Language selection


Winter in Italy

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: So the, following Ortona, the, the rest of the winter campaign pretty much became a stalemate. Well yes, just after we finished Ortona, we were put in Ortona, as I said, for a rest, you know, but the rest only lasted a week or so because the 11th Brigade went through us to take up a position the other side of Ortona, and the Germans beat hell out of them, you know. And they were green troops, that was the worst part, and they didn't really know what was going on so we had to go back in and take over. So we stayed there practically all winter, or I don't know how long, it seemed like an awful long time to me. And when we were first there we just lived in, this was the winter time, we lived in, we lived right in the slit trenches. Interviewer: So there would be mud and... Oh mud, well it would rain but what do you, you know, you didn't have any way to drain it. Interviewer: It wouldn't be snow but it would mostly be cold rain Cold rain, wet, couldn't believe it, and that's where we lived that, practically most of that winter. Then we got, they got us out, we found houses around different places and we moved into them. Never asked anybody, we didn't ask anybody... if we could move, I didn't ask any officer, we just moved in. I said, "The hell with that. That's crazy," you know. To move into these houses, I didn't ask anybody if I could move or not if it was close, I said, "Move in."

Smokey describes some of the conditions they faced during the winter of ‘44.

Ernest “Smokey” Smith

Ernest “Smokey” Smith VC, CD, was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, on May 3, 1914, and was educated in elementary and technical schools there. He was the second of five children having an older sister, two younger brothers and a younger sister. Both brothers served in and survived the Second World War. Smokey left his work with a contracting firm to enlist with the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada in March of 1940 and began basic training with the Royal Canadian Regiment in Toronto. He went on to complete his training at Camp Borden before sailing out of Halifax in June of that same year on the Monarcher of Bermuda, heading for Europe and joining the regiment overseas a few months later. Smokey was injured while fighting in Sicily, but returned to battle a few months later in Italy. He was a private when he won the Victoria Cross, Canada's highest award for valour, at the Savio River in Italy on October 21-22, 1944. After the war, Smokey left the Army for a short time, but rejoined and served until August 1964, when he retired and was released with the rank of sergeant. After leaving the military Smokey and his wife established the Smith Travel Agency in Vancouver. In 1995, Smokey was appointed to the Order of Canada. At the time of his death on Aug. 5, 2005 Smokey Smith was the last surviving Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Ernest “Smokey” Smith
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Seaforth Highlanders

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: