2:30 p.m., May 22)
WWII vet makes return visit to Italy after 61 years
By Fred Sherwin
War II veteran Angus Wilson recently left for a trip to Italy with 88 other former
members of the Royal Westminster Regiment. It is Mr. Wilson first trip back to
Italy since the end of the war. File photo
been 61 years since Angus Wilson was last in Italy. As a member of the Royal Westminster
Regiment, he spent roughly a year in the Mediterranean country from January, 1944
until the following January when they were redeployed to Northern Europe.
was in the Signal Corps and was trained in operating and maintaining telecommunications
equip.m.ent such as wireless phones. And while he was never in actual combat, his
company provided close support to the main unit and he came under heavy artillery
fire during the battle for Monte Casino.
Sunday, Wilson left for Italy with 88 of his former comrades to retrace their
steps and relive old memories. The group plans to visit Naples, Caserta, Lanciano,
which is near Ortona, Rimini and San Marino.
is the son of the late Cairine Wilson, Canadas first female Senator. He
joined the army in May 1941 despite his mothers private objections.
November 1943, the 1st Battalion of the Westminster Regiment was mustered overseas
to England where they remained until they were deployed to Italy as part of the
5th Canadian Armoured Brigade.
units first order of business was to join in the offensive across central
Italy to Ortona where they took up a defensive position just north of the coastal
some additional training, they played an integral in the crossing of the Melfa
River in May 1944 that breached the
infamous Hitler line and ultimately led
to the liberation of Rome.
September 1944, they were part of the 1st Canadian Corps offensive that breached
the eastern most section of the Gustav Line near Rimini on Italys Adriatic
coast. They also participated in the Lamone Crossing on Dec. 12, 1944 and the
battle for Fosso Munio on Dec. 19.
leaving on Sunday, Wilson said that he had been looking forward to the trip for
lot of the boys I havent seen in 65 years, said Wilson, who moved
to Cumberland Village after the war to be a farmer. Its going be quite
along with the former members of the Royal Westminster Regiment, will be a several
former members of the Womens Naval Reserve, known as WRENs, who Wilson says
will help keep the men in line.
visiting the formal battle sites and war cemeteries, the group can also expect
to get wined and dined by the locals. Similar reunions have been treated like
royalty in the past.
theres going to be a little of that. The Italian people were always pretty
hospitable to us when we were over there, said Wilson.
resident and native Italian Gino Nicolini has contacted many of the local municipalities
the veterans will be visiting over the next two weeks to give them a heads
up about the visit.
fact that it is Mr. Wilsons first trip back to Italy since the war is news
worthy alone, not to mention the stories that will no doubt be created by the
88 other living historians who are making this trip, says Nicolini.
trip itself is being organized by a travel agency out of B.C. where the regiment
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
www.orleansonline.ca's main page