Article by: Neal Ulen
As part of Operation Husky (the invasion of Sicily), The Battle of Biazza Ridge (July 10-12, 1943) would turn out to be one of the hardest fought and bloodiest engagements during the liberation of Sicily. The battle to hold the road junction that led to Biazza, Gela and Vittoria raged for hours, ebbing and flowing across the idyllic, orchard-draped ridge.
Biazza Ridge Map
This map and action can be found in Advancing Fire’s Advanced Squad Leader module: Biazza Ridge.
“Biazza Ridge is a place of honor, a place of respect. In Fort Bragg, there’s a housing development that bears its name. This is the place where the famous battle between the Hermann Goring Panzer Division and elements of the 505 took place.
After making a long trek from his actual drop zone, Col. Gavin arrived in Vittoria early on the morning of July 11, where he heard reports that there were paratroopers a few miles to the west. He headed in that direction to find the 3rd Battalion getting organized. Col. Krause, the 3rd Battalion commander, told Gavin that there were Germans between their position and Gela, where the 45th Division was engaging them. Gavin took a platoon of 307th combat engineers and headed west on the highway leading from Vittoria to Gela. Soon he heard gun fire and continued down the road. At this time it was about 8:30am. He reached a point where a railway crossed the road and saw Biazza Ridge in front of him about half a mile away and 100 feet high with a gradual slope to the east. The firing he had heard earlier was coming from the ridge and its intensity was increasing. The firing was from Germans of the Hermann Goring Division and the 180th US Infantry. They had engaged each other on the west side of the ridge south of the highway. The Germans were occupying the ridge. Gavin deployed his platoon of engineers ordering them to take the ridge. He then sent for 3rd battalion and they came.”
“The troopers pushed the Germans over the top and down the western slope of the ridge. Fire intensified with mortars, artillery and machine guns. The Germans swiftly counterattacked, and the troopers were forced back over the ridge’s crest. At that point Company H took over the attack from Company G. They were ordered to fix bayonets and then charged over the ridge engaging the Germans in bloody hand-to-hand combat, killing many of them and forcing a German retreat. Sometime at this point the men on the ridge first heard the German tanks. The troopers on the ridge chased the Germans down the western side. The Germans counterattacked again, using tanks in addition to the infantry. The tanks were Mark VI Tiger tanks each equipped with an 88mm cannon. There were 17 of them. The tanks began firing at individual troopers with their 88mm cannons.”
.END OF BRIEFING.
ASL Map Spotlights are meant to be quick history lessons on available historical Advanced Squad Leader actions. These short articles are meant to highlight both a short history of the battle portrayed for players unfamiliar with the setting, as well as show the ASL map on which it plays out.Citations:
1. Gavin, James. On To Berlin: Battles of an Airborne Commander 1943-1946. 1st ed., Viking, 1978.
2. Nordyke, Phil. All American, All the Way: The Combat History of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II. 1st ed., Zenith Press, 2005.
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