The Liri Valley: Canada’s World War II Breakthrough to Rome

For the Allied armies fighting their way up the Italian boot in early 1944, Rome was the prize that could be won through one of the greatest offensives of the war. The Liri Valley was a long, flat corridor through miles of rugged mountains. At one end stood the formidable Monte Cassino, at the other, Rome. In May 1944, I Canadian Corps drove up this valley toward the Italian capital, facing the infamous “Hitler Line” a bastion of concrete bunkers fronted by wide swaths of tangled barbed wire, minefields, and “Tobruk” weapon pits. The ensuing battle resulted in Canada’s single bloodiest day of the Italian Campaign. But the sacrifice of young Canadians during the twenty-four days of relentless combat it took to clear the valley paved the way for the Allies to take Rome.

The Liri Valley is testament to the bravery of such Canadians as Victoria Cross-winning Jack Mahony, Panzer killer Private J.A. Thrasher, and the badly wounded Pierre Potvin who survived more than thirty hours alone in the hell of no man’s land. This book, like the battle it records, will live long in readers’ memories.
Published by Douglas & McIntyre, 2003: 492 pages.

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Reviews:

London Free Press

This book is must reading…it is a riveting, often hair-raising account of mechanized warfare and the death, destruction and heartache it entailed.

Globe And Mail

An exquisitely detailed database of veterans’ experiences that’s tied together by an elegant, respectful and tellingly brutal narrative of war on the ground.