Veterans remember the invasion of Sicily
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012 10:39AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 8, 2012 10:40AM EST
Only a handful of the 25,000 Canadian soldiers that landed on the shores of Sicily 69 years ago are still alive, and in order to ensure that the memories of battle remain vivid as the years pass, Steve Gregory is organizing a memorial for the 70th anniversary of the invasion.
Operation Husky began on July 10, 1943. The launch of the Allied campaign to take Italy was a brutal battle for control of the island and sea lanes, and a crucial first step in removing Benito Mussolini from power.
Frank Stanway was one of the men who fought his way across Sicily. 562 Canadian soldiers died in Operation Husky, some of them Stanway's friends, and he hates the thought that people will not remember their sacrifice.
"It was an apprehensive time and luckily we came through it, and everyday is a bonus now," said Stanway.
To ensure Operation Husky is given the prominence it deserves, Steve Gregory has organized a series of fundraisers, one of which took place Wednesday evening in Montreal.
The goal is to raise enough money to take 562 Canadians to to key battlegrounds in Sicily for a special commemorative ceremony known as "Operation Husky 2013."
"Our whole contribution to Sicily has kind of been wiped off the historical record and we've got to set it right," said Gregory.
Peter MacKay, Minister of Defence, applauds the initiative.
"Operation Husky 2013 will make sure that this tale of valour and sacrifice will never be forgotten," said MacKay
For Stanway, the commemoration is a source of hope.
"It means a lot, because the Italian campaign has been disregarded," said Stanway. "So little has been done by the Canadian government regarding Italy."
So far Gregory is planning two ceremonies, on July 10 and 30, in Sicily, to mark the battles that took place. The 562 people who go to Sicily as part of the historical commemoration will march the path taken by the 1st Canadian Infantry Division during the Campaign.