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Stiff Resistance in Italy

Heroes Remember

Stiff Resistance in Italy

Our regiment was supposed to be the first ashore in Italy. We went, when my company went ashore, we were supposed to be the first on the beach. When we got ashore, the British paratroopers were sitting on the beach waiting for us. So we weren't the first there. And, that's when we start running into stiff resistance. But on the 8th of September, is when Italy capitulated. We had run into an Italian paratroop division, they were sleeping in a gully, and we had walked into their camp, that night we lost a few men there. Because everybody was they never expected and they never heard us coming in and we didn't know they were there. And that afternoon, they all surrendered, we lost four or five men, and they surrendered and we shipped them back, back of the lines. And that, that afternoon, or that evening, the Italians were in front of us and they start firing and all hell broke loose. They were firing artillery and we thought it was a counter-attack but then a fellow came down with a white flag and told us that it was over. And after that we start running into stuff ‘cause the Germans took over from there and we start running into stiff resistance. I don't know if you ever quit walking up a hill or driving up a hill, it was all hairpin turns. Our trucks couldn't make a turn, they were, the highways were so crooked that our trucks, you couldn't make go around a turn and one time you had to back up and...So when you got up on the mountain looking down you had trucks going all directions. But it was, it was tough for, it was tough for our tank brigades because all the Germans had to do was knock the first one out and the back one and then where do you go? You're, you're looking thousands of feet down, there's no where to go so you were sittin' ducks. It was one of the toughest falls, time of the year that I've ever spent in five years in the Army. We had bush clothing, and you know what bush clothing are, they're like onion, onion sacks, just very light clothing. And our winter clothing never caught up to us until, I guess it was sometime in December, and it was just hell. It was cold, cold, weather was cold at night eh. And you get rain, you get rain with that and it, it was really tough. We liberated a few times, Potenza was a town, Campobasso, we went through there and it was tough. The resistance was getting tougher all the time. They knew they were on their last, you know, like they were told, like they were told to hold Ortona at all costs. You know what they say, what they always say when people talk about the troops in Ortona you say you spend Christmas in hell eh. You know, ‘cause we had, we had lost 2600 casualties in that and there was over 550 killed. Takin' Ortona. So that was the toughest battle that I was in and all during the war. The Germans, they were fighting rear guard all the way and they put up resistance every town we went into they, you had to fight your way all the way and, I wouldn't want to go through that again.

After the relative ease in taking Sicily from the Italians, facing the terrain, the weather and the better trained Germans in Italy, was no walk in the park!

Alexander McInnis

Mr. McInnis was born in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, on September 7, 1919. His father was a section man for the CNR. He was the 3rd in a family of six (four brothers and one sister) of which his sister was the eldest. He joined the Cape Breton Highlanders without telling his parents when he was 20 years old. His four brothers also joined the forces. He started training in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, and then Victoria Park in Sydney until joining the West Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment. He went overseas May 12, 1940, and trained in Aldershot for three years. In 1943 he was sent by convoy to partake in the invasion of Sicily. After helping to free the town of Agira, he was sent across to southern Italy. After taking part in the Battle of Ortona he was wounded and ended up in the hospital in England for seven months. He then moved on to France, with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Division. After five more months of fighting in France and Holland where he helped in freeing the port of Antwerp, he was sent home to Canada.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Alexander McInnis
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
West Nova Scotia Highlanders
Three Inch Mortar Man

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