Canada’s Stalingrad

THE BATTLE OF ORTONA

In December 1943, the Canadians vied with Hitler’s elite paratroopers for control of Ortona in Italy. However, as Alex Zakrzewski shows, the town was the venue for some of the most savage urban combat of the entire war

Sherman tanks of the Three Rivers Regiment met heavy resistance as they pushed into Ortona
ANTONIS KARIDIS

As Major Jim Stone crept cautiously up Ortona’s main street late on December 20, 1943, he expected to run into Germans at any moment.

Earlier that day, his unit, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, had reached the coastal town in the Abruzzo region of Italy without any major resistance. Stone knew this was too good to be true – the Germans were not going to just hand over the place – so he wanted to see for himself exactly what his men could expect.

As he scanned the dark street and seemingly empty buildings, there was no sign of the enemy, not even a lone sentry. As he carefully made his way back to his own lines, he wondered if he had been wrong.

Perhaps the Germans were not in Ortona after all?

A colossal crack

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