Canadian Military History Gateway
Subject > Strategy and Tactics > Armoured
Organization > Parks Canada
Stretching along the northern fringe of the Apennines from La Spezia in the west to Pesaro on the Adriatic, the heavily fortified Gothic Line was the last main German defensive position in Italy during the Second World War. It ensured Germany control of the agricultural and industrial resources of northern Italy.
One of the memorable images of Canadians in the Second World War is of soldiers eating Christmas dinner in a bombed-out church in the town of Ortona on Italy’s Adriatic coast. On Christmas day 1943, small groups of troops crept back a few hundred metres from where they were fighting to the church of Santa Maria di Constantinopoli in the town’s outskirts.
On July 10, 1943, several thousand Canadian soldiers landed on beaches on Sicily’s southeast coast. Overcoming light resistance on landing, they began a tough march through the mountainous terrain of central Sicily in debilitating heat.