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The River Battles : Canada’s Final Campaign in World War II Italy

The River Battles: Canada’s Final Campaign in World War II Italy

Mark Zuehlke
$37.95 Regular price

 


The Canadians called it the Promised Land. In late September 1944, the Emilia-Romagna plain before I Canadian Corps stretched to the far horizon—a deceptively wide-open space where the tanks could run free. Throughout British Eighth Army, hopes ran high that once it entered the plain, the Germans could be driven from Italy. As soon as the advance began, however, the plain’s true nature was revealed: the land was criss-crossed by rivers, canals and drainage ditches over which all bridges had been demolished.

With higher command urging haste, the Canadians entered a long and nightmarish series of battles to win crossings over each waterway, whose high banks provided the Germans with perfect defensive positions. Early fall rains caused rivers to spill their banks and transformed the countryside into the worst quagmire the soldiers had ever seen.

More than five months of battle followed, with weeks of hard fighting required to advance from one river to the next. Each month, conditions only worsened, and the casualty rates rose appallingly. As their comrades fell one by one, most soldiers sought merely to survive. Doing that much required every measure of stamina, courage and fighting skill they possessed.

The fifth and final Canadian Battle Series volume set in Italy, The River Battles tells the story of this campaign’s last and hardest months. In riveting detail and with his trademark “you-are-there” style, Mark Zuehlke shines a light on this forgotten chapter of Canada’s World War II experience.


 

“As a Canadian military historian, Mark Zuehlke stands with Tim Cook, Ted Barris and David O’Keefe. He belongs to the elite. To write this fifth and final volume in his Canadian Battle series, Zuehlke assimilated an astonishing amount of detailed information from a multiplicity of primary sources. Building on the focused unities of time and place—six months in 1944–45 and a waterlogged plain called Emilia-Romagna—he has delivered a vivid, hard-slogging narrative.

...total casualties were 26,254. Such numbers make one wary of lightly going to war. Perhaps that is the greatest achievement of books like The River Battles.”

–Ken McGoogan, The Globe and Mail

The River Battles is the important saga of the final five months of Canada’s 20-month Italian campaign from 1943–45 and the courage and skill of her 93,000 soldiers and tankers who took more ground from the enemy in Italy than any other Allied unit of British and Americans, and did it ‘while braving the worst of fighting conditions and extreme German opposition.’ 

These last battles are well-told by Victoria author Mark Zuehlke, a prolific, well-established veteran writer of our war history.”

–Barry Craig, Winnipeg Free Press

“In summary, readers will find that The River Battles is an interesting account of a little-known part of the Italian Campaign, and it will be a valuable resource for future historians.”

–Richard Lonsdale, The Ormsby Review

“Mark Zuehlke has produced by far the best series of books about Canada's war on the ground in Italy and Northwest Europe. The River Battles only adds further proof. And perhaps final proof, because this might be the end of the line for the Canadian Battle series, unless it extends eventually to Hong Kong or perhaps the garrison of Iceland. Last installment in the series or not, this is another excellent book. Zuehlke should be proud of it, and readers should be sure to take a look. Recommended.”

–Stone & Stone

 


Douglas & McIntyre
ISBN: 9781771622356
Hardback
6.0 in x 9.25 in - 480 pp
Publication Date: 09/11/2019
BISAC Subject(s): HIS027160-HISTORY / Military / Canada,HIS027100-HISTORY / Military / World War II,HIS027000-HISTORY / Military / General 

Description


The Canadians called it the Promised Land. In late September 1944, the Emilia-Romagna plain before I Canadian Corps stretched to the far horizon—a deceptively wide-open space where the tanks could run free. Throughout British Eighth Army, hopes ran high that once it entered the plain, the Germans could be driven from Italy. As soon as the advance began, however, the plain’s true nature was revealed: the land was criss-crossed by rivers, canals and drainage ditches over which all bridges had been demolished.

With higher command urging haste, the Canadians entered a long and nightmarish series of battles to win crossings over each waterway, whose high banks provided the Germans with perfect defensive positions. Early fall rains caused rivers to spill their banks and transformed the countryside into the worst quagmire the soldiers had ever seen.

More than five months of battle followed, with weeks of hard fighting required to advance from one river to the next. Each month, conditions only worsened, and the casualty rates rose appallingly. As their comrades fell one by one, most soldiers sought merely to survive. Doing that much required every measure of stamina, courage and fighting skill they possessed.

The fifth and final Canadian Battle Series volume set in Italy, The River Battles tells the story of this campaign’s last and hardest months. In riveting detail and with his trademark “you-are-there” style, Mark Zuehlke shines a light on this forgotten chapter of Canada’s World War II experience.


 

“As a Canadian military historian, Mark Zuehlke stands with Tim Cook, Ted Barris and David O’Keefe. He belongs to the elite. To write this fifth and final volume in his Canadian Battle series, Zuehlke assimilated an astonishing amount of detailed information from a multiplicity of primary sources. Building on the focused unities of time and place—six months in 1944–45 and a waterlogged plain called Emilia-Romagna—he has delivered a vivid, hard-slogging narrative.

...total casualties were 26,254. Such numbers make one wary of lightly going to war. Perhaps that is the greatest achievement of books like The River Battles.”

–Ken McGoogan, The Globe and Mail

The River Battles is the important saga of the final five months of Canada’s 20-month Italian campaign from 1943–45 and the courage and skill of her 93,000 soldiers and tankers who took more ground from the enemy in Italy than any other Allied unit of British and Americans, and did it ‘while braving the worst of fighting conditions and extreme German opposition.’ 

These last battles are well-told by Victoria author Mark Zuehlke, a prolific, well-established veteran writer of our war history.”

–Barry Craig, Winnipeg Free Press

“In summary, readers will find that The River Battles is an interesting account of a little-known part of the Italian Campaign, and it will be a valuable resource for future historians.”

–Richard Lonsdale, The Ormsby Review

“Mark Zuehlke has produced by far the best series of books about Canada's war on the ground in Italy and Northwest Europe. The River Battles only adds further proof. And perhaps final proof, because this might be the end of the line for the Canadian Battle series, unless it extends eventually to Hong Kong or perhaps the garrison of Iceland. Last installment in the series or not, this is another excellent book. Zuehlke should be proud of it, and readers should be sure to take a look. Recommended.”

–Stone & Stone

 

Details


Douglas & McIntyre
ISBN: 9781771622356
Hardback
6.0 in x 9.25 in - 480 pp
Publication Date: 09/11/2019
BISAC Subject(s): HIS027160-HISTORY / Military / Canada,HIS027100-HISTORY / Military / World War II,HIS027000-HISTORY / Military / General