Shermans in the sun: 12th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (Three Rivers) operations during Operation Husky, 10 July–17 August 1943

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University of New Brunswick


Canadian participation in Operation Husky (10 July – 17 August 1943) has been re-examined by historians in recent years to address new questions about how modern western military forces waged war in Sicily in the middle off the Second World War. Earlier accounts primarily centered on Canada's infantry and artillery forces. The contributions of Canadian armoured forces remain hidden in the shadows despite the fact that the Sicilian Campaign marked the first continuous service by a Canadian tank unit in the nation's history as part of the first modern all-Canadian combined-arms force. 12th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (Three Rivers) tanks and crews played a vital role in nearly every 1st Canadian Infantry Division action in Sicily, despite the rugged, mountainous terrain there that was ill-suited to evolving Anglo-Canadian armoured doctrine. The Three Rivers supported 1st Canadian Infantry Division operations with expert technical gunnery and driving capabilities, as well as innovative leadership by junior commanders within the Regiment. In practice Three Rivers soldiers drove their tanks into incredible locations from which they could lend crucial direct fire support to the infantry. In the final analysis, members of the Regiment adapted and innovated quickly to circumstances in Sicily. Despite shortcomings in training and doctrine, fundamental soldier skills and good junior leadership won the day in the Canadian Army's first armoured all-arms campaign.