Ministers of Veterans Affairs and National Defence mark 80th anniversary of Battle of Ortona


Ottawa, ON Today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Ortona.

“Today marks 80 years since the start of one of the most difficult battles that Canadians were involved in during the Second World War. For more than a week in December 1943, Canadian soldiers engaged in fierce hand-to-hand fighting against some of the German army’s best combat troops, in what would come to be known as the Battle of Ortona.

“As the Allies continued their march north through Italy, Ortona became a strategically important part of the Italian Campaign. Though it had been largely reduced to rubble, the seaside town still offered the Germans many fortified positions from which to attack the Allies. With roads rendered virtually impassable from the wreckage of collapsed buildings, attempts to push the Germans from Ortona with tanks and artillery seemed almost impossible. The Allies had to find another way.

“Captain of the Canadian Army’s 1st Infantry Division, Paul Triquet led his men through heavy fire, and with his persistent leadership, led to the capture of Casa Berardi, a key hamlet that opened the way to Ortona.

“Canadian soldiers, like Sergeant Ernest “Smokey” Smith then advanced on foot and fought from house-to-house on the streets of Ortona, ‘mouseholing’ through thick building walls to help free the town of its occupiers.

“Among those fighting door-to-door included Lance Sergeant David Adlington, of the Royal Canadian Regiment. He and his fellow service members were fortunate to survive – but at great cost. More than 500 Canadians died, and more than 2,600 were injured during the Battle of Ortona.

“By 28 December 1943, the Allied soldiers succeeded and the town was liberated.

“More than 93,000 Canadians served in Italy. During the Italian Campaign, with 20,000 wounded, missing or taken prisoner, and more than 5,900 killed. These brave Canadians fought fiercely for peace, freedom, and democracy.

“More than 80 years later, we remember their service and honour the sacrifices they, and their families made.

“Lest we forget.”

Associated Links

Italian Campaign


Media Relations
Veterans Affairs Canada

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-904-3333

Mikaela Harrison
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Daniel Minden
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of National Defence

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