Holidays Around the World for March 27: Myanmar Armed Forces Day

Myanmar Armed Forces Day

The Union of Myanmar, known as Burma until 1989, is in southeast Asia. It is bordered by China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh, and India.

Throughout most of the 1800s, Burma was ruled by the British. In 1819, the British invaded Burma and took over parts of the country. By 1886, they had control over the entire country and made it a province of India, which was also under British control.

In 1930 a Burman named Saya San led a major armed rebellion against the British. San was executed by the British, but he inspired other Burmese to demand independence.

Aung San, an outspoken student leader, continued the fight for Burma’s independence. He was eventually arrested, but he escaped to China, where he collaborated with the Japanese. The Japanese promised San that if he helped to overthrow the British, they would make Burma an independent nation. San helped the Japanese oust the British, and the Japanese ruled Burma from 1942 until 1945. By then it had become clear to San that the Japanese had no intention of handing Burma back to its people. On March 27, 1945, he helped the World War II Allied forces remove the Japanese from power.

Today, Myanmar celebrates Armed Forces Day on March 27 to commemorate the day that Aung San rebelled against the Japanese. The day is celebrated with a military parade and fireworks. Since 1989, the Tatmadaw, the Myanmar military, has made it a tradition to pardon several prisoners on Armed Forces Day.

Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board
Marketing Committee
c/o Traders Hotel
Level 3, Business Centre
223 Sule Pagoda Rd.
Yangon, Myanmar


This Day in History for March 27: The Tenerife Disaster (1977)

The Tenerife Disaster (1977)

On March 27, 1977, two Boeing 747 passenger jets, KLM Flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1736, collided on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport (now Tenerife North Airport), on the Spanish island of Tenerife, Canary Islands,[1][2] killing 583 people, making it the deadliest accident in aviation history.

A terrorist incident at Gran Canaria Airport had caused many flights to be diverted to Los Rodeos, including the two aircraft involved in the accident. The airport quickly became congested with parked airplanes blocking the only taxiway and forcing departing aircraft to taxi on the runway instead. Patches of thick fog were drifting across the airfield, so that the aircraft and control tower were unable to see one another.[1][2]

The collision occurred when the KLM airliner initiated its takeoff run while the Pan Am airliner, shrouded in fog, was still on the runway and about to turn off onto the taxiway. The impact and resulting fire killed everyone on board KLM 4805 and most of the occupants of Pan Am 1736, with only 61 survivors in the front section of the aircraft.[1][2]

The subsequent investigation by Spanish authorities concluded that the primary cause of the accident was the KLM captain’s decision to take off in the mistaken belief that a takeoff clearance from air traffic control (ATC) had been issued.[3] Dutch investigators placed a greater emphasis on mutual misunderstanding in radio communications between the KLM crew and ATC,[4] but ultimately KLM admitted that their crew was responsible for the accident and the airline agreed to financially compensate the relatives of all of the victims.[5]

The disaster had a lasting influence on the industry, highlighting in particular the vital importance of using standardized phraseology in radio communications. Cockpit procedures were also reviewed, contributing to the establishment of crew resource management as a fundamental part of airline pilots’ training.[6]

Flight history

Tenerife was an unscheduled stop for both flights. Their destination was Gran Canaria International Airport (also known as Las Palmas Airport or Gando Airport), serving Las Palmas on the nearby island of Gran Canaria. Both islands are part of the Canary Islands, an autonomous community of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean off the southwest coast of Morocco.

KLM Flight 4805

KLM Flight 4805 was a charter flight for Holland International Travel Group and had arrived from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Netherlands.[7] Its cockpit crew consisted of captain Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten, age 50,[8] first officer Klaas Meurs, age 42, and flight engineer Willem Schreuder, age 48. At the time of the accident, van Zanten was KLM’s chief flight instructor, with 11,700 flight hours, of which 1,545 hours were on the 747. Meurs had 9,200 flight hours, of which 95 hours were on the 747. Schreuder had 15,210 flight hours, of which 540 hours were on the 747.

The aircraft was a Boeing 747-206B, registration PH-BUF, named Rijn (Rhine). The KLM jet was carrying 14 crew members and 235 passengers, including 52 children. Most of the KLM passengers were Dutch; also on board were 4 Germans, 2 Austrians and 2 Americans. After the aircraft landed at Tenerife, the passengers were transported to the airport terminal. One of the inbound passengers, who lived on the island with her boyfriend, chose not to re-board the 747, leaving 234 passengers on board.[9][10]

Pan Am Flight 1736

Pan Am Flight 1736 had originated at Los Angeles International Airport, with an intermediate stop at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The aircraft was a Boeing 747-121, registration N736PA, named Clipper Victor. Of the 380 passengers (mostly of retirement age, but including two children), 14 had boarded in New York, where the crew was also changed. The new crew consisted of captain Victor Grubbs, age 56, first officer Robert Bragg, age 39, flight engineer George Warns, age 46, and 13 flight attendants. At the time of the accident, Grubbs had 21,043 hours of flight time, of which 564 hours were on the 747. Bragg had 10,800 flight hours, of which 2,796 hours were on the 747. Warns had 15,210 flight hours, of which 559 hours were on the 747.

This particular aircraft had operated the inaugural 747 commercial flight on January 22, 1970.[7] On August 2, 1970, in its first year of service, it also became the first 747 to be hijacked: en route between JFK and Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico it was diverted to José Martí International Airport in Havana, Cuba.[11]


Diversion of aircraft to Los Rodeos

Both flights had been routine until they approached the islands. At 13:15, a bomb planted by the separatist Canary Islands Independence Movement exploded in the terminal of Gran Canaria International Airport, injuring eight people.[12] There had been a phone call warning of the bomb, and another call received soon afterwards made claims of a second bomb at the airport. The civil aviation authorities had therefore closed the airport temporarily after the explosion, and all incoming flights bound for Gran Canaria had been diverted to Los Rodeos, including the two Boeing 747 aircraft involved in the disaster.[3] The Pan Am crew indicated that they would prefer to circle in a holding pattern until landing clearance was given, but they were ordered to divert to Tenerife.[13]

Los Rodeos was a regional airport that could not easily accommodate all of the traffic diverted from Gran Canaria, which included five large airliners.[14] The airport had only one runway and one major taxiway running parallel to it, with four short taxiways connecting the two. While waiting for Gran Canaria airport to reopen, the diverted airplanes took up so much space that they were having to park on the long taxiway, making it unavailable for the purpose of taxiing. Instead, departing aircraft needed to taxi along the runway to position themselves for takeoff, a procedure known as a backtaxi or backtrack.[3]

The authorities reopened Gran Canaria airport once the bomb threat had been contained. The Pan Am plane was ready to depart from Tenerife, but access to the runway was being obstructed by the KLM plane and a refueling vehicle; the KLM captain had decided to fully refuel at Los Rodeos instead of Las Palmas, apparently to save time. The Pan Am aircraft was unable to maneuver around the refueling KLM, in order to reach the runway for takeoff, due to a lack of safe clearance between the two planes, which was just 3.7 meters (12 ft).[9] The refueling took about 35 minutes, after which the passengers were brought back to the aircraft. The search for a missing Dutch family of four, who had not returned to the waiting KLM plane, delayed the flight even further. A tour guide had chosen not to reboard for the flight to Las Palmas, because she lived on Tenerife and thought it impractical to fly to Gran Canaria only to return to Tenerife the next day. She was therefore not on the KLM plane when the accident happened, and she would be the only survivor of those who flew from Amsterdam to Tenerife on Flight 4805. Read More…..

Inspiration for the Day for March 27th: Spring Cleaning




Spring Cleaning


As you sweep away the clutter blocking the flow of energy in your home, you sweep away some of the issues blocking you in life.

As the last vestiges of winter depart, all of nature enters into a lively and animated state of renewal. In the springtime, earth’s life energy is awakened from dormancy, and the cycle of life starts anew. We have the ability to sense this change taking place even before the seasonal flora around us blooms before our eyes. It is natural, therefore, that during spring many of us begin to feel the urge to clear away the clutter that has accumulated while we’ve enjoyed being sequestered in our winter nests. Now is the time to let the fresh breezes cleanse the energy in our homes.

