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Until a few months prior to the operation, there was a notable shortage of serviceable gliders in North Africa. In late March a small number of Wacos arrived at Accra on the Gold Coast , but pilots sent to ferry them to North Africa found that they were in poor condition.
Due to neglect and the deleterious effects of tropical weather, the pilots were able to assemble only a small number of Wacos and fly them back on 22 April.
Few were rated as being 'operationally ready' and none had combat experience. Colonel George Chatterton, the commander of the Glider Pilot Regiment, had protested their participation as he believed they were entirely unfit for any operation.
The Staffords were tasked with securing the bridge and the area to the south, while the Borders were to capture Syracuse.
The Ponte Grande Bridge was immediately outside the area defended by the Italian Coastal Division , which would oppose the British seaborne landing.
There were also naval and air force battalions available,  while the 54 Infantry Division Napoli was in a position to send reinforcements if required.
On 9 July, a contingent of 2, British troops, along with seven jeeps , six anti-tank guns and ten mortars, boarded their gliders in Tunisia and took off at , bound for Sicily.
In the confusion surrounding these manoeuvres, some gliders were released too early and sixty-five of them crashed into the sea, drowning around men.
Only one Horsa with a platoon of infantry from the Staffords landed near the bridge. Its commander, Lieutenant Withers, divided his men into two groups, one of which swam across the river and took up position on the opposite bank.
Thereafter the bridge was captured following a simultaneous assault from both sides. The Italian defenders from the th Coastal Infantry Regiment abandoned their pillboxes on the north bank.
The British platoon then dismantled some demolition charges that had been fitted to the bridge and dug-in to wait for reinforcement or relief.
Three of the other Horsas carrying the coup-de-main party landed within 2 miles 3. Elsewhere, about men landed at Cape Murro di Porco and captured a radio station.
Based on a warning of imminent glider landings transmitted by the station's previous occupants, the local Italian commander ordered a counter-attack but his troops failed to receive his message.
The scattered nature of the landings now worked in the Allies' favour as they were able to cut all telephone wires in the immediate area.
Jones, landed beside an Italian coastal artillery battery; at daylight the staff officers and radio operators attacked and destroyed the battery's five guns and their ammunition dump.
Another group of paratroopers attacked an Italian patrol led by Major Paoli, commander of the th Artillery Group; Paoli was killed and his unit fell in disarray, and was thus unable to intervene in the later fight against British tanks near the bridge.
The first counterattack on the bridge was by two companies of Italian sailors, who were repulsed by the British.
As the Italians responded to the Allied landings, they gathered more troops and brought up artillery and mortars to bombard the Allied-controlled Pont Grande Bridge.
The Italians were positioned to attack the bridge from three sides. By there were only fifteen British troops defending the bridge that had not been killed or wounded four officers and eleven soldiers.
At , with their ammunition consumed, the British stopped fighting. Some men on the south side of the bridge escaped into the countryside, but the rest became prisoners of war.
After an enquiry into the problems with the airborne missions in Sicily, the British Army and Royal Air Force submitted recommendations in the aftermath of Operation Ladbroke.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Date 9—10 July Location Syracuse, Sicily. Invasion of Sicily. Italian Campaign. British airborne forces operations of the Second World War.
Their removal of the demolition charges prevented its destruction when the first units from the British 5th Infantry Division arrived.
The st Field Ambulance needed thirty-two Wacos but were only allocated six, and five of them failed to reach Sicily.
Recruited from the local population, their officers were mostly men who had retired and had been called up again. Their morale was low, not least because of the second rate equipment and weapons they had been issued.
It had been intended to improve their armaments with equipment seized from the recently disbanded Vichy French army, but when the arms arrived in Sicily, they had often been made unusable and had the wrong type or no ammunition at all.
Nonetheless, since following an Air Ministry order, many Royal Air Force bombers had equipment fitted to tow gliders; as a result, Albemarle, Halifax and Stirling bombers were able to conduct parachute operations.
Cole, Howard N On wings of healing: the story of the Airborne Medical Services — Edinburgh: William Blackwood. Eisenhower, Dwight D.
Crusade in Europe. New York: Doubleday. Harclerode, Peter Huston, James A. Jowett, Philip S. The Italian Army — Men at arms. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing.
Lake, Jon Halifax Squadrons of World War 2. Combat Aircraft.