"The Untold Story of Lance Corporal Antonio Barbaro," by Alice van Bekkum
Who was ANTONIO BARBARO?
A good looking young man he was...
Loved by his family, liked by the girls and appreciated by his friends.
Antonio George John are the names his parents gave him. He was the youngest of seven brothers and one sister. Both his parents were Italian immigrants; they first met each other in Canada and got married.
His usual name was Tony; he was a talented, promising Technical High School student. Where he shined in baseball, footbal and hockey. Tony liked to drive a motorcycle.
His penmanship, recently found on a letter to his brother Mike was outstanding. Tony’s also talented niece, Deb inherited his draught box which she still cherishes until today.
Anthony Barbaro, a retired Mounted Policeman, is named after his uncle. He wrote to me: “Although I never had the honour of meeting Uncle Tony I want you to know that he came from a very loving family, and we honour his memory. Uncle Tony's death was a very difficult subject for my grandparents, who spoke very little English and they did not speak much of their youngest son, because it was very difficult for them. Nor did his brothers and sister. The few times that I asked my Dad, Sam Barbaro, who also served overseas in the War, about the circumstance of his brother’s death he would only say that he drowned in Holland and would fill up with tears and walk away.”
As a fifteen year old boy Tony played trumpet in the Giovanni Italiani a l'Estero Band. Which was organized through the Roman Catholic Church for the young externally Italians. A fellow member of the band was Salvatore Palone, who is still alive today. He met Tony in London while on leave, six weeks before he drowned. He calls Tony a really nice guy who was always smiling and happy.
Sal gave his picture of the Band to Kelly Egan, a reporter of the Ottawa Citizen, who published that photo of Tony and traced the relatives. Which finally ended up into the unveiling of this monument today.
Since Tony joined the Army in August 1942 he was attached to the 23rd Field Company of the Royal Canadian Engineers. At the end of that year he was sent to a draughtsman course in Saint John New Brunswick.
The 23rd Field Company was embarked for the UK in July 1943. At different locations the soldiers were trained in building bridges. In March 1944 Tony met his brother Sam, who was a Sergeant at the Overseas Records in London. One year later Sam received the message of his brother’s death…
Tony drowned close to this place of the monument, only twenty-two years old. His mother received a letter from his Padre, who said: “He generously gave the only life belts in the boat to his companions. As his Roman Catholic Padre I dare say he was one of the best of my flock. He sacrificed his life to give his companions a better chance to live.”
Antonio Barbaro gave his live like many other soldiers, on behalf of our freedom.
Loved by his family in Canada and from now on remembered in The Netherlands.
Thank you speech by Win (Barbaro) Mackenzie - on behalf of the Barbaro family.