Spring cleaning is traditionally a way to welcome a new season–one in which we open our doors and windows to let visitors and the sunshine in. It is also a way to remove stagnant energy from our homes in order to prepare our personal space for the positive, verdant energy of spring and summer. As you sweep away the dust and clutter that has blocked the flow of energy in your home, you inevitably sweep away some of the issues that may have been blocking you in your life. Intention is important, so before you begin cleaning, ask yourself what needs to be cleansed, what can be discarded, and how you can make your home a reflection of your best self. Then, gather your tools and supplies around you–vinegar mixed with water makes a wonderful natural cleanser, and putting everything you need in a bucket with a handle will make it easier to move your supplies around your home. Once you’ve begun spring cleaning, you may find that with each piece of clutter you discard and each item that you clean you begin feel increasingly energized. Divesting yourself of unnecessary possessions can help you regain clarity of mind while cleaning your windows can help you refocus your vision. As you clean, invite healing and vital energy into your home and heart.

When you’ve cleaned your home from top to bottom, create a floral arrangement with flowers from your garden, or buy a new plant at a farmers market. You may notice that your home feels newer, and brighter and full of new fresh energy. You also feel reawakened, rejuvenated, and alive. By cleansing your home, you can harness the vivacity and vigor of spring.

–Daily OM

Get A Jump on Tomorrow, Your Horoscopes for Thursday, March 27th

Get A Jump on Tomorrow…

Your Horoscopes for Thursday, March 27th


Moon Alert

We have the “all clear” today to shop and do business. The Moon is in Capricorn.

Aries (March 21-April 19)

Today you are concerned about your professional and business life. For some reason, personal details about your private life might be on public display. (Whaat?) You might want to help someone today and thereby, personalize a professional relationship.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

Today you feel a strong urge to get away from your daily routine and go off somewhere to do something different. Ideally of course, you will get to the airport and jet away! If you can’t escape on a physical journey, you will enjoy study or mental journeys that allow you to learn something new.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

Your emotional experiences will be more intense today. You might also attract someone who is pretty intense to you. (“Hi Darth.”) You might feel possessive about property or something that you own or even something someone else owns? “My precious!”

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

Today you will focus on personal relationships because the Moon is opposite your sign. Loved ones and partners will be more important to you than usual. However, conflicts will also be more emotional! Guard against reacting to others with a knee-jerk response. Think before you speak or do something.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)

Today you will likely have to put the welfare of someone else before your own, perhaps briefly or perhaps for the whole day. You’re not playing the martyr card – it’s just what’s happening. It can be gratifying helping others – and hopefully, it is.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

Today you’re wearing your feelings on your sleeve. You need to be who you are and you want to express what you really feel when dealing with others. This is also a strong, romantic day for you. However, you might feel possessive about a loved one. Grab a chance to party!

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

Today you might want to cocoon at home and enjoy your own privacy. You need a chance to catch your breath, and put your feet up and relax, especially among familiar surroundings. Why not regroup and replenish yourself before the weekend? Good idea.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

Conversations with others will be important to you today. You want to get down to the nitty-gritty of things and talk about the truth of something. You don’t want to skate over something important and pretend you don’t see the elephant in the room. (“Dumbo? Is that you?”)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

You might be surprised at how strongly you identify with something that you own today, which is why you feel attached to your possessions. You might also have to defend yourself about something that you own or perhaps something that you want to buy? Don’t feel cornered.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

Today the Moon is in your sign, which makes you a bit more emotional about everything. However, it does increase your good luck! (In a little way.) You can test this out. Ask the universe for a favour to see what happens. The Moon will be in your sign today and tomorrow.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

Today you are tempted to withdraw from the busyness of everything around you because you feel private and a need to be by yourself. You’re not being antisocial; you just don’t feel much like schmoozing with others. Some of you will want to explore mystical or spiritual ideas.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)

Friendships will be important you today. This is why you feel protective and supportive to a friend more than usual. Of course, you want some attention from them in return. In fact, you’ll be jealous if they pay attention to someone else.

If Your Birthday Is Today

Singer- actress Lady Gaga (1986) shares your birthday today. You are a born leader. You are creative, organized and resourceful. What you learn this year will be crucial for your progress and success next year. Therefore, focus on teaching and learning. This is an excellent year to explore meditation, yoga or any discipline that will help you to get a better understanding of who you are.



Born on March 27, Happy Birthday Aries!

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Aries!

IF YOU ARE BORN ON March 27, you are known for your impulsive nature. Alongside of that trait is your strength or your aggressive quality. Some think you are arrogant because of it.

The zodiac sign for 27 March birthday is Aries and you are without a doubt self-reliant and adventurous Arian although you love being at home. A quiet evening with someone you care about suits you well but there are times when you want to feel the beat. You want to party and let your hair down.march 27 birthday personality The March 27th birthday horoscope shows that you value your loved ones and their thoughts and opinions but you have a way of getting them to see your point of view. It does not take much to persuade them to think as you do.

Life at your house can be somewhat chaotic because you are involved in your family’s lives beyond your call of duty. I am sorry to say but, Aries, you are a busybody. Do not be so judgmental. Live and let live. It will be less stressful on you.

When Arians become parents, they encourage their children to take measures that allow for independent doing and thinking. Those born on this day will guide their children in the right way but we know it does not pan out always.

You are most certainly there for them when they fall. You teach that when you fall, you just have to brush yourself off and try it again. That is all… it is plain and simple.

The 27th March birthday personality trait that you have is your active physical desire and looking for soulmates with the same drive. Because you want to remain loyal, you show your appreciation for the intimate time you spend with your partner.

Those born on this day March 27th, are playful and attentive lovers. You have a way of creating a bond that is almost shatterproof. With this in mind, Aries, you are not in a hurry to make a lasting relationship.

Yes indeed, Aries as your birthday astrology predicts, you are destined for success. Your whole life has been leading up to the day that you claim financial security. You are happiest in power positions but are no stranger to the lower aspects of the chain.

As your birthday characteristics show, you have worked hard to achieve the status you have by starting at the bottom. It is one of the reasons you are lucrative. You know the in’s and out’s about the business you are in.

Aries zodiac birthdays dream and you dream big! The amazing thing is that your dreams come true. In pursuit of financial wealth, you are flexible as you know nothing is given to you. It takes hard work and you tend to work longer hours. When it is over, however, you can relax and vacation wherever you want to go.

The March 27 birthday meaning also implies you work hard and play even harder, Aries. You love cooking up something on the grill or on the stove top. Either way, there is something good in store. Getting folks together over a meal will cure any signs of depression.

You invite everyone over for delicious food, fun, and amusing stories. Those born on this day seldom have any signs of obesity. You do not have to worry about that though, Aries. You know what to eat and what foods pack on the pounds so you are likely to maintain your weight.

What your birthday March 27 says about you is that you are self-reliant, loyal, and sexual individuals. You love your home life but every blue moon, like to get out to a mixer so you can mingle with like minds. You will also train your children to become as successful as you are.

You are a persuasive individual so it does not take much to win over someone to your way of thinking. You love to cook and when you do, Aries, you invite everybody to partake of your nutritious meals. It may look like it is fattening but, it is not. Arians born on this day are fun loving people. They love to live life to the maximum.

This Day That Year – March 27 In History
1782 – United Kingdom, Charles Watson is now Prime Minister
1841 – NYC, first US steam engine tested
1871 – Scotland wins over England in first international rugby game
1958 – New stereophonic records (CBS Labs)

March 27 Mesha Rashi (Vedic Moon Sign)
March 27 Chinese Zodiac DRAGON

March 27 Birthday Planet
Your ruling planet is Mars that symbolizes action, adventure, passion, and sexuality.

March 27 Birthday Symbols
The Ram Is The Symbol For The Aries Zodiac Sign

March 27 Birthday Tarot Card
Your Birthday Tarot Card is Strength. This card symbolizes courage, power, strong will, resilience, and desire. The Minor Arcana cards are Two of Wands and Queen of Wands

March 27 Birthday Compatibility
You are most compatible with people born under Zodiac Sign Gemini: This is an energetic and passionate love match which is full of life, vigor, and enthusiasm.
You are not compatible with people born under Zodiac Sign Libra: This love relationship will require a lot of compromise but has no guarantee of success since there is no compatibility between the two sun signs.

Aries Zodiac Compatibility
Aries And Gemini
Aries And Libra
March 27 Lucky Numbers
Number 3 – This number signifies happiness, enthusiasm, communication, and playfulness.
Number 9 – This number signifies emotions, selflessness, autocracy, and healing.

Read about: Birthday Numerology

Lucky Color For March 27 Birthday
Red: This is the color of determination, competition, love, sexuality, and energy.

Lucky Day For March 27 Birthday
Tuesday: The day ruled by planet Mars tests your skills in career, relationships and motivates you to move forward.

March 27 Birthstone Diamond
Your gemstone is Diamond that helps focus on relationships, attracts wealth and removes emotional blocks.

Ideal Zodiac Birthday Gifts For People Born On The 27th Of March:
Skydiving lessons for the man and a bouquet of red flowers for the woman.




Your Daily Horoscopes for Wednesday, March 27th

Moon Alert

After 10:30 AM EDT today (7:30 AM PDT), we are free to shop and make big decisions. The Moon is in Capricorn.

Aries (March 21-April 19)

Today you feel a bit restless and you might not know why. Basically, Venus is hidden in your chart, and today it is stimulated by Uranus, which makes you agitated for change and up for something different to occur. You will be intrigued by characters and people who are unusual or compelling.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

You will attract new friends to you today, especially people who see a fascinating and different side of your personality. They will see you as winning and attractive! Relationships that you encounter today will be stimulating and fun but perhaps short-lived.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

Your interaction with a boss, parent, teacher or someone in authority like the police, will have a few surprises for you today. Something unusual will colour the transaction. In some cases, you might be suddenly attracted to this person or they will flirt with you?

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

Surprise and unexpected opportunities to travel might fall in your lap today. If so, this window of opportunity will be brief so you will have to act quickly. You might also get an invitation to an unusual event? Be alert to opportunities in publishing, the media, medicine and the law.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)

You have a brief opportunity today to benefit from the wealth of others. Someone might give you something – even cash. Or perhaps your partner will get a bonus or receive a favour or a gift? Keep your eyes open for these opportunities!

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

Your interaction with friends and partners will be different today. One of you (or both) will want more freedom in the relationship. Certainly, you will have to grant this to the other person if they want it because there’s no room for jealousy or possessiveness today.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

A surprise raise or praise from someone might please you at work today. Or perhaps a coworker might say or do something unusual or a new coworker who is different in some way will join the team. New technology on the job might also be unusual and stimulating. It’s not a boring day!

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

A surprise invitation to a social event might delight you today. You might also encounter an old flame when you least expect it. Upsets and turnarounds related to sports and the arts are also possible today. Take note: Parents should be vigilant with their kids.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

Stock the fridge because an impromptu party or social occasion might take place at home today. Someone might knock on your door for a fun chat. You might also encounter surprising news about real estate or a chance to rent something bigger and better. It’s an exciting day!

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

Today is full of stimulating changes and you’re glad of it! Enjoy seeing new places, meeting new faces and encountering new ideas. Short trips and opportunities to learn from other cultures will delight you. Stay poised for action.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

Keep your eyes open because you might find money or lose money today. You might spontaneously buy something unusual. You might also get wind of a favourable, financial deal. If so, you will have to act quickly because this window of opportunity is brief.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)

With Venus in your sign getting zapped by wild, wacky Uranus, today you will seek out an exciting break from your daily routine. You want to meet stimulating friends. You will avoid anyone who is boring because you want change and adventure!

If Your Birthday Is Today

Actor Nathan Fillion (1971) shares your birthday today. You are both sensitive and fearless. You have vitality and the courage to face challenges. This year you have responsibilities to family as well as yourself because service to others is important. Therefore, take care of yourself so that you are a strong resource. Nurture relationships you value. Tap into your personal creativity and hobbies. Make your home a welcome place.


Your Weekly Karmic Forecast for March 24 – 30

Weekly Forecast: March 24 – 30, 2019

The video version of this forecast, as read by Kelly, is available here.

The Karmic Tools Weekly Forecast covers the current planetary transits which affect people in different ways and to various degrees of intensity. Take notice when it is a Personal planet (Sun / Moon / Mercury / Venus / Mars) interacting with a Social (Jupiter/Saturn) or Collective planet (Uranus / Neptune/Pluto). And pay extremely close attention when it is a Social planet interacting with a Collective planet because that means something *big* is brewing that will move large groups of people along their evolutionary paths. Tuning in to the energy and rhythm of the planets can serve as a useful *guide* as you move along your Individual Path. It also helps to understand your place within the context of the larger Social & Collective Story. Below, you will find out how these energies tend to manifest, as well as guidance and direction.

*NOTE*  There are some days when there are NO CONTACTS (besides the Moon), please note that there are no missing entries, we just list the actual Activations of each week + the day they happen.

Weekly Forecast: March 24 – 30, 2019

3/24~ Mercury Rx (communication/expression) ~conjunct~ Neptune (imagination/spirituality):   (2 of 3: 2/19 ~ 3/24 ~ 4/2)
This is a mixed blessing, but definitely an initiation either way. It can be miraculous for creativity, art or exploration. I like this one for a personal ‘conversation with God’, your Higher Self, your SoulSelf. As with any initiation, a completion must come first, and in this case with Mercury, it’s time to expand your thinking in some way – go deeper. Invite your Ancestors, Angels & Animal Guides to answer your questions and guide you at this time. Communing with them is much more supported than communing with the humans around you. So if you need to think about the mundane or confront someone about something which requires complete honesty from both parties, things could get a little hazy & confused thanks to Neptune here. There is always a veil to contend with when dealing with Neptune, but you have to know which side of it you are on so you are in alignment with the Nature around you (3D vs 5D). This energy tends to color reality, misleading you to think you are being perfectly clear in your communication or what you’re trying to express, while others are completely lost. It’s better to say nothing, rather than be completely misunderstood.

3/ 27 ~ Venus (relationships, love & money) ~sextile~ Uranus (clarity & inspiration):
This energy, thanks to Uranus, activates a certain spark of electricity in the air. New relationships will have an unusual aspect to them and old ones can break-to-realign in a positive, even fun way with this energy. No monotonous routine, humdrum people or boring collaborations with this one. Use it to access your unique genius and deep well of creativity and then share if you can, with other like-hearted Souls. Take advantage of this energy to tap into areas you may not have realized were available to you before. Keep it light and upbeat; socialize and enjoy the experience of different people or new activities. Keep in mind, however, any relationships begun this week may not be based on qualities needed for long term survival. It is more a time to enjoy the people and experiences that pass through at this time and accept this gift!

3/28 ~ Mercury Direct in PISCES:
WooHoo! That said, we still have to deal with slow-emergence from the deep end of the ocean until it enters Aries 4/17. So let’s tap into the delicious energy of Venus arriving in Pisces just in time to help us clarify the values & priorities going forward, with the help of Liberating Uranus in Taurus which is facilitating an awakening within our bodies and Earth’s body. Let’s take the next couple of weeks to close out the past and really focus on the true priorities of here & now so we can make the best decisions possible.

Your Daily Cosmic Calendar for March 27th


Even though the moon is void-of-course at the end of Sagittarius until it arrives in earthy Capricorn (7:09 a.m.), you may be able to make some progress in solving problems as Pallas makes a supportive, 60-degree tie to Jupiter in Sagittarius (12:51 a.m.). Be extra kind and sensitive to dear ones as the sun forms an inspirational, 72-degree tie to Juno (3:35 a.m.) while the moon makes a nurturing, 60-degree link to Venus (9:07 a.m

The universe offers you ingenious ideas about high-tech ventures—courtesy of a trine between the moon and Uranus in earth signs (9:11 a.m.) and amplified by Venus and Uranus contacting each other via a constructive, 60-degree alignment (9:46 a.m.). While the good news of Mercury halting its reversal and going direct tomorrow is near at hand, watch out for obstacles blocking your path to success as the last quarter sun-moon phase arrives at 9:11 p.m. (energizing 8 degrees of Aries and Capricorn). Slow your pace in order to avoid making unnecessary mistakes of judgment.

[Note to readers: All times are calculated for Pacific Daylight Time. Be sure to adjust all times according to your own local time so the alignments noted above will be exact for your location.]

Copyright 2018 Mark Lerner & Great Bear Enterprises, Ltd.


