Private Wilbert Boulton
On 21 July, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment attacked the major highway junction town of Leonforte. Leonforte controls Highway 121 from Enna in the west to Adrano and Catania in the east. Its capture was central to the Canadian mission of preventing German forces in western Sicily from moving east and facilitated a left hook against the strong German positions on the Catania Plain in the east. The next morning they were reinforced with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
By early on 22 July Leonforte was the scene of bitter fighting as the Germans clung tenaciously to the commanding road junction there. That morning, the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry reinforced their Loyal Edmonton Regiment comrades cut off and fighting desperately in the houses and streets of Leonforte. The Patricias’ came to the rescue with a troop of Sherman tanks from the Three Rivers Regiment and a troop of New Brunswick anti-tank guns, reaching the separated Loyal Eddie battalion headquarters in the town centre by 9:45 am. From there the battle for the town and its adjacent heights continued all day and into the night. The fighting for control of Leonforte and the high ground around it cost the Patricias sixty-four casualties. One of the dead was Wilbert Roy Boulton from Morden, Manitoba. He was killed in the early morning of 23 July 1943.
Wilbert was born 20 December 1917. He attended school until he was fourteen, leaving after he completed Grade 8. He spent ten years working on his father’s farm. In late 1940, he registered with the National Resources Mobilization Act. He spent his thirty days training with the 101 (B) Training Camp at Brandon Manitoba from 20 November to 18 December. However, it was not until 20 February 1942 that Wilbert enlisted and eventually found his way to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in May 1942. On 31 July 1942, Private Boulton arrived in the UK where he trained until it was time to sail to Sicily. He left behind his father Albert, mother Cora, brothers Albert and Gordon and sister Mavis. His father wrote to the Department of National Defence that he wished to have his son’s money turned over to his seven year old sister as “…Roy [sic] thought a great deal of her.” Private Wilbert Roy Boulton hoped to return to his family farm following his service. However, that was not to be, as he now rests at the Canadian Military Cemetery at Agira.
1. LAC, RG 24, Vol. 15156, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry war diary, 22 July 1943.
2. Ibid., 23 July 1943.
3. LAC, RG 24, Vol. 25500, Wilbert Roy Boulton’s service file.