Jim Summersides was born in Welland, Ontario, and grew up with his mother, father and siblings. When the war broke out, Jim decided to join his classmates and enlist in the infantry. He became a part of the Canadian 48th Highlanders and was then shipped overseas to England. Having arrived in England, he was then recruited to join an elite fighting force: The First Special Service. This was a joint Canadian-American infantry unit which later took on the name the “Devil’s Brigade”, due to the high number of casualties they suffered and inflicted. Jim’s first major battle experience was in southern Italy, on the coast of Anzio in 1944. Fighting upwards through Italy, Jim took part in the March on Rome, and he then proceeded to fight throughout southern France on the Island of Port-Cros. He was sent to Belgium and the Netherlands, where he rejoined the 48th Highlanders and fought his way through to Germany, and the end of the war.
Jim was able to reunite with his family upon returning to Canada. He married his fiance, Margaret, and they are now happily celebrating their 73rd year together. In 2018, Summersides Boulevard was opened in Fonthill, Ontario, in recognition and honour of Jim’s wartime service. Jim was interviewed in his home by Mr. Scott Masters in July of 2019 – we thank the Memory Project for their role in facilitating this interview.
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- 1. Prewar Memories of Life in Welland
- 2. The Approaching War; Joining the Infantry
- 3. The Journey Overseas; Arriving in England
- 4. Arriving in Italy; The Devil's Brigade
- 5. The Breakout from Anzio and the Battle through Italy
- 6. Arriving in France
- 7. Rejoining the 48th; The Liberation of the Netherlands
- 8. Return to Canada; Readjustment to Civilian Life