By the end of September 1943, the British 8th Army had advanced as far as they could in southern Italy before having to call an administrative halt after having linked with the 5th US Army recently landed at Salerno. To keep up the momentum, General Montgomery ordered the 1st Canadian Infantry Division to advance almost 250 miles from Potenza towards Campobosso where the Germans were developing a strong defensive position based on the difficult mountainous terrain in that region.
The Canadians moved up the eastern Adriatic coast with 1st and 3rd Brigades up. Testimony to the Canadians' skill may be found in the war diary of the 26th Panzer Division, who noted that:
Opposite the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division the First Canadian Infantry Division had appeared again, which explains the rapid advance of the enemy.
Once east of Campobosso, they attacked westwards toward the town with the 2nd Brigade protecting the Division’s southern flank. The 1st Brigade took the town on the morning of 14 October. The occupation by Canadian troops had such an impact on the town that it became known as “Canada Town” or “Maple Leaf City”.
While most of the division paused for rest and refit, the 2nd Brigade, with 3rd Field Company in support, continued its operations on the flank of the division. By 22 October, plans to ‘square up’ the defences north of Campobosso were well underway. The 2nd Brigade pushed north towards Baranello and Colle d'Anchise with a crossing being built south of Colle d’Anchise across the Biferno River following an attack on the morning of 23 October. The work was done under fire, but by 10 o’clock that morning, crossing was complete and six Sherman tanks were across supporting the infantry. A section of sappers was left behind to maintain the crossing while the rest of the company moved forward with the Brigade. This is where we find Corporal Patriquin on the morning of the 24th.
WOI Milne "Pat" Patriquin, MM, CD served more than 35 years in the RCE. He died in 2006 in Victoria, BC.
On the 24th October 1943, Corporal Patriquin was in charge of a party of sappers who were maintaining a crossing over the River Biferno, south of Colle d'Anchise in Italy. At approximately 1000 hours the enemy worked around to the rear of the crossing and brought down machine gun fire on the maintenance party. Corporal Patriquin immediately deployed his section and accompanied by his Lance-Corporal began to stalk the enemy post. By skilful use of cover and observation, Corporal Patriquin pin-pointed the enemy as being in a small group of buildings. Accompanied by his Lance-Corporal he searched these buildings and took prisoner the enemy who were manning the machine gun. The coolness and resolution displayed by Corporal Patriquin removed the enemy threat and allowed his section to carry on work on a very vital river crossing.