Archive | July 2013

July 31, 1943

We moved our position about 1 1/2 miles west last night. The 11th moved up to cover up two bridges of the Dittaino River. The rumour is very strong that the bombardment starts tonight. Twelve big heavy bombers overhead right now roaring towards the German lines. Two letters from Muriel tonight date June 24 and July 1st. Mike and I are busy today running between the three squadrons which are now separated some little distance.

A Martin Baltimore of theTactical Bomber Force of the North West African Air Forces, flys over its target by a road in Sicily, while bombing retreating German forces heading for Messina. © IWM (C 3772)

A Martin Baltimore of theTactical Bomber Force of the North West African Air Forces, flys over its target by a road in Sicily, while bombing retreating German forces heading for Messina. © IWM (C 3772)

July 29, 1943

Still standing pat. Was in to “A” Echelon this morning, saw Poop and Jimmy Edmunds for a minute. There is a thunderstorm on today but so far no rain. We are lying about 3 miles south of the Gorna Lunga River. The Dittaino River runs parallel to it about two miles north.

Hidden Treasures – Winnie the bear

Hidden Treasures – Winnie the bear.

Here’s a neat find that Library and Archives Canada recently discovered  buried in its collection of First World War photographs, none other than Winnie the bear.

July 26, 1943

Had a letter handed to me today from Marje Florendine. I guess she is in Sicily also. Certainly hope I can see her. Gen. Montgomery visited us today and officially welcomed us into the 8th Army. He told us about Mussolini being kicked out and said Victor Emmanual would soon be also. First air mail letter from Muriel today – was I thrilled. Wired Muriel today for her birthday. We are situated in Cuckoo in front of Cuckoo Mt. – Facing Catania Plains and looking straight into Mt. Etna. We are situated in an orange grove on a big farm, recently occupied by an Italian Aerodrome. The peasants are busy with oxen and donkeys hauling and threshing their grain.

July 24 & 25, 1943 – Happy 45th Birthday

July 24: Called out today, but nothing happened. Mike and I had lovely bath in a big cistern tonight. No news.

July 25: Bruce Trotter has just brought his Squadron in to relieve Bob Donaby and will be living here with me under my tree. Have just received a very severe reprimand from Mike for wearing socks with holes in them. The Col., Grant Elliott, Fred Ritchie and I are living under the same row of trees. Am going out on a recce in a few minutes. Many happy returns to myself on my 45th birthday.

Bruce Trotter, Bob Taylor and John Begg (left photo). Bruce Trotter (right). Alexander family collection

Bruce Trotter, Bob Taylor and John Begg (left photo). Bruce Trotter (right). Alexander family collection

July 21 & 23, 1943

July 21: Moved up to Catania Plains, north east of Augusta – the toughest trip we have ever taken. All sorts of wrecked vehicles along the way. Trip took 24 hours straight and were all in when we got here. We are now on the west edge of Catania Plains in reserve. Jim, Bert and I just had a grand bath at a well. It is terribly hot here today. Five miles from the front.
July 23: A & C Squadrons took up a support position, closing the Gap east of Catania. Mike and I with Carrier have opened a R.A.P. In forward position with Tanks. Went on recce this afternoon with Tommy Johnson in Scout Car, in direction of Mt. Etna which towers in the distance like the Rockies. We are on Catania Plains filling the Gap in the encircling movement of the Germans. Do not expect this campaign to last a great many more days.

The Italian job: audacious spy caper made the Sicily invasion possible

This Globe & Mail story tells the story of a British ruse – involving forged documents and a fake spy – that helped to pave the way for the Invasion of Sicily.