July 23 Resistance was encountered during the early morning of the day near Partinico by CCB. This was overcome by prompt flanking action. After the first light, tanks were placed near the head of the advance guard which effectively reduced resistance at Terracini. Blown-out roads, mines, roadblocks, and tank traps were encountered, slowing down the advance. At 1100, the leading elements arrived at the Corps restraining line. The division continued the occupation of the city to secure and maintain order.
July 24-25 Guard and police of the city were turned over to the 3-ID, and the 2-AD moved to a bivouac area located northwest of Palermo.
A The advance of the 2-AD from Campbello to the final attack and capture of Palermo divides itself into three natural phases as to the type of movement.
(1). First, the displacement from Campobello to Agrigento, a distance of 37 miles while in the army reserve. This march was made by bounds from one assembly area to the next by relatively small march units. No unit, therefore, had an opportunity for maintenance of its vehicles or equipment or for much rest for its personnel. The march was accomplished immediately after the beachhead phase of the operation where a considerable part of the division had been parceled out in small increments to infantry Combat teams in support of their operations. Each hour saw the division moving further and further away from its source of supply of special weight oils, gasoline, rations, 75-MM gun ammunition, and heavy maintenance that had been landed at Gela and Licata. This was a serious problem, particularly in view of the fact that administrative type vehicles in the form of 2-1/2 ton trucks had been cut down to less than a third of the actual requirements in the interest of transporting the maximum of combat equipment for the initial landing and shuttling infantry forward.
(2). Second, the movement from Agrigento to assembly in the vicinity of Castelvetrano and the Belice Rive, preparatory to the actual envelopment. This distance was 54 miles and made across the rear of two divisions and on the same road with two Ranger Battalions and the 39-RCT. Defile after defile at which the enemy had effected demolitions was encountered, and which were passable with difficulty. Mines through this area had only been partially cleared. The advance along this road was very slow but still, there was no opportunity to catch up on much-needed maintenance and push forward supplies of oil that already were into the reserve carried by the organizations on combat vehicles.
(3). Third, the attack north from the Belice River to Palermo, a distance of 60 miles covered in approximately 10 hours. During this advance, the division encountered one defended roadblock or blown bridge after another. AT guns were invariably found disposed of in depth, well sited and concealed, and protected by infantry. Each of these positions had to be eliminated by fire and movement. The survivors of these defenses surrendered only after being hopelessly surrounded and cut off.
(4.) As a result of this advance on arrival in Palermo, the tanks of the 2-AD were almost completely inoperative. The stock of gasoline had become dangerously low, the rubber tracks that had been new on departing from Africa were worn down to the connectors and could last only a few more miles.
B It is important that all officers from the company grade up received training in civil affairs of the country to be invaded. It was found that there were insufficient AMGOTs’ to handle this problem of civil government immediately behind armored division troops. That in the interim between the surrender of the towns and the arrival of AMGOTs, considerable must be done to establish good order and discipline and protect civilians and their property against looting. It was found that this work must be done by commanders on the spot.
C PWI operators were found to be insufficiently trained for the work required. In many cases, it was found these operators were inclined to exaggerate information and due to lack of military background, fail to follow up on leads that would have furnished valuable information.
D CIC operators must be carefully selected and highly trained in their work. Several officers attached to this division have done most excellent work in this line, however, certain reports received from others have been so inaccurate that they did more harm than good.
E Experience in two amphibious operations in which ship-to-shore loading was used, has shown the positive necessity for closer control over the operation of small craft. The LCTs, LCVPs, and LCMs do not have the means of communication to permit their control after once launched and en route to shore with their first loads. This control must head up through the command post afloat and the senior commander ashore through the beach master. The crows must be experienced, well trained, and have had considerable practice as a team.
F Approximately 75% of the tracks of tanks were completely ruined on arrival at Palermo. This rubber track block was of new synthetic type material and although had traveled less than 300 miles was completely worn out. Steel tracks were generally speaking, in good condition.
G Within an armored division, there is no provision for handling prisoners of war. Long sustained advances must be closely followed by a line of communication troops to take over the guard and the processing of POWs and captured materiel. In many cases, isolated groups of prisoners and materiel had to be left with the insufficient guard a considerable distance behind the division.
H In future operations of this nature, it is urgently recommended that MT ships carrying vehicles and combat equipment arrive in the transport area simultaneously with the troopships carrying the crews, that arriving as they did on D+1, and after the crews of the vehicles had landed on the shore, there was created a difficult problem in joining crows with their vehicles.
I The operation against Palermo served to emphasize the tremendous supply problem involved in sustaining an armored division on the move and in action. It is estimated that the organic vehicles within an armored division can keep the division supplied as long as the Army rail or truck head is within thirty miles of the combat elements and a reasonable road net exists. As this division landed with a very limited number of trucks due to a shortage of shipping, it was able to maintain itself only by a close margin. All trucks hauled twenty-four hours a day, being forced to draw from beach dumps. Due to the rapid movement of the division, the distance from these dumps increased until it reached one hundred forty miles. Fortunately, ammunition requirements for the operation were not heavy. Had the action been sustained and the demand for ammunition tonnage been heavy, it would have been impossible to have supplied the division with both gasoline and ammunition with the trucks available. The entire operation would have been seriously impeded and might have been entirely jeopardized. For any operation of an armored division, all classes of supplies must be pushed up within thirty (30) miles of the combat elements, or if this is impossible at least three additional supporting truck companies must be made available to augment the organic transportation.
Hugh J. Gaffey
Major General US Army
Kool Force – Order of Battle
(1) HQ Kool – CG Maj Gen Hugh J Gaffey
142nd Signal Company (less det)
(2) 18-RCT – CO Col G. A. Smith
18th Infantry Regiment (-)
32nd Field Artillery Battalion (-)
2 Platoons, Item Co, 67th Armored Regiment
Baker Co, 1st Engineers Combat Battalion (-)
Baker Co, 1st Medical Battalion (-)
Able, Baker and Charlie Co, 540th Engrs (-) (support landing only)
(3) CCB – CO Col I. D. Whito
HQ CCB (-) plus detachment 142nd Sig Co
3/67th Armored Regiment (-)
Able Co, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment
78th Field Artillery Battalion (less Serv Btry, Dets HQ, firing Btry’s)
Charlie Co, 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion
Baker Co, 17th Armored Engineers Battalion (plus Det Easy Co)
(4) Beach Group – CO Col G. W. Marvin
540th Engrs (less one Bn)
107th AAA-AW Bn (SP) (less Btry’s A, B, Dets Det’s HQ Btry, Btry D and C)
Det 433rd AAA-AW Bn
Det 462nd Engineer Co (Dop)
Dog Co, 2637th Truck Battalion
Sect. Baker Co, 205th QM Bn (GS)
Platoon, 108th Quartermaster Co (RID)
Bn Team, 286th Sig Co (Amphibious)
603rd Ordnance Co (Ammunition)
3497th Ordnance Co (MM)(Q)(less Det)
Baker Co, 504th Military Police Bn
Able Co, 261st Medical Bn (Spec)
Detachment 401st Engineer Bn (WS)
Detachment 2658th Engineer Co (Map Dep) B
Clearing Platoon, Item Co, 51st Medical Bn
Platoon Able Co, 36th Ambulance Bn
Detachment 3rd Aux Surg Grp (3 teams)
Able Co, Naval Shore Bn N°4
(5) Reserve – CO – Col M. J. Morin, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment
1/41st Armored Infantry Regiment (less Able Co, and Serv Det) (Dismounted)
82nd Reconnaissance Battalion (less Able, Charlie, Dog Co’s, and Det HQ Co)