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Author Topic: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion  (Read 3857 times)

Offline RoyA

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Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« on: January 08, 2016, 12:32:40 PM »
Frank Norman Deluca was working at Tip Top Tailors in Toronto, Ontario when he joined the Canadian Militia on 25 March 1942 at the age of 17. He spent the next 10 months attached to the 15th Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery.

Deluca volunteered for active duty on 14 January, 1943 when he reached the age of 18 and was assigned to 56th Field Artillery Regiment.

On 26 January 1944, he transferred to 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion and proceeded to A-35 Canadian Parachute Training Centre at Camp Shilo, Manitoba. Deluca became parachute qualified on 4 March 1944 and one month later embarked for the UK, arriving on 19 April 1944. Once overseas, he was attached to the Canadian Parachute Training Company.

One month after D-Day, Deluca rejoined the Battalion and was sent to Normandy (Seaborne Reinforcement) to be deployed as a sniper. He arrived on 8 August along with Frederick George Topham, who went on to win the Victoria Cross during the Rhine Drop (Operation Varsity).

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« Last Edit: January 08, 2016, 12:37:48 PM by RoyA »

Offline RoyA

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2016, 12:35:42 PM »

Thirteen days later, on 21 August, Deluca was wounded in the thigh by an 88mm shell during the attack on La Vallée Tantôt (just north of Annebault) where the Battalion was fired upon by self-propelled guns and mortars,

“Now 1 Cdn Para Bn resumed the advance, passing thru the two special service brigades at Dozulé and pushing on towards Annebault (4201). Their role as infantry must have been unpleasantly driven home to the paratroops as they marched under heavy shellfire and pouring rain. No contact was made with the retreating enemy until the evening (of Aug 21). At 1800 hours 8 Para Bn passed through to capture Annebault, and the Canadian unit swung north to engage a resistance point on the high ground at La Vallée Tantot (4101). Here the enemy’s 81-millimetre mortars and S.P. guns prevented further progress, and the battalion dug in for the night”. (The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion in France 6 June – 6 September 1944, Report No. 26, Historical Section (G.S.), Army Headquarters, 23 August 1949)

“21st August 1944. It rained hard all morning.  At 1015 hours this Battalion started to move forward.  During the advance the enemy shelled the road heavily.  The enemy also used rockets.  No enemy resistance met until the evening.  A strong force of enemy was met at LA VALLE TANTOT 4101.  At that point the enemy used 81mm mortars and S.P. guns.  Battalion stayed at this position until 0800 hours 22nd August, 1944.” (1st Canadian Parachute Battalion War Diary, August 1944, National Archives)

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Offline RoyA

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2016, 12:38:55 PM »
The 88mm self-propelled gun that wounded Deluca was most likely a Jagdpanther, which Allied troops frequently encountered in Normandy.

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2016, 12:40:15 PM »
This was the last day of the Battalion’s fighting in Normandy. Deluca was evacuated back to the UK and spent the next few months recovering from his wounds. Just after the cessation of hostilities in Europe, he suffered serious injuries in a street accident.  He made the headlines in the UK and Canada by getting married while on a stretcher with both his legs in casts. His bride was Pte. Joan Gertrude Hayward W-293270 of the ATS.

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2016, 12:41:00 PM »
Deluca was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, and the War Medal. He returned to Canada in late 1945 where he continued months of physical rehabilitation.

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2016, 12:41:45 PM »
Christie Street Veteran’s Hospital, Toronto c.1940. Sunnybrook Archives.

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2016, 12:42:49 PM »
Beret and 1943-dated Battle Dress worn by Pte. Deluca. Below the Pegasus patches there remains the outline of Airborne Designation Strips which, in June 1944, were ordered to be removed.

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2016, 12:43:29 PM »
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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2016, 12:43:56 PM »
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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2016, 12:45:29 PM »
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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2016, 12:45:59 PM »
The Battle Dress retains its original gold-coloured 6th Airborne Division Identification Strips.

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2016, 12:47:16 PM »
The wing is a UK-made Type 5.

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2016, 12:48:20 PM »
Wound Stripe. Thread remains from where he had affixed his Airborne Marksman Badge. Continued wear of the Marksman Badge required annual requalification. Since Deluca had been badly wounded, he likely was unable to requalify and forced to remove the badge.

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2016, 12:49:06 PM »
Original example of an Airborne Marksman Badge.

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Re: Pte. Frank Deluca, 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2016, 12:49:54 PM »
Deluca’s 1944-dated Kangol Beret. Note that he had swapped his Canadian Badge for a British Para Badge.  All parachute-trained Canadians can be found in period photos wearing the British badge, including FSSF, 2 FOU and SOE.

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