Europe 1943: Fall of Mussolini
The loss of Sicily led to the fall of Mussolini and his Fascist Party. The new Italian government quickly came to terms with the Allies, but not quickly enough to prevent the Germans seizing control of most of Italy.
12 Jul–23 Aug 1943 Kursk Strategic Offensive▲
On 12 July 1943, with the stalling of the German offensive against the northern side of the Kursk salient, the Soviets commenced their Kursk Strategic Offensive Operation by simultaneously attacking the rear of the German forces in the northern side—around Bryansk and Orel—and launching powerful counterattacks on the southern side—where they engaged in a massive tank battle at Prokhorovka. That same evening the Germans called off their Kursk offensive due to their need to deal with the Allied invasion of Sicily, but the Soviets continued, launching an attack on the southern side of the Kursk salient on 3 August and advancing to liberate Kharkov on the 23rd.
24–25 Jul 1943 25 Luglio▲
In the aftermath of Italy’s loss of Sicily to Allied invasion, Duce Benito Mussolini was forced to summon the Grand Council of Fascism for the first time since the start of World War II. After condemning Mussolini, the Council passed a vote to restore the full powers of King Victor Emmanuel III by a 19–8 margin. The following day Mussolini was summoned to the royal palace by the king, who promptly dismissed the Duce and placed him under arrest.
24 Jul–3 Aug 1943 Bombing of Hamburg▲
In Operation Gomorrah, the British Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces launch strategic bombing missions against the industrial port of Hamburg, Germany. On July 27, the attacks create a firestorm which destroys much of the city. In all, 42,600 civilians are killed and 37,00 wounded.
26 Aug–28 Sep 1943 Drive to the Dnieper▲
On 26 August 1943 the Soviet Union began its move on the Dnieper, advancing with over 2.6 million men, 2.4 thousand tanks, and 2.8 thousand planes on a 1,400-kilometer front that stretched between Smolensk and the Sea of Azov. Despite the Soviet’s substantial numerical superiority, the Germans fought tenaciously and the river itself—up to 3 km wide in places—had been heavily fortified. By late September, however, the Soviets had pushed the Germans back to the Dnieper and established several bridgeheads across the river.
3–17 Sep 1943 Allied Invasion of Italy▲
On 3 September 1943, following the successful invasion of Sicily, the Allies launched an amphibious landing on mainland Italy, crossing the Straits of Messina without opposition. The main invasion force landed around Salerno on 9 September on the western coast in Operation Avalanche, while two supporting operations took place in Calabria (Operation Baytown) and Taranto (Operation Slapstick). Despite Axis resistance, Salerno was secured by the 17th.
3 Sep 1943 Armistice of Cassibile▲
Walter Bedell Smith, representing the Allies, and Giuseppe Castellano, representing the Kingdom of Italy, signed an armistice at a conference of generals from both sides in an Allied military camp at Cassibile in Sicily, which had recently been occupied by the Allies. The armistice was approved by both King Victor Emanuel III and Prime Minister Pietro Badoglio of Italy and made public on 8 September.
8 Sep–22 Nov 1943 Dodecanese Campaign▲
Following the Italian surrender, Allied forces attempted to capture the Italian-held Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean Sea, landing on Kastelorizo. They were preempted by the Germans, who captured Rhodes by 11 September 1943, then forced the Allies from the remaining islands.