This is the story of the Canadian Army’s share in the Allied campaign in Italy during the Second World War. It is primarily an account of field operations and the planning and preparations which preceded them. Questions of organization and administration of the Army as a whole were discussed in Volume I, and in general are only introduced here in so far as they present problems peculiar to the Italian theatre. While the activities of the Canadian forces in Italy form the main theme, these are presented at all times against the background of the whole Allied effort in the campaign. The author has attempted wherever possible to round out his story by showing the enemy side of the picture.
This History is primarily based upon the Canadian contemporary records of the campaign – the war diaries of participating formations and units, planning papers, orders, reports of operations, departmental and headquarters files and a multiplicity of other documents of various kinds. The task of assembling and organizing this voluminous material was begun by the Canadian Army’s Historical Section while the war was still in progress. Valuable work in securing and recording first-hand information in the, theatre of operations was done by the Field Historical Sections; an Historical Officer served with each Canadian division engaged in the campaign. The author has also consulted British and Allied records extensively.
During and after the Second World War a vast quantity of German military records, written mostly within hours or days of the events, fell into Allied hands. In the preparation of the present volume full use has been made of this fortunate circumstance. While the available source material, which consists in the main of the war diaries of the enemy’s army and corps headquarters, is by no means complete – the greatest shortages exist with respect to the Sicilian phase, Ortona, and the period from November 1944 to the termination of the Canadian operations in Italy – it covers well the battles for the Gustav, Hitler and Gothic defence lines. Narratives written after the war by German senior commanders have also proved useful in providing an insight into the background of enemy operations.
In the autumn of 1948 the writer spent ten weeks in Italy studying the ground over which the Canadians fought. He travelled the entire route of the Canadian forces from the Pachino beaches in south-eastern Sicily to the Senio River in Northern Italy, visiting the scene of every action in which Canadian soldiers were engaged, and taking upwards of 2000 photographs.
With the general reader in mind the author has attempted to avoid detailed treatment of such specialized subjects as the activities of the technical arms and the services. The reader will understand that in a history of this scope considerations of space and proportion place restrictions on the amount of attention that can be devoted to operations at the unit level; for fuller treatment of these he must consult the various regimental histories.
The author wishes to acknowledge the generous assistance given by numerous organizations and individuals in making their records available and helping in other ways. He has had unrestricted access to documents in the hands of the Government of Canada, and has had the privilege of consulting the private papers of General A. G. L. McNaughton and General H. D. G. Crerar. As was the case with the preceding volume of the Official History, this book has benefited from the constant and indispensable aid accorded by the Historical Branch of the Cabinet Office in London and by the Air Historical Branch of the Air Ministry and the Historical Section of the Admiralty. Official historians in New Zealand, South Africa and India and Pakistan have given their help freely. The author would especially acknowledge his indebtedness to the Office of the Chief of Military History and to the Captured Records Section in the United States Department of the Army. In Canada grateful acknowledgement is made to the Director of War Service Records, Department of Veterans Affairs, whose office provided most of the Canadian Army statistics included in this volume. Finally the writer would express his sincere thanks to the many participants in the events described who have read the volume in draft, in whole or in part, and have given him the benefit of their comments.
Space does not allow the author to thank adequately all the personnel, past and present, of the Canadian Army’s Historical Section who have contributed directly or indirectly to the production of this book. The Director, Colonel C. P. Stacey, has unsparingly given most helpful and sympathetic guidance at all stages. Lt-Col. C. J. Lynn-Grant, Executive Officer, has assisted greatly with publication arrangements. The writer is indebted to Lt-Col. W. E. C. Harrison (who served in Italy as Historical Officer, 1st Canadian Corps), Major D. H. Cunningham, Captain F. R. McGuire and Captain J. A. Porter (all veterans of the campaign) for the preliminary drafts of Chapters VII-X and XVI-XIX. These were subsequently revised by the writer, who drafted all the remaining chapters. He takes full responsibility for the entire volume as now presented. The expert assistance given by Mr. A. G. Steiger in his study of German documents has been invaluable. Thanks are due also to Captain J. R. Madden and Captain F. R. McGuire for their work as research assistants. The volume owes much to the maps
drawn by Captain C. C. J. Bond and his staff. Finally, a word of gratitude to QMS (WO2) M. R. Lemay and Staff Sergeants J. W. Taylor and W. H. Woollam for their patience and efficiency in typing the many successive drafts.
G. W. L. N.
Historical Section (GS)
(All files cited are those of the Department of National Defence, Ottawa, unless otherwise specified.)