For the Allied armies fighting their way up the Italian boot in early 1944, Rome was the prize that could be won through one of the greatest offensives of the war. The Liri Valley was a long, flat corridor through miles of rugged mountains. At one end stood the formidable Monte Cassino, at the other, Rome. In May 1944, I Canadian Corps drove up this valley toward the Italian capital, facing the infamous “Hitler Line” a bastion of concrete bunkers fronted by wide swaths of tangled barbed wire, minefields, and “Tobruk” weapon pits. The ensuing battle resulted in Canada’s single bloodiest day of the Italian Campaign. But the sacrifice of young Canadians during the twenty-four days of relentless combat it took to clear the valley paved the way for the Allies to take Rome.
Mark Zuehlke is an award-winning author generally considered to be Canada’s foremost popular military historian. His Canadian Battle Series is the most exhaustive recounting of the battles and campaigns fought by any nation during World War II to have been written by a single author.