On 6 December 1943, the 1st Canadian Infantry Division under Major-General Chris Vokes, a Sapper, began a series of assaults on major crossing points along the Moro River along the eastern coast of Italy. The attacks were led by three infantry battalions and fighting was hard for two days and established two small bridgeheads over the Moro River. On December 8th, Vokes adjusted his plan to consolidate a larger bridgehead by launching a two-pronged attack out of the two smaller bridgeheads. The attack began in the afternoon with a massive artillery barrage with infantry following. During the night of 8/9 December, units of the Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE) built a bridge over the Moro allowing armour and equipment to move into San Leonardo the following day.
On the night of 8 December 1943, 1 Canadian Infantry brigade attacked across the River Moro, Italy. 3 Canadian Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, were detailed to build a diversion across the river where the infantry had established a bridgehead. At 1800 hours, not knowing whether the bridgehead had been successfully established, it was decided to move the company on to the task. Sergeant Mellick of No.3 Platoon displayed great devotion to duty and skill in organizing his platoon while under continual enemy fire. Largely through the efforts of Sergeant Mellick, tanks were able to cross the river at 0700 hours 9 December and success of the operations was assured. He continued courageously to lead his men and attend casualties until he himself was wounded at 1200 hours. His devotion to duty and coolness under fire are worthy of the highest praise.