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

 

Leonforte

Leonforte was a Battle Honour granted to two infantry regiments that fought at that town during the Battle of Sicily, a phase of the Italian Campaign during the Second World War.

As The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment were fighting their difficult action at Assoro, a similar action was fought for the town of Leonforte by the 2nd Canadian Brigade.

The Town

Leonforte was larger than Assoro, with a population of about 20,000 people, and was more modern.

The town, oblong in shape and a kilometre in length, could be entered only along a twisty switchback road which crossed a deep ravine on the southern outskirts of the built-up area. The approach to this bridge (which had been destroyed) was on a reverse curve which gave the enemy on the high ground behind and to the east of Leonforte a clear field of fire.1

The town's co-ordinates are 37°39'0" N 14°24'0" E for those interested in using Google Earth or similar satellite mapping software.

Above left, Leonforte as seen in a print made from an 18th Century copper engraving. At right, a postwar colour photo from an Italian travel site, showing the complexity of the terrain.

Battle

It was now clear that a full scale assault would be needed, and at 1530 on 21 Jul Lieutenant Colonel Bert Hoffmeister called an "O" Group in a farmyard. During the briefing, four shells fired by Canadian artillery landed in the midst of the officers, killing and wounding 30 officers and men. The brigade commander, Brigadier Chris Vokes, ordered the Edmontons to make the attack instead as the Seaforths reorganized. The artillery would be busy that night, as the assault on Assoro also occurred on the night of the 21st. Nonetheless, the barrage was sufficient to cover the Edmonton attack that started at 2130, and all four rifle companies managed to get into the town. In fact, the artillery preparation for the assault was "reported to have been the heaviest that the divisional artillery had yet fired."6 Once inside, however, the gunners were helpless to assist further.7

 

(The Loyal Edmonton Regiment) soon penetrated into Leonforte but due to the town's size were forced to commit all four of their rifle companies. They eagerly waited for the Engineers to bridge the Dittaino so they could receive urgently needed tank and anti-tank gun support. Alas, they were pre-empted by the enemy who, in what was to become an all too familiar response, launched an armour supported attack near midnight.8

The action deteriorated into house-to-house combat as the unit became split up; in the fog of battle small groups of platoon or section strength fought on independently, each believing itself to be the sole survivor of the larger body."9

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Jefferson of the Edmontons, faced with a sizable force of tanks and self-propelled guns and no artillery support or anti-tank guns, pulled his companies out of the town. His own headquarters, along with most of "C" Company, were unable to withdraw, and he deployed the roughly 100 soldiers left in Leonforte into a U-shaped series of buildings. His tactical HQ was deployed to a wine cellar in the middle of town, just as his radio communications failed.10

In the meantime, a platoon of the 3rd Field Company, RCE went to work to bridge the 50 foot gap over the Dittaino. Work progressed through the night and the bridge was in place by 0430hrs on 22 Jul.

(The engineers) were under constant mortar and machine-gun fire which they later nonchalantly described as being "slightly nigh". While the job was still in progress, their company commander, Major K.J. Southern, moved up the road with a few of the Edmontons to the outskirts of Leonforte, where they were confronted by a machine-gun covering the only approach to the town, and close beside it two enemy tanks and a small force of infantry. Here was a potential threat to the sappers toiling in the ravine below that might well have halted their efforts and spelled disaster for the isolated Edmontons awaiting reinforcement in the town. Catching the Germans by surprise, Major Southern's little party discharged their small arms and made such a display of force that the more formidable enemy group was deterred from advancing. Shortly afterwards the commander of the 90th Canadian Anti-Tank Battery, Major G.A. Welsh, who had come forward with the engineer party, recrossed the ravine under heavy fire to bring two of his six-pounders into action. The machine-gun post and one of the tanks were destroyed, and Welsh kept up the good work by once more approaching the town and with the help of two engineers taking twenty German prisoners.11

The bridging operation marked the first time ever that a Bailey Bridge had been erected under fire.12

A ten-year old boy named Antonio Guiseppe now became important to the conduct of the battle; Lieutenant Colonel Jefferson - out of touch with anyone but the 30 troops in his wine cellar - gave Guiseppe a note, some cash, and an admonition to deliver the message to "any British or Canadian officer." Brigadier Vokes, reportedly despondent that the Edmontons had been apparently destroyed, was elated when Guiseppe managed to transit German lines to be escorted to 2nd Brigade headquarters. A flying column of troops, travelling on four Sherman tanks of the Three Rivers Regiment and including four 6-pounder guns of the 90th Anti-Tank Battery towed by trucks, was assembled under Captain Rowan Coleman of the PPCLI and set off for the town. The first attempt to cross the bridge was turned back at 0645. A second attempt at 0900 was successful, suffering only a single casualty. At 0945 the lead Sherman approached Jefferson's battalion headquarters - at the same time as a German tank rounded a corner; the head to head duel was won by the Canadian.13

Fighting would last for the rest of the day, in Leonforte and in the neighbouring hills where at least one company of the PPCLI also became engaged. By nightfall on 22 Jul, Leonforte was declared secure.

