History

Wars & Campaigns

Boer War
First World War

►►Western Front

►►►Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

►►Allied Offensive: 1916

►►►Allied Offensives: 1917

►►►German Offensive: 1918

►►►Advance to Victory: 1918

►►Siberia
Second World War
►►War Against Japan

►►Italian Campaign

►►►Sicily

►►►Southern Italy

►►►The Sangro and Moro

►►►Battles of the FSSF

►►►Cassino

►►►Liri Valley

►►►Advance to Florence

►►►Gothic Line

►►►Winter Lines
►►North-West Europe

►►►Normandy
►►►Southern France
►►►Channel Ports

►►►Scheldt
►►►Nijmegen Salient

►►►Rhineland

►►►Final Phase
Korean War
Cold War
Gulf War

Operations 

GAUNTLET Aug 1941

(Spitsbergen)

HUSKY Jul 1943

 (Sicily)

COTTAGE Aug 1943

 (Kiska)

TIMBERWOLF Oct 1943

(Italy)

OVERLORD Jun 1944

(Normandy)

MARKET-GARDEN Sep 44

(Arnhem)

BERLIN Nov 1944

(Nijmegen)

VERITABLE Feb 1945

(Rhineland)

Battle Honours

Boer War

►Paardeberg

18 Feb 00

First World War
Western Front
Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

Ypres, 1915

22 Apr-25 May 15

Gravenstafel

22-23 Apr 15

St. Julien

24 Apr-4 May 15

Frezenberg

8-13 May 15

Bellewaarde

24-25 May 15

Festubert, 1915

15-25 May 15

Mount Sorrel

2-13 Jun 16

Allied Offensive: 1916

►Somme, 1916

1 Jul-18 Nov 16

►Albert

.1-13 Jul 16

►Bazentin

.14-17 Jul 16

►Pozieres

.23 Jul-3 Sep 16

►Guillemont

.3-6 Sep 16

►Ginchy

.9 Sep 16

Flers-Courcelette

15-22 Sep 16

Thiepval

26-29 Sep 16

►Le Transloy

. 1-18 Oct 16

Ancre Heights

1 Oct-11 Nov 16

Ancre, 1916

13-18 Nov 16

Allied Offensives: 1917

►Arras 1917

8 Apr-4 May 17

Vimy, 1917

.9-14 Apr 17

Arleux

28-29 Apr 17

►Scarpe, 1917

.3-4 May17

►Hill 70

.15-25 Aug 17

►Messines, 1917

.7-14 Jun 17

►Ypres, 1917

..31 Jul-10 Nov 17

►Pilckem

31 Jul-2 Aug 17

►Langemarck, 1917

.16-18 Aug 17

►Menin Road

.20-25 Sep 17

►Polygon Wood

26 Sep-3 Oct 17

►Broodseinde

.4 Oct 17

►Poelcapelle

.9 Oct 17

►Passchendaele

.12 Oct 17

►Cambrai, 1917

20 Nov-3 Dec 17

German Offensive: 1918

►Somme, 1918

.21 Mar-5 Apr 18

►St. Quentin

.21-23 Mar 18

►Bapaume, 1918

.24-25 Mar 18

►Rosieres

.26-27 Mar 18

►Avre

.4 Apr 18

►Lys

.9-29 Apr 18

►Estaires

.9-11 Apr 18

►Messines, 1918

.10-11 Apr 18

►Bailleul

.13-15 Apr 18

►Kemmel

.17-19 Apr 18

Advance to Victory: 1918

Amiens

8-11 Aug 18

►Arras, 1918

.26 Aug-3 Sep 18

►Scarpe, 1918

26-30 Aug 18.

►Drocourt-Queant

.2-3 Sep 18

►Hindenburg Line

.12 Sep-9 Oct 18

►Canal du Nord

.27 Sep-2 Oct 18

►St. Quentin Canal .29 Sep-2 Oct 18
►Epehy

3-5 Oct 18

►Cambrai, 1918

.8-9 Oct 18

►Valenciennes

.1-2 Nov 18

►Sambre

.4 Nov 18

►Pursuit to Mons .28 Sep-11Nov

Second World War

War Against Japan

South-East Asia

Hong Kong

 8-25 Dec 41

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily

Landing in Sicily 

   9-12 Jul 43

Grammichele 

15 Jul 43

Piazza Armerina

16-17 Jul 43

Valguarnera

17-19 Jul 43

Assoro 

  20-22 Jul 43

Leonforte

 21-22 Jul 43

Agira

24-28 Jul 43

Adrano 

29 Jul-7 Aug 43

Catenanuova

29-30 Jul 43

Regalbuto

29 Jul-3 Aug 43

Centuripe

  31 Jul-3 Aug 43

Troina Valley

 2-6 Aug 43

Pursuit to Messina

 2-17 Aug 43

 Southern Italy

Landing at Reggio

 3 Sep 43

Potenza 19-20 Sep 43
Motta Montecorvino 1-3 Oct 43
Termoli 3-6 Oct 43
Monte San Marco 6-7 Oct 43
Gambatesa 7-8 Oct 43
Campobasso 11-14 Oct 43
Baranello 17-18 Oct 43
Colle d'Anchise 22-24 Oct 43
Torella 24-27 Oct 43

The Sangro and Moro

The Sangro

19 Nov-3 Dec 43

Castel di Sangro

.23-24 Nov 43

The Moro

5-7 Dec 43

San Leonardo

8-9 Dec 43

The Gully

..10-19 Dec 43

Casa Berardi

 ..14-15 Dec 43

Ortona

20-28 Dec 43

San Nicola-San

.31 Dec 43

Tommaso

.
Point 59/ 29 Dec 43-

Torre Mucchia

4 Jan 44

Battles of the FSSF
Monte Camino

.5 Nov-9 Dec 43

Monte la Difensa-

2-8 Dec 43

 Monte la Remetanea

.
Hill 720

25 Dec 43

Monte Majo

3-8 Jan 44.

Radicosa

4 Jan 44

Monte Vischiataro

8 Jan 44

Anzio

22 Jan-22 May 44

Rome

.22 May-4 Jun 44

Advance

.22 May-22 Jun 44

to the Tiber

.
►Monte Arrestino

25 May 44

►Rocca Massima

27 May 44

►Colle Ferro

2 Jun 44

Cassino
►Cassino II

11-18 May 44

►Gustav Line

11-18 May 44

►Sant' Angelo in

13 May 44

Teodice

.
►Pignataro

14-15 May 44

Liri Valley
Liri Valley

18-30 May 44

►Hitler Line

18-24 May 44

►Aquino

18-24 May 44

►Melfa Crossing

24-25 May 44

►Ceprano

26-27 May 44

►Torrice Crossroads

30 May 44

Advance to Florence
Advance

17 Jul-10 Aug 44

to Florence

.
Trasimene Line

20-30 Jun 44

Sanfatucchio

20-21 Jun 44

Arezzo

4-17 Jul 44

Cerrone

25 - 31 Aug 44

Gothic Line
►Gothic Line

25 Aug-22 Sep 44

►Monteciccardo

27-28 Aug 44

►Montecchio

30-31 Aug 44

►Point 204 (Pozzo Alto)

