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 San Marco
 
 

Monte San Marco was a Battle Honour granted for participation in fighting near this feature in Southern Italy during the Italian Campaign of the Second World War.

Background

The British 8th Army, landing in the deep southern reaches of Italy in September 1943, linked up with the American 5th Army beachhead at Salerno to north as the 1st Canadian Division reached Potenza after a rapid 250 mile drive. Despite the success of this rapid advance in September, the 8th Army's ability to maintain communications and supplies was stretched and an administrative pause was necessary. As they regrouped at the end of September, the 8th Army's commander, General Montgomery, planned to move the 1st Canadian Infantry Division towards Vinchiaturo and Campobasso, where the Germans, staging a fighting withdrawal, were once again in mountainous terrain well suited to the defence. While the 1st and 3rd Brigades were to make the main thrust down Highway 17, the 2nd Brigade was tasked to protect the division's left flank by moving through "bleak country" to the south.1

The beginning of the division's operations saw the first major actions on the Italian continent, at Motta Montecorvino, as the division came into action against German troops with orders to delay the advancing Canadians.

 



The
2nd Brigade

 

The 2nd Brigade had been halted in its previous advance in hills around San Bartolommeo and Foiano di Val Fortore; rising waters of the Fortore River and demolished bridges had delayed further progress. Their sole support, operating in isolation from the rest of the division, was the 165th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, 90th Anti-Tank Battery, RCA, and "B" Squadron of the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, the divisional reconnaissance regiment. The commanding officer of The Seaforth Highlanders was in temporary command of the brigade, as Brigadier Vokes was acting in command of the division in the absence of General Simonds, in hospital.

 

Foiano di Val Fortore and surrounding terrain as it appeared in 2007. Wikipedia photo

 

German intentions were to hold the ground in the area as long as possible, as tanks and vehicles of the 26th Panzer Division were using a lateral road 10 miles west of San Bartolommeo to withdraw to the north. In the early morning of 6 October, the 2nd Brigade was ordered to seize and hold the crossroads at Decorata; the Seaforth Highlanders were tasked to carry out this mission with a battery of the 165th Field Regiment in support (as well as a 4.2" mortar platoon and a Vickers machine gun platoon of the Saskatoon Light Infantry).

From Foiano the road to Decorata (which consisted only of a church and half a dozen scattered houses) climbed in succession over the northern shoulder of two sprawling, windswept hills- Mount San Marco, whose bald top reached 3300 feet above sea-level, and the slightly lower Toppo Felici beyond. The Seaforth plan provided for a leapfrog advance by three companies to take these two heights and exploit to the crossroads. Any doubts as to the enemy's defensive intentions were quickly cleared up. Before the infantry attack started, two troops of the Princess Louise reconnoitring along the road to Decorata drew heavy machine-gun and mortar fire from Mount San Marco; one officer and seven other ranks were killed and four armoured cars and a carrier were knocked out. A prisoner captured at ten that morning said that a company from the 3rd Battalion of the 71st Panzer Grenadier Regiment was holding the hill to cover the regiment's withdrawal. At 3:00 p.m. the Seaforth "D" Company led the advance on Mount San Marco.2

The regimental history of the Seaforths elaborated on the ordeal of seizing Monte San Marco, also known as Hill 1007. "C" Company had left the road and circled Foiano, making contact with "Popski's Private Army" - a special forces unit of the British 8th Army used for raiding and reconnaissance missions. Major Thomson, commanding "C" Company, had difficulty establishing exactly which feature was San Marco owing to poor Italian maps, and falling rain. Scout cars of the P.L.D.G. had come under fire from Hill 910 during the afternoon as well, and the Scout Platoon under Lieutenant Gray sent several patrols down two dry streams, finding the run-off from the ran quickly filling the beds, but also noting that while 910 was clear of the enemy, German tanks and infantry were assembling to the north. The battalion commander ordered the remaining three companies to follow the scouts back and occupy Hill 910, and by last light on 4 October, "A" and "D" Companies had moved to the top without the enemy being aware. Patrols were sent out and harassing fire laid on the road out of San Bartolommeo north as German vehicles continued to flee to the north.

 

Patrol reports early on 5 October seemed to confirm that the enemy had vacated the area of Foiano-San Bartolommeo-Monte San Marco, as only a single German prisoner, a deserter, was rounded up. Reports of enemy troops and armour in the near vicinity continued to cause worry as the poor condition of the roads left armour support far to the rear. Small clashes with German infantry took place on the 5th as engineers struggled to build bypasses and get vehicles forward. The arrival of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry provided some measure of relief also. "B", "C" and "D" Companies of the Seaforths moved west of the Benevento-Decorata road into more suitable positions.