World War Two: Sicily (2-19) Axis Evacuation

The Tarvis Conference; While the Italian emissaries, D’ Ajeta and Berio, were sounding out the Allies in Lisbon and Tangiers, Comando Supremo was continuing its wary co-operation with the Germans on the basis that its primary mission was to defend Italy against the Allies, the secondary one to guard against a German coup. Ambrosio and Castellano knew of the diplomatic missions to the Allies; Roatta, the Army chief of staff, knew nothing of this. 

German strategic planning at this time was quite fluid. On 5 August OKW canceled its plan drawn up for the rapid seizure of Rome and of the members of the Italian Government. By this time the Italians had assembled such forces around the capital as to make its capture appear more formidable than before. Furthermore, Skorzeny, busy with a variety of false leads provided by the Italian counterespionage service, had been unable to locate Mussolini. 

Kesselring had helped induce OKW to postpone its program of seizing Rome with the argument that he would, in that event, be forced to withdraw all his units from Sicily and southern Italy. Believing that the Italian Government showed a genuine will to co-operate, and hoping that personnel losses could be restored and sufficient munitions supplied, he was sure that the Axis could hold Sicily for a relatively long period and thereby tie down eleven or twelve Allied divisions. 

The weakness of Kesselring’s position lay in Calabria and southern Italy, where he had only alarm units (in the Naples-Salerno area) and the 16th Panzer Division ( dispersed over the interior). Because he could not guard Puglia and the west coast at the same time, Kesselring asked for reinforcement so that he might have at least one division for each of the three critical areas: Calabria, Puglia, and Naples-Salerno. 

Jodl, chief of the OKW operations section, the Wehrmachtfuehrungsstab, held the opposite view. He argued that the Allies in Sicily were tying down German divisions. He feared that if the Allies were to land in force in Calabria, they would bag the entire XIV Panzer Corps in Sicily and be able to advance at will to the northern Apennines. Jodl wanted an immediate withdrawal from Sicily and southern Italy.

[N2-19-10: KW/WFSt, KTB, I.-3I.VIII.43, 5 Aug43; situation appreciation by OB SUED of 4 Aug43 and comments by Chef WFSt, in MS #C-093 (Warlimont), pp. 102-03.] 

Hitler refused to send reinforcements to southern Italy, but he could not make up his mind to withdraw from Sicily. Intent on finding and liberating Mussolini, he believed that the rescue would be such a shock to the “English” as to deter them from any further large-scale landings. Student’s and Skorzeny’s search for Mussolini therefore continued. And until they found Mussolini, the German commanders in Italy were to observe the appearance of good faith toward the Badoglio government.

Just before the Tarvis conference scheduled for 6 August, the Germans considered asking for a greater share in the command of the Axis armed forces in the Mediterranean area. To this end they wanted a liaison staff attached directly to Comando Supremo or to the Army General Staff (Superesercito ), a staff that would represent Kesselring’s views on the use of forces in central and southern Italy.

 They also wanted a German Army headquarters to exercise command over all the German and Italian ground forces in northern Italy under the supreme command of the King. They thought of bringing up for discussion the matter of possible withdrawal from Sicily. But on the day before the conference, they decided not to mention the change of command or a withdrawal.

 The conference itself between German and Italian foreign ministers and chiefs of staff was marked by solemn statements by each group which it did not mean, and which the other group knew it did not mean. Despite Badoglio’s intention, the conferees explored the means of continuing the war rather than the possibilities of achieving peace. The Italians, intent on keeping up the appearance of being a faithful ally and on maintaining the notion that German troops in Italy were under operational control of Comando Supremo, pressed for agreement on the movement of German reinforcements to the south and away from the capital and from the naval bases of La Spezia and Pol a (where the bulk of the Italian Fleet was stationed). The Italians also hoped to reach agreement on withdrawing to the homeland the Italian divisions in southern France and the Balkans. Fundamentally, the Italians were stalling for time until they received word of the Allied reply to the overtures of D’Ajeta and Berio.

 Ribbentrop, Keitel, Guariglia, and Ambrosio met on the morning of 6 August. Guariglia declared the change of government in Italy to be purely an internal matter; Italy held to Badoglio’s declaration that the war was to continue. Ambrosio complained that Germany appeared to place little faith in Italy’s word; he was astonished at the numerous German divisions coming, in part, unannounced.

 Though southern Italy was threatened, Ambrosio said, the Germans were concentrating near Rome and in the north, creating the suspicion that the Germans had other intentions than the defense of Italy. Keitel said that questioning German good faith was quite unacceptable, and he expressed indignation that the Italians were not thankful for generous German aid. Ribbentrop asked directly whether Guariglia had had any conversation with the English or Americans. Guariglia replied in the negative, admitting, however, that he had spoken with the Turkish Foreign Minister. Ambrosio reaffirmed the intention of the Italians to march with all their strength by the side of the Germans.

 At the afternoon session, attended by Keitel, Rintelen, Warlimont, Ambrosio, Marras, and Rossi, Ambrosio suggested that Italian assurances regarding German divisions in transit to Italy were not final. Keitel insisted that the north would first have to be fully protected before German reinforcements could move to the south. Ambrosio stated his intention of withdrawing the Italian Fourth Army from France and three divisions from the Balkans, and he expressed the hope that the Germans would provide for the protection of the areas vacated by the Italians. Keitel replied by saying a decision on this matter was beyond his authority, but he agreed to present the Italian proposal to Hitler. He recommended that the movement of German reinforcements to southern Italy, on which the Italians placed such emphasis, receive priority over the withdrawal of Italian troops from occupied territories. 

Except for an understanding that the German units in Sicily and southern Italy were to be brought to full strength and adequately supplied, no real agreement was reached at Tarvis. Pious declarations of alliance were exchanged. The Germans believed, or professed to believe, that the conferees were in accord that protection not only of the Brenner Pass but of all the Alpine passes into Italy had become a joint responsibility. The Italians understood that Joint protection by ground forces applied to the Brenner Pass alone, the other passes remaining under Italian competence except for antiaircraft batteries.

The fundamental question of the command and distribution of forces was in no way resolved. The Italians, maintaining the sham that all German forces in Italy were under the Comando Supremo’s operational control, complained that the German troops in the north behaved as though they were in an occupied country. 

When Ambrosio asked whether Kesselring commanded the new troops entering Italy from the north, Warlimont replied: “up to now, yes. However, it will be necessary to establish a command over the German divisions in North Italy. Notification will be given at an appropriate time.” Until the traffic crisis was overcome or dissipated, the Germans insisted on keeping their new forces concentrated in the north. The Italians had no chance to expound a plan of joint defense that would have left not a single German division in the Po valley.

[NOTE: “See the contrasting minutes in OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-3 1. VIII·43, 6 August 1943, and Colloquio del giorno 6 agosto ore ‘530, pages 12-13, IT 3030. The minutes of the three sessions at Tarvis are printed, but not in full, in Hitler e Mussolini: Lettere e documenti, pages 190-209. See map, Comando Supremo, Ufficio Operazioni Esercito, Scacchiere occidentale, Progetto dislocazione grandi unitti italiane e germaniche per la difesa d’Italia, IT 3030.] 

The conference had opened in an atmosphere of gravest mutual suspicion. It closed in the same spirit. Ribbentrop brought up the matter of a future meeting of Hitler with the King and Badoglio on German soil and suggested that the Heir Apparent also attend. Guariglia did not press the subject because he feared that the King might be seized and held in custody or as a hostage. He had, in any case, already started on another course. Leonardo Vitetti complained that the trip to Tarvis was like Columbus’ first voyage: “he did not know where he was going and when he came back he did not know where he had been or what he had done.”

[N2-19-4 Guariglia, Ricordi, pp. 628-29.r. Simoni, Berlino, Ambasciata, pp. 392-98 (Vitetti statement, p. 392). See also: Guariglia, Ricordi, pp. 613-30; Rintelen, Mussolini als Bundesgenosse, pp. 236-39; MS #C-093 (Warlimont), pp. 104-10; Rossi, Come arrivammo, pp. 95-98; Badoglio, M emorie e documenti, p.98; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe, vol. II, pp. 59-60; Castellano, Come firm ai, pp. 74-77.6 Telg, Comando XXXV Corpo d’Armata No.970/0P to Ministero della Guerra, 7 Aug 43,IT 102.]

