First posting overseas was to Aldershot in England. We’d trained there for quite a while and then we were so well trained that we finally went to Sicily for the assault landing there [on July 10, 1943], which I participated in [with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, supporting The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada]. It was the code name for the landing we made in Sicily. It was, you know, they got the call it something, so they just used the word Husky to describe the operation.
It was a very warm day in July. Really warm. And we went ashore with just enough to keep us going for 48 hours I guess. I just had a rifle and a small pack for my gear and quite a bit of ammunition and a couple of grenades, and that’s for the … Didn’t have too much opposition. There was a little bit of action but not a great deal for that. We had been schooled with the idea that it might be like Dieppe [the disastrous Allied attack August 19, 1942 attack on the French port, in which 3,367 Canadian soldiers were killed, wounded or captured]. Yeah, but it didn’t turn out to be like that at all. But it was still a little bit exciting.
The sea was pretty rough. I can remember the waves splashing against my steel helmet but my rifle I held up over my head and we kind of hit a shoal I guess. It was just kind of a sandbar and we got into pretty deep water after a while. And some of them had a little, a little trouble with that. But we all needed…
Across the Straits of Messina into southern Italy and we were in Italy for nearly two years. Ortona [December 20-28, 1943] was a pretty fierce engagement. I mean, there was, you know, lots of casualties and that sort of thing. Lots of shell fire and machine gun fire, that sort of thing, there was quite a lot of that.
I was transmitting messages with my radio back to [2nd Canadian Infantry] Brigade Headquarters. The ones that were really secret, they coded them. I could just transmit the code but I didn’t know what the message said. But some, some of them were just ordinary, you know, just during the attack and that kind of thing. Once you passed the message, you almost completed the operation and that was kind of a vital part of the thing was the communication. If you didn’t have good communication, you were kind of lost. So it was important. Sometimes I was on the set for many, many hours, all through the night and so on. And it was a bit tiring. But I stuck it out.