Michael V.

Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

South Shore Regional School Board

Defending the D-Day Dodgers

My project is about the role of Canadian soldiers in the Italian Campaign of WWII. My great grandfather served with the Cape Breton Highlanders in Italy. I never got to meet him because he died before I was born but I was able to interview a 92-year-old veteran named Tom Wall who was a private in the Carlton-York regiment who also fought in Italy. The soldiers in Italy were known as D-Day Dodgers because they didn't participate in the invasion Normandy. My project highlights the critical role the Italian Campaign played in the success of D-Day.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

The fighting in Italy was different from trench warfare. The Canadians had to develop new tactics for urban warfare, including street fighting, close quarters combat and "mouse-holing."

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

I was able to interview a 92 year old veteran, Tom Wall who served as a private in Italy. The Italian Campaign is a part of the second world war that most people have forgotten. The Canadian soldiers were referred to as the D-Day Dodgers but they were really the Incredible Infantry in Italy and they played an important role in the Allied victory in WWII.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

My life is nothing like that of the veteran I interviewed. Mr Wall was 17 when WWII began and he enlisted before he turned 18. Boys my age in 1939 were probably sacred or excited about the possibility of fighting for their country when they were old enough. The dedication and sacrifice of Mr. Wall, my great-grandfather and others like them, means that I won't have to go to war when I turn 17. I've never known the threat of war living in Canada.