The River Battles: Canada’s Final Campaign in World War II Italy

The River Battles: Canada’s Final Campaign in World War II Italy Cover

The River Battles: Canada’s Final Campaign in World War II Italy

The Canadians called it the Promised Land. In late September 1944, the Emilia-Romagna plain before I Canadian Corps stretched to the far horizon—a deceptively wide-open space where surely the tanks could run free. Throughout British Eighth Army, hopes ran high that once it entered the plain, the Germans could be driven from Italy. As soon as the advance began, however, the region’s true nature was revealed: the land was criss-crossed by rivers, canals, and drainage ditches over which all bridges had been demolished.

With higher command urging haste, the Canadians entered upon a long and nightmarish series of battles to win crossings over each waterway, whose high banks provided the Germans with perfect defensive positions. Early fall rains caused rivers to spill their banks and transformed the countryside into the worst quagmire the soldiers had ever seen.

More than five months of battle followed, with weeks of hard fighting required to advance from one river to the next. Each month, conditions only worsened, and the casualty rates rose appallingly. Dreams of victory gone, most soldiers sought merely to survive. Doing that much required every measure of stamina, courage, and fighting skill they possessed.

The fifth and final Canadian Battle Series volume set in Italy, The River Battles tells the story of this campaign’s last and hardest months. In riveting detail and with his trademark “you-are-there” style, Mark Zuehlke shines a light on this forgotten chapter of Canada’s World War II experience.

Read excerpt….

Stone & Stone: Second World War II Books

“Mark Zuehlke has produced by far the best series of books about Canada’s war on the ground in Italy and Northwest Europe. The River Battles only adds further proof… this is another excellent book. Zuehlke should be proud of it, and readers should be sure to take a look.”

The Globe and Mail - Ken Mcgoogan

“As a Canadian military historian, Zuehlke…belongs to the elite.”

Ormsby Review - Richard Lonsdale

“It is a remarkable volume filled with interesting detail about the battles…and is a worthy memorial to all those Canadians who fought in that inhospitable wetland.”

Winnipeg Free Press - Barry Craig

“These last battles are well-told by Victoria author Mark Zuehlke, a prolific, well-established veteran writer of our war history.”

The River Battles: Canada’s Final Campaign in World War II Italy Cover

About the Author

Mark Zuehlke is an award-winning author generally considered to be Canada’s foremost popular military historian. His Canadian Battle Series is the most exhaustive recounting of the battles and campaigns fought by any nation during World War II to have been written by a single author.

Recent Posts

Scoundrels, Dreamers & Second Sons

British Remittance Men in the Canadian West Between 1880 and 1914, thousands of British remittance men came to the Canadian West, urged overseas by a rapidly changing British society. In a land of cowboys and loggers, their attempts to recreate the aura of landed...

Excerpt From Through Blood and Sweat

From the museum, a group of us travel in several cars to the junction of the main highway and the road to Valguarnera, where fifteen markers have been planted. They have been set out in three groups of five. The dozen or so people present conduct a short ceremony at...

Through Blood and Sweat Released

"We should not need [monuments] to picture a past battlefield and the horrors endured there. But their presence definitely helps to focus the mind, reinforce the solemnity of emotion that is so inherent in the act of remembrance." Through Blood and Sweat takes readers...

2014 Winner of the Pierre Berton Award

Proud to have won the 2014 Governor General's History Award for Popular Media, The Pierre Berton Award. Great honour to receive the award personally from the Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall, Ottawa. Article From CanadasHistory.ca

Windsor Star Article By Gord Henderson

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...

Conatct Mark:

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message