A Canadian Soldier’s Stroke of Good Luck
During the Second World War invasion of Sicily on July 13, 1943, the Battalion of Saskatoon Light Infantry of the Canadian First Division landed on the Sicilian beach. Their orders were to gain control of this small island from the Germans, before crossing the Strait of Messina into Italy.
This brings us to the narrow escape my uncle—Pte. Clem Mageau—experienced, and later related to me.
Uncle Clem was assigned to drive one of three Bren-gun carrier trucks off the ship as they docked in Sicily—the trucks were loaded with ammunition. Travelling on an elevated road towards the railroad, the convoy was suddenly attacked—enemy gunfire came from the left side of the road. The first truck exploded into flames and everyone bailed out of the remaining two carriers.
Uncle Clem dove into the ditch and began to run towards the railroad, weaving and dropping to the ground, following the defensive maneuvers in which he had been trained.
Gaining cover, he lay there amid the noise and fire of heavy artillery coming from the Canadian Air Force back-up planes. During a lull in the battle, he sprinted back to his carrier, dove into the cab, started the engine and sped back to base camp.
After being missing for over 70 years, this Canadian soldier is finally laid to rest.