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With the Battle of North Africa over the allies had to decided upon their next area of attack. There was tremendous pressure to attack across the channel and land in France but the allies did not feel that they were prepared and that a failure in 1943 might prolong the war by several years. Churchill proposed that the allies land in Sicily and then Italy and take the Italian out of the war. His description was that it would be like attacking the "soft underbelly" of Europe. Although Sicily was a tough but relatively brief campaign, the Italian campaign was grueling.

Canadian sailors, airmen and army units participated in both invasions and campaigns and Canada troops ended up fighting their way up the boot of Italy over some rough and defensiveable  terrain. The Battle of Ortona was an example of this bloody campaign which cost Canada 1372 dead and consisted of foot by foot, house to house fighting for against hardened German troops.

Soaking wet, in a morass of mud, against an enemy fighting harder then he's fought before, the Canadians attack, attack and attack.  The enemy is now fighting like the devil to hold us. He brings in more and more guns, more and more troops. The hillsides and farmlands and orchards are a ghastly brew of fire and our roads (6 kilometers) behind enemy lines are under heavy shelling.  The Canadians at War - Readers Digest 1969 p. 362

The advance continued with flanking invasions at Salarno and Anzio on the west coast of Italy and the taking of Rome on June 4th, 1944. This was a significant military event and a pivotal political landmark because it meant that one of the two Axis power capitals was in allied hands. Two days later the war took another huge step towards an allied victory with the invasion of Normandy by Canadian, American, and British forces. Italy became a backwater but the battles continued and the fighting did not end until the spring of 1945 when Germany surrendered. 

Italian Campaign

 


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Reference: www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/eras.html