Click play to hear Maurice White’s complete audio story
Why Maurice White, an infantryman with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, will never forget the Christmas of 1943.
We went into Ortona under a creeping barrage on Dec. 20. We entered the southern part of the village at night. I think we spent the night in a soap factory. The next morning is when things really started to happen. It took eight days to take the town. We had to go from one room to the other—we’d blow a hole in the side of the house and go in through there because the streets were filled with rubble and machine guns.
Things were kind of slowing down a little bit [by Dec. 25]. I had got a position up in the east of a house, and I had knocked out two bricks, so I could observe the square behind the house. I was eating my Christmas dinner there. They brought up hot food for us, I don’t know how they got it up there, but they did. I think it was hot pork and gravy, mashed potatoes and a bottle of beer. I had taken it up to my lookout post. I shot a German on Christmas Day. At the time, it didn’t bother me. But ever since, you know, I thought, “Why did I do that?” It was Christmas. But you don’t have a choice, you either shoot somebody or they shoot you. When I shot him, he fell, and two German soldiers came out and grabbed him and I didn’t shoot back. I thank God that I didn’t because that would have been even worse to handle.