The struggle for Ortona is one of the best known battles fought by Canadians in the Second World War. Matthew Halton, the CBC’s chief radio correspondent in Italy, made “Moro River” and “Ortona” household words in 1943 and since then veterans as well as war correspondents and historians have offered numerous accounts of that December in Abruzzi.

This article focuses on the role of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment in clearing the town of Ortona, but it is important to remind ourselves of the context within which the battle was fought. The Allies had invaded the Italian mainland to force Italy out of the war, to establish air bases for the strategic bombers, and to draw off the maximum number of German troops. Hitler’s decision to stand south of Rome was all that sensible Allied planners could have hoped for. The Foggia plains were suitable for air bases and the Germans poured resources into Italy to meet the Allied advance and into the Balkans to replace the Italian Army.