The Italian Campaign 

When: July 10th 1943 – the end of the second world war

Where: Italy, Eastern Front

Why: In 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union and vicious fighting broke out on the Eastern Front. By 1943 the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, asked for help from the other Allied leaders to ease the pressure of this attack.

What: The Allies agreed to help and decided to use Italy (which was aligned with Germany) as a platform to attack enemy territory in Europe and help divert German resources from the Eastern Front. This effort became known as the Italian Campaign.

Who: Canada, The Allied Forces, Italian Social Republic, The Soviet Union, Germany, The Big Three (Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, not Lebron James, DWade, and Chris Bosh)

What was the cause?

The Soviet Union was facing immense pressure from the German Army, who was attacking hard through the Eastern Front. Stalingrad faced some of the most intense fighting of the war in February and was engaged in the Battle of Kursk 5 days prior to the start of the Italian Campaign. Naturally, Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviets, requested assistance from the other Allied forces. In response to the Stalin’s request, the allies coordinated an offensive in Italy to divert attention and resources away from the Axis powers.

Consequence:

The Allies liberated mainland Italy, and continued to campaign until Germany’s surrender in 1945.

“For many Canadians, war is something that happens somewhere else, far away, and most of us have had no personal experiences of war. Today, however, the belief in freedom and fundamental human rights for all people is a part of our everyday life. We can be proud that Canadians continue to help defend these rights, at home and around the world”

“For many Canadians, war is something that happens somewhere else, far away, and most of us have had no personal experiences of war. Today, however, the belief in freedom and fundamental human rights for all people is a part of our everyday life. We can be proud that Canadians continue to help defend these rights, at home and around the world”

(veterans.ca)

 

Canadian Perspective:

Headline from the Winnipeg Free press 1944:

“Italian campaign has gone slower than hoped but it will be won

Article from Winnipeg Tribune 1943:

“Italian campaign, is not quite so easy. If failure to take an announced objective, like Rome, stamps a campaignItalian campaign is a Hop. If achieving every strategic advantage that could be achieved by taking Rome” wit…Italian campaign is a success.”

Upon inspecting these articles, the optimism that Canadians have for the campaign is immediately apparent. Unlike many other articles covering the events of the war, these one’s aren’t so much focussed on the casualties and sacrifices made in the campaign. This shows me that the Canadians were in favour of this effort because their attention wasn’t fixated on the negative outcomes of the war.

International Perspective:

During the Italian Campaign, many Italians found themselves in support of the Allied armies. In particular, the Italian Resistance: activist groups that opposed Mussolini’s fascist interests. Though they weren’t an organized army, but they had an influence over tItalianian people which slowly grew over time. The Italian Royal Army also fought alongside the allied forces against the Fascist Italian Social Republic. Not even a day after the Canadians arrived on the shores of Sicily, they “were delayed, not as much by enemy opposition than by thousands of Italian troops wanting to surrender” (Canadian Encyclopedia)”. In addition, many of the Italian soldiers had relatives living in America, which eased the integration of the Royal Italian Army. The idea of clashing with the allies in home base, was very unpopular with the Italian people. Mussolini’s agenda quickly fell out of favour, and he was thrown out of government by his own grand council in 1943.

With the collapse of the Italian armies, Germany was forced to establish defensive measurements in Italy, successfully diverging resources away from their engagement with the Soviet Union. With a portion of the German army occupied in Italy, resistance was weakened at the Battle of the Bulge, and D-Day.

Continuity and Change:

In World War 2, It was the first time Canada fought a conflict under the Canadian flag. Instead of debating whether to fight for the British, Canadian politicians argued over declaring war on the Axis powers. After fighting hard for their military autonomy, Canada entered the war with a chip on their shoulder. They were in need of a spotlight on the world stage, and the Italian campaign helped them acquire just that. Unlike the other major WW2 events, Canada was the main driving force behind the Italian campaign. In 1944, the allied forces plundered through the boot of Italy with 600 000 men, 93 000 of which were Canadian – arguably more than any other nation could muster. I did websites for my in-depth, and I know just how important Google Page Rankings are. Most “World War” search queries result with Wikipedia on the top, because of its perfect 100/100 domain authority. In order to gain domain authority, a page must receive a large quantity of links from other authoritative websites. However, the first page of the “Italian Campaign” is littered with Canadian articles, digital memorials, and the Canadian Encyclopedia. This just goes to show how the modern world currently remembers the Italian Campaign: A Canadian dominant endeavor.

As reflected in the news article headlines, many Canadians were incredibly optimistic and passionate about the campaign, albeit respectful to the casualties of the effort. In the 1940’s alone, 11,818 articles were published covering the Italian Campaign. Since, then an average of 2000 articles were published per decade to recount the italian campaign. It has served as a source of Canadian pride for over 70 years, and is a reminder of our military capabilities. Being a Canadian dominant offense Coverage of the Campaign allowed Canadians to gradually realize their ability to operate independently with other nations, instead of serving the interests of another sovereign entity. It was only

If it weren’t for my lack of knowledge on the other ww2 events, I’d say that the Italian Campaign’s impact on our military autonomy is only second to our efforts at Juno Beach.

Historical Significance:

Though the Italian Campaign was an offensive maneuver against the Axis powers, many perceived it as the “liberation of the Italian people”. This was claimed by the Allied forces, and both the Italian Royal Army, and the Italian Resistance. Importantly, The historically significant significant cities of Rome, and Sicily were both ‘liberated’ by the invading Allied army. The Campaign was seen as one of Canada’s defining moments in the war, and painted us as ‘liberators’ and ‘peacekeepers’ instead of an aggressor. With the idea of peacekeeping rooted into the international community, it arguably made Lester B Pearson’s proposal of a UN Emergency Force 1963 all the more easier to accept.

Though Canada peacemaking started to immigrate itself into our identity, we achieved this designation from the strength and ferocity of our military, not from a passive stance in the World Wars. We fought alongside Britain in ww1, where we established ourselves as a dominant fighting force. Our outstanding victory at Vimy Ridge gave Britain and Canada the confidence to pursue a more autonomous role for Canadian troops. It is this esteem that gave Canadians and pertinent responsibility in Operation overlord, and a lead role in the Italian Campaign. Our might was on showcase when we attritiously drove the Italian Campaign, and won large quantities of the italian support. The Italian Campaign cemented us as a viable military power both on the world stage, and back at home.

Sources:

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/italian-campaign/history/pish

https://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/italian-campaign/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Campaign_(World_War_II)

https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=canada

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/battle-of-the-bulge

https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/italian-campaign

https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/newspapers/newspaper-collection/Pages/newspapers-collection.aspx