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Claude Gravelle to Join Minister, Vets in Italy to Commemorate Canada’s World War Two
Campaign. Up until June 6, 1944, D-Day, the main theatre of war for Canadians fighting
World War Two was Italy. Ortona, the Benedictine monastery at Cassino, the breaking of
the Gustav, Hitler and Gothic Lines, the liberation of Rome, - these were the battles
Canadians back home followed in newspapers and on the radio. 70 years later, Nickel
Belt MP Claude Gravelle will join Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, plus other MPs
and veterans in an Italian Campaign Commemoration trip slated for November 22-30.
"This is a great honour to visit the battle sites and honour this exceptional campaign and
the fallen Canadians buried in Italy,” Gravelle said. “I invite the families living in Nickel
Belt, Greater Sudbury and West Nipissing who had family fighting for us in Italy to contact
me. I will do what I can within a tight schedule to remember them in a special way.”
Ironically, an apparently innocent Lady Astor reference to the Canadians fighting in Italy
gave them the nickname, “D Day Dodgers”, initially seen as a slight but ultimately a name
the soldiers adopted as a badge of courage to remind everyone of their longer service in
The Italian Campaign of World War Two began with the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. It
ended for Canada in February 1945 when the 1st Canadian Division in a massive and
secretive re-deployment moved to the Western Front to assist with the advance across
Western Europe to Germany. The Italian Campaign was Canada’s first major ground
participation in the Second World War in Europe and would cost 25,264 casualties, 5,900
of them fatal, over its course which, at its highest peak, saw over 76,000 Canadians
serving in Italy.
From the Government of Canada: To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Italian
Campaign, the Government of Canada is organizing three commemorative events in Italy
during the official delegation’s visit from November 22 – 30, 2014.
November 24 Ceremony of Remembrance Cassino War Cemetery
The Cassino War Cemetery is located in the commune of Cassino in the province of
Frosinone, approximately 120 kilometres southeast of Rome. As the area saw some of the
fiercest action among the battles of the Italian Campaign, the Cassino War Cemetery is
the second largest Second World War cemetery in Italy; 855 Canadians are buried here.
November 26 Candlelight Ceremony of Remembrance- Moro River Canadian War
The Moro River Canadian War Cemetery is located on high ground near the Adriatic Sea
at San Donato, in the Commune of Ortona (about 5 kilometres south of the town) and the
Province of Chieti.
In January 1944, the Canadian Corps selected this site with the intent that it would contain
the graves of those who died during the Ortona battle and in the fighting in the weeks
before and after it; 1,375 Canadians are buried here.
November 28 Ceremony of Remembrance Villanova Canadian War Cemetery
Originally a battlefield cemetery, this permanent war graves site is located along the
Lamone River, just outside the village of Villanova, in the commune of Bagnacavallo and
the province of Ravenna. It was selected as a cemetery by the 5th Canadian Armoured
Division, which is heavily represented here. There are 206 Canadian graves, including
one unknown soldier. There are also six soldiers from the United Kingdom.