Friendly Fire — The Trade War’s First Casualties

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Radio silence can be deadly. That sad truth likely haunted Major General Matthew B. Ridgeway to his dying day. The date was June 11, 1943, nearly a year to the day before the D-Day invasion. Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily had begun days earlier and would ultimately prove victorious. But there would be a historic price paid to move the World War II battle lines onto the European mainland.

A recounting of the night by Captain Charles E. Pitzer, 82nd Airborne Division pilot, whose duty it was to transport Ridgeway’s 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment from Kairouan, Tunisia to their drop points in Sicily verified that, “It was radio silence and lights out.”Pitzer had been told that gunners aboard U.S. ships in the harbor city of Gela had been shown recognition slides to help identify the C-47 Skytrains and C-53 Skytroopers carrying the 2,000 paratroopers. And according to Navy history, German bombers of similar design were distinguished ahead of time and advance word of the operation had been fully broadcast. Many would later claim the message was never received.

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Danielle DiMartino Booth is CEO and Director of Intelligence at Quill Intelligence

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