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Private (Ret’d) Joseph-Amable Dubé

Because he was not very tall, and because he was very young, his brothers in arms called him “ti-cul” during the war, laughing and promising to protect him. “And they protected me! I always felt confident in their presence.” Now 93-year-old Joseph-Amable “ti-cul” Dubé returned to Italy as a member of the Government of Canada delegation to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Italian campaign.

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Private (Ret’d) Joseph-Amable Dubé

Joseph-Amable Dubé was born in 1926 in Grande-Rivière, Quebec. When he was just 16 years old, he enlisted in the army to fight during the Second World War. “I was young and there was a lot of talk of going to liberate the war-torn European countries; this fascinated me and I decided to enlist.” Mr. Dubé had been in the Reserves and trained for three years before enlisting as a Private.

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Dubé was sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for further training. He was then transferred to England on board the RMS Queen Elizabeth. “It took three days to cross the ocean; that was fast.” In England, he was assigned to the Royal 22nd Regiment and sent to Algeria “to help the French, who had their hands full with the Germans.” In Algeria, he was part of the Allied victory in North Africa. “I found it extraordinary to have been part of the army that fought and defeated Rommel’s German army. I will remember it always.”

“The fighting lasted 24 days. I lost many brothers in arms. The Company was decimated. I was in platoon 9.”

He then crossed the Mediterranean to participate in the Allied invasion of Sicily. A few months later, in September 1943, he went to continental Italy to oust the German forces. His strongest memory of the Second World War is the battle of Monte Cassino. “The fighting lasted 24 days. I lost many brothers in arms. The Company was decimated. I was in platoon 9.” He also participated in the fight to take Casa Berardi. It was during this battle that Captain Paul Triquet earned his Victoria Cross. “It was like if each of us had received it. We had to clear all the houses in the village by going through every door, because a lot of Germans were hiding there.” He served in the Royal 22nd Regiment until the end of the war in 1945 and retired from war service with the rank of Private.

“This is a fantastic initiative by Veterans Affairs. I feel honoured.”

Before returning in Italy, Dubé was eager to revisit the places he helped liberate from German oppression. “It has been so long that I’m not sure I would recognize myself,” he said, “This is a fantastic initiative by Veterans Affairs. I feel honoured.”

In fact, it was at his return to Casa Berardi that Dubé experienced a very personal and touching moment. He met Guido Berardi, the grandson of the owner of the home at the time. They shared stories and Dubé recalled being at this site 75 years before handing chocolate to the children, one of whom may have even been Mr. Berardi’s father, Colonel Lanfranco Berardi, who would have been only five years old at the time. Intense pride beamed from Mr. Dubé when he posed for a picture with the 22nd regiment’s band in front of Paul Triquet’s plaque. A moment he says he will never forget and is certain to be something the younger troops will remember as well.

Private (Ret’d) Joseph-Amable Dubé with the Royal 22nd Regiment in Italy.

In 1950, Mr. Dubé rejoined the Canadian Armed Forces to work in peacekeeping in Korea as part of the Special Forces. He stayed there until 1954. He recalls that in Korea, “we weren’t really making war, we were just monitoring the dividing line between the two Koreas.” He spent several months in the mountains monitoring this border. After Korea, he would have liked to stay in the Armed Forces, but without a war to fight, they refused him.

After his military service, Dubé lived in Montreal, Quebec, where he worked for Stelco until his retirement. He had four children and now lives in Montreal with his wife, Diane Ouimet. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Knights of Columbus, and the Korean Veterans Association.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the Italian campaign, Joseph-Amable “ti-cul” Dubé is one of our Faces of Freedom. He also had the opportunity to attend in November commemorative ceremonies in Italy as a member of the Government of Canada delegation.

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