Maj John Marshall Robinson, Officer of the Order of the British Empire

Order of the British Empire
1st Cdn Div used 100 DUKWs on Op HUSKY. This one is working on the Rhine Crossing in 1945
Citation Card, Maj JM Robinson, OBE

Major John Marshall Robinson took command of the 1st Canadian Field Survey Company in September 1940 as a captain.  He was promoted six months later.  He was an expert in photo interpretation and was assigned to 1st Canadian Infantry Division HQ as Intelligence Officer (Photo) during the planning stages of Op HUSKY.

Based on a report they received on 30 June, Canadian planners needed to consider two false beaches or sandbars submerged along the beaches west of Pachino, some distance offshore.  They were apprehensive about assault craft grounding forcing the troops to disembark into water that was too deep to wade or to drive their vehicles ashore. As described in his award citation, Major Robinson arranged for a submarine reconnaissance made so he could see for himself. 

The mission was completed on the night of 25-26. Major Robinson confirmed the presence of a sandbar eighty yards off "Roger" beach 600 yards long and twenty yards wide, covered by only eighteen inches of water. Inside the bar, there was a sharp drop off of as much as nine feet in some places. The was another sandbar off "Sugar" beach, although shoreward the intervening water was not more than five feet deep.

On 7 July, Major Robinson was put aboard the divisional headquarters ship Hilary from a destroyer, by bosun's chair carrying the latest intelligence and photographs. Based on the new information, General Simonds immediately adjusted his plans for the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade. He moved three assault companies from LCAs (Landing Craft, Assault) into LTCs (Landing Craft Tank) that were each carrying seven DUKWs that could swim ashore if the landing craft get stuck. The DUKW was a new amphibious six-wheeled vehicle, of which the 1st Canadian Division had about a hundred. These vehicles proved invaluable in ferrying men and supplies ashore.

Return to Gallantry in Sicily Page


During the planning of Operation HUSKY, Major Robinson, Intelligence Officer (Photos), flew out from England under orders to gain all available information on the assault beaches. This officer, on arrival at Malta, arranged passage by submarine and made a thorough and competent beach reconnaissance of the Pachino Peninsula. Major Robinson then arranged transfer from submarine to destroyer to the assault convoy in time to convey his most valuable information to the Divisional Commander at sea. Not only has this officer shown outstanding devotion to duty at all times, but the accuracy of his photographic reading had materially assisted in the successful operations carried out by 1 Canadian Division throughout the Sicilian campaign.