Coriano Street 1944

The Gothic Line

Coriano Street runs in a loop off Glastonbury Drive in the Avalon subdivision, which was opened after the Second World War.

In 1946 there were 108 wartime houses either under construction or planned for the accommodation of military men and women returning from active service overseas. Street names for the subdivision were chosen by a special sub-committee of city council to commemorate Stratford 's war effort.

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

The Perth Regiment

Perth Regiment February 26, 1941   Stratford-Perth Archives

The Perth Regiment: Source: Stratford Perth Museum

On Sept. 1, 1939, the Perth Regiment received orders to mobilize. Its members trained for two years in Canada before spending two years in England training and providing coastal defence. In January 1943, the regiment joined with the Irish Regiment of Canada and the Cape Breton Highlanders of Canada to form the 11th Infantry Brigade. The Regiment, deployed to Italy under the code name Exercise Timberwolf, first saw action on Jan. 17, 1944 at Arielli. That battle was the only time during the war that the Perths did not reach their objectives. As the allied invasion pushed through Italy and France, the Perths continued to play a key combat role. They were the first  regiment of the English Army to crack the Gothic Line.  After their final action in the Italian campaign, with Operation Syria, the Perths were withdrawn to move through France, Belgium and into the Netherlands. By March, the Perths were in Nijmegen, the largest city in the Dutch province of Gelderland.

During the Second World War, 261 Perths lost their lives. The regiment was awarded 10 primary battle honours and four secondary battle honours. Source: Stratford Perth Museum

Lt. Col. Maurice W. Andrew 

Lieutenant-Colonel Maurice W. Andrew

Lt.-Col. Maurice W. Andrew DSO began his military career in 1931 when he enlisted in the Militia as a subaltern (junior officer). In 1935 he qualified as a lieutenant and attended courses in machine gun work at the Canadian Small Arms School in Ottawa. In March 1939 he was promoted to the rank of captain and attained majority in the same year.

He left for England and Europe with the Perth Regiment as a company commander in 1941. While in Italy, Andrew became second in command. In 1944, during fighting on the Gothic Line, Lt.-Col. W. W. Reid, of the Irish Regiment of Canada, was injured and Andrew took command of the Perths as lieutenant-colonel.

During his time in command, the Perths were successful in every activity in which they participated. In recognition of his service, Andrew was awarded the Distinguished Service Order which recognizes distinguished service by officers. The award was presented while Andrew and the regiment were stationed in Sneek, Netherlands.

In 1946, Col. Andrew, because of his experience as a lawyer, was chosen to defend Maj.-Gen. Kurt Meyer, a Nazi officer charged with being responsible for murdering Canadian prisoners. Meyer was convicted and condemned to death. Just before the ship carrying the Perth Regiment was about to leave the port, Lt.-Col. Andrew returned from the Meyer war trial.

Lt. Col. Maurice W. Andrew DSO led the regiment home. Following a reception and parade of the men, it was Andrew who dismissed the Perths from active service in front of the city hall on Jan. 16, 1946. 

Source: Stratford-Perth Museum  

Wartime houses

The houses in the photo are good examples of Wartime Houses. Between 1941 and 1947, a federal crown corporation called Wartime Housing Ltd. built 46,000 wartime homes across Canada. They were first built as rental units, but by 1944 the government had started to encourage home ownership.

Wartime houses on Coriano Street

Most of the houses were prefabricated and shipped to the building sites. This resulted in homogenous developments in almost every major Canadian city. The architectural style of these houses has been referred to by a number of names: “Simplified Cape Cod” (because they are a compact version of New England styles), “Strawberry Box” (because they resembled a common fruit container), and “Victory Houses” (celebrating the Allied victory in the Second World War).