Operation Husky - the Invasion of Sicily 1943
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary from the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna has for the last few months been working on a new large-scale and permanent museum exhibition that will focus on that campaign and Malta’s role in it. Operation Husky – the invasion of Sicily took place on the night of 9/10 July 1943 and remains up to now as one of history’s largest amphibious operations ever attempted. It is also considered as the initiation of the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation.
The new exhibition will be housed at the Lascaris War Rooms, the massive underground military complex completed for the same operation in May 1943. It will occupy some 75% of the building most of which was till now delapidated and inaccessible to the public. The exhibition will start with the strategic role of Sicily in WW2 and will go on to chart the last stages of the Desert War in late 1942 and early 1943 which made the invasion possible and the Casablanca Conference. It will then move to the large scale deception that the Allies undertook to divert Axis attention from the operation and the covert preparations made in North Africa, Malta and Britain for it. The exhibition will describe the anti-invasion defences of Sicily along with the Order of Battle of the Axis on the island and that of the Allies at the time of the invasion.
A detailed description of the landings on D-Day at H-Hour will be presented in a special audio-visual room where the visitor will have the unique opportunity to experience the landings as they took place and evolved including the Axis counter-attacks while listening to a commentary of the battle and hearing its sounds. Extensive use of original archive film will be used throughout.
The exhibition will describe the pivotal role played by Malta in the campaign as the very spot from where the invasion was launched and directed by the US Allied Supreme Commander General Dwight Eisenhower and as a giant aircraft carrier from where adequate fighter air cover was provided to the two invasion fleets and the landings. A special place in this account will be accorded to Malta’s own 231st (Malta) Indipendent Infantry Brigade formed by some of the British Regular Infantry Battalion’s defending Malta during the Siege and who went on to take part in the landings as part of the Eighth Army.
The exhibition will also feature the great hardship that the Sicilian population went through as a result of the indiscriminate Allied bombing raids and will deal with some of the atrocities committed against it by both Allied and Axis forces. It will also document the great loss of cultural heritage that Sicily sustained as result of the raids and the fighting.
The exhibition will end with the aftermath of the campaign: the arrest of Mussolini and the end of the Fascist regime; the signing of the Short Armistice in Sicily; the successful Axis evacuation of the island; the surrender of the Italian Battel Fleet to the British in Malta and the signing of the Long Armistice on board HMS Nelson in the Grand Harbour which in effect brought the end of the war in Malta.
The exhibition will cover a floor area of 800 square metres positioned on two levels and will form part of the Lascaris War Rooms in Valletta. It will include hundreds of original artefacts from the campaign such as uniforms, weapons, documents, instruments, equipment and artillery pieces. Extensive use of modern multi-lingual audio-visual means will be made throughout its interpretation.
This project is co-sponsored by the Malta Airport Foundation (main patron); the Valletta 18 Foundation; the Malta Tourism Authority and Macmed Ltd. Active assistance is being provided for this project by professionals and friends in Sicily.
The date of completion will be mid 2019.
Please watch this space for regular updates and events connected with this project.