Friday 9 November 2018

Lest We Forget

Every year on November 11, we remember the courage and sacrifice of all those who have served Canada in times of war.

Our photo of the week shows Cardinal McGuigan among the headstones of fallen soldiers at the Canadian military cemetery in Moro River, Ortona, Italy.
"His Eminence James Cardinal McGuigan officiates at Canadian military cemetery, Ortona (five hours drive from Rome). He is seen talking with Mr. Jean Desy, Canadian ambassador to Rome and the Archbishop of the Italian military army. Speeches were made by the Canadian Speaker of the House, Mr. MacDonald, Mr. Gagnon, Mr. Pouliet of Quebec and others"

PH 09H/44AL

ARCAT Photo Collection

The photograph was taken in November 1950, following the blessing of a new chapel at the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery in Ortono. Canadian donations funded the construction of the new chapel to replace one that had been destroyed during the war. In 1944 official war artist Lieutenant Comfort painted a striking painting of the damage to the church; this painting is now part of The Canadian War Museum collection and viewable on their website.
His Eminence Cardinal McGuigan gave the sermon for the blessing of the rebuilt chapel and, Archbishop Maruice Roy of Quebec officiated. The photograph also shows Canadian Ambassador to Italy, Honorable Jean Desy, who formally presented the chapel to Italian authorities after the ceremony.

The Canadian Corps selected Moro River as the site for a cemetery in January 1944 to bury Candian soldiers who died before, during and after the Battle of Ortona in December of 1943. The First Canadian Infantry Division was ordered to take Ortona as part of a larger campaign to break the German line of defence on Italy’s eastern coast. After 8 days of fighting, the Germans withdrew, but not without a price: by the end of the battle over 500 Canadian casualties were reported. Canadian troops continued to make advances and patrol the area until spring of 1944.

The main road to the cemetery passes under an archway in the very chapel blessed by Cardinal McGuigan and Archbishop Roy 68 years ago. There are 1615 individuals buried at the cemetery, 1375 of which are identified as Canadian soldiers.

We Remember.

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