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From the Archives
June 7, 2024

H.P.E. Regt. Magnificent Writes Lieut. Mowat

Printed in the Picton Gazette, 7 June 1944
<p>Farley Mowat in Italy, 1943</p>
Farley Mowat in Italy, 1943

The following letter from Lieut. F. Mowat to his father, Major Angus Mowat, reveals officially for the first time that Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment played its full part in cracking the Hitler line in Italy, He wrote:

May 24,1944

Dear Parents:

I haven’t written for two weeks, for which lapse I apologize—but seldom in my young life have I been so all-fired busy! You may be reading the newspapers these days and if so the Adolph Hitler line will be familiar to you. But not as familiar as it is to a lot of us here! Not by a damn sight!

This has been the finest job done by the Canadians in this war and, maybe, in the last one too. In thirty-six hours our division smashed, overran and passed through the line which the Germans said was as impregnable as the Maginot was not.

Today I have examined some of the fortifications.

That flesh-and-blood men could crack that line is purely a miracle, Among other things that I saw were the turrets of Mk V ‘Panther’ tanks in concrete turrets six inches thick, M.G.’s in three inch steel armored emplacements, minefields a hundred yards deep and with thirty-foot deep wire entanglements, dug-in-tanks and strong-points, concrete and steel bunkers without number—AND the finest natural defence terrain that any army could ask for.

The Hasty P. did a magnificent job! I need say no more except that some (I can’t say how many) hundreds of Nazis came in as P. of W. and many hundreds more were placed where all good Germans should eventually go. And today, I am proud to be a Canadian, despite our faults, and I am prouder still to belong to the handful who have seen fit to sign for “service anywhere—and the hell with it.” After this day I no longer feel contempt for the zombies—I pity them who do not know what it is to be a man among men. Not supermen, you know—just men.

I think that what we have gained is sufficient to alleviate all the bitterness which has accrued from the injustices of humanity, whose name is ‘self’. And they can do what they want with their veterans after this. Patronize us, condescend to hand us a dole, talk largely about ‘their’ war—and it will be all one to us and this will have been worth it.

Maybe this all sounds like pulp magazine stuff. I’ll try to put it more coherently later, when I have cooled down a bit.

Your dutiful (and still healthy) son.

Mk II.

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