AGIRA, Italy, July 30, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today joined visiting Canadians, local community members and 60 Canadian Armed Forces personnel at a remembrance ceremony at the Agira Canadian War Cemetery in Sicily, where hundreds of Canadian soldiers who fell during Operation Husky, the Second World War's Sicilian Campaign, were laid to rest 70 years ago.
"While we can never fully grasp the horror and bloodshed that took place in Sicily 70 years ago, we know that Operation Husky distinguished Canada during the Second World War. It sent notice to our enemies that our Canadian troops would be formidable foes," said Minister Fantino. "We must continue to remember the service and sacrifice of the Canadians who served and those who died."
The ceremony was a tribute to the more than 25,000 Canadian soldiers who served in Operation Husky. As part of the ceremony, a solemn roll call was made in honour of each of the 562 fallen Canadian soldiers.
Soldiers from the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade joined the first Allied assault on Sicily in the early morning of July 10, 1943. The British and Canadian troops came ashore along a 60-kilometre stretch of coastline near Pachino, at the southern tip of Sicily. The assault was one of the largest seaborne operations in military history, involving nearly 3,000 Allied ships and landing craft. Fierce fighting lasted more than four weeks through kilometres of mountainous terrain. More than 2,300 Canadian soldiers became casualties, 562 of which were fatal.
The ceremony at the Agira Canadian War Cemetery was also the conclusion of a 20-day commemorative journey for Operation Husky 2013 participants, a civilian Canadian contingent that retraced the steps of Canadian soldiers. Their journey began on July 10 at the beaches of Pachino and their symbolic march continued to Agira.
Through the Community Engagement Partnership Fund, Veterans Affairs Canada has provided financial support to the 3rd (Montréal) Field Battery of Artillery in support of in-Canada activities for Operation Husky 2013.
2013 is the Year of the Korean War Veteran—Canada proudly remembers the heroes of the Korean War and their brave fight to uphold freedom, democracy and the rule of law. For more information on Canada's role in the Korean War, visit veterans.gc.ca.
SOURCE: Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information:
Notes to the news editor/director:
Imagery will be posted at www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca
For more information on the privately-led commemorative effort Operation Husky 2013, visit the official website at www.operationhusky2013.ca
For more information on Canada's contributions to the Italian Campaign, visit www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/feature/italy/history/pish
Media Relations Advisor
Veterans Affairs Canada
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs