While not a relative, Anthony Mezza was a young man who, first met Herb's mother Myrtle in Killarney, Manitoba and came to Matador and Kyle, Saskatchewan with her family, as a hand, in the mid 1920's. He worked for various farmers around the Kyle, Saskatchewan area, including Herb's Grandfather Joseph Herbert Pinkerton.
He arrived in Canada 15 Aug 1923 on board the SS Scythia which had departed from Perth, Scotland. He shows his destination as Winnipeg to work as a harvester, which is how he would end up working for Herb's Grandfather in Killarney, Manitoba.
Tony enlisted in the Army as Anthony Mead on June 3, 1940 in the 14th Field Company Royal Canadian Engineers at Swift Current, Saskatchewan. This assignment is crossed out on his Attestation Papers and replaced by Regina Rifle Regiment, which is where he served.
Being a friend of Herb's mother Myrtle, he named Herb as his "Next of Kin" when made out his Last Will on July 22, 1941. In his will he described Herb as "my friend Herbert Barge, Matador, Saskatchewan, infant". Herb would have been not quite three years old. He named Herb's mother, Myrtle Barge, as his Executrix of his will.
We believe a birth record is his, which was forwarded by Ursula Mezza, who is the Grand Daughter of Domenico Mezza who we believe was Antonio Mezza's brother, giving his birth date as November 29, 1904 in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. On his Army file he always lists his birth as September 17, 1906 in London, England. We have not been able to find a record of that or any proof that this is true.
Although the names of his parents are spelled incorrectly on the birth record, according to Ursula, his parents were Alicandro and Maria Antonia (Cirefice) Mezza. The following is a quotation from Ursula: Alicandro and Maria Antonia (maiden name Cirefice) Mezza left their home village of Casalattico in 1900, along with many other Italians and made their way, first to Scotland, where their first child Maria Felice, was born, and from there to Northern Ireland. Domenico was born in Belfast in 1902 and Antonio was born in Coleraine (a town on the north coast) on 29 November 1904. Another child, Maria Amelia, followed in 1907. Unfortunately their mother died, aged just 33, in 1908, and the family seems to have been split up – Felice and Amelia (who died not long after her mother in 1909) appear to have been taken in by other Italian families, while the boys went into a children’s home, Nazareth Lodge. Tony was only 9 when he left (recorded as leaving 21 August 1914) and my granda was just short of his 13th birthday (left 19 May 1915). My grandfather would never speak about his family and always said both his parents had died when he was young. It was only after his own death that we discovered his dad, Alicandro, did not in fact die until 1935 (in Dublin). It appears that they were, effectively, abandoned. This explains my granda’s reluctance to talk about his past. We never knew what actually became of Antonio, but have always been told he went to Canada. Italian relatives in Scotland said he turned up to see them wearing a Canadian army uniform during WW2, but when the family tried to trace him post-war through Canadian military records, he could not be found....
Some of the above is confirmed in an Army interview for an Occupational History Form on June 29, 1942, first, where he lists his Jobs 1. Farm Hand & Odd Jobs 1915-1920 with father, Belfast, Ireland; 2. Farm Labourer - Tema & Tractor Driver 1920 -1936 various employers, Kyle, Saskatchewan; 3. Truck Driver Long Distance Hauling 1936 - 1940, Swift Current, Saskatchewan. He then continues recounting to the interviewer: Does not remember his mother, and he was brought up in a Convent. Sent to a farm when he was 8 and shortly after his father came back to Belfast and raised this man. did Odd jobs and came to Canada in 1920
On his Medical Examination Form completed June 5, 1940 upon joining the Army he relates the following under personal information: Born London, England 1906. Moved to Ireland in 1909 where he lived until 1915. Moved to Scotland and worked in a Restaurant. Moved to Canada 1917 and has worked as farm laborer since.
We note discrepancies in some of his interviews as you can see above, and one more discrepancy is his arrival in Canada. We have found a record indicating Anthony Mezza embarking from Liverpool, England 9 August, 1923 on board SS Scythia, ticket #59630. He is shown as age 17 (confirms his belief of 1906 as birth date) and his last residence c/o D. Edwards, Perth, Scotland. Myrtle Barge thinks he cam to Manitoba in 1921 and came to Kyle, Saskatchewan with her Father in 1923, riding in the Train with her father's livestock.
We are reasonably sure he is the same young man shown in the 1930 U.S. Census living in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, Roll: T626 1042; Page 24B, Enumeration District: 274, with Anthony Riecha (last name is not very clear)and he is listed as his cousin. It shows Anthony Mezza, Male, Single, working in "Street Const" at age 27, and that he was born in Northern Ireland, his father born in Italy, his mother born in France. These are things he had told the Pinkerton's about his background.
