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Training with Little to Eat

Heroes Remember

Training with Little to Eat

When we got to Naples, it was really something. The transportation from there to the camp that we went to in Italy was, what did they call them, nine and forty or something like that; nine horses or forty men. The only thing we had for necessity was a pail and a big sliding door of a boxcar to get some fresh air and sunny Italy wasn’t living up to its’ word so it was a little bit chilly. It was good compared to when we got to Italy. They took us up to a place called Avellino and we were the first allied troops that were using that camp. It had been a former Italian training camp and it was double, two-storey buildings on each side of the parade square and when they left they blew the centre out of all of them so there was no sanitation, no water, no nothing. No windows left because the blast had blown them all out but they had beautiful terrazzo floors for blankets. So we had to sleep there and the snow actually blew in through these open windows. And the rations I say they were atrocious. We had rations in this cold weather, mind you, left over from the northern desert in Africa. The margarine was as hard as parawax, the hard tack was harder than that and you had two mess tins and you had your choice; you usually put your M&V, your meat and vegetable stew in one mess tin and the second mess tin you put your tea in or your dehydrated apricots. Did you ever have apricot tea? You couldn’t break the hard tack, you couldn’t bite it, you had to put it in your tea along with the apricots and try to soften it up a bit.

Mr. Summersides describes the environment within the training camp and the limited amount of rations provided.

Jim Summersides

Mr. Jim Summersides was born in Welland, Ontario, a town where he has lived all his life. As a young man, he recalls that peer pressure played a role in his joining the army. After enrolling, Mr. Summersides volunteered for the First Special Service Force, a unique joint Canadian- American effort that snuck behind German artillery lines creating havoc for the enemy. Mr. Summersides, along with fellow Canadian comrades, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor from the American Congress for his rare and profound contribution to the war effort. After the force broke up, he joined the 48th Highlanders and finished the war with that regiment. Mr. Summersides is very proud of his service during the Second World War and has had the pleasure of returning to Holland as part of the Canadian delegation for anniversary events.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
May 30, 2015
Person Interviewed:
Jim Summersides
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Liberation of Holland
1st Special Service Force

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