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The wide-open corso, the only street that tanks could use was booby-trapped. The Canadian infantry had to clear its way through houses on the side before moving forward, a dangerous and difficult task. Photo by Frederick G. The Canadians were facing a unit from the 1st Parachute Division, well-rested, well-trained and well-equipped troops, and ideological fanatics.
Ortona Street Fight | Products | Canadian soldiers, Street fights, World war two
Fighting was fierce. The Germans had planted mines, time bombs, and other booby-traps throughout the abandoned houses and amid the rubble. Machine gun positions and antitank artillery were concealed behind walls and among the ruins. Canadian soldiers used their short-ranged 6-pounder guns to take down walls or roofs where paratroopers might be hiding. When shells could not pierce the thick stone walls, gunners aimed for the windows and the shells bouncing inside the houses caused terrible destruction.
Canadian infantrymen moved from house to house without ever showing up in the streets. Using pickaxes and explosives, they pierced the upstairs walls between buildings, dashing forward through smoke and dust, pouncing down on their opponents. Grenades thrown by the Germans would fall back on them before exploding. The tanks moved slowly along, providing ammunition and evacuating the wounded. Canadian troops moving anti-tank gun into position during street fighting in Ortona, 21 December Photo by Terry F. Why would the Germans defend with inordinate fierceness — matched only by the determination of the Canadians — a small coastal town of little strategic value?
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Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. December 20, Two Canadian infantry battalions and a tank regiment stand poised on the outskirts of a small Italian port town. They expect to take Ortona quickly.
Battle of Ortona
But the German 1st Parachute Division has other ideas. For reasons unknown, Hitler has ordered Ortona held to the last man.
Houses, churches and other buildings are dynamited, clogging the streets with rubble. Germans with machine guns lie in ambush. Snipers slip from one rooftop to another.