Even though we have many questions about all of the above, we do know the following is fact from his Army records:
He was described in his Army Medical Examination as 5'4" Tall, weight 160 lbs, Complexion Dark, Eyes Brown, Hair Black.
On the Interview in 1942 he lists sports as Baseball - 1st base or Catcher, Softball - 1st Base or Catcher, Football - fullback. Also on this form he is listed as 5'6" and 165 lbs
The following is his time line history in the Army:
• Attested and Taken On Strength 3 June 1940. It is interesting that he was initially joining the RCE. As the Regina Rifles were doing their initial recruiting at this time, he may have been given the option to join them as one of their original members
• Qualified as Driver (I.C.) Class III 10 December 1940 (I.C. stands for Internal Combustion, so he was qualified as a driver of wheeled vehicles).
• He was posted from D Company to HQ Company 17 Dec 1940 (perhaps to better utilize his driving qualifications)
• Initial training with the unit at Dundurn, SK during the summer of 1940
• Transferred with the unit to Debert, Nova Scotia September 1940
• Overseas with the unit, arriving in Gourock, Scotland 1 September 1941 as a member of HQ Company
• By March 1944, he was a member of D Company once again and was attached to HQ 7 Cdn Infantry Brigade 6 March 1944
• He returned from this attachment 20 March 1944 and was posted to D Company
• He was posted from D Coy to Support Company 6 April 1944
• Struck Off Strength to X-3 (hospital) list 9 May 1944. His personnel file indicates he had fallen off of a Truck and suffered a concussion. This prevented him from landing with his unit on D-Day
• Taken On Strength from X-4 (reinforcement) list 13 July 1944. Following his release from hospital, he probably went into the general reinforcement stream, but either through luck or possibly a request from the Reginas, ended up back with his unit.
• Posted from C Coy to D Coy 13 July 1944. As it appears that he had ties to D Company, they got him back there almost immediately
• An interesting note was that his regular rate of pay was $1.50 per day, with a subsistence allowance of $1.25 a day when off base.
• Tony was killed in action September 17, 1944 and was struck off strength. The following is the telegram, we received on September 26, 1944, informing us of his death. Herb was six years old at the time.
Herb received letters of condolence from:
• T.C. Douglas, Premier of Saskatchewan
• A.C. Spencer, Brigadier, Acting Adjutant General
• James G. Gardiner, Federal Minister of Agriculture
The following is a copy of a letter written by the Army Chaplin to a Miss Probyn who was the daughter of a family Tony had met, and befriended while in England. She sent us a copy of the letter.
Herb also received a very dog eared New Testament Bible that belonged to Tony. It was an item issued by the crown to soldiers serving in the war.
Tony is remembered on Page 392 of the Second World War Book of Remberance, on display on Parliament Hill, Ottawa.
The following is a card, with as small Silver plaque, which we received from the Government of Canada.
We also have Tony's I.D. Tag and a Division Competition Medal given to Tony in 1943.
Tony earned the following medals.
|1935-45 Star||Awarded for six months service on
|The France and Germany Star||Awarded for one day or more service in France
between June 6, 1944 (D Day) and May 8, 1945.
|The Defence Medal||Awarded for six months service in Britain
between September 1939 and May 8, 1945.
|Canadian Volunteer Service Medal
|Awarded for having voluntarily and honorably
completed at least eighteen months Active service
between September 3, 1939 and March 1, 1947.
Bar is Awarded for 60 days service outside Canada.
|The War Medal 1939 -1945||Awarded to all full-time personnel of the
armed forces for serving 28 days
between September 3, 1939 and September 2, 1945.
His name is also listed on the Kyle, Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Legion Honour Roll as are some other members of our family who served in various Wars. Tony is remembered each Remembrance Day by the Legion. He is listed as Tony Mezza, as that is how most people in town knew him. For the most part they were unaware that he had changed his name upon enlistment.
The Saskatchewan Government, as part of their "Heroes" program has named a lake in Northern Saskatchewan after him.
Tony is buried in the Calais Canadian War Cemetery, Leubringen, France, in Plot 5 Row B Grave 3.
The following is the original Wooden Cross marking his grave, shortly after his burial.
The following is a picture of his permanent Head stone, installed by the Imperial War Graves Commission, taken as recent as 1984.
Information courtesy of Commonwealth War Graves Commission.