Ortona: Canada’s Mini-Stalingrad

“Everything before Ortona” said the Canadian Divisional commander “was a nursery tale.” Wherever the Canadian infantry tried to advance through the rubble and narrow streets of Ortona in December 1943 they were exposed to murderous crossfire from the well-hidden defenders. Captain Bill Longhurst of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment had an inspiration.


“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us.”

the Christmas tree is a universal symbol of rebirth, of light in the darkest time On December 25, 1943, the acrid smell of cordite hung over the rubble barricades of Ortona, Italy, where Canadians and Germans were engaged in grim hand-to-hand combat. Even amid the thunder of collapsing walls and the blinding dust and smoke darkening the alleys, the men of The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and The Loyal Edmonton Regiment were determined to celebrate Christmas.