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Emotional tour stops at local soldier’s grave

Wreaths were placed at the grave of Lance Corporal Richard (Dick) Hutton on behalf of his family and the Fort Macleod branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

The memory of a 22-year-old Fort Macleod man killed on the battlefield in Italy during World War Two was honoured last month.
Three Fort Macleod women placed wreaths at the grave of Lance Corporal Richard (Dick) Hutton on behalf of his family and the Fort Macleod branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
“It was very emotional,” Margaret Furman said.
Jerry Chapman, who accompanied Mrs. Furman and her granddaughter Linda Gillanders on the tour, agreed.
“It was (emotional) for me too,” she said. “It was for everybody on the tour.”
Lance Corporal Dick Hutton was with the 14th Canadian Armoured Regiment — the Calgary Tanks — in a battle at Moro River in Italy when he was wounded.
“When he was wounded, it was my husband Jim who carried him off the field,” Mrs. Furman said. “He was alive when Jim carried him off the field. He said, ‘Jim, I’m not going to die, am I? Jim knew he was.”
Hutton died of his injuries before he reached the hospital.

Margaret Furman with Jim Asuchak, also of Fort Macleod, who happened to be in Italy on another tour. They are at the grave of Lance Corporal Richard (Dick) Hutton, a soldier from Fort Macleod killed in battle in December 1943.

Dick Hutton and Jim Furman were friends in Fort Macleod. They enlisted on the same day.
“They were friends before they went over,” Mrs. Furman said. “He (Jim) was really upset when he wrote home that Dick had died.”
Mrs. Furman was also friends with Hutton.
“Dick was very, very quiet,” Mrs. Furman recalled.
Mrs. Furman had been toying with the idea of an overseas tour to trace the footsteps of her husband in World War Two.
Mrs. Furman convinced Jerry Chapman and Linda Gillanders to accompany her on the two-week “Keep the Memories Alive” tour of Canadian cemeteries and battlefields in Italy.
“It was all the cemeteries where people have loved ones who were killed in the war,” Mrs. Furman explained. “I thought about going for years.”
Thirty-five people were on the tour, tavelling by coach to Rome, Venice and a series of small towns.
“Just about everybody had a relative of some kind at one of the cemeteries,” Mrs. Furman noted.
At every cemetery there would be speeches, lowering and raising of the Canadian flag and the placing of wreaths and poppies on the graves of Canadian soldiers.
The women were impressed by the respect shown for the Canadian soldiers who died fighting the Nazi army.
Sixty-six years after the Second World War ended, the cemeteries where Canadian soldiers are buried are lush and green and kept in impeccable shape. Canadian flags fly in abundance.
The women were struck by the number of graves of Canadians in each of the cemeteries, which they estimated were as large as Union Cemetery in Fort Macleod.
“It just takes your breath away,” Jerry Chapman said.
The grave of an unknown Canadian soldier pulled at Jerry Chapman’s heart.
“His mom and dad never knew what happened to their son.”

The Italian people show their respect for Canadian soldiers who died fighting for freedom, by maintaining well-kept cemeteries.

When the tour arrived in a town, with many of the participants wearing their Legion uniforms, the residents turned out in force to greet the Canadians and pay their respects.
Some of the Italians shared stories from the war, such as the old lady told of a beautiful young girl who was being stalked by the German soldiers. The girl darted into a house and was hidden in an empty barrel by a woman who told the soldiers the girl went out the back door. The Germans eventually caught the girl, and raped her.
At one stop an elderly Italian man came up to one of the Canadian veterans on the tour, placed his hands on either side of the man’s face, and wept as he looked into his eyes.
“They really worship the Canadians,” Mrs. Furman said.
One of the stops they made was at a square outside the church in Ortona where a well-known photograph was taken in 1943 of Canadian soldiers enjoying Christmas dinner. Three days later Dick Hutton, who is in the photo, was killed.
The tour lived up to its name, stirring memories while providing a greater education about Canadians in World War Two.
“We know a lot more now about what they went through than we did before we went,” Mrs. Furman said. “It was an amazing trip.”

1 Comments For This Post

  1. joyce Larson Says:

    I enjoyed this article very much. Jim and Marg Furman were good friends with my Mom and Dad, Frank and Doris Rosling. Dad also drove an army tank in Italy with the Calgary corp for 5 years. He told many stories about the war. What an interesting trip this must have been. I’d love to do it sometime. He spent a lot of time in Cicily also which would be an interesting plave to visit. Thanks Marg for the article!
    Love Joyce