REMEMBERING ORTONA: Local vet relives battle through today’s images

REMEMBERING ORTONA: Local vet relives battle through today’s images
Al Ring

CORNWALL, Ontario – Al Ring is 92, and sees life from the cradle of a wheelchair. 

But his handshake is still as strong as a bear, and his mind, including memories of a battlefield from 70 years ago, remains as sharp as a tack.

Ring, through a pair of mutual friends her shares with long-time pal Larry Sharron of Long Sault, was able to relive some of the memories her experienced as a trooper for the Princess Louise Fusiliers who fought in North Africa and Italy during the Second World War.

Sharron’s neighbours, Vic and Marion Burns, travelled to Italy this year, and snapped more than a few photos of Ortona – the site of a bloody engagement between Canadian and Axis soldiers in 1943.

Marion said Ring’s eyes filled when she showed him some of the images from what was once a war-torn piece of real estate that claimed 1,375 Canadian lives.

“There were tears,” she said. “It was nice.”

Ring remembers with clarity his time as a soldier in Italy.

“We got down there in about November of 1943,” he said, adding Canadian troops had just crossed into the country after fighting in North Africa.

The Burns snapped picture after picture that mask some of the destruction inflicted upon the landscape during the Second World War.

But not everything has been lost.

“He saw a bridge in one of the photographs,” said Marion, adding Ring also recognized a house next to the structure that was well known among troops for the women who worked there.

“The ladies of the night,” Ring said, with a wry grin.

Ring, a native of Dartmouth, N.S., made his mark after the war as a meteorologist for Environment Canada at what was initially known as the Transport Canada Training Institute, but now goes by the moniker Nav Canada.

Tuesday is Remembrance Day. A ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. at the Cenotaph on Second Street West.

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