Thursday, August 8, 2013

Operation HUSKY 2013 July 11 - 12

Here are another two days of entries following Sherry Atkinson's through Sicily for the 70th Anniversary of Operation HUSKY the Allied invasion.  Sherry was the Anti-Tank platoon commander for The Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR) which was part of the 1st Canadian Brigade and in turn the 1st Canadian Division.  The journal entries are written by Sherry's wife Susan Atkinson.

 Modica today (70 years after Sherry took it's surrender)

By Susan Atkinson

July 11, 2013
Today was a day off.  We all slept in, and enjoyed a very late and wonderful breakfast. Took a few photos around the Villa.  Showers, laundry and transcribing photos kept us busy until about 2 in the afternoon.  We then drove into Piazza Armerina, and all enjoyed large gelatos for our lunch.  We took some photos from the old fort atop a hill, across from the cathedral.  Following this indulgence, we toured the Villa Romana del Casale, a restored wonder of ancient ceramics from the late third century.  The mosaics were buried under a mudslide, and protected for centuries.  In 1997 the site was named a UNESCO world heritage site, and is well worth the visit.  Unfortunately, we could not use our cameras there, so you'll have to visit here to see for your selfes.

Tonight we will find an interesting place for dinner, and try for a reasonable bed time.  Tomorrow morning we will have breakfast at 7:30 am and leave here about 8:15 to attend the Ceremonies in Modica, which is the town Sherry was responsible for liberating on July 12, 1943.

The Sacro Cuore (Sacred Heart) Chruch in Modica

July 12, 2013
This day is the 70th anniversary of the day that Sherry and 13 other soldiers (a number of whom were from The Royal Canadian Regiment), liberated the ancient town of Modica, Sicily.  After an early breakfast, we headed south to meet up with the Operation Husky group in Modica.  We arrived shortly before the pipes led the marchers into town. 

After the marchers had refreshments, at 11 am, a ceremony was held at the town monument.  Sherry had an opportunity to meet the new Mayor of Modica, and present him with a plaque from The Regiment commemorating the liberation by The RCR.

The Mayor thanked The Regiment, and presented Sherry with a statue of Hercules and a book about Modica.  A large wreath was then laid by the Italian Military, and a smaller basket by the Operation Husky representatives.

When the celebration ended, an older gentleman came up to Sherry and thanked him for liberating him.  He had been seven years old in July 1943, and he vividly remembers the Canadians liberating them.  He said to Sherry "Seventy years ago you fed me and gave me chocolate.  Now I return the gesture and give you chocolate from Modica."

There were many people who wanted to talk to him and have their photos taken with him.  Max Fraser eventually took Sherry and the gentleman mentioned above whose name is Gino into the Palazzo to interview them.  Following the interview, a lunch was served to us at a local restaurant at 12:30.  It was a lovely meal complete with a great selection of antipasto, a delicious lasagna made of eggplant and mozzarella, and an orange salad.

At about 3:00 pm the marchers had to get back in their vans to be transported back to the Fire Hall in Pachino where they are all sleeping on cots.  We left as well, and we took Patty and Mary Lou up to the church where Sherry encountered his first real fire-fight of the war immediately at the edge of Modica.  The lovely old church, painted a delicate yellow, stands at a crossroads.  It is named Sacro Cuore (Sacred Heart).  Sherry was able to explain to Patty and Mary Lou just what happened in the fight, and how the mayor of the town came out to surrender himself and his town to the Allies at the end of the battle.

It was very moving for him to be able to tell his daughters about this in the actual place that it occurred, and both of them have an olive branch from the church yard to take home with them.

Patty drove us back to our B&B, and we are relaxing before a very light dinner.  I think we may take tomorrow off and go visit the site where Sherry was injured and also the Agira cemetery.

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