The Italian Dilemma

With the Tarvis conference providing formal Italian concurrence for reinforcing the north, German troops continued to move into north Italy, General Gloria reporting on 7 August that approximately 30,000 troops had crossed the Brenner Pass by that date. OKW’s policy in this respect, representing an uneasy day by day compromise between its own views and OB SUED’s wishes, exploited the willingness of Comando Supremo to receive reinforcements. Although Hitler remained convinced that Italy was planning treason, although plans and preparations for seizing Italy were constantly reviewed and kept up to date, there existed a wide divergence in strategies to be followed in case of Italian betrayal or of Allied attack in southern Italy. 

Skeptical and pessimistic of German success, Rommel was disappointed in the number of forces actually assigned to his Army Group B (for the most part infantry divisions). They were so meager in comparison with the panzer army originally planned in June that he estimated he could defend northern Italy against Allied invasion only with Italian cooperation. 

To oppose an invasion without Italian support or while fighting the Italians would be, he felt, an impossible task. Unaware of how thoroughly the Italian officers hated him-he doubted, for example, that an announcement of his command would cause much reaction among the Italians-he wished to move his headquarters from Munich to northern Italy, hoping in that way to gain the cooperation and good will of the Italian generals.

 Kesselring, who no doubt had little relish for the prospect of merging his command into Rommel’s, continued to take an optimistic view. He and Rintelen, in agreement on the matter, made great efforts to prevent the harsh and suspicious attitude of OKW from completely alienating the Italians.

[N2-19-8 Westphal, Heer in Fesseln, p. 224; Rintelen in MS #T-la (Westphal el at.), ch. II, pp.22-23; Rintelen, Mussolini als Bundesgenosse, p.239; General der Panzertruppen Heinrich von Vietinghoff General Scheel in MS #T-Ia (Westphal et al.), ch. VI, p.8]

 The full scope of German intentions to compel the Italian Government to continue the war whether it wished or not, to seize the Italian Fleet and capital, and to convert the Italian peninsula into a battlefield for the defense of Germany was abundantly dear after the Tarvis conference. 

The German occupation of Italy, which had been Ambrosio’s greatest fear since May, was rapidly becoming an accomplished fact. Though the Italian Government had formally accepted unwanted German reinforcements, and though the unwelcome guests; were already in the house, Comando Supremo did not wish them to have the keys to all the rooms. Ambrosio therefore ordered certain troop movements to counteract the German strangle hold. He strengthened the forces guarding Rome and alerted them to take increased precautions against German moves. He had the 105th (Rovigo) Infantry Division and the 6th (Alpi Graje) Alpine Division moved from Turin, where they had been maintaining public order, to La Spezia, the main base of the Italian Fleet, from which the Germans were to be excluded.

[N2-19-9 Rossi, Come arrivammo, p. 97; Zanussi, Guerra e catastro/e, voL II, p. 57.] 

In the Brenner Pass area, General Gloria’s XXXV Corps had had only the 2nd (Tridentina) Alpine Division, a unit in the process of reconstitution after return from the Russian front. The 4th (Cuneense) Alpine Division, which also shared bitter memories of German behavior in the retreat from Stalingrad, had been moved to Cosenza (in Calabria) in July. Now, however, Ambrosio ordered that division moved northward up the whole length of the Italian peninsula to become part of Gloria’s corps.

[N2-19-10 Comando Supremo, Operazioni Regio Esereito Quadro di battaglia alia data del 1 agosto 1943, IT 10 a-h; Ambrosio’s order of 2 Aug 43, Comando Supremo, No. 15492/Op., IT 102.]

 On 8 August, in accordance with instructions, Gloria sent a note to General Feurstein. He stated that Roatta, the Army chief of staff, had directed the two Alpine divisions to take over the protection of the Brenner Pass in order to free the German 44th Infantry Division for further movement southward. German antiaircraft batteries were to remain, but under Gloria’s command. Feurstein replied firmly that the 44th Infantry Division would stay where it was and be wholly responsible for protecting the Brenner-Bolzano sector. Professing great indignation over the northward movement of Italian troops while German divisions were not only moving south to defend Italy against Allied invasion but also carrying the main burden of the campaign in Sicily, Kesselring submitted a formal note of protest to Ambrosio. He demanded the withdrawal of all the Italian troops that had moved into the Trentino after 5 August. Otherwise, he threatened, responsibility for the consequences would fall upon the Italian Government. Confirming all the points in the Tarvis agreement, Ambrosio nevertheless refused to suspend the movement of the Cuneense Alpine Division into the South Tyrol. It was to complete its mountain training, he said, before commitment against the Allies.

[NOTE: Memo of the German General at Headquarters of the Italian Armed Forces, No. 0717/43, 8 Aug 43, IT 102.] 

An uneasy compromise resulted, as German and Italian troops continued to share the protection of the Brenner area.[N2-19-12] A new misunderstanding in the South Tyrol occurred on 9 August, when Feurstein notified Gloria of new troop movements and requested the plans and keys of installations suitable for accommodating the German units. Informed by Gloria and interpreting the request as a demand for the plans and keys of all the Italian fortifications in the Reschen and Sillian Passes, Roatta energetically protested to Kesselring the presumptuous German behavior. Kesselring notified OKW, which agreed to confirm all troop movements with Comando Supremo through Kesselring, in accordance with the Tarvis conference.

[N2-19-12: 0KW/WFSt, KTB, I.-31.vIII.43, 7-8 Aug 43; Min, 8 Aug 43, item 193, Min of Confs, Comando Supremo, IT 26.]

Yet OKW directed Army Group B to prepare to occupy the Tarvis Pass, the northeastern gateway into Italy from Ljubljana and from Villach-Klagenfurt. [N2-19-13] By this time, Comando Supremo had developed schizophrenic tendencies under the contradictory pressures of opposing the Allies in the south and the Germans in the north. In accordance with Ambrosio’s order, Castellano on 9 August traveled to Monterotondo, just outside Rome, whither the Army staff was moving in anticipation of the proclamation of Rome’s open city status, and directed Roatta to make certain troop dispositions in view of a probable conflict with the Germans. Roatta objected. The orders implied a change in policy, and Roatta did not wish to act unless the order for the change came from the King and Badoglio.

[N2-19-13: 0KW/WFSt, KTB, I.-31.vIII.43, 8-9 Aug 43; Cf. Roatta, Otto milioni, p. 273.]

Calling on Ambrosio that evening, Roatta urged him to take the matter to the King. At an audience with Victor Emmanuel III on 10 August, Ambrosio secured the King’s approval of the proposed troop movements and informed Roatta, who issued a written directive to his subordinate commanders.

 The directive confirmed and elaborated the verbal orders Roatta had issued at the end of July. Italian forces were to react positively against German violence, safeguard command posts and assembly areas against German surprise attack, reinforce the protection of hydroelectric plants and other important installations, observe closely and report all German troop movements and all supporting actions by Fascists, plan and prepare for action against such vital German installations as motor parks, munitions depots, and airfields. 

Unless the Germans took the initiative and resorted to force, Italian units were to execute these plans only upon order from Roatta’s headquarters. Like previous instructions of this nature issued by Roatta, these orders were defensive in nature. There was no anticipation of possible cooperation with the Allies against the Germans. Roatta still knew nothing of the missions of D’ Ajeta and Berio.

[N2-19-14 Roatta, Otto milioni, pp. 275, 287, 289-91; Rossi, Come arrivammo, pp. 200-201, 205; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe, II, pp. 56-57; MS #P-058, Project 46, I Feb-8 Sep 43, Question 7] 

The Decision to Evacuate Sicily

The Tarvis conference had not settled on a future course of action to be followed by the Axis armies in Sicily, for Sicily had been discussed only incidentally. Wanting to avoid a repetition of the Tunisian disaster and fearing that Hitler would delay a decision until too late, Kesselring took it upon himself to solve the problem. 

Kesselring had received the OKW order of 26 July to prepare for an eventual evacuation of the island. To prevent leakage of German plans to the Italians as directed by OKW, Kesselring had called a conference on 27 July to brief the German commanders on the planned conduct of future operations on the island. “If the Italians should leave the alliance with Germany,” Kesselring said, “the XIV Panzer Corps will immediately disengage from the enemy and evacuate all troops from Sicily. Preparations for the evacuation will start right away in co-ordination between XIV and LXXVI Panzer Corps and other headquarters involved.” Colonel Bogislaw von Bonin, chief of staff of XIV Panzer Corps, who attended the meeting, informed General Hube when he returned the same day to Sicily. Hube directed Colonel Baade, the commandant of the Strait of Messina, and the German sea transport commander, Fregattenkapitaen Gustav von Liebenstein, to start preparations for the evacuation. Hube also authorized the withdrawal of the ground forces from Nicosia that evening and informed General Guzzoni the next day that German forces would no longer execute a stubborn defense of Sicily.

