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Battle of Ortona
Part of the The Winter Line and the battle for Rome of the Second World War Italian Campaign
Ortona.jpg
Canadian Armour Passing Through Ortona, by Charles Comfort. Canadian War Museum (CN 12245).
Date December 20–28, 1943
Location
Ortona, Italy
Result Canadian victory
Belligerents
Canada Canada Nazi Germany Germany
Commanders and leaders
Canada Chris Vokes Nazi Germany Richard Heidrich
Strength
2 Battalions 2 Battalions
Casualties and losses
1375 Unknown
1300 civilian deaths

The Battle of Ortona was a small, very violent battle fought between German and Canadian troops. It was fought on December 20–28, 1943. It was part of World War II.

The battalion of German paratroops were from the German 1st Parachute Division under Generalleutnant Richard Heidrich. The Canadian forces were from the 1st Canadian Infantry Division under Major General Chris Vokes.

It was part of the fighting on the Adriatic area in Italy. The battle has been called "Little Stalingrad" because of the violent, close fighting. The battle took place in the Adriatic Sea town of Ortona, with a population of 10,000.

Background

The Eighth Army's attack on the Winter Line defences started on 23 November. By the end of the month, Allied troops broke through the Gustav Line defences. The Allied troops were fighting towards the Moro river, near Ortona.

Ortona was one of Italy's few deep water ports on the east coast. The Allies wanted to capture the port. The Germans had constructed a series of defensive positions in the town.

The battle

Canadian sniper in Ortona
Canadian sniper at the Battle of Ortona

The Canadians had to battle the German 1st Parachute Division. These soldiers were experienced after many years of war. Adolf Hitler ordered them to defend Ortona.

The Canadian attack on the town was on December 20. The Germans had hidden machine guns and anti-tank guns in the town. This made it hard for Canadian tanks and infantry to move. The fighting was very violent. The soldiers fought for every house.

After six days fighting, 2nd Brigade's third battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, joined the battle. Tanks from 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade also joined the battle.

On 28 December, after eight days of fighting, the Germans withdrew from the town. The Canadians had 1,375 dead.

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