Designed to open a second front in 1943 when it was determined that D-Day in Normandy would not be practical until 1944, the Allied invasion of Sicily was the first stage in a campaign to cut through what Churchill described as “the soft underbelly of the Axis”. Operation Avalanche was undertaken by the US Fifth Army under General Clark, and the British Eighth Army under General Montgomery. It was extremely successful and plans were soon drawn up to invade the Italian mainland.

By early October 1943, the whole of southern Italy was in Allied hands, but the Germans chose to fight delaying actions across a series of prepared defensive lines running across Italy from which they could buy time while the north was fortified further. It took months to break through the multiple defensive lines, and what the Allies had hoped would be a quick and decisive campaign, soon turned into one of the hardest fought battlefronts of the entire war, culminating in the four battles of Monte Casssino and the huge Allied losses there. Despite decisive Allied air and sea superiority, the Germans fought an impressive defense and there was still fighting in Italy after Berlin had fallen.

This latest commemorative of the war is an extremely well realised battle scene from Monte Cassino, depicting a pair of Canadian soldiers flanking one of the most common tanks of the war, the M4 Sherman. The Sherman was a tank already outdated by this time and no match for most German panzers in theatre, but was built in great numbers, its biggest advantage. A later British variant called the Firefly and fitted with the 75mm ’17-pounder’ gun, possibly the best tank gun of the war, wasn’t available for the early stages of the Italian campaign. A pity as that variant was feared intensely by the Wehrmacht’s tank soldiers, well founded given later incidents such as a Firefly destroying 5 Panther tanks with 6 shots and two Firefly’s destroying 10 Panthers with 10 shots. Even famed German Ace Michael Wittman was killed by one in his Tiger.

The coin is clean-struck, which makes a nice break from unnecessary colour, and of four-nines silver composition. What distinguishes this one from the norm is the innovative packaging. The ammo-case style box opens up to form a miniature diorama depicting a Sherman against destroyed buildings. It’s a nice idea and one that will be more popular with collectors of militaria, who are more used to displaying their collections, than to coin collectors. I for one, would love one to display amongst my model tanks (yes, I know it’s sad…).

Available to order now, the coin retails for $109.99 and starts shipping on the 02 June. Strangely, it’s to US and Canada only. We can understand that being the case with movie licences such as Superman and Looney Tunes, but a World War II coin !?!  You’ll be able to pick up one at the usual Canadian or European dealer no doubt, failing that eBay will oblige.


The Italian Campaign was Canada’s first full-scale ground operation of the Second World War. By the summer of 1943, the Allies were revitalised by victories in North Africa and were seeking to open up a second battlefront by invading Germany’s Axis ally, Italy. On the morning of July 10, 1943, Canada joined its allies in the planned invasion of Sicily; in September, they began their slow crawl up the mountainous Italian peninsula.  Although the Allies would ultimately be victorious, the 20-month operation proved to be a bitterly fought campaign against occupying Nazi forces who fiercely defended their hold at every turn. On the 70th anniversary of this strategic operation, the Royal Canadian Mint honours Canada’s veterans of this Second World War campaign with a fine silver coin that offers a glimpse of the realities of the war in places such as Ortona, Cassino and Rimini.

REVERSE: Designed by Canadian illustrator Joel Kimmel, your coin recreates the sense of danger and the fierce fighting that awaited Canadian soldiers in the narrow streets of Italian towns such as Ortona during the winter of 1943. In the background, the crumbling remnants of stone buildings are indicative of the sheer destruction caused by combat that was often fought in close quarters. In the centre, a Canadian Sherman tank rumbles through the rubble-filled streets, causing dust to fill the air behind it. The tank is flanked by two Canadian soldiers who, despite the risk of sniper fire and landmines, bravely move along the streets as they clear the town and search for survivors.

PACKAGING: The coin is encapsulated and presented in a Royal Canadian Mint-branded diorama case with graphic beauty box.

Did you know?

•    Canadians played an active role in the Italian Campaign from its very beginning.

•    The 1st Canadian Infantry Division and the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade joined nearly 3,000 Allied ships and landing craft for the launch of “Operation Husky” in Sicily.

•    The successful invasion of Sicily contributed to the downfall of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

•    In August 1943, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Canada’s prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, in Québec where they discussed the upcoming invasion of the Italian mainland. The conference was nicknamed “Quadrant.”

•    In 1944, following the arrival of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division in theatre, Canada’s forces in Italy were re-organised into the 1st Canadian Corps; they were instrumental in piercing through the enemy’s fortified Hitler Line and Gothic Line before being transferred to Northwestern Europe in 1945.

•    The Victoria Cross was awarded to three members of the Canadian Army for their actions during the Italian Campaign.

•    The Italian Campaign was Canada’s first full-scale ground operation in the Second World War. More than 92,000 Canadians played a vital role throughout the campaign—but at a cost of 26,000 casualties, including nearly 6,000 deaths.





$20 CAD 0.9999 SILVER 31.39 g 38.00 mm PROOF 10,000 YES / YES