Roy’s Boys – The Devons, Hampshire & Dorsets in Sicily & Italy July-September 1943 by Christopher Jary
At 0300 hours on 10th July 1943 231 Malta Brigade – the 2nd Devons, 1st Hampshires and 1st Dorsets – landed on the south-eastern tip of Sicily. Under the command of Brigadier Roy Urquhart (later to win fame at Arnhem), they became known within the Eighth Army as “Roy’s Boys”. After a very successful landing, they advanced rapidly north-west towards the centre of the island but soon met skilful and determined German resistance in rocky, hilly terrain which might have been designed for defence.
The campaign lasted five weeks and infantry casualties exceeded those in all theatres of war except Normandy. In several bloody battles fought under the blazing Sicilian summer sun, the three battalions won a reputation second to no other formation in Montgomery’s army. On 8th September the Brigade landed to seize a beach-head on the toe of Italy. After a chaotic landing, they imposed order and, despite heavy casualties, achieved all their objectives, holding on until relieved. Their record in Sicily and Italy prompted Monty to choose them to lead the British landings on D-Day.
Based on the testimony of many veterans and supported by specially drawn maps and a wealth of contemporary and more recent colour photographs, Roy’s Boys describes the experience of the Devon, Hampshire and Dorset soldiers in this little-known campaign which saw the Allies turn to the offensive and begin the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe.
A must read for anybody interested in the Sicily and Italy campaign and the history of the Hampshire Regiment, Dorsetshire Regiment and Devonshire Regiment. The book tells the story of 231 (Malta) Brigade in Sicily and Italy, 1943.