The urban battle of Ortona

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University of New Brunswick


This thesis closely examines 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade's day-by-day decisions and combat actions during the urban battle for Ortona in December 1943. Ortona stands among the most famous historical cases of urban warfare that have been harvested for lessons and doctrinal formulas for modern armies. Existing histories reveal how the story is often simplified into glimpses of its most dramatic moments that are seldom cross-referenced or connected chronologically. This study links the tangled nest of dramatic stories in time and space to reveal the chain of historical cause and consequence. Additionally, this study considers how geography, force composition, weapons systems, and the presence of substantial numbers of Italian civilians all factored in the outcome. The thesis follows 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade's day-to-day struggle through Ortona's streets to understand how they attempted to impose order on what has historically been labelled as chaos.