Originally, the 1st Canadian Division was to have returned to Britain at the conclusion of the Sicily campaign. After negotiations between officials in London and Ottawa, however, the decision was made that the division would remain with the British 8th Army for the invasion of the Italian mainland. With the addition of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, the Canadian contingent became the 1st Canadian Corps and was placed under the command of a Canadian, Lieutenant-General H.D.G. Crerar.
The 1st Canadian Corps, along with part of the British 8th Army, landed in Italy on 3 September 1943. On 9 September, two more Allied armies landed in Italy. The U.S. 5th Army, commanded by General Mark Clark, landed at Salerno, while the rest of the British 8th Army landed at Taranto. As the Allies advanced northward, the 1st Canadian Corps was responsible for the eastern flank. By 8 October 1943, the Allied armies had advanced over 300 miles (480 kilometres) to the north and encountered determined resistance from German forces commanded by Field Marshal Kesselring.