A Close Shave

The life of a young sol­dier is saved by a stroke of good luck

Our Canada - - The Way It Was - by Pauline C. Gor­don, Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.

Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War in­va­sion of Si­cily on July 13, 1943, the Bat­tal­ion of the Saska­toon Light In­fantry of the Cana­dian First Di­vi­sion landed on the Si­cil­ian beach. Their or­ders were to gain con­trol of this small is­land from the Ger­mans, be­fore cross­ing the Strait of Messina into Italy.

This brings us to the nar­row es­cape my un­cle—pte. Clem Mageau—ex­pe­ri­enced, and later re­lated to me.

Un­cle Clem was as­signed to drive one of three Bren-gun car­rier trucks off the ship as they docked in Si­cily—the trucks were loaded with am­mu­ni­tion. Trav­el­ling on an el­e­vated road to­wards a rail­road, the con­voy was sud­denly at­tacked —en­emy gun­fire came from the left side of the road. The first truck ex­ploded into flames and ev­ery­one bailed out of the re­main­ing two car­ri­ers.

Un­cle Clem dove into the ditch and be­gan to run to­wards the rail­road, weav­ing and drop­ping to the ground, fol­low­ing the de­fen­sive ma­neu­vers in which he had been trained.

Gain­ing cover, he lay there amid the noise and fire of heavy ar­tillery com­ing from the Cana­dian Air Force back-up planes. Dur­ing a lull in the bat­tle, he sprinted back to his car­rier, dove into the cab, started the en­gine and sped back to base camp.

Once there, he im­me­di­ately went in to re­port to his com­mand­ing of­fi­cer. After the de­brief­ing, he saluted and went to leave. His com­mand­ing of­fi­cer no­ticed a hole in the knap­sack rest­ing on Un­cle Clem’s up­per back and told him to take the knap­sack off. Upon ex­am­i­na­tion of the con­tents, he found that a bul­let had en­tered the knap­sack, de­flected against his Gil­lette metal shav­ing kit, de­stroy­ing the ra­zor and blades, be­fore ex­it­ing along­side his neck. His shav­ing kit had saved his life! Who knows how many other sol­diers’ lives may have been saved in this man­ner dur­ing both world wars?

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