The Moro River Canadian War Cemetery lies in the locality of San Donato in
the Commune of Ortona, Province of Chieti, and is sited on high ground near the
sea just east of the main Adriatic coast road (SS16).
The cemetery can be reached from Rome on the autostrada A25 (Rome-Pescara) by
branching on the autostrada A14 and leaving it at Ortona. The approach road to
the cemetery from the main road passes under an arch forming part of the little
church of San Donato.
Cemetery address: Contrada San Donato - 66028 Ortona Porto (CH) Abruzzo.
Latitude: 42.336403, Longitude: 14.416677.
The cemetery is permanently open and may be visited anytime.
Wheelchair access to the cemetery is possible, but may be by alternative
entrance. For further information regarding wheelchair access, please contact
our Enquiries Section on telephone number 01628 507200.
On 3 September 1943 the Allies invaded the Italian mainland, the invasion
coinciding with an armistice made with the Italians who then re-entered the war
on the Allied side. Allied objectives were to draw German troops from the
Russian front and more particularly from France, where an offensive was planned
for the following year.
Progress through southern Italy was rapid despite stiff resistance, but by the
end of October, the Allies were facing the German winter defensive position
known as the Gustav Line, which stretched from the river Garigliano in the west
to the Sangro in the east. The Allied force that had fought its way up the
Adriatic took the Sangro river positions by 30 November. The 1st Canadian
Division went on to cross the Moro river on 6 December against stiff opposition,
and to take Ortona on the 28th, after a week of bitter street fighting. The 2nd
New Zealand division made some advances further inland but thereafter, there was
virtually no movement east of the Appennines until after the fall of Rome.
The site of the cemetery was chosen by the Canadian Corps in January 1944. It
contains the graves of those who died during that fighting at Moro river and
Ortona, and during the weeks that preceded and followed it. In December 1943
alone, the 1st Canadian Division suffered over 500 fatal battle casualties.
Burials other than those of members of the Canadian forces are almost all in
plots 12, 13 and 16.
Moro River Canadian War Cemetery contains 1,615 Commonwealth burials of the
Second World War.