RCASC: from Italy to the Netherlands

I have done a lot of reading about the Canadians and their role in the Italian Campaign during WWII. I wanted to switch gears and post a little information regarding the Northwest Europe campaign and the Liberation of the Netherlands.

My grandfather was in Italy from July 1943 until the first quarter of 1945.  At the start of 1945, he and his comrades were dug in along Italy’s River Senio in the north-east part of the country.  The Canadian Command was preparing to move all of the Italian-based divisions to the War’s northwest theatre.  Most of the Canadians were a part of Operation Goldflake, and were moved from Italy through the port at Naples and to Marsailles, France.  As part of the operation, the Allied Command went to great lengths to conceal the move of troops.

The final division to move from Italy was the 1st Infantry Division, under the command of Major-General Foster – and this division which included my grandfather, took a different course.  The 1st Infantry Division took an almost 1300 km journey from along the Senio River to Itigem, just north of Brussels, Belgium.   This division was the only Canadian formation from Italy to see service on German soil.  By April 3, 1945 the men were concentrated in the Reichswald Forest, an area that had been cleared 8 February – 11 March 1945 as part of Operation Veritable under Field Marshal Montgomery.

Except for the last two month of the War, the Canadian formations were engaged in all major phases of the Italian Campaign.  When the 1st Division left Italy, it had served continuously in the theatre for a longer period than any other division in the British 8th Army.

Canada’s contributions to the Italian Campaign are grand: of the 92,757 that served in the campaign, 26,354 Canadians became casualties.

Source: Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Vol. II: the Canadians in Italy.