Lanark and Renfrew Scottish Dot Village With Local Names
From the Carleton Place Canadian, 04 January, 1945
Originally from The Smiths Falls Record News
An Italian Village – The Canadian Lanark and Renfrew Scottish are resting and training in this village for the day and will bring new Italian battles. Their colonel, from Medicine Hat, Alta., says his men are scattered over three villages and three hills, but here is the greatest concentration of them all.
The village is one of story and atmosphere. It stands on a hill and atop the hill is a great and decaying castle, built by the blue-blooded Maletesta family in the 1300’s as a bulwark against transgression on its Adriatic domain. Below, the village clings to itself, its sturdy stone houses parted by the tight, cobbled streets filled now with the vehicles of modern war and peopled with a contented human amalgam of men from Victoria and Red Deer, Alta., and somewhere in Nova Scotia, of a few hundred refugees from Rimni and the districts around there and a few hundred more of the normal population.
Here you see a farmer guiding his oxen and cart down the hill to his farm. There you see the village priest hurrying home. The Roman Catholic soldiers attend his services each Sunday in the village church. Here you see a plaque commemorating the dead of the last war. In front of it hangs an ornate lamp, like something out of a Christmas card of old England. A few feet away is a plaque to the dead of the Ethiopian war. Its names have been obliterated by a black smudge authored by someone, sometime.
The Scottish have marked the village liberally with the names common in their new parent region, the Ottawa Valley. Here is Lanark avenue, there O’Brien’s theatre where Italians and Canadians watch the shows together, here Lennox Lunch (the men’s kitchen), Pembroke Hotel (officers’ mess), there Beamish Stores (the quartermasters’ stores).
Over one door hangs a sign “Royal Bank of Canada.” Inside Capt. G. L. Matthews, Ottawa, the paymaster, and his sergeant, Frank Rigley, of Verdun, Que., hold down “the warmest spot in town.” Reading the Montreal Standard over the heat of their little oil stove is Pte. W. N. Barrington, Verdun, Que.
Rigley talks of the excellent feelings between the Canadians and Italians: “This is the best place we’ve struck yet. Leave out our clothes and they’ll wash them, press them and have them back in a hurry. We gave the mother (of the family sharing the house with them) a suit of underwear for the old man yesterday and she nearly fell on her knees thanking us.”
Outside again you meet Capt. R. P. Neil, who has found two others from Pembroke, where “A” company of the Lanark and Renfrew hails from. They are Ptes. Huntley Munro and Michael Gregg. In Adanac Inn, the little hole in the wall that is the dry canteen, you meet Auxiliary Services Officer Michael Quinn from Perth, Ont., the regiment’s home town.
From this village and from two others – the troops have called them Smiths Falls and Carleton Place – the battalion sends its men on seven-day leaves to Rome and Florence, 48’s to a leave town on the coast, and also sends them out to train and keep tough in the neighbouring countryside.
On the outskirts, near a little hillside graveyard for the British soldiers who died fighting here, is “Tartan Dive” where the men rally at night to have a drink of wine and listen to the Italian orchestra and chew the fat. It used to be a Fascist recreation room. Now Sgt. Harry Jantz, of Saskatoon, is in charge of its nightly activities.
A few miles away, the scout and pioneer platoons are holding a dance. A Canadian orchestra beats out the music while the soldiers swing it with the farm girls of the countryside. The colonel and a few of his officers hear Major D. L. Gordon, Toronto, lecture on artillery counter-battery work then jeep over to pay the men their compliments.
There you have the unexpected pleasure of meeting an old schoolmate, and a few of his mates of the platoon, Sgt. Ray Cormier, Halifax, and Pte. Edgar Paischand, Valmarie, Sask.
Smiths Falls Record News