"By December 1943, the British Commonwealth's advance had broken through the German defences along the Moro river and now prepared to assault the area surrounding the seaside town of Ortona.
General Montgomery believed that the Germans would retreat north of Ortona, in an area where the terrain provided good natural defence positions and that the coastal city would therefore be an easy prey. Things did not turn out that way… On December 20th, the 2nd Brigade arrived near Ortona. The following day the Loyal Edmonton Regiment got as far as Piazza Vittoria at the entrance of the town. In front of them, the corso Vittorio Emanuele leading to the Piazza Municipale, the heart of the city. Narrow side streets were blocked by barricades and rubble left by the Germans. The wide-open corso, the only street that tanks could use was booby-trapped. The Canadian infantry had to clear its way through houses on the side before moving forward, a dangerous and difficult task. The Canadians were first engaged by the 2nd Battalion of the Luftwaffe’s 3rd Parachute Regiment. This battalion bore the brunt of the defence until 24 December, by which time losses and exhaustion, added to the increasing weight of the Canadian attack, convinced General Heidrich, then commanding the 1st Parachute Division, to commit his divisional reserve, the 2nd Battalion of the 4th Parachute Regiment. The close-in nature of street fighting meant that the battle could not be controlled much above the section or squad level, and references to battalions or even companies are misleading. It is reckoned that little more than 100 paratroopers were in action in the town at any given time, with others resting in the town’s cellars and, particularly, its railway tunnels or they were re-deploying."