Seventy years ago Saturday, millions of Canadians were hovering around radios waiting anxiously for news from a small, little-known port city on Italy’s Adriatic Coast.

For my late mum and Lord knows how many of her generation, the word Ortona, given its heartbreaking association with bloody sacrifice in the Christmas season, would still bring Yuletide tears years later.

Windsor Star columnist Gord Henderson is pictured in this file photo.
Windsor Star columnist Gord Henderson
It’s hard, seven decades on, to grasp how emotionally involved Canadians were with the struggles of their soldiers, sailors and airmen in the Second World War. They sobbed over the Christmas Day 1941 Canadian surrender in Hong Kong. The festive season bloodbath in Ortona two years later compounded the pain.

A pregnant 25-year-old with a husband overseas, thankfully not in Italy, mum and two sisters who shared an Ottawa flat were mesmerized by battlefield reports from the CBC’s inimitable Matthew Halton…..

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By Gord Henderson