31 Aug 44

►Monte Luro

1 Sep 44

►Borgo Santa Maria

1 Sep 44

►Tomba di Pesaro

1-2 Sep 44

►Coriano

3-15 Sep 44

►Lamone Crossing

2-13 Sep 44

Winter Lines
►Rimini Line

14-21 Sep 44

►San Martino-

14-18 Sep 44

San Lorenzo

.
►San Fortunato

18-20 Sep 44

►Casale

23-25 Sep 44

►Sant' Angelo

11-15 Sep 44

 in Salute

.
►Bulgaria Village

13-14 Sep 44

►Cesena

15-20 Sep 44

►Pisciatello

16-19 Sep 44

►Savio Bridgehead

20-23 Sep 44

►Monte La Pieve

13-19 Oct 44

►Monte Spaduro

19-24 Oct 44

►Monte San Bartolo

11-14 Nov 44

►Capture of Ravenna

3-4 Dec 44

►Naviglio Canal

12-15 Dec 44

►Fosso Vecchio

16-18 Dec 44

►Fosso Munio

19-21 Dec 44

►Conventello-

2-6 Jan 45

Comacchio

.
►Granarolo

3-5 Jan 44

Northwest Europe
Dieppe

19 Aug 42

Battle of Normandy
Normandy Landing

6 Jun 44

Authie

7 Jun 44

Putot-en-Bessin

8 Jun 44

Bretteville

8-9 Jun 44

       -l'Orgueilleuse .
Le Mesnil-Patry

11 Jun 44

Carpiquet

4-5 Jul 44

Caen

4-18 Jul 44

The Orne (Buron)

8-9 Jul 44

Bourguébus Ridge

18-23 Jul 44

Faubourg-de-

18-19 Jul 44

       Vaucelles .
St. André-sur-Orne

19-23 Jul 44

Maltôt

22-23 Jul 44

Verrières Ridge-Tilly--

25 Jul 44

         la-Campagne .
Falaise

7-22 Aug 44

►Falaise Road

7-9 Aug 44

►Quesnay Road

10-11 Aug 44

Clair Tizon

11-13 Aug 44

►The Laison

14-17 Aug 44

►Chambois

18-22 Aug 44

►St. Lambert-sur-

19-22 Aug 44

       Dives

.

Dives Crossing

17-20 Aug 44

Forêt de la Londe

27-29 Aug 44

The Seine, 1944

25-28 Aug 44

Southern France
Southern France

15-28 Aug 44

Channel Ports
Dunkirk, 1944

8-15 Sep 44

Le Havre

1-12 Sep 44

Moerbrugge

8-10 Sep 44

Moerkerke

13-14 Sep 44

Boulogne, 1944

17-22 Sep 44

Calais, 1944

25 Sep-1 Oct 44

Wyneghem

21-22 Sep 44

Antwerp-Turnhout

   24-29 Sep 44

Canal

.

The Scheldt

The Scheldt

1 Oct-8 Nov 44

Leopold Canal

6-16 Oct-44

►Woensdrecht

1-27 Oct 44

Savojaards Platt

9-10 Oct 44

Breskens Pocket

11 Oct -3 Nov 44

►The Lower Maas

20 Oct -7 Nov 44

►South Beveland

 24-31 Oct 44

Walcheren

31 Oct -4 Nov 44

Causeway

.

Nijmegen Salient
Ardennes

Dec 44-Jan 45

Kapelsche Veer

31 Dec 44-

.

21Jan 45

The Roer

16-31 Jan 45

Rhineland
The Rhineland

8 Feb-10 Mar 45

►The Reichswald

8-13 Feb 45

►Waal Flats

8-15 Feb 45

►Moyland Wood

14-21 Feb 45

►Goch-Calcar Road

19-21 Feb 45

►The Hochwald

26 Feb-

.

