Thursday, February 14, 2008

Finding the Canadian War Cemetery

It's a bit off the beaten path but well worth the search to find the World War II Canadian Cemetery here in Sicily. I have never seen a more beautiful location, a fitting place for these 500 Canadians who gave their lives in Operation Husky in 1943. Most of them perished in fierce fighting around Mount Etna in the last week of July. They were part of the British forces who faced the strongest resistance from the Germans as they retreated north toward Messina in order to escape to the mainland (which many of them did).

I'm not sure why the Canadian forces have a separate cemetery (the British ones are in Catania and Siracusa), as the same architect designed all three. But this one has location, location, location. It sits high on a hill overlooking one of Sicily's few lakes and Mt. Etna to the east, the hill town of Agira to the west, and the gorgeous rolling hills and eventual plains of inland Sicily to the south.

The stones are identical to the ones in the British cemetery in Catania, but with Canadian maple leaves on each one. Fallen service members from the French provinces have inscriptions in French. Like the Catania site, a large cross looms overhead, even though some markers have the Jewish star on them. The oldest soldier buried here was 57, the youngest just 17. Some markers have been visited recently. I saw flags, a faded photograph, and a hat. That 17-year-old would be 82-years-old if he had lived. Even while we were there, two local families visited and went specifically to certain markers there.
See all photos HERE.

One more Allied cemetery is left to see in Sicily, the one in Siracusa. I plan to do that soon.


At February 15, 2008 4:47 PM, Blogger Kendra said...

I think the cemeteries are located in relationship to the actual battle grounds where the bulk of soldiers lost their lives.


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