As the British 8th Army advanced across Sicily, it encountered intense German resistance from heavily fortified positions along the Assoro Ridge. The commander of the British 8th Army, Lieutenant- General Bernard Montgomery, assigned the 1st Canadian Division the task of taking the two main German bastions on the ridge, the towns of Leonforte and Assoro.

The main approach to Leonforte was a long bridge that spanned a steep ravine, and German engineers had destroyed the bridge shortly before the 1st Canadian Division had arrived. The Loyal Edmonton Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel J.C. Jefferson, managed to negotiate the ravine and enter Leonforte by midday on 22 July 1943. The German defenders, reinforced by tanks, launched a furious counterattack. As the sun set, The Loyal Edmonton Regiment was completely isolated in the centre of the town.

The commander of the 2nd Brigade, Brigadier-General Chris Vokes, thought that The Loyal Edmonton Regiment had been wiped out, but Jefferson had given a young Italian boy a note addressed to "any Canadian or British Officer." That night, the courageous lad managed to slip through the German lines and deliver the message to Brigadier-General Vokes.

Early on the morning of 23 July, Canadian combat engineers quickly constructed a temporary bridge across the ravine, and the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, supported by four tanks of the Trois-Rivières Regiment and the 90th Battery of anti-tank guns, raced into Leonforte. German troops attempted to counter the Canadian assault, and vicious house-to-house fighting ensued. By noon, the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry had battled through to the beleaguered Loyal Edmonton Regiment, and the town of Leonforte was in Canadian hands.

 

Copyright © 2015 The Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum
Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre
10440 - 108 Ave, Edmonton