History

Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the gruelling hard-fought Italian Campaign

On November 22nd, 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, would travel to Italy, from November 29 to December 4, 2019.

“The Italian Campaign was a key military effort for Allied forces during the Second World War. From Pachino to the Po, Canadians overcame unforgiving weather, tough terrain, and fierce opposition as they drove back enemy forces. This visit will be an opportunity for the Governor General to further strengthen Canada’s close relationship with Italy, and to honour the brave Canadians who fought and died helping to liberate the country,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  

The Italian Campaign was a gruelling military effort for Canada and its allies during the Second World War. The campaign began on the island of Sicily in July 1943 and moved north up the Italian mainland through to the end of the war in Europe in May 1945. 

For 20 months, Canadians fought throughout the seasons. 

Canadian military members played a crucial role in the Italian Campaign during the war. Approximately 96,000 Canadians served at the time. Many suffered causalities, totalling more than 26,000, and nearly 6,000 Canadians died. 

Sergeant (Sgt.) Terry Gibbins, Wing Chief Warrant Officer’s Assistant, 22 Wing/Canadian Forces Base (CFB) North Bay, was part of the contingent of more than 180 Canadian Armed Forces members who participated in commemoration ceremonies to remember the 96,000 Canadians who served in the Italian Campaign of Second.

Wing Chief Warrant Officer’s Assistant, 22 Wing/Canadian Forces Base (CFB) North Bay, Sergeant Terry Gibbins, participated in commemoration ceremonies to remember the 96,000 Canadians that served in the Italian Campaign of World War II. 

Sgt. Gibbins was part of the contingent of more than 180 Canadian Armed Forces members.

“It was a very humbling experience, one in which I will never forget. To be able to commemorate the Italian Campaign where so many Canadians played a significant role and then to stand with Veterans who fought in the campaign, along with the Italian community who were freed by the military effort was truly amazing,” Sgt. Gibbins explained.

Governor General Julie Payette met with the President of Italy Sergio Mattarella to discuss shared priorities between the two nations, as well as opportunities to strengthen the close ties between Canada and Italy.

The Governor General attended a ceremony in Ravenna to pay tribute to the bravery of those who served our country overseas during the Second World War. Those who fought in Italy were among the more than one million Canadians who served in uniform during the Second World War.

The Canadian delegation participated in a traditional ceremony of remembrance at the Price of Peace Monument. 

During the war, the square, where it is located, was badly damaged. When it was rebuilt, it incorporated bricks from buildings that had been smashed during the fighting. 

On top of the monument is a bronze, life-sized sculpture of a wounded Canadian soldier being comforted by a comrade.

To honour our fallen service members whose courage and sacrifice will never be forgotten the delegation visited: 

  • the Cassino War Cemetery
  • the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery
  • the Ravenna War Cemetery
  • the Villanova Canadian War Cemetery 

The delegation included Veterans of the Italian Campaign, their caregivers, representatives from Veterans’ and Indigenous organizations, Canadian youth, and a Silver Cross Mother.

The CAF OP DISTINCTION program supports the Government of Canada’s Military History Commemoration Program. Led by Veterans Affairs Canada, the program is designed to teach and remind Canadians about the sacrifices and achievements made by those who served as well as those who currently serve.

Featured photo:

Governor General Julie Payette is adjusting a poppy on the uniform of a member of the Canadian Forces.

Credit: MCpl Mathieu Gaudreault, Rideau Hall
Reference Number: GG06-2019-0298-019 gg06-2019-0298-019.jpgGovernor General Julie Payette is adjusting a poppy on the uniform of a member of the Canadian Forces.

Credit: MCpl Mathieu Gaudreault, Rideau Hall
Reference Number: GG06-2019-0298-019

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Ambar Syed

Born and raised in London, England, Ambar moved to Canada in 2017 after marrying her husband in the CAF. She has always loved writing and started her blog, Her Little Loves, in 2015 while studying for her B.A. (Hons) in English. Ambar is excited to write for CMFMAG and contribute towards the military family community.

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