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Crowe Avenue

Municipality/Province: London, ON

Memorial Number: 35042-062

Type: Street

Address: 701 Oxford Street East

Location: Wolseley Barracks

GPS Coordinates: Lat: 43.00024   Long: -81.23351

Contributor: Richard Turcotte

Crowe Avenue is named in honour of Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Marston Crowe who commanded the Royal Canadian Regiment during the landing in Sicily and its initial push inland.

Ralph Marston Crowe was born in Guelph in 1911. He grew up in a military family, his father a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Army, and his three brothers also members of the military. Ralph attended the Royal Military College in Kingston, graduating in 1931. He served with the British Army in India from 1936 to 1938 as part of an officer exchange program, and was promoted to captain shortly afterwards.

When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, Crowe was sent overseas to join the staff of the Canadian Military Headquarters in England. Promoted to major in 1940 and Lieutenant-Colonel in March 1943, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the Royal Canadian Regiment.

Crowe landed with his Regiment at Pachino on 10 July 1943 as part of OPERATION HUSKY. After taking their initial objective, Crowe led the Regiment further inland toward Nissoria where they encountered mined roads and crack German troops who took full advantage of the mountainous terrain and inflicted heavy casualties on the Canadians.

A week after landing in Sicily, the Canadians pushed the Germans out of several strategic hilltop towns and villages. But the enemy dug in to make a determined stand at the town of Agira. The struggle for Agira would be the Canadians' toughest fight in the Sicilian Campaign.

On July 24, Crowe led his men along a railway line. They were making good headway, until they came under heavy fire from German positions on the mountain slopes. In the confusion of battle, the RCR's advance unit became separated from the main body and contact with it was lost.

Realizing that those men could be wiped out or captured, Crowe decided to personally lead a rescue party. Crowe's column had advanced about 100m toward the crest of a hill when German machine guns opened up from two sides, catching the Canadians in a crossfire. Crowe was at the head of the column and was cut down in a hail of bullets. Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Marston Crowe was buried at the Agira Canadian War Cemetery.

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