June 4th 1944. Rome fell to the allies. It was the first axis capital to fall to the allies in WW2. We of the Canadian Corps had been taken out of action and missed the grand finale in the capture of Rome. It was a bitter pill to swallow. The Canadians had suffered so much in the Liri Valley and were denied the finish. Politics and egos played a large part in this decision. The ego of General Mark Clark and a lot of other happenings that we as ordinary soldiers would never know about.
The South African armoured Division was brought in on the final run up the highway to Rome. Politics again.
The only Canadians to enter Rome as part of the victors were the Special Service Force, a mixture of American and Canadians. Oh well, that is how it went.
Now we had to lick our wounds, regroup, refit and welcome wounded back from hospital. Then we had to assign new replacements to take the place of our buddies that were killed or wounded.
Along in the early part of June we attended a memorial service with General Hoffmeister to pay homage to our comrades that were no longer with us. To this day the names of Johnny Pelitier, Peter [Bubbles] Wunder, plus all the rest that lost their lives, we survivors have never forgotten them. RIP old friends.
Rome had fallen, so naturally, we as the Canadian Corps thought we would get leave to Rome. No, was the answer to that. Rome was out of bounds to all except the American Fifth Amy.
While we sulked like spoiled kids over not getting to Rome we had the good fortune to have a visit from the Number One Canadian Entertainment Company. This entertainment group was made up of Canadian men and women that toured, entertaining the troops.
The girls in the troupe were telling us that when they came up the Liri valley to our area that a lot of them were sick with the sights and smell of the after math of war. Bodies of both sides were still in the ditches, and of course the terrible smell of death and decaying bodies was in the rubble of Cassino. That would get to the most hardened of all. But when it was show time did they ever perform. They were a touch with home.
WE LOVED THEM ..