4 Mar 45

►Veen

6-10 Mar 45

►Xanten

8-9 Mar 45

Final Phase
The Rhine

23 Mar-1 Apr 45

►Emmerich-Hoch

28 Mar-1 Apr 45

Elten

.
►Twente Canal

2-4 Apr 45

Zutphen

6-8 Apr 45

Deventer

8-11 Apr 45

Arnhem, 1945

12-14 Apr 45

Apeldoorn

11-17 Apr 45

Groningen

13-16 Apr 45

Friesoythe

14 Apr 45

►Ijselmeer

15-18 Apr 45

Küsten Canal

17-24 Apr 45

Wagenborgen

21-23 Apr 45

Delfzijl Pocket

23 Apr-2 May 45

Leer

28-29 Apr 45

Bad Zwischenahn

23 Apr-4 May 45

Oldenburg

27 Apr-5 May 45

Korean War
Kapyong

21-25 Apr 51

Domestic Missions

FLQ Crisis

International Missions

ICCS            Vietnam 1973

MFO                 Sinai 1986-

Peacekeeping

UNMOGIP

India 1948-1979

UNTSO

 Israel 1948-    ....

UNEF

Egypt 1956-1967

UNOGIL

Lebanon 1958    ....

ONUC

 Congo 1960-1964

UNYOM

Yemen 1963-1964

UNTEA

W. N. Guinea 1963-1964

UNIFCYP

 Cyprus 1964-    ....

DOMREP

D. Republic 1965-1966

UNIPOM

Kashmir 1965-1966

UNEFME

Egypt 1973-1979

UNDOF

Golan 1974-    ....

UNIFIL

 Lebanon 1978    ....

UNGOMAP

Afghanistan 1988-90

UNIIMOG

Iran-Iraq 1988-1991

UNTAG

Namibia 1989-1990

ONUCA

C. America 1989-1992

UNIKOM

Kuwait 1991    ....

MINURSO

W. Sahara 1991    ....

ONUSAL

El Salvador 1991    ....

UNAMIC

Cambodia 1991-1992

UNAVEM II

Angola 1991-1997

UNPROFOR

Yugosla. 1992-1995

UNTAC

Cambodia 1992-1993

UNOSOM

Somalia 1992-1993

ONUMOZ

Mozambiq. 1993-1994

UNOMUR

 Rwanda 1993    ....

UNAMIR

Rwanda 1993-1996

UNMIH

Haiti 1993-1996

UNMIBH

Bosnia/Herz.1993-1996

UNMOP

Prevlaka 1996-2001

UNSMIH

Haiti 1996-1997

MINUGUA

Guatemala 1994-1997

UNTMIH

Haiti 1997    ....

MIPONUH

 Haiti 1997    ....

MINURCA

C.Afr.Rep. 1998-1999

INTERFET

E. Timor 1999-2000

UNAMSIL

Sie. Leone 1999-2005

UNTAET

E. Timor 1999-2000

Exercises

 

Monte Camino

Monte Camino was a Battle Honour granted to the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion, which was the administrative name of the Canadian component of the Canadian-American 1st Special Service Force.

The organization and history of the First Special Service Force is described in a separate article on this website. In brief, this unique Canadian-American force had been created in 1942 to undertake hazardous missions, and received training in parachute training, winter warfare, and amphibious operations. After deployment to the Aleutians, the Force was sent to the Italian theatre for use as alpine troops. The men of the Canadian component, administratively referred to as the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion, was intermingled throughout the FSSF, many in command positions, and generally making up about 1/3 the total combat strength of the Force's combat strength. The Force was commanded by U.S. Army Colonel Robert T. Frederick, an American (promoted to Brigadier-General at the end of January 1944), with Lieutenant-Colonel D.D. Williamson, as senior Canadian and commander of the 2nd Regiment until replaced following Hill 720. Canadians in fact commanded five of the six battalions in the Force on disembarkation in Italy.

Battles of the FSSF

Monte CaminoMonte la Difensa-Monte la Remetanea
Hill 720Monte MajoRadicosaMonte Vischiataro –  Anzio – Rome – Advance to the Tiber – Monte Arrestino – Rocca Massima – Colle Ferro

Background

The FSSF had arrived in Italy on 19 November 1943 to find that General Mark Clark's U.S. 5th Army was readying an offensive on the mountains below Monte Cassino. The Germans had fortified the chain of heights northeast from Camino-Difensa halfway across Italy as an additional barrier to Allied forces attempting to break through to Rome. While the main defensive line, the Gustav Line, was formidable, the additional fortifications at Camino-Difenso (the "Winter Line") were intended as an additional delay.

