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Second World War uniform from Truro on display in Italian museum

Phillip Richardson, custodian of the Heritage Room at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 26 in Truro was instrumental in providing a Second World War battledress uniform, as shown in the centre display case, that was donated to a war museum in Italy on behalf of the West Nova Scotia Regiment.
Phillip Richardson, custodian of the Heritage Room at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 26 in Truro was instrumental in providing a Second World War battledress uniform, as shown in the centre display case, that was donated to a war museum in Italy on behalf of the West Nova Scotia Regiment. - Harry Sullivan

TRURO, N.S. – A Second World War battledress uniform from the Royal Canadian Legion in Truro is on display in a new war museum in Italy.

“To have something from Nova Scotia over in that museum, it means so much,” said Philip Richardson, custodian of the Heritage Room at legion Branch 26.

The uniform is included in a display in the war museum at Castel di Sangro in Abruzzo, Italy.

The museum opened last summer. The uniform, consisting of battledress pants, web gear, tunic, helmet and kit bag, is included in a display paying tribute to the West Nova Scotia Regiment (WNSR).

The donated uniform would have originally been worn by a soldier from the North Nova Regiment but would have been the same as those in the West Nova unit, with the exception of the respective insignia.

The City of Castel di Sangro was largely destroyed in the Second World War but the West Nova Regiment is credited with helping to save it.

WNSR president Ron Stonier and other members of the regiment travelled to Italy in July to participate in a twinning ceremony between Castel di Sangro and the Town of Kentville.

“Our Regiment was a crucial part of a battle to liberate Castel di Sangro from the hands of the Germans in November 1943, and the WNSR was the only regiment to be awarded the battle honour ‘Castel di Sangro,’ so representation at this event was very important to us,” Stonier wrote, in a letter to the Truro legion following his return.

Just prior to the departure of him and several other members of the regiment in late July, Stonier had contacted other Nova Scotia legion branches in a quest to locate a uniform that could be donated to the museum.

Richardson said it is his understanding that Truro was the only branch to respond to the request.

“They couldn’t find one anywhere,” he said. “They were pretty well at wit’s end to come up with one. You wouldn’t think they would be that rare because there was an awful lot of Nova Scotians (who) served in the Second World War.”

With time running short, Richardson said the WNSR members “were tickled pink” to have their request fulfilled.

And Stonier said their contact at the war museum was also “delighted” to be presented with a battledress uniform to display.

“What a humbling responsibility for us guys who are reservists to represent the soldiers who had gone there and given so much for their country,” Stonier said.” Just outstanding. It was a real humbling feeling.”

And Richardson, a legion member for about 20 years who has also served as a reservist with the North Nova Scotia Regiment, echoed Stonier’s sentiment at being able to help out.

“It would be an awful thing if people forgot the sacrifices men and women have done for our country,” Richardson said, of keeping those memories alive. “That’s basically why I’m here.”

The Truro legion has a similar uniform on display but the components that were donated for the museum in Italy came from an over stock of their supply, Richardson said.

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