Battle in an Orchard of Almond Trees in Sicily: Morning of July 21st 1943

Catalogue number
  • Art.IWM ART LD 3385
Art and Popular Design
Production date
Subject period
  • Supports: paper
  • Window Mount: board
  • medium: Watercolour
  • Window Mount: Depth 5 mm, Height 610 mm, Width 813 mm
  • Support: Height 383 mm, Width 551 mm
  • Secondary Support: Height 504 mm, Width 669 mm
Alternative names
  • object category: drawing

© IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 3385)

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Object description

Image: a track running through an orchard with a stationary tank on the right. Two bodies lie at the side of the track and the ground is covered in debris. In the centre of the image is a group of injured or exhausted soldiers sitting under a tree.


On 21 July 1943, Brigadier-General Rennie's 154th Brigade attack Gerbini airfield, spearheaded by 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. The defences they attack include deep wire, machine guns and tanks. After three hours the objective is taken, but casualties are heavy. Meanwhile, on 1st Canadian Division's front throughout the day, the men of Tweedsmuir's force at Assoro beat off German counter-attacks. Ardizzone was present and recorded the events in his diary: 'Go forward and get involved in not too pleasant a battle. The approach to the ridge,'ware mines. Tanks on the road, many dead, wounded under cactus hedge, the burning corpse. Tanks burning and blowing up in an almond orchard.' Several sketches used to produce this work accompany the diary entry (IWM ART LD 7580 [A]).


extended caption: "The orchard and the surrounding country were the scene of very bitter fighting on the morning of 21st July. Our objective had been taken only to be lost again to a German counter-attack. Casualties were heavy."

Physical description

Window mounted watercolour painting. The painting is inlaid onto a paper secondary support within the mount.

History note

commission 1940 (War Office Artist)



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