November marks the heaviest month for precipitation in Italy, and apart from adding to sheer misery for those out in the elements, the seasonal rains that had fallen since September had the effect of swelling rivers, washing out roads and bridges, and creating cascading logistical burdens, from the engineers who had to work constantly to keep the routes open, to the supporting arms who struggled to keep ammunition and supplies flowing over these routes.

By early November the enemy had been able to prepare the mountains for holding. Against this situation the three Allied corps in the Fifth Army were extended beyond convenient supply. The men were cold and tired at the end of a long offensive.

Before a rest was allowed General Clark decided one final thrust would be made to get into the Liri Valley. British 10 Corps on the coastal flank was to make an effort against Mount Camino. American VI Corps with the 3d Infantry Division carrying the ball would penetrate the Mignano Gap as far as Cassino. On this height the Germans hold one panzer grenadier division, with the Hermann Goering Division in reserve back toward Cassino fresh and ready for commitment. On the British side the 56th Division, tired and line-weary from continuous fighting since the southern landings, moved out to attack the Camino heights on November 5. Caviti and Sipicciano were taken by envelopments to place the 201st Guards Brigade and the 168th Infantry Brigade on the lower slopes. On the right of this effort the 3d Division sent one battalion of the 7th Infantry (Regiment) against Monte la Difensa. It was wet, hard, rocky work. Sufficient artillery had not yet been brought up to jar loose the dug-in enemy.1

When the British 56th Division took Calabritto, German counter-attacks came in on the Guards Brigade furiously for two days. The U.S. 3d Division tried to get at the main German positions guarding the Mignano Gap, named la Difensa (Hill 960)-Mt. Lungo-Cannavinelle. All three heights had to be secured in order to clear a path down Highway 7 into Cassino. The heights at Difensa were steep enough to require scaling, while the lowlands of the Gap were laced with mines and fortifications. Attacks on lesser heights at Cannavinelle and Rotondo were costly but managed to get the first penetrations into the Gap between November 5 and 9. Ten days of attacks, however, failed to turn up material success at la Difensa.

For one thing, a battalion had been sent to do a two-regiment job; complete commitment of the whole regiment was still not enough on this redoubtable 3000-yard front. Perpendicular cliffs just below the peak proved to be as frustrating a position as American troops had faced. This mountain was a veritable fortress. On top of the cliffs enemy snipers were using every trick to augment their commanding position with their advantage in height. Any small toehold gained by the 7th Infantry was dislodged with a hail of grenades and machine-gun fire. American artillery was pounding the top of the hill repeatedly and the enemy suffered losses. But the mountain was well cut with trails, and immediate shifts in reserves at all times provided the Germans with an adequate holding force.

Not only was the 7th in the precarious position of looking up the side of almost sheer cliff while unable to maneuver, but the approaches to the assault position were at the end of a seven-hour climb. Supplies were never adequate. Evacuation of casualties down the mountain required six hours. Throughout these bitter ten days, rain stopped only at brief intervals while at night the cold brought snow. Suffering from exposure was extreme.2

This was the general situation in which the First Special Service Force found itself.


