Ministers of Veterans Affairs and National Defence mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Ortona
Ottawa, – The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement today on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Ortona:
“For nine days over the Christmas of 1943, Canadian soldiers bravely fought to liberate the Italian seaside town of Ortona, as the Allies continued their struggle against the German forces that were occupying Italy during the Second World War.
“The Battle of Ortona was one of the most difficult battles for Canadian troops during the Italian Campaign. Filled with old stone buildings, Ortona had been reduced to rubble which limited the Allies’ ability to use artillery and tanks, while also providing many potential fortified positions for enemy defenders.
“After more than a week of fighting through the ruined town, Canadians liberated Ortona on December 28, 1943.
“The 1st Canadian Corps would fight its way north through Italy until February of 1945 when it joined the rest of the First Canadian Army in Northwest Europe and began the final push through the Netherlands and into Germany in the closing chapters of the Second World War. Nearly 6,000 Canadians died as they helped restore freedom to the Italian people.
“The courage and valour of those who served in the first half of the 20th century—Canadians who fought for freedom and human rights—is reflected in the continued tradition of service by today’s Canadian Armed Forces.
“Lest we forget.”