@BattleofOrtona Blog – Advance to “Cider” Crossroads, 10 December

A jeep ambulance of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (R.C.A.M.C.) bringing in two wounded Canadian soldiers on the Moro River front south of San Leonardo di Ortona, Italy, 10 December 1943.

1st Division reported several hundred casualties  – killed, wounded, or missing – in the three day battle for the Moro River crossing and the capture of San Leonardo. The hardest hit was the Royal Canadian Regiment which attacked parallel to the German front line suffering 72 casualties of which 19 were fatal. Divisional intelligence estimated that the enemy’s 90th Division had lost two to three times as many men and both General Vokes and Brigadier Hoffmeister were confident that the next phase of the operation, the advance to “Cider” (the crossroad at the Ortona-Orsogna highway), would be sucessful on 10 December. The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (LER) with a squadron of tanks from the Calgary Regiment and a platoon of Saskatoon Light Infantry moved forward from San Leonardo. No one warned the battlegroups that a deep gully crossed the main axis of the advance 200 metres south of “Cider.” No one knew that the “Gully” was now a strongly defended enemy position.

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