George Dominick vividly recalls trundling through the streets of Italy in his trusty armoured vehicle affectionately named Will-o’-the-wisp.
He can still describe with perfect detail his days following the tanks with Lord Strathcona’s Horse, and keeping a watchful eye for German soldiers jumping out of slit trenches armed with “sticky bombs.”
In his head, he can hear sounds of shellfire and visualize the bitter battles. It may have been 70 years ago, but Dominick — now 94 — still remembers.
“Every moment was harrowing,” he said, sitting in the northwest Calgary home where he lives alone, with faded black and white photos of his war days spread across his coffee table. “When your stomach starts turning up as if you have alligators in there, you’re scared. There’s no doubt about it.”
It was an important military effort for Canada, as Canadians helped capture Sicily and invade the Italian mainland. “As they pushed from the south to the north of Italy over a 20-month period, Canadians faced difficult battles against some of the German army’s best troops,” states Veterans Affairs literature. About 20,000 Canadians were wounded and 6,000 died.
Commemorative ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Italian campaign are taking place from Nov. 24 to 28 at Cassino War Cemetery, the Price of Peace Monument in Ortona, the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery and the Coriano Ridge War Cemetery. Dominick was invited by Veteran’s Affairs to join the official delegation heading overseas but his doctor advised him not to go due to health concerns.
Dominick, who was born in Calgary but grew up in Vancouver, went to Italy as part of the Royal Westminster Regiment. “I was just an adventurous kid like any young fellow that was there,” he said.
A flood of memories wash over Dominick as he recounts his time abroad, from fighting alongside writer Farley Mowat and war artist Charles Comfort, to giving hungry Italian children corned beef to eat — and later saving their lives... (see more at: http://calgaryherald.com/)