The Seaforths: Immediate Awards for Sicily

Second World War Seaforth Highlanders of Canada cap badge.

Second World War Seaforth Highlanders of Canada cap badge with glengarry.

Burrasca furiusa prestu passa.
A furious storm passes quickly.
(Sicilian expression)

The following Immediate Awards were presented to members of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada for their actions during operations on Sicily. The regiment landed 10 July 1943 and by 18 August 1943 Sicily was held by the Allies.

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were granted the following battle honours for Sicily; Landing in Sicily, AGIRA, Adrano, Troina Valley, SICILY, 1943. The two titles in bold capitals are emblazoned on the Regiment’s colours.

The awards recorded below are shown in date order of action. They include the Distinguished Service Order [DSO], Military Cross [MC], Distinguished Conduct Medal [DCM] and the Military Medal [MM].

William Kenneth MacDonald MC. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial of Canada).

William Kenneth MacDonald MC. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial).

Captain William Kenneth MacDonald MC
Canadian Army Medical Corps attached Seaforth Highlanders of Canada

On 19 July 1943, “A” Company, advance guard to the Battalion [Seaforth Highlanders of Canada], were pinned on the forward slope of a hill near Caltagirone* by heavy and continuous machine gun and mortar fire.

Captain MacDonald, with a complete disregard for enemy fire, moved from platoon to platoon rendering first aid. As the action continued and for several days thereafter, without sleep day and night, this [medical] officer succoured and evacuated wounded. He constantly exposed himself to enemy fire and refused rest until every wounded man had been cared for.

He set an example worthy of his Corps.

William Kenneth MacDonald was killed by a sniper 5 August 1943 when attending a wounded soldier. He is buried at Agira Canadian War Cemetery, Sicily.

Private Jack Greig McBride MM
M52518

On 19 July 43, A Coy, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, while advance guard to the battalion, came under heavy machine gun and mortar fire, and were pinned on the forward slope of a hill near Caltagirone*.

Pte McBride, a medical orderly in A Coy, although wounded in three places early in the action, moved from one position to another under fire, giving first aid to the wounded without thought for his own personal safety or his injuries.

His conduct was an inspiration to all ranks.

Rupert Rhoades Story MM. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial).

Rupert Rhoades Story MM. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial).

Lance Corporal Rupert Rhoades Story MM
K52299

On 19 July 43, A Coy, advance guard to the battalion came under very heavy machine gun and mortar fire, and were pinned on the forward slope of a hill near Caltagirone* offering no cover.

L/Cpl Story, although badly burned by an incendiary bomb, moved from section to section, disregarding enemy fire, to render first aid to the wounded. Although constantly under fire and in extreme pain, he refused to be evacuated and discharged his duties until all wounded had been cared for.

Rupert Rhoades Story was killed by a sniper 29 July 1943 when attending a wounded soldier. He is buried at Agira Canadian War Cemetery, Sicily.

Private (Acting Corporal) Frederic William Terry MM
K52631

On the 27th July 43, during the assault of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada on AGIRA, “A” Company; Seaforth of C. was ordered to gain the high ground dominating the town on the right.

Cpl. Terry of “A” Coy, found his section faced with a steep ascent under direct fire from an enemy machine gun as well as indirect fire from machine guns on the flanks. By superb leadership, Cpl. Terry worked his section up the slope without a casualty. He then led a charge which silenced the machine gun post and turned the gun on the enemy. His conduct and that of the section he he [sic]led was a major factor in gaining a foothold on the feature.

Frederic William Terry was killed 28 July 1943. He is buried at Agira Canadian War Cemetery, Sicily.

Bertram Meryl Hoffmeister DSO wearing the black beret of a Canadian Armoured unit. (Wikipedia).

Major General Bertram Meryl Hoffmeister DSO as commander of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, ca. 1944-45. (Wikipedia).

Lieutenant Colonel Bertram Meryl Hoffmeister DSO

In the two days fighting to capture Agira on 27/28 Jul 43, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada bore the brunt of the fighting.

Under the inspired leadership of Lieut.-Col. Hoffmeister the Battalion fought its way forward against very heavy opposition.

The Battalion objective was to capture some high ground completely dominating the town. During the final battle for this objective, communications were difficult. Lieut.-Col. Hoffmeister, with complete disregard for his own safety, made his way from Company to Company and though under very heavy fire, personally directed the attack on the enemy position.

His coolness, determination, and personal bravery under fire were an inspiration to all ranks under his command.

Henry Pybus Bell-Irving as the 23rd Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. (Wikipedia).

Henry Pybus Bell-Irving as the 23rd Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. (Wikipedia).

Major Henry Pybus Bell-Irving DSO

In the attack of the Seaforth of C of AGIRA, 28 Jul 43, Major Bell-Irving, Officer Commanding “A” Company, was ordered to gin [sic] and hold the sharp ridge on the right which was held by the enemy in strength. This operation entailed a most difficult ascent of a precipitous feature under direct fire from enemy machine guns. During the approach to the feature “A” Company came under heavy fire from two hidden enemy tanks. Major Bell-Irving, despite the heavy enemy fire and the resultant casualties, attacked and routed the tanks. He continued the advance, positioning himself in the forefront at all times and under his bold leadership, “A” Company stormed the hill, gained a foothold, and held the feature in spite of repeated counter attacks and heavy enemy machine gun fire. The courage and determination with which this officer pressed forward completely disregarding his own safety was in [sic] inspiration and contributed to the success of the battalion attack.

