World War 2 was different for Canada, in the sense that unlike earlier, it had a choice about entering the war. In fact, many in the UK were surprised when Canada, on her own free will, decided to enter the war on September 10th 1939 – 7 days after Britain declared war on Germany. 1.1 million Canadians joined WWII and nearly 42,000 soldiers died. But they managed to make a huge impact. Here are 4 highlights of Canada’s Italian Campaign:
• The Sicilian Campaign:
While the Canadian navy and air force had become active participants in the World War battle, the army was yet to do so. Under growing pressure to include the Army into an active battleground, the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade was involved in the Sicilian Campaign. Led by Lt. General George Patton of the US Army, the Canadian soldiers pushed forward to take on Agira. They also helped the Allies take over Catenanuova and Regalbuto. This was Canada’s first WW2 success.
• The Battle Of The Liri Valley:
The Germans were absolutely determined to hold their control over Rome and relied on two major fortifications, i.e. the Gustav Line and the Hitler Line. On the 16th of May, the 1st Canadian Corps were ordered to advance on the Hitler Line and breach German defences. They not only breached the line but also went on to occupy Frosinone.
• The Battle Of Ortana:
The Loyal Edmonton Regiment was tasked to capture Ortona. This was a decisive battle for the Germans were desperate to hold Ortona, fighting the advancing Canadian forces with heavy artillery, anti-tank guns, mines, etc. The Battle of Ortona was literally fought from house to house. It was here that they devised the now-famous mouse-holing technique.
• Monte la Difensa:
This was to be the first assignment of the dreaded Devil’s Brigade, the elite Special Service Forces. The force was tasked to seize German defences at Monte la Difensa and Monte la Rementenea – considered impassable by the Germans. The task force had to climb 3,000-foot cliffs on foot and that too at the dead of the night, under terrible weather conditions. They not only managed to seize the place but also successfully fight several German counterattacks.
Author Bio :
The Author is a WW2 history enthusiast and has studied in detail the Canadian campaign in Italy, especially the breaching of the Hitler Line.