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What were the Battles of Monte Cassino during the Second World War?

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The Italian Campaign consisted of an Allied push that began in Sicily in July 1943 and in mainland Italy from September 1943 to February 1945. During this period, Allied troops painstakingly advanced through a series of German military fortifications built over the difficult Italian terrain, criss-crossed with river valleys, hills and mountains. As part of German-prepared defensive lines south of Rome, the Gustav Line was the principal defensive system that linked Monte Cassino - the site of an ancient Benedictine monastery and the lynchpin of the Liri Valley - with the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west and the Adriatic coast in the east. It was on 12 January 1944 that Allied troops launched their first of four attacks to drive the German forces from the town of Cassino and the heights surrounding it. This region saw some of the fiercest combat of the Second World War and the Allies lost over 50,000 men killed and wounded at Cassino. The town of Cassino as well as the ancient Benedictine monastery shown sitting atop the mountain was largely destroyed but was re-built after the war. More than 4,200 Commonwealth graves are located at the Cassino War Cemetery of which 200 are unknown and 855 are Canadian.

On this day, 12 January 2022, let us commemorate the 78th anniversary of the Italian Campaign and continue to honour our fallen comrades that are laid to rest at the Cassino War Cemetery.

André M. Levesque

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