Submitted by : Mrs. Eileen Nichol, daughter of Zuli Sabo, 11th battery, 12th Field Regiment, R.C.A.
“ONCE A GUNNER ALWAYS A GUNNER”
ZULI SABO was born on October 2nd 1916 in Seneca part of Haldimand County, Ontario, