June 3, 2019 – Ortona, Italy
From May 31 to June 2, 2019, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, attended ceremonies and events to commemorate the contributions of Canadian soldiers during the Second World War’s Italian Campaign.
Canadian participation in the Italian Campaign began with the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 – codenamed Operation Husky. Our troops would fight in Italy until February 1945, when they began being transferred to Northwest Europe to be re-united with the First Canadian Army for the eventual liberation of the Netherlands and the final defeat of Germany.
While in Italy, the Minister attended the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the Official Residence in Rome, laid a wreath at the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery and attended a commemorative ceremony at the Cassino War Cemetery along with 400 Canadian high school students and cadets.
The Minister also visited the town of Ortona, a place where Canadians faced some of the fiercest fighting of the Second World War. He joined the Mayor of Ortona, Leo Castiglione, for the renaming of its main square to “Canadian Heroes Square” in honour of the brave Canadians who fought during the Italian Campaign. The Minister committed $50,000 to help fund the square as it pays tribute to Canada’s contributions in Ortona, which was liberated by Canadian soldiers in December 1943. The Minister was joined by members of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, one of the Canadian units that fought in Ortona.
The Italian Campaign was a key chapter in the liberation of Europe, with Allied troops marching into Rome on June 4, 1944 – two days before the D-Day landings in France.
“Representing Canada at these ceremonies in Italy has been a true honour. For more than a year and a half, Canadian soldiers battled in Sicily and up the boot of Italy. Thousands of Canadian soldiers fought valiantly during the Allied liberation of Italy and the sacrifices they made have helped allow us to live the way we do today – strong and free. It is important we remember their efforts which are often overshadowed by the fighting on D-Day and Normandy.
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
“Canada and Italy have shared a strong relationship for generations and it has only strengthened under the leadership of this government. We are proud to commit $50,000 to support the Canadian Heroes Square, as Ortona honours the great sacrifices Canadians made during the Second World War’s Italian Campaign.”
Francesco Sorbara, Member of Parliament for Vaughan-Woodbridge, Chair of Canada-Italy Interparliamentary Group
- More than 93,000 Canadians served in Italy during the Second World War.
- At the campaign’s peak, nearly 76,000 Canadians were in theatre.
- By the end of Canada’s participation in the Italian Campaign, more than 5,900 Canadian soldiers had been killed.
- Canadians fought for more than a year and a half in Italy, beginning with the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943.