Acting Lance Corporal Denis Meade MM
K53836

During the afternoon of 28 July 43, the Seaforth of C were attacking AGIRA. Cpl. Meade, NCO i/c control wireless set was experiencing great difficulty in communicating with the attacking companies. With complete disregard for his own safety and in the face of heavy enemy mortar and small arms fire, Cpl Meade made his way forward to a position from which he was able to re-establish communications. The action of this NCO contributed materially to the success of the Battalion’s attack.

Private Malcolm Rae MM
K53544

During the attack of the PPCLI [Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry] on AGIRA, 28 July 43, it became necessary to move the unit anti-tank guns well forward. The only route to the new gun positions lay along a half mile stretch of road exposed to observed and accurate mortar fire which caused a number of casualties.

Pte. Rae, a regimental despatch rider [Seaforth Highlanders of Canada], was detailed to bring up their guns. On his first trip forward at 1500 hours, he was wounded in the chest by a burst from close range.

Pte Rae, despite the enemy fire and his wounds, led the guns into the new position. Then, showing devotion to duty of a high order, this soldier made four additional journeys to and fro, under the same intense fire, only ceasing at 2100 hours when he was ordered to go to the RAP [Regimental Aid Post].

Private Frederick Webster MM
K76078

During the afternoon of 28 July 43, the Seaforth of C attacked AGIRA. “A” Coy was ordered to attack and capture a ridge dominating the town from the right. In the course of the attack on the ridge, 8 platoon was held up by fire from an enemy machine gun post. Pte Webster, a Bren Gunner, with complete disregard for his own safety, and in the face of heavy machine gun fire, made his way forward to a position from which he could provide covering fire for his section. So accurate and effective was Pte Webster’s fire that his section was enabled to wipe out the machine gun post and his platoon was able to continue its advance.

Private (Acting Corporal) Robert John Donohue MM
K53254

During the daylight attack on the 600 foot dominating ridge West of ADERNO**, on 5 Aug 43, by “A” Coy, Seaforth of Canada, Corporal Donohue’s section, having been pinned down by enemy machine gun, was ordered to give covering fire to enable the rest of the Coy. to get on.

Unable to give accurate covering fire from this position owing to the nature of the terrain, Cpl. Donohue, seeing Cpl. McParlon, an N.C.O. [Non-commissioned officer] from another section, advancing alone toward the enemy post that was holding up the advance, turned his section over to a senior soldier, took a Bren Gun and pouches, and went forward to assist Cpl. McParlon.

Together they crawled 500 yards under enemy fire towards the enemy position; then firing skilfully and boldly from point blank range Cpl. Donohue and Cpl. McParlon cleared the post, enabling the advance to continue.

Private (Acting Corporal) George Lynn McParlon MM
K98595

During the daylight attack on the 600 foot dominating ridge west of ADERNO**, on 5 Aug. 43, by “A” Coy of the Seaforths of Canada, Cpl. McParlon was ordered to lead his section around the right flank to act as a cut off.

The section had only advanced some 300 yards when it was held up by observed fire from an enemy machine gun post, and Cpl. McParlon was wounded in the leg and back.

Despite his wounds and enemy action, this NCO displaying gallantry and devotion to duty of a high order, continued to advance.

He detailed his section to give him covering fire; then, joined by Cpl. Donahue from another section, attacked the machine gun post. Together they advanced 500 yards in full view of the enemy and then, skilfully and courageously firing his TSMG [Tommy sub-machine gun] at point blank range, he and Cpl. Donahue cleared out the post and enabled the advance to continue.

Disregarding his wounds, and in spite of the pain he was suffering, Cpl. McParlon assisted in the evacuation of casualties. Only after the position had been consolidated and all casualties evacuated, did he accept treatment.

George Lynn McParlon was killed 23 December 1943. He is buried at Moro River Canadian War Cemetery, Italy.

Private (Acting Corporal) Daniel Hadden DCM
M37034

On the morning, 6 Aug 43, “D” Coy. was ordered to attack and capture a 600 foot high rocky ridge overlooking the main road west of ADERNO**.

The ridge was well defended, little cover was available, and the section commanded by Cpl. Hadden soon came under heavy fire from a German machine gun post, suffering two casualties. This soldier then dispersed his section to give him covering fire and coolly crawled forward himself to take on the enemy post.

During the 700 yard advance on the post, he inflicted sufficient casualties with his Bren to keep the enemy heads down and then brought his section still further forward. Continuing on alone, still under the same heavy fire, he reached grenade range, threw five grenades at the position, with his section assaulted at the point of bayonet and routed the enemy.

Cpl. Hadden’s leadership and personal bravery were in the highest traditions of the service.

Alternative Place Name Spellings
*Caltigirone

**Adrano


About The Author

pferguson
Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.

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