Turning Point – 1943

The Army Sicily and Italy

Onto Italy

Canadian infantrymen, Italy, 1943

Caption: Canadian infantrymen, Italy, 1943

The attack on the Italian mainland was launched from Sicily across the Strait of Messina on 3 September, the anniversary of Britain's declaration of war. As the Italian troops had no wish to fight and the Germans no intention of defending Calabria, the Canadians were able to advance rapidly in that mountainous region. When Italy officially signed an armistice, the Germans, reinforced by some Italian fascist troops, continued to fight, though this did not help them. Rain and the poor condition of the roads gave the Canadians more problems than the enemy did. In 17 days they were 735 kilometres from their landing point. . On 14 October the 1st Brigade occupied Campobasso; the next day the 2nd Brigade took Vinchiaturo. On the Adriatic coast Canadian tanks joined with British units in the attack on Termoli. When the first snow fell, General Montgomery mounted a solid attack on the German line along the Sangro. The left flank of the Allied offensive had gotten bogged down north of Naples after its dramatic landing at Salerno. It was believed essential, to keep the momentum, to advance up the Adriatic. The coastal plain was narrow, however, and intersected at right angles by a series of deep valleys, so that the Britons and Canadians had barely managed to drive the Germans out of the Sangro before they were facing a similar situation on the River Moro, where some of the toughest fighting of the entire war took place. The Germans constantly counterattacked, even hand to hand, while the Canadians cut a path through San Leonardo and crossed the Berardi junction where Captain Paul Triquet of the Royal 22e Régiment earned the first Victoria Cross awarded to a Canadian in the war. The way was now open to Ortona on the coast.

Additional Images

Map of Canadian operations in Italy, 3 September 1943 to 25 February 1945. DND
Major-General Guy G. Simonds