 


Click to enlarge

 

On the night of 5-6 October engineers constructed a diversion around a major road block and finally permitted the Seaforths' anti-tank guns to join the battalion positions; "B" Squadron of the P.L.D.G. followed behind and their armoured cars were sent forward to seize the Decorata crossroads. Losing four vehicles in rapid succession, they returned fire and artillery was brought down in support. It was at this time that the Seaforths realized they were not occupied San Marco (Hill 1007) as thought, and they prepared to advance on it with the support of 4.2-inch mortars, MMG and artillery fire, then swing north once the feature was taken, taking a successive sequence of hills, company by company.3

The first bound was completed with little difficulty, but "C" Company, following up, met a storm of fire "such as had never before been experienced by this battalion." The commander, Major S. W. Thomson (who was awarded the M.C. for his part in the action), called down all available support, and thus aided his men pressed up the long slope and took the hill by early evening, at a cost of some 30 casualties. Here "C" Company was joined by "B" and "D", and shortly after nightfall all three pushed on towards the Toppo Felici. The leading troops dealt effectively with various enemy machine-gun posts, but they were still a mile from their objective when they encountered the more serious opposition of German armour; fire from a German armoured car inflicted several casualties on "D" Company, killing the company commander and a sergeant.4

 

Private J.E. McPhee of The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, armed with a Lee Enfield No. 4 Mk 1(T) sniper rifle, comes under German mortar fire at Foiano di Val Fortore, Italy, on 6 October 1943. The battalion was still clad in khaki drill summer uniforms at this time; on 8-9 October, they exchanged the tropical uniforms for their winter issue of battle dress. LAC photo.

 

The assault began just after 13:00hrs when "D" Company under Captain McMullen moved to a knoll 500 yards from Monte San Marco to cover the advance of "C" Company. One soldier was killed by a sniper during this move. "D" Company settled in to its fire positions when "C" Company and the Scout Platoon began the advance under the cover of their weapons on Hill 1007. By this time, German artillery and mortars were active, and medium machine guns were brought to bear as well, pinning the company until Major Thomson called for the concentration of all supporting fires on Monte San Marco. Thomson had previously arranged for smoke cover from the 4.2-inch mortars, and he personally rallied the platoons and drove them 600 yards up to open slope onto the objective, despite the fact four enemy AFVs were encountered on the right flank, halfway to the top of the hill.

"C" Company, with the sun in their eyes, stormed up Hill 1007 and by late afternoon seized what the enemy had obviously considered to be a highly prized objective. The company suffered a number of casualties in the 1,000- yard advance over open, muddy ground, but there seems to be little doubt that these casualties would have been much higher had a less capable officer led the assault. Shortly after 1800 hours "C" Company was joined by "D" and "B" Companies near Hill 1007 to help consolidate the hard-won objective but not until after darkness had settled were the unit's anti-tank guns able to get forward to give close support against any further attacks by enemy tanks or self-propelled guns. By eight o'clock that evening Hill 1007 or Mt. S. Marco was firmly in Seaforth hands and Major Forin (the acting battalion C.O.) was having a conference with the Brigadier about the attack to the north.5

Aftermath

 

The C.O. of the Seaforths, Major J.D. Forin, wanted to push forward strong patrols and leave three companies in its positions on Hill 1007 until he could determine enemy strength to the north. The acting Brigadier, however, was more optimistic in his assessment, and having pushed the Germans back from Foiano was determined to keep him moving back and prevent a firm defensive line from crystallizing. To that end, the Seaforths were ordered to mount a night attack on the cross-roads at Decorata with the Scout Platoon leading. Direction keeping was to be aided by having the artillery fire on Decorata through the night. While the sound of the artillery fire did help in keeping the companies oriented, when the companies set off that night ("D", followed by "C" and "B"), thick cloud obscured the moon before they were halfway to the objective, and thick fog or ground mist began to settle. The companies had to march single file, and enemy machine gun posts began to be encountered. The night became increasingly darker as the fog increased, and then vehicle noises were heard. "D" Company lost a number of troops in one encounter with what was believed to be three tanks, and instituted a search, with one platoon sweeping the ground holding hands.

This action began a rather nightmarish, confused affair. Enemy tanks, or self-propelled guns, were obviously protecting the crossroads. The Seaforths could hear them, they could hear the commands being given and the clang of metal turrets but it was impossible to see them so that even if the Piats were available - and they were not - it is questionable if hey could have been used even though the men were at times only a few yards from the enemy's vehicles. The enemy, on his part, was in a far more favourable position. He could not see the Seaforths, but he could hear them, and when he did he brought his machine guns to bear on the direction of the voices and swept the area with fire. As might be imagined, the majority of the casualties were caused by the latter, but the darkness also prevented many more casualties.6

The force was withdrawn, a particular concern being the lack of anti-tank weapons and what would happen come daylight. The Army history added:

The Highlanders were without anti-tank weapons (although somewhere to the rear bulldozers and oxen were collaborating in strange partnership to get the 17-pounders forward). Faced with the probability of a strong armoured counter-attack across the open moorland at first light, the acting battalion commander, Major J.D. Forin, withdrew his three companies under cover of fog to Mount San Marco.7

The attack cost 11 dead, 26 wounded, and two captured. By October 8, when a plan for a full-scale attack by the P.P.C.L.I. was drawn up, with support by a full squadron of Shermans of the 14th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Calgary Regiment), the Germans had already pulled out, and little resistance was met. The Seaforths spent the 8th and 9th of October exchanging their khaki drill uniforms for their winter uniform of warm wool battle dress.

 

Battle Honours

 

The following Canadian units was awarded the Battle Honour "Monte San Marco" for participation in these actions:

 

Image:1gif2bde.gif 2nd Canadian Brigade

  • The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada

Notes

  1. Roy, Reginald. The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada 1919-1965 (Evergreen Press, Vancouver, BC, 1969) p.215

  2. 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) pp.244-246

  3. Roy, Ibid, pp.216-218

  4. Nicholson, Ibid, pp.245-246

  5. Roy, Ibid, pp.219-220

  6. Ibid, p. 221

  7. Nicholson, Ibid, p.246


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