The Perth Regiment, in particuar, was to be was to be honoured, and Coriano Street commemorates the fiercely fought Battle of Coriano, Italy, on Sept. 13, 1944. The Perths were part of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division which, in a year of fighting since landing at Naples in November 1943, had fought its way from south to north through 400 miles of mountains.
They had just cracked the Gothic line, and the Perths moved forward to the Besanigo River, where they sat for a week in preparation for the attack on the Coriano Ridge. The Germans occupied a dominating position atop the steep-sided ridge. On Sept. 11, the Perth scout platoon regiment undertook a dangerous two-man patrol across the river and up the ridge to the edge of the town of Coriano, where they listened to German activity in the town.
Their feat, and the information they brought back, earned praise from the brigade commander, Ian Johnston. Lt.-Col. Maurice Andrew (see below) of Stratford had just been appointed commanding officer of the Perths and issued orders on Sept. 11. An hour after midnight, on Sept. 13, the barrage began and at first light the Perth Regiment was firmly astride the ridge. In the final stage of Coriano, the Irish Regiment, the Perths, and the Cape Bretoners fought a day-long battle to clear the enemy house by house, out of the town.
Pte. Anthony J. Vertulia of 37 Kent Lane received the military medal for bravery in action at the battle of Coriano Ridge. He was the first Stratford man in the Perth Regiment to receive a medal overseas. A short history of the regiment published in 1945 says, "Pure guts of the PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti Tank) gunners drove off the enemy tanks which retreated from the feature . . . Private Vertulia and his buddy carried one of those PIAT guns up the Coriano Ridge . . . We bypassed the Germans and went right behind their lines. Our objective was a schoolhouse and we took about 18 German officers prisoner. They were being briefed in the school basement and there was an empty tank out in front. We got up on the roof and dropped a grenade in the turret and blew up the tank. Six more Germans came out from behind a haystack to surrender and we even shared our last rations with them. We disabled another tank by aiming our PIAT gun at the tracks so it couldn't move and then we hid in a barn for two or three days. A German tank was firing down on us and there were Germans all around us. There was a house joined on to the barn and the table was set for six. The food was still hot so the German people must have been close by. But we didn't dare touch it because it might have been poisoned. The Germans booby-trapped everything. We survived on grain and water for two or three days until the Churchill tanks came in for the rescue."
Tony remembered almost every detail of the battle, and he said it was Col. Andrew who recommended him for the medal. He is one of five Stratford brothers who served overseas. He eventually retired from the Canadian National Railways. Many other Stratford and Perth County men were at Coriano. It was in the Coriano sector that the Canadians and the Perths distinguished themselves and are still remembered for it.
When Stafford Johnston wrote about The Fighting Perths, he said ,“CORIANO, a battle honor awarded to the Perths, will hold its place in the regiment's history as a classic example of an operation painstakingly prepared and dashingly executed .” The Perths left Italy in early spring 1945 for France, Belgium and Holland. The Johnston book can be read online here The Fighting Perths.
The Perths were the first regiment to break through the Gothic Line in northern Italy and scatter the German forces there. Coincidentally, the Perths broke through the Gothic Line five years to the day they were mobilized on Sept. 1, 1944. They won primary battle honours for the Gothic Line at that time. Source: Stanford Dingman Picture by: Captain George Campbell, Canadian War Museum