knew it was only a question of time before the Allies made their next move. Logically, the Allies would attack somewhere in the Mediterranean, but the question was where? The Allies knew where they wanted to land, but keeping it secret from Hitler was the problem.
In January 1943 at a meeting in Casablanca, Churchill and Roosevelt agreed that Sicily should be invaded in preparation for the invasion of Italy. Plans were set in motion as the invasion fleet was assembled and an elaborate scheme to fool the Germans was also plotted. This was ‘Operation Mincemeat’ better-known through the book ‘The Man Who Never Was’ and the film of the same name. The body of a dead man was prepared to become the fictitious Major Martin of the Royal Marines and he was dropped into the sea with plans to indicate that Sardinia was the real target. The subterfuge worked and ‘Operation Husky’ was launched, with the Anglo-American force landing on 10th July.
The Allies launched a two-pronged attack across the island and fighting was fierce as the Germans and Italians were forced to retreat. Fighting for the island lasted eight weeks, but 40,000 German and over 60,000 Italians had escaped to mainland Italy. The Allies followed, and on 3rd September Italy capitulated, but what lay ahead was a hard slog as they fought against the Germans up the length of Italy.