Battle of Ortona
The Battle of Ortona occured from 20-27 December 1943.
The Battle of Ortona occured from 20-27 December 1943. As part of the general advance of Gen Montgomery's Eighth Army up the Italian Adriatic coast, Maj-Gen Christopher Vokes' 1st Canadian Division was ordered to take the medieval seaport of Ortona, perched on a high promontory and impregnable from 3 sides - flanked by sea cliffs on the north and east, and by a deep ravine on the west. Supported by their own armoured brigade, Canadian troops attacked from the south on December 20. Infantry from the Loyal Edmonton Reg and the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada suffered numerous casualties from the stiff resistance. After a week of fierce fighting the town was finally taken, and the remaining German forces withdrew on the night of December 27. One war correspondent reported that the Germans had been "staging a miniature Stalingrad in hapless Ortona." Canadian losses in taking this "unimportant" town and its environs included 1372 dead - almost 25% of all Canadians killed in the Mediterranean theatre.