By brilliant manoeuvre and hard fighting, the Canadians had deprived the enemy of two key defensive positions, Assoro and Leonforte. The past three days had cost the division 275 casualties, the highest toll to date (for the 1st Division). Two-thirds of these had been incurred by the Second Brigade at Leonforte.14

  • PPCLI: 21 killed, 40 wounded

  • Seaforth Highlanders: 76 officers and men (including 28 killed)

  • Loyal Edmonton Regiment: 7 killed, 17 wounded, 1 prisoner15

Historical Questions

Seaforths Company

The Seaforths did not receive a Battle Honour for this engagement. An interesting comment is made in Roy's regimental history; while Dancocks' history noted that there was no 'back door', the Seaforths history contains the following (p.179):

On the evening of the 21st a composite company of Seaforths led by Major H.P. Bell-Irving took part in the Edmonton's attack on Leonforte. Its task was to circle around to the north and cut off any enemy retreating from the "back door" when the main attack went in. Although the intention was sound, the combination of darkness, rugged terrain and distance to be covered resulted only in very limited success.

Roy does not define what is meant by "limited success" and no other history seems to mention what role the Seaforths played. The sketch map in the regimental history (upon which the map on this page is patterned) shows the composite company entering the town.

A post-war interview with Bell-Irving states the composite company briefly occupied part of the north-eastern portion of the town:

We were in the northeast corner of the town, on the road leading out. Anyway, my idea at the time was that we're here, and we'd better stay. I thought we might find something relatively strong that we could hold, and stay there until somebody caught up. There were German tanks in the street, and I can remember lying in the ditch with a tank right alongside me, and another firing along the ditch with tracer. There was tracer all over the place. We tried to throw grenades into the tanks, but it was quite hopeless. We evacuated out of the town along the road, and we found a big house which looked like something we might hold. I left the troops I had with me in some woods beside the road and Dunc Manson in charge. I don't remember who went with me, but I went into the big house, which was clear, and when I came out a tank on the road right in front of me fired. I ran, the tank chased me, and we got split up. Eventually I made my way back to the battalion with one corporal of the Edmontons I had picked up on the way. I had taken a composite company of Seaforths into my first battle, and I'd come out with one Edmonton. I wished to God I'd been killed, I was so ashamed of myself. I thought those I'd left behind had been killed. But they got home alright, and I think took prisoners on the way. I credit Dunc Manson with doing a splendid job.16

Alleged War Crimes

Another tantalizing historical question comes from Mitcham and von Stauffenberg's book on the Battle of Sicily:

The fighting inside Leonforte was heavy and fluctuating. Part of the town changed hands several times before a few of the Edmontons did a foolish thing: they shot some prisoners within view of some of their Kameraden who were still fighting. "The occurrence soon became known throughout the division and heightened its determination to resist," General Rodt noted later.17

The incident is not mentioned in Canadian histories.

Decorations

While Assoro had resulted in no decorations, the fighting at Leonforte led to no less than 21 decorations for bravery and leadership.18

  • Private S.J. Cousins of the PPCLI was nominated for the Victoria Cross for actions outside Leonforte on 22 Jul. This was the first such nomination of the Italian Campaign, and one of many unsuccessful VC nominations during the war. Cousins may have been awarded a lesser medal if not for the fact that he was killed not long after the action, and all lesser awards save a Mention in Despatches were not awarded posthumously. He received a well-deserved MiD.

  • Distinguished Service Orders were awarded to Lieutenant Colonel Jefferson of The Loyal Edmonton Regiment, Major Southern of the 3rd Field Company, RCE and Major G.A. "Tiger" Welsh of the 90th Anti-Tank Battery. Major Southern was killed in 1944 as commander of the divisional engineers of the 1st Division.

  • Captain R.C. Coleman, the son of D.C. Colelman, the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway and a company commander with the PPCLI, received a Military Cross.

Battle Honours

The following Canadian units were awarded the Battle Honour "Leonforte" for participation in these actions:

Image:1gif2bde.gif 2nd Canadian Brigade

  • Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry

  • The Loyal Edmonton Regiment

Notes

  1. Stevens, G.R. Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 1919-1957 Volume 3. (Southam Printing, Montreal, PQ, 1958) p.81

  2. Dancocks, Daniel G. D-Day Dodgers: The Canadians in Italy 1943-1945 (McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, ON, 1991) ISBN 0771025440 p.68

  3. Mitcham, Samuel and Friedrich von Stauffenberg The Battle of Sicily: How the Allies Lost Their Chance for Total Victory (Orion Books, New York, NY, 1991) p.192

  4. Roy, Reginald. The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada 1919-1965 (Evergreen Press, Vancouver, BC, 1969). p.174

  5. Roy, Ibid, p.176

  6. Dancocks, Ibid, p.68

  7. Nicholson, Gerald. Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War. Volume II: The Canadians in Italy, 1943-1945 (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1957) p.107

  8. McKay, A. Donald Gaudeamus Igitur "Therefore Rejoice" (Bunker to Bunker Books, Calgary, AB, 2005) ISBN 1894255534 p.57

  9. Nicholson, Ibid, p.108

  10. Dancocks, Ibid, p.69

  11. Nicholson, Ibid, pp.108-109

  12. Dancocks, Ibid, p.69

  13. Ibid, p.71

  14. Ibid, p.72

  15. Nicholson, Ibid, p.110

  16. McDougall, Robert L. Narrative of War: From the Beaches of Sicily to the Hitler Line with the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada 1943-1944 (The Goldon Dog Press, Ottawa, ON, 1996) ISBN 0919614612 pp.26-27

  17. Mitcham and Stauffenberg, Ibid, p.194 - Mitcham cites Hugh Pond's book Sicily (William Kimber, London, UK, 1962)

  18. Dancocks, Ibid, p.71


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