From left: Todd Muise, Andre Boudreau and George Egan during a visit to the Yarmouth cenotaph in 2018. Muise is a member of the Wedgeport legion (branch 155) and Boudreau is the branch’s secretary. The Wedgeport legion is scheduled to hold an event Feb. 28 to mark the 75th anniversary of the withdrawal of Canadian forces from Italy. Egan, representing the Wartime Heritage Association, will be the main speaker at the Wedgeport event. - Eric Bourque
What has been described as an overshadowed or forgotten part of Canada’s contribution to the Second World War – the Italian campaign – will be the focus of an event to be held at the Wedgeport legion hall Friday, Feb. 28.The ceremony, which is open to the general public, is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.The Wedgeport legion (branch 155) has two members left who were part of the campaign – Charlie Muise and Miff O’Connell – and both plan to be there for the occasion, said Andre Boudreau, secretary of the Wedgeport legion.“It’s time to recognize the contribution that those soldiers made to the war effort,” Boudreau said.The afternoon’s main speaker will be George Egan of the Wartime Heritage Association. The Wedgeport event will be a chance for the association to share some of their research into the wartime history of the local area and the area’s connection to the Italian campaign.Noting that 2020 is a big year for anniversaries – the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Holland and of the end of the war in Europe and Asia – and last year having been the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Egan says it’s important to remember too what happened in Italy and the role and sacrifice of Canadians in the Italian campaign between 1943 and 1945, in which 93,000 Canadians fought.“There are 29 casualties from Yarmouth County buried in Sicily and Italy,” Egan said. “These men fought in hot, dusty weather in Sicily, battling through hundreds of kilometres of difficult, mountainous country. In Italy, they fought up one hill and down another, across rivers and in close combat in towns. In the winter months, in cold and mud, they pushed northward, fought at Ortona in December 1943, engaged in vicious street fighting.”Canadians cleared the way for the liberation of Rome, he said, “and then (were) ordered to halt to allow the Americans to pass through their lines and march into Rome on June 4, 1944.”But with the world’s attention on Normandy and the D-Day invasion of June 6, Egan said, “Italy became a forgotten area of the war.”Wartime Heritage publishes their research to their website www.wartimeheritage.com through remembrance pages, stories, articles and photos of the first and second world wars and the Korean War.“The website has become a resource for many searching family wartime connections or wartime history and is visited daily by hundreds of people from all parts of the world,” Egan said.