Sapper Leonard Seminoff, 10th Field Squadron

Sapper Leonard Seminoff, 10th Field Squadron, RCE
Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery where Spr Seminoff is comemmorated

Leonard Seminoff was born in Toronto and raised in Scarborough, the oldest of a family that eventually grew to seven brothers and one sister. His mother, Elizabeth, and father James were Russian and had immigrated to Canada from Finland and Poland respectively.

Leonard was working in Toronto as a truck driver/builder when he enlisted in the 8th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers on 29 July 1940.  He was sent to Camp Borden where he received initial training under the auspices of the 2nd Canadian Pioneer Battalion. In January 1941, he was sent to Camp Petawawa, still with the 8th Field Company. In May 1941, the 8th Field Company was re-organized as the basis of the 4th Battalion, RCE. In the same month, Leonard married Molly from Toronto and qualified as a Class III Driver. 

The 4th Battalion set sail for the UK in September and settled in the Aldershot area to be employed over the next two years building Canadian camps and facilities in the south of England as more forces arrived from Canada. Leonard qualified the wear the Skill at Arms badge in March 1942 was likely employed as a unit physical training instructor for a time. In July, he was officially qualified as a Plumbers Helper Group ‘C’ and was finally able to receive trades pay for that specialty. In May 1943, the 4th Battalion was disbanded and its units formed into 2nd Canadian Corps Troops. Bill was posted to the 8th Field Park Company.

In March 1944, Bill was sent to Italy as a reinforcement and joined the 10th Field Squadron. At that time, the Squadron was located near the city of Caserta north of Naples. Again, bridging and mine training, rest and maintenance, as well as planning for the Liri Valley operation occupied their time. In mid-May, the 5th Armoured Division started moving forward to the Hitler Line in anticipation of pushing forward to establish a crossing over the Melfa River.

By 26 May, the 1st Canadian Division had broken the Hitler Line and and the 5th Armoured Division had crossed the Melfa River, just 40 miles south of Rome. During the day of 26 May, the division’s infantry brigade caught up to the armour and had reached the upper parts of the Liri River. They were consolidating on high ground opposite Ceprano with parties of the 10th Field Squadron in support. After two days of intense fighting supporting the armoured brigades, the Squadron was showing its fatigue.  Nonetheless, the work continued. They opened a two-lane road to allow wheeled traffic to move forward - two diversions and four culverts and their reconnaissance teams found a crossing site just south of Ceprano.  Casualties for the day were two killed, three wounded and one man missing. The missing man turned out to be Sapper Leonard Seminoff. His body was never recovered and the following day he was declared missing and presumed dead. He is commemorated on the Cassino Memorial.

Note: Leonard's brother, Sapper Edward Seminoff, joined the RCE in July 1941 and on completing training in Petawawa in March 1942, joined Leonard in the 4th Battalion in England and later served with him in the 8th Field Park Company and the 10th Field Squadron in Italy. Edward was  killed in action on 16 October 1944 during the Savio River crossing and is buried in the Cesena War Cemetery in Italy.

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