August 11, 1943 to August 17, 1943 While the invasions of Sicily and Italy are quite well known, the importance of the Axis evacuation of Sicily has been terribly overlooked. During this week, the Axis Powers were able to evacuate 50,000 German and 75,000 Italian troops across the Straight of Messina to mainland Italy. The Allies were unable to prevent this because the invasion plan didn’t account for troop exhaustion, and lack of reserves. The Germans also conducted an expert rearguard action to slow down the Allied progress. The Italian Campaign was the longest, and one of the bloodiest, on the western front, causing over 300,000 casualties on each side. Many of the units that had escaped Sicily would fight until the wars end, helping to make sure that progress up the Italian Peninsula would be agonizingly slow.