Monte la Difensa, viewed from the north-east. Monte Camino is on the left.
U.S. Army photo

Operational Plan

Two corps were to attack the Camino hill mass overlooking the Mignano Gap; the British 10th Corps, to the left, was to attack Monte Camino and the U.S. 2nd Corps to seize adjoining heights on the northern half of the massif. Opposite them were troops of the 15th Panzergrenadier Division. The two highest features were to be taken by the 1st Special Service Force, Hill 960, and la Remetanea (also known as Hill 907).3

The task of planning the Force's first battle had fallen to Colonel Frederick (shown at right after promotion to Brigadier-General). The attack had been scheduled originally for 27 November, then delayed due to bad weather. Artillery support was delayed, and air superiority had not yet been won over southern Italy, making the possibility of Luftwaffe intervention a consideration - particularly when General Clark's overall plan for the attack called for aerial resupply. The first Canadian Forceman to be killed in action was among a group of five men wounded in a training accident; two of them had died. D-Day for the operation was rescheduled for 3 December, when both acceptable weather and sufficient artillery support were expected.4

 

The operation itself was divided into two phases. The difficulty of the climb required the ascent to be made over two days. The Force had to make do the seven-hour trip by climbing part-way up the mountain the first night, in darkness and absolute quiet, then hiding out during the day making a final ascent the next night.5

The approach march was made without incident, and a bivouac was established in a wood on the north-eastern slope of the mountain. The final ascent was to be made up a sheer cliff. The element of surprise was to favour heavily in the detailed assault plan drawn up by Lieutenant-Colonel Williamson, commanding the lead battalion, and there was a presumption that the Germans would not defend such a terrain feature thinking that no one would dare scale it. Heavy artillery fire masked the sound of the ascent.6

The Battle

See also the article on Monte la Difensa-Monte la Remetenea

The Canadian Official History sums up the battle succinctly:

On the night of 2-3 December Colonel Williamson's 2nd Special Service Regiment climbed the almost precipitous side of Mount la Difensa, using scaling ropes at the steepest places. In the early dawn the assault battalion, which also was commanded by a Canadian, Lt.-Col. T.C. MacWilliam, drove the stubbornly resisting enemy from their caves and pillboxes around the summit. For two days the 2nd Regiment held Hill 960, repelling a counter-attack by the 104th Panzer Grenadier Regiment early on the 4th. On 5 December Williamson's 1st Battalion pushed forward along the narrow ridge which led to Mount la Remetanea, 1000 yards to the north. The attackers came under mortar and machine-gun fire from Mount Camino, which was still in enemy hands, but gained the crest of their objective without meeting direct opposition. On the following day Mount Camino fell to the 56th (London) Division, and by 8 December the whole Camino hill mass had been cleared of the enemy. The Winter Line had been pried loose from its southern anchor. The First Special Service Force had fought its first action with distinction; it had incurred more than 400 casualties, of which Canadian losses numbered 27 killed (including Lt.-Col. MacWilliam) and 64 wounded.7

Aftermath


To complete the freeing of the Mignano Gap it was next necessary to capture Mount Sammucro--a huge mass of towering cliffs and ridges which from the north dominated Highway No. 6 and the village of San Pietro Infine, eight miles east of Cassino.191 The main 4000-foot peak (Hill 1205) fell to the U.S. 36th Division on 7 December, and after two bitter battles (in which Italian troops - the 1st Italian Motorized Group - entered the campaign on the Allied side) the Division occupied San Pietro on 17 December.
8

 

Battle Honours

 

The following Canadian unit was awarded the Battle Honour "Monte Camino" for participation in these actions:

  • 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion (First Special Service Force)

Notes

  1. Burhans, Robert D. The First Special Service Force: A War History of The North Americans 1942-1944 (Methuen Publications, Toronto, ON, 1981) ISBN 0-458-95020-1 p.91

  2. Ibid,, p.95

  3. Nicholson, Gerald The Canadians in Italy, 1943-1945 (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1957), pp.453-454

  4. Joyce, Kenneth H. Snow Plough and the Jupiter Deception: The story of the 1st Special Service Force and the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion, 1942-1945 (Vanwell Publishing Ltd., St. Catharines, ON, 2006) ISBN 1-55125-094-2 pp.152-153

  5. Dancocks, Ibid, p.197

  6. Joyce, Ibid, pp.153-155

  7. Nicholson, Ibid, p.454

  8. Ibid


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