Ortona Street Fightby Mark Zuehlke
December 20, 1943. Two Canadian infantry battalions and a tank regiment stand poised on the outskirts of a small Italian port town. They expect to take Ortona quickly. But the German 1st Parachute Division has other ideas. For reasons unknown, Hitler has ordered Ortona held to the last man. Houses, churches and other buildings are dynamited, clogging the streets
December 20, 1943. Two Canadian infantry battalions and a tank regiment stand poised on the outskirts of a small Italian port town. They expect to take Ortona quickly. But the German 1st Parachute Division has other ideas. For reasons unknown, Hitler has ordered Ortona held to the last man. Houses, churches and other buildings are dynamited, clogging the streets with rubble. Germans with machine guns lie in ambush. Snipers slip from one rooftop to another. The Canadians seem to have walked into a death trap. This is a battle fought at close range, often hand to hand. Casualties on both sides are heavy. In the end, raw courage and ingenuity save the Canadians. Ortona Street Fight is a riveting telling of what is considered one of the most epic battles that Canadian soldiers have ever fought.
Meet the Author
Formerly a journalist, Mark Zuehlke has been called the nation's leading popular military historian. Fascinated by Canada's military heritage, Mark first set to writing about the role Canadians played in World War II in Ortona: Canada's Epic World War II Battle following a discussion with several veterans in a Royal Canadian Legion. Mark went on to develop the Canadian Battle Series, which documents the Canadian World War II experience. He is also an award-winning mystery writer, whose popular Elias McCann series has garnered much critical praise and won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. When not writing, Mark can often be found hiking, backpacking, cycling or tinkering around the Fernwood heritage house he shares with partner and fellow writer Frances Backhouse in Victoria, British Columbia.
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If you are looking to expand your World War II collection which is heavy on books set in Germany, this might be the book for you. In 137 pages, the author lays out the battle for Ortona, a small town on Italy's Adriatic Sea. The ten-day battle was fought in close quarters with Canadian forces being victorious over a German parachute unit. Chapters cover one or more days in the month leading up to the battle; most are chronological. Eight pages of black and white photos (two photos per page) show the grim reality of war; one photo shows a dead Canadian soldier on the ground. Teens history buffs will like this short look about how war affected Canadians, Germans, and Italians during that bloody December. This book is part of Orca Book Publishers' Rapid Reads series for older readers. The books use low-level vocabulary which is perfectly suited for teens and adults who are struggling readers or those who are learning English. Thanks to Puget Sound Council for this review copy.