Coriano Ridge War Cemetery

Coriano Ridge War Cemetery

To prevent the capture of Rimini, the Germans reinforced the surrounding region, particularly at Coriano Ridge, a feature that dominated the coastline and the approaches by land. The entire Canadian Corps had set out against the Adriatic sector with the ultimate aim of liberating Rimini in late August 1944. On the 25th, they crossed the Metauro River, one of half-a-dozen rivers in the path of the advance. On September 3rd, the Canadians set their sights on the ridge. The Royal Canadian Dragoons cleared Riccione using their armoured cars. At the same time, the 5th Division headed inland and took the village of Misano. The latter group was now to take Coriano Ridge, but the rains began and, combined with German resistance, held them up.

On September 12 the 1st British and 5th Canadian Armoured Divisions of the Eighth Army resumed the advance on the ridge. The entire corps artillery pounded the enemy front. The next day, after heavy fighting - including house-to-house battles - the Canadians possessed the ridge. The Perth Regiment penetrated by 2 a.m., and the engineers and tanks soon followed. The Canadians continued to progress in a week of heavy fighting described as the equal of Cassino, and ultimately captured the strategic position of San Fortunato Ridge. This cleared the path to Rimini. On the 21st, the 3rd Greek Mountain Brigade entered the town to find the Germans had withdrawn. They also saw firsthand how badly Rimini, which had served as a key junction along the railway line to the industrial north, had been damaged during the war. More than 1,000 of its citizens had been killed during Allied air raids.

In the month of September, the Eighth Army had advanced approximately 48 kilometres. The cost was high. According to the official history, The Canadian Army in the Second World War (Volume II, The Canadians in Italy, by LCol G.W.L. Nicholson, Queen's Printer, Ottawa, 1956), battle casualties for the 1st Division in the period August 25-September 22 totalled 2,511, including 626 fatalities. Over 1,000 were evacuated due to illness. The 5th Armoured Division had 1,385 casualties, including 390 killed, before it was withdrawn September 19.

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The Coriano Ridge War Cemetery is located in the commune of Coriano in the province of Forli, southwest of Rimini and on the western slope of Coriano Ridge. The village of Coriano is 1.5 kilometres away, on the crest of the ridge. The cemetery contains 1,940 graves, primarily from the U.K., Canada and New Zealand. As well, there is one "Soviet" grave. 427 Canadians (including five U.K. members) are buried here, most of whom gave their lives in the advance to Rimini.

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