Difficult Terrain â¡Swipe Right â¡
Canadian troops in Ortona and il the battle's aftermath (last picture)
As it had been previously stated in my recent 'Italian Campaign' post, Italy had a very uneven and rocky which had already forced the Germans to improvise their defensive tactics.
We know how it affected the Germans, but how did it affect the Allies?
Let's find out:
First off, Hitler had feared that the Allies would build airfields that could threaten Germany and their oil supplies in Romania. To prevent that, Hitler had instructed his commanders to "make the Allies pay dearly for every inch taken". The entrenched enemy, hiding in the Appenine Mountains and the Allies who had to fight them on narrow, washed out spring roads or on cold narrow mountain passages.
The Germans fought with determination.
The Allies were given a taste of it once more during the Christmas of 1943, at the Battle of Ortona.
Ortona was the first town in Italy where the Germans conducted a major defense during the campaign. With a population of about 10.000 , the town was on even ground with outskirts open that offered little protection.
Having no natural terrain suitable for defence, the Allies had hoped that the Germans would abandon the town and concentrate on their defences in the north. Unfortunately for the Allies, that was not the case.
The old town had narrow, twisting streets,Â large squares and heavily constructed stone buildings. The newer, southern portion consisted of many straight and wide streets with buildings that stood between three to five stories high. Perfect cover for snipers or, if rubbled, for machine guns and tanks.
With the town defended by two German paratroop battalions, covering an area of 500x1,500m, the Canadians were up for a tough fight.
The attack was launched on 21 December, 1943 and the Germans were being slightly pushed back through the town.
The battle was fierce and both sides constantly introduced new attack-and-defend techniques. On the night of 28/29 December, the Germans withdrew from the town causing a nine day delay for the Allies.
Having suffered more than 2,300 casualties with large numbers having combat fatigue,