1943 British Archive of a Map and Photographs to Plan for the Invasion of Sicily

[Sicily Invasion Planning Archive.] Noto. Sheet 277. Italy 1:100,000. - Main View

1943 British Archive of a Map and Photographs to Plan for the Invasion of Sicily


Using aerial photography to make maps during WWII.


[Sicily Invasion Planning Archive.] Noto. Sheet 277. Italy 1:100,000.
  1943 (dated)     17.5 x 23 in (44.45 x 58.42 cm)     1 : 100000


This is a 1943 World War II archive of 39 aerial photographs and a map of Sicily used in the planning of Operation Ladbroke, the first Allied invasion based on the mass use of gliders. This archive provides insight into how Allied war planners developed operations and integrated new technologies. Aerial photographic interpretation was a cutting-edge field for military planners. This archive represents the advancement of military planning and an innovation of cartography through advanced aircraft and photographic technology.
A Closer Look
Although Ladbroke suffered from many disasters, it was ultimately successful, and the Allies learned lessons they applied to Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. The archive was compiled by Captain Geoffry Philip Rimington who was with the Army Air Photographic Interpretation Unit (AAPIU). He used these photos, and others like them, to build models of the coastline. Three panorama photos included in the archive offer insight into how Army planners used aerial photographs to create a three-dimensional maps.
The Archive
This archive includes 39 aerial photographs (24 9 in. x 7 in., 10 5 in. x 5 in., and 5 8.5 in x 10.25 in) and 3 panorama photographs of the model created by Rimington (2 4.25 in. x 14.75 in. and 1 4.75 in. x 14.5 in.). Twenty of the 9 in. x 7 in. photographs overlay into one panoramic aerial image of the Sicilian coast in the vicinity of Avola. The map, a British copy of an Italian map, illustrates the coast from just north of Cassibile to the southern tip of Sicily. A note in the lower right explains how these were used by Rimington and the AAPIU to plan the Sicily invasion. A handwritten addendum, by Rimington, discusses Operation Ladbroke.
Operation Ladbroke
Operation Ladbroke took place on July 9-10, 1943. It was the opening move of the Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky. Ladbroke was the first time the Allies undertook a mass glider operation, with 133 combinations (tow plane and glider) taking part. Over 1,600 men from the 1st Airlanding Brigade left Tunisia on the night of July 9. Their objective was to capture and hold the Ponte Grande bridge on the southern approaches to Syracuse. The Border Regiment was tasked with seizing Syracuse.

The departure from Tunisia was routine, but once the planes reached Sicily, German and Italian soldiers lit them with searchlights and antiaircraft artillery. Some tow planes took evasive action, but consequently they could no longer find the correct landing zone. Others released the gliders early, and often too low, meaning they were unable to reach land. Of the 144 gliders that left Tunisia, only 56 landed in Sicily, with only 12 arriving at or close to their designated zones. Seventy-three crashed in the Mediterranean with a loss of 252 men. Initially commanders feared that over 500 men had drowned, but with time many appeared, having been rescued by Allied ships in the Mediterranean. The 1st Battalion, Border Regiment left for Sicily with 796 men, but only 200 returned to North Africa.

Despite the challenges, 80 men reached the Ponte Grande bridge by morning. They captured and held their objective for hours, holding off Italian counterattacks until 3:15 in the afternoon. With only 20 unwounded men, the Allied forces defending the bridge surrendered. However, the main landing force arrived from the beaches around an hour later, routed the defending Italians, liberated the captured men, and seized Syracuse. Operation Ladbroke, despite operational mistakes, ended in success.
A Short Biography of G. Philip Rimington
Geoffrey Philip Rimington (August 6, 1918 - January 3, 2013) was a British military officer and civil servant. He served with the 1st Battalion, Border Regiment during World War II in the Intelligence Section. He saw action in North Africa and helped plan the landings during invasion of Sicily. He joined the colonial administration after the war and served in Kenya, where he was chosen to remain on staff as an aide to the first African Director of Agriculture. After returning from Africa, he worked in the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau in London until he retired in 1986.


Very good. Light wear along original fold lines on map. All photos slightly curled, some have small bent corners.