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Custermen

Trilogy of Mark Zuehlke

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I just wanted to post some info about a book in my library but couldn't find one just on Engineers. So, this thread is about one author.

Mark Zuehlke has written 3 books about the Italian Campaign from the viewpoint of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. The books are (in order they were published):

1- The Liri Valley: Canada's WW2 Breakthrough to Rome

2- Ortona; Canada's Epic WW2 Battle

3- The Gothic Line: Canada's Month of Hell in WW2 Italy - the latest release

 

I've read Ortona and just purchased The Gothic Line on ebay for a mere $12. I don't have #1 in the list.

 

Ortona; Canada's Epic WW2 Battle is a detailed account of the battle for the eastern stronghold of Ortona. Ortona was the fartherst eastern end of the German defense line that ran thru Cassino. The British 8th Army plan was to punch through the line, turn west and advance on Cassino from the rear. The 1st Canadian Division was secretly moved from their position in the mountains to the far right flank to lead the attack.

The book describes the struggle to cross the Moro River to gain the main road into Ortona. Zuelke provides some great first-hand accounts of the infantry and armored attacks; both success and failures. Once the high ground was taken, the infantry had to advance thru the streets of Ortona; which the Germans were determined to hold using their paratroopers. The Germans wanted to keep the Allies from gaining the port at Pescara.

This book is an excellent read and a great reference source. I was a little leary about it as I happened to contact a veteran Canadian who served in Italy. His only comment was "Zuehlke wasn't there; how would he know what we did?" Taking this comment into consideration, I think these books are quite good.

 

The Gothic Line is a monster-thick book that covers the fighting in the Apennine Mountains in the fall of 1944. Again, the Canadian Division was on the far right flank, next to the Adriatic coast line. This would appear to be an easy area to advance as the land sloped gently down to the sea, however, this was crossed by river streams leading out of the mountains. The Canadians objective was to advance to Ravenna and then fan out into the Po Valley. But the Allies on both sides of the mounatins faced a set-back against the rugged mountains and the nasty weather and the German defenses at the Gothic Line. The Canadians only made it to Rimini and Hiway 9.

Appendices include the basic organization of the British 8th Army and the units within the Canadian 1st Infantry and 5th Armoured Divisions.

 

I have not seen The Liri Valley, much less read it. That is obviously about the Canadians struggle to penetrate the Liri Valley near Cassino. No more info available on this one.

 

Steve

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Always grateful to hear about more WWII books. Dang, wish I had more time to read. :D

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