Maryanne Lewell photo/SJHS

SJHS students remember the Battle of Ortona

by Ms Maryanne Lewell - Monday, December 8, 2008

This November a group of six students from SJHS travelled to Rome and Ortona, Italy, as part of a group of 1200 Canadian students to commemorate the 1943 Battle of Ortona. We represented New Brunswick, specifically the men of the Carleton and York Regiment and of the 8th Hussars (Princess Louise's); each student had done research on an individual soldier and represented him at the ceremonies.

We began with a bit of sightseeing around Rome - a Roman Holiday, if you will. We visited the Coliseum and the Forum of Ancient Rome, then the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Piazza Navona. We travelled to Ortona, on the Adriatic coast, and took part there in a student ceremony of remembrance with students from across Canada.

Ashley Eadie and Laura Burnett laid a wreath on behalf of the students and alumni of SJHS at this ceremony at Moro River Canadian Cemetery. The students then walked from the cemetery back to the town of Ortona for lunch and another ceremony in the Church of St. Thomas. The people of Ortona were extremely friendly and welcoming to all the Canadian kids, and our students represented SJHS proudly!

We then drove back across the Appenines to Rome, stopping at Monte Cassino cemetery. There is a large number of Canadians buried there from the many attempts to take Monte Cassino, including New Brunswickers. After returning to Rome we had a quick tour of some catacombs, and of St Paul's Basilica and cloisters.

Our last day in Italy was spent at Vatican City. We visited the Vatican Museums in the morning, seeing many priceless works of art and the incredible Sistine Chapel. We also visited St. Peter's Basilica, where we attended a special mass for the Canadian Soldier.

It was a unique, emotional and history-filled tour. Andiamo, kids!

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