In July 1943, the Allies attacked Sicily, and Hitler ordered reinforcements to the Balkan States. The following timeline highlights these and other World War II events from this period.
World War II Timeline: July 16-July 26
July 16: In an Allied leaflet drop over Italy, President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill ask the Italian people if they would like to "die for Mussolini and Hitler... or live for Italy and for civilization."
July 17: Hitler orders reinforcement of German forces to the Balkan States, believing the region will be the site of the Allies' next move.
July 19: Pope Pius XII offers to shelter Italians in Vatican City as the Allies drop more than 500 tons of munitions on strategic targets around Rome.
July 20: Reversing an earlier order, Roosevelt directs his Los Alamos team to share advances in atomic weapons research with America's British allies.
July 22: The Allies capture Palermo, the administrative seat of Sicily and the provincial capital.
July 25: Having lost the support of fellow politicians, his own military, and a majority of the Fascist Grand Council, Mussolini is ousted in a bloodless coup.
Naunita Harmon Carroll christens the destroyer escort Harmon, which is named for her late son. Leonard Roy Harmon, a hero of the Battle of Guadalcanal, is the first African American to be honored with a U.S. Navy ship.
Still thoroughly fooled by Operation Mincemeat, Hitler believes that the attack on Sicily is a diversion and sends Erwin Rommel, one of his better generals, to Greece.
Krupp steelworks in Essen, Germany, is put out of commission by a punishing air raid executed by more than 600 British Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers.
July 26: Pietro Badoglio, appointed by King Victor Emmanuel III to head the Italian government following the deposition of Mussolini, abolishes the Fascist political party.
World War II Headlines
Here are more headlines describing World War II news in 1943.
The B-26 Marauder exceeds its reputation: An engine of a B-26 Marauder is blown off by ground fire over the French city of Toulon. The American-made medium bomber was dubbed the "Widowmaker" after a number of disastrous early tests. Indeed, the plane was never popular with pilots, who jokingly claimed that it required half the state of Texas for takeoff and glided like a flatiron. Nevertheless, it had the lowest loss record of any combat plane flown during WWII. In mid-1943, when the U.S. Ninth Air Force began serving a key tactical role in the European Theater, the Marauder was its primary bomber.
Fierce fighting on New Georgia in the Solomon Islands: Alert for Japanese snipers, GIs patrol a jungle track on New Georgia in the central Solomon Islands. The 43rd Infantry Division landed on New Georgia in July 1943 after U.S. intelligence learned that the Japanese were constructing an airfield on the island, at Munda. Enemy troop strength was greater than expected, and the offensive quickly bogged down. The Japanese sent in 4,000 reinforcements by sea via a convoy system dubbed the "Tokyo Express" to aid the 10,000 troops already on New Georgia. The battle settled into a slugfest, as the Americans also brought in reinforcements, including the 37th Infantry Division. The Allies finally occupied Munda on August 5.
Humane treatment for German POWs: Axis soldiers imprisoned in America were treated much better than Allied prisoners in German and Japanese camps. A May 1945 Newsweek article noted that American POWs lost an unhealthy amount of weight during their confinement while Axis prisoners in America generally gained weight. Allied prisoners were often forced to march hundreds of miles when transferred from one German camp to another, while Germans were generally transported between camps by passenger trains. German prisoners also experienced freedoms that were not allowed to their Allied counterparts, such as saluting a Nazi flag at Camp Crossville, Tennessee.
Next, learn about John F. Kennedy's wartime experience, along with other important World War II events in late July and early August 1943.