After the defeat of the German and Italian forces in north Africa in the spring of 1943, operational plans were made for an Allied landing in Sicily. The force would consist of the British 8th Army, commanded by General Bernard Montgomery, and the U.S. 7th Army, commanded by General George Patton. Although the commander of the Canadian army in Europe, Lieutenant-General Andrew McNaughton, had wanted to keep the Canadian forces together, he gave approval for the inclusion of the 1st Canadian Division and 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade in the British 8th Army. McNaughton felt the Sicily operation would give Canadian troops combat experience that would be invaluable when an independent Canadian Corps was established.
The Sicily landings were conducted on 9 July 1943. The Canadian 1st Division consisted of regiments from across Canada: the Royal Canadian Regiment, the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, the 48th Highland Regiment, the Seaforth Highlanders, the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, The Loyal Edmonton Regiment, the Royal 22nd Regiment, the Carleton and York Regiment, and the West Nova Scotia Regiment. The 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade was composed of the Ontario, Calgary, and Trois-Rivières tank regiments. Major-General G.G. Simonds commanded the Canadian contingent.