|Albert Armitage Shires|
|Years of service||1937-1944|
|Battles/wars||Battle of Nissoria|
Albert Armitage Shires (born June 13, 1919 - died July 25, 1943) was a Canadian soldier who served during the Second World War.
Albert Armitage Shires was born in Hampton, New Brunswick, Canada on the 13th of June, 1919. Albert was born at the unfortunate period of time that led up to the Great Depression. Albert attended Hampton Consolidated School, where he participated actively in sports. Albert had his four siblings; two brothers and two sisters: William Alfred, Walter, Nina, and Gladys. Albert never got a chance to get to know his father, who had died as a result of wounds that he had received during the First World War; he had served as a Sergeant. After two years of High School, Albert decided to leave and serve with the 8th Princess Louise’s New Brunswick Hussars. He served in their Regiment for a period of nearly a year and a half; from 1st of April, 1937, to the 16th of September, 1938.
Albert moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia and was quick to enlist with the Royal Canadian Regiment, under the service number 15426. His size at the time of enlistment was 5’8’’, 138 pounds; nearly exact the average male-soldier size for the time, which was 5’8’’ 144 lbs. Everything in his medical exam when fairly smoothly and regularly., apart from a 2 inch scar on his chest, and a moderate case of varicocele, but nothing significant enough to keep him from service. Albert initially listed his brother William Alfred as his next of kin, but sadly, he later too died in battle and his sister-in-law, Gwendoline Shires became Albert’s new next of kin.
War and Death
In December, 1942, Private Albert Shires was shipped overseas. During his time served there, most of his time was spent in England and the last year of his life spent fighting in Italy. In England, Albert trained rigorously for nearly four years, preparing for the battles to come. Albert fought with the Royal Canadian Regiment during the allies’ campaign in Sicily. On July 10th, Albert and the RCR came ashore around the town of Pachino. They then made their way inland. Albert, his Regiment and all of the other Allied forces were faced with many obstacles on that day. The sun shone down upon them with a fiery intensity; there were bugs, fleas and scorpions everywhere, and the enemy often blew up bridges to slow down the Allies. That is not to even mention the strong resistance by the German and Italian forces. The First Canadian Division (including the Royal Canadian Regiment) was ordered to make their way to the city of Etna. The two sides fought at several locations along the way, including at the Piazza-Armerina and at Valguarnera. Another battle that Albert participated in happened later in the war, after the Allies had captured Leonforte. The Regiment set their sights on Nissoria, a relatively small Sicilian town. Nissoria was just an obstacle on the way to their true objective: Agira, which was not far from Nissoria. The First Canadian Infantry Brigade which comprised of: The Royal Canadian Regiment, The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, the 48th Highlanders of Canada and The Canadian Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon, were ordered to take the town of Nissoria. They were accompanied by four tanks from le Régiment de Trois-Rivières and fighter planes from the RAF. The battle commenced on the 24th of July, 1943 and although the capture of Nissoria was initially viewed as a very simple task, it proved otherwise. The infantry drudged through the hilly countryside of Nissoria. The battle raged on between the two sides; an almost constant fire from machine gun, 75 mm guns and mortars could be heard. The Royal Canadian Regiment soldiers, including Shires and his fellow infantrymen, fought hard against the opposing forces. Albert would have been in the front lines, most likely shooting with a Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk. I rifle or a Thompson M1A1 submachine gun. During this battle in Nissoria, the Allied forces managed to capture seventeen German soldiers. The fight began to seem hopeless until an alternative route towards Agira was found. Many of the men made it out alive, but the message given by Colonel Crowe failed to reach the D company. The battle ended on the 25th of July 1943. It was during this two day battle that Albert Armitage Shires died, at the age of 24; one of fifteen soldiers of the Royal Canadian Regiment to be lost during their time in Nissoria. He had helped the Allies reach their objective: Agira, which was captured three days later.
During Albert’s time spent in the army he received several medals: The 1939-1945 Star, The Italy Star, The Defense Medal, The War Medal, the C.V.S.M. and Clasp and a Memorial Bar, which is sent out to all families of fallen soldiers. Private Albert Armitage Shires is buried in the Canadian Military Cemetery in Agira, Sicily: Plot A, Row H, Grave 122.
"Albert Shires." Veterans Affairs. 27 November 2009 <http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=collections/virtualmem/Detail&casualty=2202804>.
"Battle Honours: The Royal Canadian Regiment." November Company. 29 November 2009 <http://novembercoy.tripod.com/BattleHonours.htm#Landing%20in%20Sicily>.
Lithgow, Major C. H. "The Battle of Nissoria; 24 July 1943." October 1946. The Royal Canadian Regiment. 28 November 2009 <http://www.theroyalcanadianregiment.ca/history/1939-1945/nissoria_1943.htm>.
"The Invasion of Sicily." Juno Beach Centre. 30 November 2009 <http://www.junobeach.org/e/2/can-eve-rod-sic-e.htm>.
"The Italian Campaign of World War 2." 6 November 2008. Custermen. 3 December 2009 <http://www.custermen.com/ItalyWW2/History.htm>.