[N2-19-15 Since most of the German orders were given verbally during this period, only scanty documentary evidence is available. A reconstruction of the transmittal of the order from OKW /WFSt to Hube on 27 July is based on: Instructions from OKW /WFSt on the future conduct of operations in Italy reached OB SUED on 26 and 27 July 1943, as proven by two mentions with hardly any details in OB SUED, Meldungen, 725, 26 July 1943 and 2025, 27 July 1943; arrival of TWX with instructions from OKW/WFSt early in the morning of 26 July 1943, Rintelen, Mussolini ats Bundesgenosse; Kesselring’s conference on 27 July 1943 and his directive, LXXVI Panzer Corps, Anlagen, Io.VII.-30. VIII.43; Bonin’s presence at the conference, OB SUED, Meldungen, 2025, 27 July 1943; LXXVI Panzer Corps, KTB, 22. VI.43-2.II.44, and Anlagen, 8 August and 10 August for 8 August 1943.]

 On 2 August Kesselring approved the detailed evacuation plan submitted to him by Colonel von Bonin, asking only to be notified before Hube implemented the plan. The next day he informed OKW that the evacuation plan was ready and that the transfer of troops and materiel to the Italian mainland could be made in five nights. 

The fall of San Fratello on 8 August coincided with several other notable events on Sicily. On that day, the 9th Division entered Cesaro; the British 78th Division seized Bronte; and the British 13 Corps on the east coast was eight miles beyond Catania striving to break the Hermann Gӧring Division’s hold on Highway 114. 

On that day, too, General von Senger visited Kesselring and reported the seriousness of the situation on Sicily. Kesselring then ordered Hube to go ahead with the evacuation. He did not directly inform Hitler or ask his approval. He depended on his chief of staff, General Westphal, to set matters straight with Comando Supremo.

[N2-19-16 Colloquio Generale Westphal-Generale Rossi del giorno 9 agosto [943, ore [200, IT 104; SKL/l.Abt, KTB, Teil A, 1.-3 1. VIII·43, 16 Aug 43; Min of Confs in Rome, 1943, IT 26; Min, 8 Aug 43 Item 193, Min of Confs, Comando Supremo, IT 26; MS #T-Ia (Westphal et al.).]

When OKW on 9 August learned of Kesselring’s order, Hitler accepted the decision as a fait accompli. General Warlimont, Jodl’s deputy chief, recalled after the war that the decision to evacuate Sicily was one of the instances where Jodl “in his calm way … succeeded in guiding Hitler to undesirable but necessary decisions .. “

[N2-19-17 SKL/l.Abt, KTB, Teil A, 1.-3 1. VIII.43, 15 and 16 Aug 43 and one entry 20 Aug 43 referring to 9 Aug 43; Warlimont in OI-II R/ 22, Hq U.S. Forces European Theater, Mil Intel Center, German General Staff Series; Bonin in MS #T-2 (Fries et al.); Westphal’s comments on the evacuation order as quoted by Fries in MS #T-2 (Fries et al.), p. 28; OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-31.VIII.43, 9 Aug 43.]

 The decision could not be kept from General Guzzoni and his staff. Guzzoni accordingly examined the possibility of continuing to defend Sicily with Italian forces alone. He concluded that such a course of action was not feasible. The Italian forces on the island might delay the Allied occupation of all of Sicily by a few days, but only at the price of human sacrifice and loss of equipment out of proportion to any advantages that might be gained. He informed Comando Supremo of his views, and on 9 August Comando Supremo ordered Guzzoni to take over the defense of part of Calabria and to start evacuating Italian forces from Sicily.

 With Kesselring finally giving the word to evacuate, Hube instructed Baade and the three German division commanders to prepare for final transfer of troops and equipment to Messina and across the Strait to the Italian mainland. [N2-19-19] Late on the afternoon of 10 August, Hube issued the formal order for evacuation, designating the night of 11 August as the first of five nights for ferrying troops across the strait in Operation LEHRGANG.

[N2-19-19 Baade Diary; LXXVI Panzer Corps, KTB and Anlagen, 8 and 10 Aug for 8 Aug 43. It is difficult to determine just how many guns Baade controlled during the evacuation period. A report dated 14 August (Baade Diary, pages 119-20) shows 333 antiaircraft guns on hand that day. These were in addition to the coast defense guns, which were not dual-purpose weapons. Other reports (an undated map, probably late July, in Baade Diary; a map dated 18 July 1943, part of collection Sizilien (I:200,000), WFSt Op (H)) shows even more guns asbeing present. See also Roskill, The War at Sea,vol. III, pt. I, pp. 145-46.] 

By this time, Baade had practically completed his preparations for receiving and transporting the troops and equipment from the front-line divisions. Within the large, oval-shaped area of his command including the northeast tip of Sicily and an area directly across the Strait of Messina in Calabria-Baade exercised command not only over all German Army troops, but over the German antiaircraft installations and their personnel, even though the latter were administratively part of the German Second Air Fleet. 

To counter Allied air and naval supremacy, Baade had under his control about five hundred guns, a Majority of them dual-purpose weapons. In addition, just before the evacuation started, the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division relinquished to Baade the two most powerful batteries on Sicily (110-mm. guns with an effective range of over ten miles) for commitment as part of the coastal defenses on both sides of Villa San Giovanni (just across the strait from Messina).  

Thus, what many Allied officers had regardeda’s one of the most heavily defended areas in Europe during 1942 and early 1943 had perhaps become the most heavily defended. One Allied officer was later to call the antiaircraft fire at Messina “the heaviest ever encountered in the Mediterranean-heavier than ‘flak alley’ between Bizerte and Tunis–greater than the inner artillery of London.” The single weakness in Baade’s antiaircraft defense system was the limited range of his guns. A large number would not be able to reach high-flying Allied bombers, aircraft like the B-17, the B-24, and the British Wellington.

This was one reason why Baade had taken over the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division’s large weapons. If the Allied air forces attacked the strait using fighter, fighter-bomber, light and medium bomber aircraft, then the antiaircraft fire would be most effective. If the Allied air forces sent mainly high-flying heavy bombers, Baade’s defenses would prove woefully inadequate. In the latter case the German infantrymen on Sicily would have to depend on the German Second Air Fleet to cover the withdrawal. But this was a task that the German air force in Italy could not possibly hope to perform, for the air force was decimated by the previous fighting, frustrated by Italian officials who demanded conformity with impossible regulations, and left with less than three hundred operational aircraft of all types. 

In addition to controlling the defenses of the Messina Strait area, Baade also coordinated the German naval ferrying service, although this function remained the direct responsibility of Captain Liebenstein, the Sea Transport Commander, Messina Strait. Liebenstein had command of three naval flotillas, an engineer landing battalion, two or three engineer fortification battalions, and two port maintenance companies. The flotillas had, by the end of July, 33 naval ferry barges (somewhat similar to American LCT’s) , 12 Siebel ferries (10-ton, flat-bottomed, multipurpose supply and troop, carriers), 2 naval gun lighters, 11 large engineer landing craft capable of transporting 2 trucks, and 76 motorboats designed to transport personnel only .  

[N2-19-23 For additional details, see MS #R-I46 (Bauer), pp. 34-35; see also Roskill, The War at Sea, vol. III, pt. I, pp.44-45]

At Hube’s request, four of six ferrying routes developed by Liebenstein during the course of the campaign (with each route having several landing places on both coasts) were set aside to evacuate German troops, all starting from points north of Messina. A fifth route, south of Messina, was designated a spare route, to be used only in emergency. Routes 1 and 2, near the northeastern tip of the island, Were reserved for the 15th and 29th Panzer Grenadier Divisions; Route 3, two miles north of Messina, was to be used by XIV Panzer Corps headquarters and headquarters troops; Route 4, a mile north of Messina, was set aside for the Hermann Gӧring Division and attached elements of the 1st ,Parachute Division. Other German units were to adjust their movements to those of the divisions and were to be evacuated on a space-available basis.

 Personnel were to cross the strait only during the hours of darkness; weapons and miscellaneous equipment were to be evacuated during both the day and the night and in line with a priority of anti-tank weapons first, then artillery pieces, then self-propelled weapons of all kinds, and, finally, trucks and motor vehicles. All materiel that could not be evacuated was to be destroyed.

On 10 August, the day Hube announced the formal evacuation order, the German ferrying service was ready to transport about 8,000 men each night, with ferry barges, Siebel ferries, and engineer landing craft ready to go into action at each of the four designated ferrying sites. All that remained was for General Hube to get the right number of men to the proper embarkation points at the right time in order to make full use of the available shipping without creating bottlenecks. All troops at the front or in the rear areas had, by 10 August, received orders to move toward the ferrying routes.

 Generalleutnant Richard Heidrich, commander of the 1st Parachute Division, drew the assignment of organizing the reception of the troops in Calabria. The Tortorici, or shorter, bridgehead line was to be held until 12 August, when Rube planned to begin moving the entire front back in three big strides, delaying at phase lines across the northeastern tip of the island. To prevent overcrowding on the north coast highway, Rube picked the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division to start moving through Randazzo toward ferry Routes 1 and 2 on 10 August so that its transfer to the Italian mainland could be completed by 15 August. The 29th Panzer Grenadier Division was to follow along the north coast. At the same time, the Hermann Gӧring Division, withdrawing around both sides of Mount Etna, was to fall back toward Route 4. Rube planned that each of the three Major displacements to the rear would be made at night, and only on dates that he would specify. Upon arrival at each of the phase lines, the divisions would release up to two-thirds of the troops then on line and start them moving toward the embarkation points. Since each line was shorter than the preceding one, Rube felt this procedure was feasible and that it assured a steady stream of men to and across the strait.

[N2-19-25 MS #C-on (Rodt); MS #T-2 (Fries et al.) ; Baade Diary.] 

For the Italians, who had started a limited evacuation on 3 August, official word to evacuate the island came from Comando Supremo on the 9th, when General Guzzoni was ordered to help defend Calabria. On the following day, after giving Rube command authority over all Italian and German units still in Sicily, Guzzoni and his Sixth Army headquarters moved across the strait. Like the Germans, the Italians organized four ferrying routes, two starting from Messina itself, the other two from points north of the city. Operating independently of’ the German service, the Italian ferrying service consisted of one train ferry (capable of lifting 3,000 men at a time), two small steamboats, and four navy-armed motor rafts. Since the Italian vessels were not capable of lifting heavy equipment, General Rube offered to take over some of it, if space should become available on the German craft.

Allied Reaction

Allied commanders and Allied intelligence agencies seemed quite aware of the Axis intention to evacuate Sicily, although they refused to hazard a guess as to when this evacuation might begin. General Alexander, himself, as early as 3 August, felt that the Germans would start back across the strait at almost any time and he requested Admiral Cunningham and Air Chief Marshal Tedder to co-ordinate the Allied forces’ naval and air efforts to prevent an enemy evacuation from the island. On 5 August, the Seventh Army G-2 announced that “in all probability evacuation is taking place. The entire operation from the enemy viewpoint, therefore, is to delay advance against time.” Two days later the same officer again indicated evacuation of German troops as the most likely enemy course of action, a report issued daily thereafter. From a British intelligence office on Sicily came the following statement on 9 August: “From now on it seems to be a question of who can walk back the fastest. The Germans are definitely getting out everything they can.”  

While it appears that Allied commanders knew of the impending enemy evacuation, if not the exact date when the evacuation would start, it also appears that these same commanders had no over-all plan for thwarting such an operation. 

To General Alexander’s query of 3 August requesting a co-ordination of the Allied air and naval efforts to prevent an enemy evacuation from Sicily, Admiral Cunningham replied that he was aware of the possibility of the enemy forces leaving Sicily, that he had small craft operating at night in the strait, but that he could not employ larger warships in the strait area until the air forces knocked out the enemy’s strong coastal batteries. Cunningham promised that the activities of the small craft would be “intensified,” and that once the air forces knocked out the coastal batteries he would send “surface forces to operate further in the straits.” 

Air Chief Marshal Tedder agreed with Cunningham’s proposal to knock out the coastal batteries, as well as with another proposal of Cunningham’s to permit Allied air forces to operate without “let or hindrance” over the whole of the Messina Strait area, and he notified his American subordinate, General Spaatz (commander of the NAAF), to put the air forces to work immediately.

Thus, Spaatz’ two Major combat air forces-NATAF and N ASAF -were committed to blocking Hube’s evacuation. An order issued on 2 August which had prohibited the use of General Doolittle’s NASAF heavy bombers against the strait was rescinded, with the provision that the heavies would not be used during the day except at Doolittle’s discretion, and then only on a request from Air Vice Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham (NATAF’s commander) with a twelve-hour notice. General Doolittle’s command was suffering from combat fatigue and it had been found necessary to decrease the frequency of NASAF’s operations during the last week in July in order to give the combat air crews more rest. Too, NASAF had many targets on the Italian mainland: airfields, lines of communications, marshaling yards, and rail and road bridges that had to be destroyed before the Allied invasion of the Italian mainland.

Coningham felt that his NATAF could handle any enemy evacuation that might take place during daylight hours, provided NASAF could handle the night hours. Thus, from 5 to 9 August, although British medium Wellington bombers struck nightly at the beaches north of Messina, American B-17 heavy bombers flew only three daylight missions against Messina. Despite this round-the-clock aerial bombardment, Air Vice Marshal Coningham felt that unless the Navy could provide a “positive physical barrier” at night across the strait NAAF could not prevent an enemy evacuation from Sicily. 

Unfortunately, Admiral Cunningham, after giving “the matter very careful thought,” concluded that regardless of the method used by the Allies, “sea or air,” there was no “effective method” of stopping an enemy evacuation. Admiral Hewitt, the American naval commander, agreed. Admiral McGrigor’s small “Inshore Squadron,” originally created to work with the British Eighth Army, was left on its own to do what it could to establish the “positive physical barrier” in the strait; no larger warships were ordered to help out.

 From the point of view of the ground fighters, only two possibilities existed for getting sizable numbers of Allied ground forces into Messina before the enemy could evacuate: additional amphibious landings of the type conducted by the Seventh Army at San Fratello, and airborne drops designed to sever the last few remaining routes of enemy withdrawal to Messina. Both the Seventh and Eighth Armies, on 8 August, were still some distance from Messina-seventy-five and fifty-two miles, respectively-with little possibility of moving any faster than they had during the preceding eight or nine days unless they sailed around or flew over the enemy’s defensive lines. 

General Patton, pleased with the results of the II Corps first seaborne end run, kept Bernard’s small task force intact, intending to use it again to expedite the Seventh Army advance along the north coast road. If such landings in the future could be made deeper in the enemy rear than at San Fratello, they might be able to cut off sizable numbers of German soldiers; they might even cut off the entire 29th Panzer Grenadier Division. Patton also wanted to use an airborne drop to further speed up the Seventh Army advance, and he directed preparations aimed at using a parachute battalion, the 509th, to drop behind the German lines either in conjunction with an amphibious landing or alone to cut off more German units. As of 8 August, General Montgomery still had indicated no desire to use any of Admiral McGrigor’s Inshore Squadron to speed the Eighth Army’s advance up the east coast, although McGrigor was ready and willing to undertake such an operation. 

In fact, McGrigor twice before had embarked a large Commando force (one had actually sailed) to land it behind the Germans’ Catania defense line to cut the vital east coast highway. Both times Montgomery had canceled the operation. Four small British airborne missions designed to harass enemy communications and supply areas in northeastern Sicily had been tried; all had failed. Montgomery gave no hint of a desire to employ larger numbers of airborne troops to aid his army’s advance. The Eighth Army commander apparently preferred to slog his way slowly around the Mount Etna massif, using much the same plan he had developed four days after the invasion. With the Allied naval forces practically out of the picture, with the Allied ground forces miles away from Messina, the entire burden of stopping Hube’s evacuation initially fell on the Allied air forces, who were not quite ready to assume the talk. Instead of calling on Doolittle’s NASAF to help out after 9 August, Air Vice Marshal Coningham relied almost exclusively on his NATAF to stop the evacuation. 

