Spr Jacques Barbeau, 1st Div Bridge Pl 21 May 1944

Sapper Jacques Barbeau, Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery
Canadian Pacific Telegraph sent to Mme Berthe Barbeau

Jacques Barbeau was born and raised in Montréal QC. He completed Grade 7 and started working. At the time of his enlistment on 1 May 1942, he had been employed as a truck driver for Canadian Tube & Steel, a munitions manufacturer, in Montreal for six years.  He was married with two girls when he served in the 7th Field Park Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, in Petawawa ON.  A son was born shortly after he arrived overseas in England. He had a promise from his employer to return to work as a machinist after the war.

Jacques began his training in Petawawa as part of the 2nd Corps Field Park Company. He was a qualified truck driver. In July 1943, disembarked in the UK destined for a camp in Aldershot, Hampshire and was transferred to the 10th Field Park Company.  On 1 December 1943, Jacques was found guilty of common assault by a Field General Court Martial and sentenced to six months detention. Two days later, the Judge Advocate General dismissed the charge and Jacques returned to duty with a clean record. He was in Engineer Reinforcement Unit in January 1944 in preparation for deployment to Italy in February where he joined the 1st Division Bridge Platoon, RCE stationed on the Adriatic Front.

Jacques joined his unit during a relatively quiet period following the Moro River and Ortona Battles.  By that time, plans involving Canadian troops were being made to crack the Gustav Line on the west side of the Italian peninsula.  In a secret and deceptive operation, the 1st Canadian Division started moving from the Adriatic Front to the area around Foggia south of Naples to join the 5th Armoured Division who had landed in Naples the previous November. The move was meant to deceive the Germans into believing the Canadians were to launch an amphibious assault north of Rome.  Instead, their purpose was to attack the Gustav and Hitler Lines in May. It was during the attacks on the Gustav Line that Jacques was killed in action on 21 May 1944.  He was 26 years old and his 23-year-old wife was left with three young children.


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