The Fight for Italy” is packed with compelling stories, stunning photos and detailed maps about the Italian Campaign waged by Allied forces from July 1943 to February 1945. More than 92,000 Canadians served in Italy and more than 5,700 died, but the campaign was largely overshadowed by the invasion of Normandy. Now, more than 75 years after the critical Allied victories on Sicily and the Italian mainland, “The Fight for Italy” will take you back to relive those battles.
At 2:40 a.m. on July 10, 1943, 2,590 vessels stood off Sicily’s coast. Aboard were 181,000 American, British and Canadian troops. They were equipped with 14,000 vehicles, 600 tanks and 1,800 artillery pieces.
By Oct. 4, 1943, 1st Division and 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade had fought their first major action against German troops rushed to southern Italy to stem the Allied advance. A mobile force was hurrying to capture Campobasso.
At Casa Berardi, the Van Doos had again faced the German 1st Parachute Division. Despite The Gully having been outflanked, the paratroops were able to slow the advance to a crawl. It took four days to force them to withdraw into Ortona.
Britain’s Eighth Army had pushed back the Gustav Line on the Adriatic flank but no decisive breakout could be achieved there. Rome was too distant and there was always another river to cross.
On Aug. 13, 1 Canadian Corps undertook an elaborately secretive movement across the Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic coast. All troops stripped off their Canadian insignia and their vehicles were similarly disguised.
The troops entered a land unlike any they had so far seen in Italy. The entire region was crisscrossed by canalized rivers, many with high earthen flood banks created to contain the swollen torrents resulting from heavy rain or melting mountain snow.