From 9 August on, the NATAF pilots tried desperately to halt the flow of traffic across the strait, but they found it difficult to penetrate Baade’s antiaircraft defenses. “My squadron lost two out of twelve planes yesterday,” said one American flyer. “And I lost two wing tips,” reported another. “And I lost my tail wheel,” said a third. “They put up a hell of a lot of flak,” stated a fourth. But on the same day ( 11 August) that Rube started his evacuation, Coningham reported that should “withdrawal develop on a big scale . . . we can handle it with our own resources and naval assistance.” Re recommended that Doolittle’s heavy bombers be released from their commitment to bomb Messina by day, if requested, but asked that the British Wellington bombers keep up their night strikes.

[NOTE: These were the four so-called CHESTKUT missions. three consisting of two planes, the last of one aircraft] 

Despite Coningham’s optimistic appraisal of the situation, it appeared that unless the ground troops could hurry their forward movement and exert sizable pressure on Rube’s retiring divisions, it was unlikely that Allied air alone, with only limited naval support, could do much to stop Hube from getting most of his men and equipment off the island.

The Evacuation Begins

The three German divisions reached the Tortorici line by 10 August, pressed by the American and British forces only on the extreme eastern and northern wings. Still holding positions west of the northern hinge of that line, the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division tried to delay the 3rd Division’s advance forward of the Tortorici line for as long as possible, giving way only to extreme pressure and completing its withdrawal by 12 August. Here again, General Fries’ division would occupy strong natural defensive positions, ideally suited to fighting a delaying action. 

Here again, the coastal anchor of the line had the same washboard ridges as the San Fratello line, and the Zappulla River crossings corresponded with those of the Furiano. Highway 116, running south across the Caronie Mountains from Cape Orlando through Naso and Ucria to Randazzo (on Highway 120), runs over high and mountainous terrain like the San Fratello-Cesaro road. Roughly halfway between Cape Orlando and Randazzo, commanding terrain offered the Germans positions from which to cover the southern terminus of the northern portion of the Tortorici line. 

On 9 August, the 71st Panzer Grenadier Regiment still occupied a salient extending westward of the Zappulla River. The regiment was under orders to hold until forced to withdraw. The 15th Panzer Grenadier Regiment deployed west of Highway 116, south of Naso. Most of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division’s artillery battalions were in positions near the coast. The Italian elements, reduced to a handful of Assietta Division infantrymen and a few artillery pieces, were intermingled among the German units. 

South of the mountain chain, the remnants of the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division slipped into place along Highway 116 between Floresta and Randazzo. This was the division Hube had earmarked as the first to be evacuated from Sicily. Forward of this main battle line, General Rodt deployed strong rear guards astride Highway 120 to delay a quick American follow-up from Cesaro. He also resorted to extensive use of mines and demolitions, taking full advantage of the rough terrain, narrow road, numerous bridges, and difficult bypasses to aid the defense. 

From the German viewpoint, if the evacuation was to succeed, the advance of the Allied ground forces had to be slowed considerably. In particular, Rodt had to hold Randazzo-now threatened by both the 9th U.S. Division and the British 78th Division-until both his own and those elements from the Hermann Gӧring Division north of Mount Etna could withdraw through the only exit now available in the central sector of the Axis front. 

Randazzo was a prime target for the Allied air forces-at least for those air unit’s not committed to the Messina Strait area. A quick movement by the two Allied divisions into and through Randazzo would not only cut off portions of two German divisions, it would endanger the German units on both the northern and eastern coasts. 

Colonel Smythe’s 47th Infantry, committed to taking Randazzo, retained positions around Cesaro during the night of 8 August, despite Smythe’s repeated urgings to his battalion commanders to move on to the high ground which overlooked the Simeto River, about one-third of the way to Randazzo. Since the advance was to continue the following morning, Smythe wanted to be in position to jump across the river quickly. General Eddy, also concerned with getting to Randazzo as fast as possible, brought all but one battalion of DeRohan’s 60th Infantry out of the mountains to follow Smythe’s advance. This, Eddy felt, would strengthen the division’s main effort; for the time being, he was content to give up the mountain scaling strategy to which the 60th Infantry had been committed since 6 August.

 Colonel Smythe’s worries were justified when, after jumping off at 0600, 9 August, his battalions just barely got to the Simeto River’s west bank where they were halted by heavy enemy fire. A try that night also failed to get them across the river. Although the regiment managed to clear the west bank of the river for some distance on 10 August and make contact with the British 78th Division off to the south, it could not cross the river. General Eddy thereupon sent the 60th Infantry back into the mountains to outflank Randazzo from the north, and brought up Flint’s 39th Infantry (now almost fully recovered from the Troina battle) to resume the advance along Highway 120.

 At 0645, 11 August, the 39th Infantry crossed the Simeto River without incident, continued to the east for another several miles, but at the Maletto road junction ran into an area where the ground was practically interdicted by German mines. Moving for the most part north of the highway, the 39th Infantry at midnight had two battalions just west of a long ridge about three miles west of Randazzo. Despite the almost total lack of opposition-there was only some artillery and small arms fire along the highway during the day-the 39th Infantry had covered only three and a half miles, obvious testimony to the effectiveness of the German mines.

 Coupled with an equally slow advance by the British 78th Division, the ground movement was doing little to halt German evacuation. Not only was the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division still holding the Randazzo escape route open, but General Rodt was even depleting his front-line units in accordance with Hube’s withdrawal plan. Not all was going according to plan, however, for Rodt’s unit’s found it increasingly difficult to pass through the Randazzo area because Allied air had destroyed two important highway bridges while other aircraft worked over the entire area almost incessantly. Randazzo itself quickly became one of the most heavily bombed targets in Sicily.[N2-19-38] German troops began calling the highway through Randazzo the “death road.” 

Despite these difficulties, German casualties were kept comparatively low by strict traffic discipline and by the fact that the German troops, through necessity, had long since learned how to take care of themselves during Allied air attacks. [N2-19-39] Early on 12 August the 39th Infantry resumed its advance on Randazzo. On its right, and almost abreast of Flint’s front lines, the British 78th Division attacked for Maletto. The British unit took its objective; Flint did not take his. General Rodt required only a few more hours of delay at Randazzo, and he picked out the 39th Infantry as the Allied unit representing the most serious threat to the town. Accordingly, heavy fire was laid on the approaching Americans. 

[N2-19-38 During the first thirteen days of August. Randazzo was hit by a total of 425 medium bomber, 249 light bomber, and 72 fighter-bomber sorties. See Craven and Cate, eds .. vol. II, Europe:]

[N2-19-39 MS #R-145, The Evacuation of Sicily, ch. XVI of Axis Tactical Operations in Sicily, July-August 1943 (Bauer), p. 22.] 

In the meantime, DeRohan’s 60th Infantry tried to make its presence felt. But the distance the regiment had to travel and the mountainous country through which it had to move precluded its having any real effect on the situation along the highway. The 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry, finally managed to make its way into Floresta (on the road north of Randazzo) early on 13 August, but the advance fell hours short of catching any of Rodt’s troops. During the evening of 12 August, Rodt had pulled his units out of Randazzo and Floresta, one group going back through Novara di Sicilia, the others north to and along Highway 113, preceding the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division. 

The closing scene of the Randazzo operation came early on 13 August. American patrols probed cautiously into the shattered town, followed by an infantry battalion. Just a short time later, the British 78th Division arrived on the scene. Like Troina, the capture of Randazzo was anticlimactic. Rodt had been able to make good his escape by excellent use of the terrain, liberal use of mines and demolitions, and by the almost complete absence of any Allied ground threat to his escape routes. 

The advances registered by the U.S. 9th and British 78th Divisions, while slow, were faster than those made by units of the British Eighth Army on the eastern side of Mount Etna. Montgomery, still ignoring Admiral McGrigor’s Inshore Squadron as a possible means of speeding up his advance, even went so far as to try a two-division attack across the southern slopes of Mount Etna. The push was slow and costly and gained little ground. With every advantage of terrain, General Conrath, using the Hermann Gӧring Division, fought an almost leisurely withdrawal battle, fending off the British with a part of his force, sending the remainder to Messina to cross the strait.

SOURCE: Sicily and the Surrender of Italy: BY; Lieutenant Colonel Albert Nutter Garland & Howard McGaw Smyth (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Sicily (2-20)Brolo – Naso Ridge – Braia

World War Two: Sicily (2-18)Breaking the San Fratello Line