In late 1943, the Allied campaign to recapture Europe began in earnest with the invasion of Italy, Germany's ally. Canadians would distinguish themselves time and time again during this campaign. Sicily fell first as Canadian and Allied troops followed up an amphibious landing by quickly sweeping the enemy from the island. Using Sicily as a base, the Allies then invaded the Italian mainland. The poorly equipped and demoralized Italian troops were soon overwhelmed by the fierce Allied assault, and Italy quickly withdrew from the war. Canadian soldiers would now face some of Hitler's most battle-hardened, elite combat units. From the invasion of Sicily, to the battles in the interior of the Italian mainland, to the taking of Rome itself, Canadian soldiers faced a wide array of conditions and brutal fighting.
All too often in historical works and Hollywood films, this critical phase of the war has been overshadowed by the D-Day invasion of France. Yet the invasion of Italy was an important key to the final Allied victory. The following screen details the Battle of Ortona, which took place in the days around Christmas in 1943. Unlike most battles of the war, Ortona was fought in the city itself, building-by-building and street-by-street, making it a bloody and costly victory.