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A Quick Decision

Heroes Remember


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We jumped ashore and it was all rock, small rock. And we had these heavy soles, steel-clad boots like, and you're full of water and the water's coming out of you, draining out of you, and you had to run to a tree line. And I started running. You don't go very fast and there was the odd shot being taken, and by God I got up to the tree line and my sergeant was beside me, Sam Hately, and I just got through the thicket and here there was an Italian standing there. And I don't know what stopped me from shooting him because I was ready to shoot and I looked down and he had no shoes on. I looked at his jacket, looked at his pants, the knees was out of his pants, his jacket was worn, and no shoes. And the sergeant was up and he says, "Shoot him! Shoot him! Shoot him!" And I says, "But he's got no shoes on," and I says, "You shoot him." And then he says, "Well what are we going to do with him?" And I said, "Just let's ship him down to where the boats were.", and we did that. But you know, we were so well-trained that if it would have been someone well-dressed, I'd of shot him. But, or you know what I mean, if the guy would have been well-trained, or well-dressed and had boots, but no boots. And I thought, "Is this what we're going to fight?" But later on, we went in a little further and, oh, while we were on the ship, before we got off, the corporal come down the line and they issued us with a little tin of chocolate, hard chocolate, whatever it was and said, "This is your rations and you can't open it for 48 hours cause you might not get any food and it's only to be opened on the advice of an officer or else you're going to be court marshalled." And we said, "Well, what if we take prisoners?" And he says, "Well, you'll have to feed them." What were they telling us? We got in and the first group that came in on us, they were Italians, white flag, about 40 of them and their hands up. Well, how are you going to shoot them? We just got them in and they had little hand grenades on there. We took a look at their hand grenades, leather thong to pull it. So we asked one of the Italians to show us how they worked. He pulled the thong and he threw it up and they made more of a pop, they were tin and we made them smash their rifle butts. And we just pointed them that way to the ship. But I understand the Vandoos caught a bunch of them and they done them in. They executed them and the orders came out that all Italians coming in were to be taken prisoners. And we took a lot of them like that.

Finally on shore and beyond the beach, Mr. Lenko is faced with making a difficult decision that can mean life or death to a Sicilian resident - or to him.

Sam Lenko

Mr. Lenko enlisted in the army in Edmonton of February 14, 1940. He took basic infantry training in Calgary and then travelled to Halifax by train where he boarded the Duchess of Bedford, where he sailed in convoy to England. The ship arrived in the port of Liverpool and he was sent immediately to Aldershot for further training.His service included Sicily, Italy, France, Belgium and Holland. He returned to Canada and to Calgary on August 29, 1945, eventually training as a barber. He ran a barber shop for 20 years before changing his job to an unspecified occupation. He spent his working civilian life in Sangudo, Alberta.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Sam Lenko
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Loyal Edmonton Regiment / D Company / 17th Platoon

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