Language selection


On To "The Boot"

Heroes Remember

I guess the infantry had gone in ahead of time, they'd attacked and they'd advanced a little bit inland, and we got into Reggio di Calabria and there wasn't much opposition so they decided to go along the coast road, they sent us along the coast road from Palermo along up towards Locri, which is on the foot of the peninsula there, and we didn't run into very much opposition at all, we ran into thousands and thousands and thousands of Italian soldiers who were giving themselves up. You got the surprise of your life, about fifteen miles out of Locri, we see these guys coming out full marching order, swords, bayonets, flags, bands, a whole division coming down the road to us. And the General's in front leading the parade, with all his medals and sashes and God knows what, and we just sort of waved them on, "Keep going boys, we can't, we can't do anything for ya." So we got through Locri and it's about ten o'clock in the morning and the first time I had really got fired upon, we were going along this coast road, and the ocean's here, and the mountains are here and there's a road, that's it. There's nothing else, you either went in to the sea, or you could go up the mountain. We were going along this road, it was about ten o'clock in the morning, and this squadron of Kittyhawks came over and they strafed the living jee-zus out of us, and we're throwing down recognition signals, pointing to the rondelles on the top of our vehicles, it didn't make any difference to these guys. For about ten minutes they come down strafed us, fly out to sea and come back and strafed us again and we lost two carriers, two armoured cars, I think, three got, two guys killed and about five guys wounded. Our own troops. And boy are we cursing these guys, so we, we finally get organized again, there's no place to go, you know, here's the sea or the mountain, we couldn't go anyplace. We just dove under our carriers and trucks and just prayed to God that, you know, nothing would happen to us So we get organized again, I'll be damned if we hadn't gone more than ten minutes up the road again, there's another squadron of planes coming over and we figure, "Oh boy, we've had it." They're Germans, Messerschmitt 109's, they waggle their wings at us and they can't be anymore than a hundred feet up they waggle their wings at us and keep going. We were so far ahead of the rest of the army that they thought, that we were their reconnaissance troops going back. They... you know... but that was the first time...we really got a I really experienced action and it was our own troops. Interviewer: So you were obviously much further forward than anybody in either Air Force would have thought? Would have thought, that's right, we, the advance went so fast, that it was unbelievable. Like I say, we landed about four o'clock in the morning and here it is ten, and we're so far up the coast that... uh... unbelievable!

After some six weeks in Sicily, the order came to cross the Strait of Messina to mainland Italy. On arrival, thousands of Italian soldiers willingly surrender to allied forces. As the squadron moves inland, the worst kind of attack - friendly fire - takes its toll.

Gilbert John Hyde

Mr. Hyde's father was an electrician with the Moose Jaw Power Company and also a Veteran of the First World War. Mr. Hyde was an only child. He enlisted on 18 October 1938, two weeks after his 18th birthday with the PPCLI. Basic training was taken in Winnipeg before sailing from Halifax to Scotland in December 1939. On arrival, Mr. Hyde went directly to Aldershot in England where he spent several months in further training. Mr. Hyde then moved from being a military police officer to the job of dispatch rider - to a signaller assigned to a signals battalion with the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards. That was followed by a 3 ½ year stint on a Bren Gun carrier. The squadron was eventually posted to Scotland and eventually sailed for Sicily where Mr. Hyde participated in the landing there and went on to a number of battles in Italy before returning to Sicily, where his troop, the PLDG, received several awards, including a battle honour and a commendation from the Divisional Commander and the British 8th Army Commander.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Gilbert John Hyde
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: