Spr John Krysowaty, 13th Fd Coy 17 May 1944

Sapper John Krysowaty
Sapper John Krysowaty's Headstone in Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery

John Krysowaty was born in Hubbard SK to Polish-Austrian immigrants John and Tilly Krysowaty. He had 11 brothers and sisters. He enlisted in Saskatoon SK on 26 April 1941 stating he was a farmer and logger.  He was living in Davidson SK at the time and intended to return there after the war.

John was quickly granted the qualification of Blacksmith, Striker and Hammerman Group ‘B’  before he was taken on strength at the Royal Canadian Engineer Training Centre in Dundurn SK. He arrived in the UK on 23 December 1941 and was sent to the 1st Engineering Reinforcement Unit until 20 March when he was posted to the 13th Field Company.  He was involved in the building of coastal defences in England as well as honing basic sapper skills.

John arrived in Palermo, Sicily on 8 November 1943 where the 1st Canadian Corps Troops assembled before moving to the mainland. While in Sicily, the company was involved in road works to repair damage from the effective demolition job of the Deutschen Pioniere including the construction of Melville Way, named for the previous Chief Engineer.  Corps Troops Engineers moved to the mainland on 2 January 1944. For the next few months, they continued essentially on route maintenance tasks.  As had been their role since arriving in Italy in November 1943, the sappers were tasked with constructing bridges, building roads and removing landmines to allow elements of 1st Canadian Corps to conduct and sustain operations as they moved up the Italian peninsula.

By the time of the Gustav Line battles, the 1st Canadian Division had moved forward to the Gari River. On 17 May, in support of the Division’s 4th Reconnaissance Regiment (4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards), elements of the 13th Field Company was working southeast of Cassino in support of operations against the Gustav and Hitler defensive lines that blocked the Allies' approach to Rome. Sapper Krysowaty was part of an engineer patrol conducting road repairs near a bridge over the Gari River codenamed 'Edenbridge' when an enemy f‌ighter was attracted by the headlight of a motorcycle approaching the bridge. It dropped its bombs in an attempt to destroy the bridge and then returned to strafe the area with machine guns.  

One bomb landed at the edge of the slit trench where Sapper Krysowaty and Acting Sergeant MacDonald had taken cover. Both were wounded and evacuated to the nearest field dressing station where Sapper Krysowaty died on the operating table. Acting Sergeant MacDonald was evacuated to the 3rd Canadian General Hospital with good chances of recovery. The bridge was only slightly damaged in the attack and the remainder of the patrol carried on with their task.

Sapper John Krysowaty is buried in the Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery with 4270 other Commonwealth soldiers.  He was 32 years old. Thousands of kilometres away, Krysowaty Lake in northern Saskatchewan is one or 3913 northern lakes, rivers, peninsulas, bays and islands names after servicemen by the Saskatchewan government's Geo-Memorial Project. 

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