Sicily, 75 years on.

Discussion in 'Italy' started by bexley84, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Just got back from a short visit to Sicily to meet friends and trace a few more of my Dad's footsteps with the 2nd Bn London Irish Rifles from 28th July 1943 (when he arrived near Cassibile) to 25th September 1943 (when he left Milazzo for Taranto with the rest of the marching troops of the Irish Brigade).

    With my brother, Edmund, and the Chairman of the LIR Regimental Association, Peter, I also attended a Service of Remembrance and a plaque unveiling ceremony in Piedimonte Etneo to mark the exact 75th anniversary of the date that the 1st London Irish Rifles entered the town on 8th September 1943, welcomed as liberators (the townspeople's own words) and garlanded with flowers. The battalion's Pipes and Drums were notable visitors in their "orange skirts" that day.

    The London Irish Rifles would stay in Piedimonte for 5 weeks. Of course, the armistice between the Allies and Italy had been signed in Cassibile on 3rd September 1943 but only becoming public on 8th September 1943.

    It's remarkable, that in a small town in Sicily, there are now two memorials for men of the London Irish Rifles - 90 of whom from their two battalions are buried in Catania. We also certainly do not forget the many Sicilian civilians killed during those desperately difficult weeks.

    Photos attached here include a couple of Angelina Vitale, who was 21 in 1943 - now 21+75 years old = ?

    best wishes


    ps Our film of the Irish Brigade's time in Sicily should be out in the next month.

    pps A few more posts to come on this thread.

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    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
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  2. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    As usual, we were able to get up to Centuripe and thence to the Salso/Simeto river crossings and onto Maletto where my father and his comrades finished their Sicilian campaign on the night of 12th/13th August 1943 and there taking the chance to meet with the Mayor of the town, Giuseppe de Luca.

    We also visited the CWGC cemetery at Catania to say hello to the gardeners hard at work there and tip my hat to my Dad's friends and comrades including:

    - Major Joseph Fitzgerald MC from Dublin who was killed at Maletto on 12th August 1943.
    - Fusilier Edward Graham from Co Durham who was killed on the road to Randazzo on 13th August 1943.

    Faugh a Ballagh !


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    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
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  3. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    And finally onto Agira CWGC Cemetery... it's always moving to pause in front of every single man buried at a cemetery - at Agira 471 named, 13 unknown, all Canadians of course. Canadian forces served alongside my father's mob in Sicily, at Termoli, near the Moro river, along the Liri valley and at Trasimene (amongst other places), so on my father's behalf I thanked them all.


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  4. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    As an additional final comment, I did notice that in the visitors' books at Agira and Catania CWGC cemeteries, some pages had been defaced by both obscene comments and drawings. I wonder if this is a trend across Italy.... not good.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  5. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Another nice post, Richard. Some wonderful photos from an emotional visit.
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