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Lance Sergeant (Ret’d) David Adlington

Lance Sergeant (Ret’d) David Adlington was born on 18 September 1919 in Newport, Wales. After enlisting with the Royal Canadian Regiment on 3 October 1939 at the Wolseley Barraks in London, Ontario, he completed his basic training with C Company of the Royal Canadian Regiment. It wasn’t long after enlisting that Adlington boarded a ship in Halifax destined for Scotland, where he arrived on New Year’s Day 1940.

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Lance Sergeant (Ret’d) David Adlington

Six months later, Adlington’s Regiment was deployed to Dunkirk to help with the defense and evacuation of British and other Allied forces. The Royal Canadian Regiment arrived in Brest, France, and the plan was to proceed to Dunkirk by train. There was one issue – the French army had surrendered before they had the chance to arrive. After a mere four days in France, Adlington and the Royal Canadian Regiment arrived in Portsmouth, England.

“It’s hard to believe, because we were just a bunch of kids.”

It was three years later that Adlington experienced a moment he will never forget. The Royal Canadian Regiment had boarded the SS City of Venice to head towards Sicily, Italy. Shortly thereafter, on 4 July 1943, the ship was torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean Sea. “This was my first introduction to combat during the war. It’s hard to believe, because we were just a bunch of kids.” Adlington was extremely fortunate to escape with his life.

Adlington was picked up by a Royal Navy frigate and transported to Algiers, Algeria. “I thought I had died and gone to heaven. There was so much food on the ship, and at that point I was a very skinny lad.” Many days after the landing in Algiers, Adlington rejoined the Royal Canadian Regiment in Sicily. He soon realized that many of his comrades had lost their life during the horrific incident in the Mediterranean Sea.

The main focus of the Royal Canadian Regiment while in Italy was the critical Battle of Ortona. The Battle raged on from 20 to 28 December, 1943, and the rubble-filled streets of Ortona saw fierce hand-to-hand fighting. Thanks to the efforts of the Canadian and Allied soldiers, Ortona was liberated from some of the German army’s best combat troops. But victory came at a cost – more than 500 Canadians died, and more than 2,600 were injured. Adlington was one of the many Canadians injured during the Battle of Ortona.

Following the Battle of Ortona, Adlington transferred to the Royal Canadian Service Corps. Growing up, Adlington’s father owned a bakery. Adlington often helped his father with the family business, and he put this experience to good use while with the Canadian Army Service Corps, as he became a cook while with the Regiment.

“Returning home was a great feeling, as it must have been a nightmare for my mother.”

In December 1944, almost five years after boarding a ship to Scotland, Adlington received a one-month leave and came back to Canada. “Returning home was a great feeling, as it must have been a nightmare for my mother.” He never returned overseas, and was discharged in July 1945. For his service, he was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, the Italy Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal 1939-1945, and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Bar.

Following his return to Canada, Adlington married Mary Shervill and they had a son and daughter together. Following in his father’s footsteps, Adlington opened a bakery called the Bell Noll in London, Ontario. The business eventually grew to over 11 locations, and Adlington sold the bakery in 1959. After Mary passed away, Adlington married Shirley Stevenson, with whom he had two sons.

“I can’t bring them back, but it’s nice to be at such a beautiful and respectful place.”

Adlington remained in the city of London until 1972, when he then moved to a farm to raise Standardbred horses. After moving to a rural area, Adlington discovered a new passion that he maintains to this day – golf. His passion for the popular hobby is evident, as he recently celebrated his 100th birthday on the links.

In honour of the 75th anniversary of the Italian Campaign, David Adlington is one of our Faces of Freedom. He recently travelled to Italy with the Government of Canada delegation to participate in ceremonies commemorating this special anniversary. “Well it’s sad, as I have so many friends buried here… but time has kind of eroded the sadness. I can’t bring them back, but it’s nice to be at such a beautiful and respectful place.”

You can also hear his story firsthand by listening to his episode of our Faces of Freedom podcast.

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