Spr William Wylie, 1st Field Squadron 23 May 1944

Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery

William Wylie was born in Ballymena, Ahoghill, County Antrim, Ireland to William and Mary Wylie. The family, that eventually included eleven children, immigrated to Canada when William was seven. They settled in Georgetown, Ontario.

William was married and living in Oakville, Ontario when he enlisted on 5 March 1940. He was assigned to the 2nd Field Company in Toronto. He declared his trade as truck driver and driller and had been working for the Dufferin Construction Company. By May, he was on a ship to England where his training continued. By February 1943, he was qualified as Driver Wheeled, Waterman Group ‘C’ and promoted to Corporal

In July 1943, William was posted to the Engineer Reinforcement Unit and reverted voluntarily to the rank of Sapper.  He soon found himself bound for Italy with the 12th Field Company, landing in Sicily in November 1943 as part of the 1st Canadian Corps Engineers. They worked on road and bridge projects before moving to the Italian mainland in January 1944. They continued working on route repair tasks gradually replacing other Eighth Army engineer units as they moved up the Italian Peninsula. By March, they were stationed in the Foggia area at Campomarino and preparing for their role with the 1st Canadian Corps in breaking though the Gustav Line. The 7th of March was a day of rest and unfortunately Sapper Wylie was accidentally shot through both legs with a pistol and spent a month in hospital. 

On 19 May 1944, he was posted to the 1st Field Squadron as a replacement.  The squadron had been moving up behind the 1st Canadian Division ready to exploit through the Hitler Line. On 21 May, they were in the Portocorvo area where they waited to follow up the 10th Field Squadron fighting to cross the Melfa River.  While some sappers were working on improving the approaches to the OXFORD Bridge, most were in the harbour. There was heavy shelling on 23 May. Sapper O’Brien was killed and five others, including Sapper Wylie, were wounded.  He was taken to the 7th Canadian Field Ambulance where he died from his wounds. Sapper William Wylie is buried in the Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery. He was 23 years old.

Note: Brother James was serving in the 1st Defence and Employment Platoon (Lorne Scots) when he died on 5 July 1943. His ship, the Devis, was torpedoed and sunk in 20 minutes as it was carrying troops of the 1st Canadian Division and 1st Army Tank Brigade to Sicily on Operation HUSKY. Fifty-one other Canadian soldiers were drowned. He is memorialized Cassino Commonwealth Cemetery were his brother is buried.

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