Jim Summersides was 18 years old when left his home town of Welland, Ontario to join the Canadian Army in April of 1943. After completing his military training, he boarded the transport ship Almanzora with the 48th Highlanders and headed across the Atlantic in December of '43. En route the ship narrowly escaped being torpedoed, but he finally made it to the army base at Aldershott, England.

    Next he travelled by ship to Naples, Italy with Canadian replacements sent to the redistribution center in Avellino. He claimed British rations were "inedible". So, he volunteered for the FSSF with the prospect of American chow. He still fondly remembers the first meal he had with the FSSF consisting of canned chicken, white bread, spreadable margarine, fruit cocktail and hot coffee with lots of carnation milk and sugar.

    Trained at the Force base camp in Santa Maria CV he arrived at Anzio in April '44 and was assigned to 4th Company, 1st Regiment. That same evening he went on his first night raid as a "Black Devil". An FSSF original, Paul Cugeber, took Jim “under his wing” and they became a scouting team. Weeks later on the breakout to Rome near Artena, Paul warned Jim they needed to take cover from enemy fire. In their hurry to get down they ended up in each others spots in their foxhole. An artillery shell hit so close it buried them both. Jim dug himself free but Paul was killed.

    Shaken but unhurt, Jim continued and was with the first assault troops on a recon mission into Rome. The skills and training he learned from Paul saved his life many times before the war was over. On August 15th, 1944, Jim made an amphibious landing to secure France's Hyeres Islands as part of "Operation Dragoon". Later, near the French Italian border, Jim was wounded by a mortar shell that killed the forceman directly behind him. After the disbandment in December of ‘44 Jim rejoined the 48th Highlanders travelling overland through Belgium and took part in the liberation of Appledorn, Holland just as the war was winding down. Discharged in 1946 Jim returned to Welland, married Margaret Kyle, raised two children, Sherry and Rex. He has been a lifetime member of the Legion serving tirelessly on the Education Committee and a two time President of the FSSF Association. He has travelled back to Italy and Holland on several memorial tours sponsored by Veterans Affairs. He has contributed to multiple videos and documentaries on the FSSF. Jim feels he was not just lucky: he was “blessed” to survive the war. He believes he was spared to be able to honor his fallen comrades, and has dedicated the remaining years of his life to their remembrance. Jim lives in Fonthill, Ontario and still has "date night" every Tuesday with his cherished wife Margaret.
    Decorated veteran Jim Summersides speaks at a
    memorial service in Italy 2019. Image: Don Shelton.

    Researched by Don Shelton, copyrighted, please do not reproduce
    without the authors permission. Compiled by Allan Ross
    Jim Summersides in uniform, Rome June 1944.
    Image: Don Shelton.