Bernard Higgins Wier


48th Highlanders, Light Infantry Division

Bernard Higgins Wier | | | Service Personnel Information | Essay | Military Service Record | Grave Reference | Additional information/links | Bibliography | Internet Sites | Archive Resources

Service Personnel Information

  • Name: Wier, Bernard Higgins
  • Service Regimental Number: A.34043
  • Rank: Sergeant
  • Height/weight: 5 Feet, 8 1/4 Inches
  • Colour of eyes: Blue
  • Marital status: Single
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • Address: 116 Beviley, St. Galt, Ontario
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Jane Wier, Mother
  • Date of enlistment: April 3rd, 1940
  • City and province of enlistment: London, Ontario

Essay


Bernard Weir: in Memoriam


Bernard Weir was a devout Roman Catholic and a man who struggled through his early life. Bernard decided not to have a secondary education and left school at the 8th grade. He then began to seek a career in manual labour and ended up as a cobbler, where he would work making various shoes for the military and local shops. On the date of April 3rd, 1940 he decided he would join the Canadian war effort. For a man in his prime the war seemed like opportunity. It would get him out of his dead end job, it would not only pay well but he would be fed and provided quarters for no extra cost and he would be able to fight and protect innocents. Bernard signed up with no intentions of returning to a civilian job opting for lifelong military service.


At the time Bernard decides to sign up the war in Europe is in full swing. Canadian/European forces are marching into Norway from the east while their German counterparts are coming in from the west. For the troops it is a time of great commotion as Britain’s troops are being pushed back by the German offensive and at the same time trying to establish footholds elsewhere. Because of this the 48th Highlanders are actually pulled from Europe and sent back to Canada to recuperate and bring in fresh troops. During this time Bernard succeeded in his non-com training and was given the rank of sergeant and put in command of a squad of up to 10 other men. Bernard and his Men were subsequently then shipped off to Scilly to participate in the Italian campaign.


Bernard’s squad landed in Pachino where the overwhelming Canadian assault took in a grand sweep. Due to being light infantry Bernard’s troops would have fought with a variety of firearms though the most common among his men would be the Lee-Enfield a cheap but reliable rifle, as well as the occasional Thompson machine gun with Bernard having one of ether as well as his officer smith and Wesson handgun. However while Pachino itself was light guarded the fleeing Italians had left as many traps as they could from the encroaching Canadians. Bernard would have to traverse roads littered with mines in order to reach the next battle. The Canadians kept pushing however the German and Italian troops were running a fighting retreat. They would rush to a pre-prepared fortress and fire upon the advancing Canadians once the Canadian troops broke through the enemy’s fire they would retreat to the next bolt-hole. Despite this grueling defense the Canadian assault pushed on to Adrano their final goal in Sicily. Adrano was a tactician’s hell, the terrain was rough and impossible for vehicles to traverse. Canadian troops on the front had to get their supplies from various mule trains. Even with these supply issues Canadian troops fought for every rock on the mountainous terrain and eventually pushed the enemy forces back. With these lightning quick attacks from the British and Canadian forces Bernard’s squad took Sicily in only 38 days.


Afterword’s Bernard’s Squad paved the road to Rome and fought in several major battles in the Italian campaign including Regalbuto, Campobasso, San Leonardo, Ortona and San Nicola / Sand Tommaso. However no matter how seasoned by war a man is he is still vulnerable to bullets, Bernard weir was killed on February 9th, 1944. It is assumed he was picked off by an enemy bullet as he was one of only 3 Canadian casualties’ that day. Bernard Weir didn’t die in a major battle nor did he win any colossal awards, he did however, manage to successfully lead his troops through some of the hardest fighting of the war. It is a little known fact that troops on the Italian campaign were discriminated against as “D-day dodgers” men who were considered to have gotten the “easy way” out. Bernard was succeeded by his mother and his corpse was pulled from its original grave and put in a war cemetery with all his fallen comrades.



May he Rest in Peace

Military Service Record


  • Age (at death): 32
  • Force: Army
  • Unit: 48th Highlanders
  • Service Number: A.34043
  • Honours and Awards: Several medals for the 48th highlanders by proxy
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Jane Wier, Mother
  • Date of Death: Feburary 9th, 1944
  • Country of Burial: Italy
  • Location: San Nicola, north of town toward San Tommaso
  • Book of Remembrance: Page 474

Grave Reference

  • Name of Cemetery: Morrow River Canadian War Cemetary
  • Grave Reference: Joint grave XI. H. 0.

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Additional information/links

"When A Fella's killed in italy, he's just as dead as a fella killed in normandy." James Raffan, 48th highlanders WW2 Vet

The Ballad of the D-Day Dodgers



We're the D-Day Dodgers out in Italy -
Always on the vino, always on the spree.
Eighth Army scroungers and their tanks
We live in Rome - among the Yanks.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.
We landed at Salerno, a holiday with pay,
Jerry brought the band down to cheer us on our way
Showed us the sights and gave us tea,.
We all sang songs, the beer was free.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, way out in Italy.
The Volturno and Cassino were taken in our stride
We didn't have to fight there. We just went for the ride.
Anzio and Sangro were all forlorn.
We did not do a thing from dusk to dawn.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.
On our way to Florence we had a lovely time.
We ran a bus to Rimini right through the Gothic Line.
On to Bologna we did go.
Then we went bathing in the Po.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.
Once we had a blue light that we were going home
Back to dear old Blighty, never more to roam.
Then somebody said in France you'll fight.
We said never mind, we'll just sit tight,
The windy D-Day Dodgers, out in Sunny Italy.
Now Lady Astor, get a load of this.
Don't stand up on a platform and talk a load of piss.
You're the nation's sweetheart, the nation's pride
We think your mouth's too bloody wide.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in Sunny Italy.
When you look 'round the mountains, through the mud and rain
You'll find the crosses, some which bear no name.
Heartbreak, and toil and suffering gone
The boys beneath them slumber on
They were the D-Day Dodgers, who'll stay in Italy.
So listen all you people, over land and foam
Even though we've parted, our hearts are close to home.
When we return we hope you'll say
"You did your little bit, though far away
All of the D-Day Dodgers, way out there in Italy."

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The Weir Household

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Bibliography


"48th Highlanders of Canada." 48 Highlanders. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2012.
<http://www.48highlanders.com/01_00.html>. This is the regiment that
Bernard served in for his time in the Canadian army, it tell us where he
was fighting when he perished.
"Anzio Beachhead." History Army. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.
<http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/anziobeach/anzio-fm.htm>.
This is a well written book of the battle that was going on when Weir died
"The D-Day Dodgers." Mysteries of Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.
<http://www.mysteriesofcanada.com/Military/dday_dodgers.htm>.
Contains the ballad of the D-Day Dodgers as well as information on the
Canadians in the Italian campaign.
"Remembering ‘the forgotten cause’, the 48th in Italy." The Falcon Fall 2004: n.
pag. The 48th highlanders. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.
<http://www.48highlanders.com/Downloads/Falcons/3Falcon_Fall2004-F.pdf>.
An interesting article from the eyes of a 48th veteran regarding their tour in Italy.
"WW2 the Italian campaign." Canada at War. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.
<http://www.canadaatwar.ca/content-24/world-war-ii/the-italian-campaign/>.
This is my main source for drawing information about the Canadian Italian
campaign it has many resources as well as saying which companies were in which fight.

Internet Sites


http://www.48highlanders.com/ The offical site of the company Bernard Wier served in, The 48th Highlanders

Archive Resources






Military Service Files of Bernard Higgins Weir (A.34043) obtained from Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario.



example from LAC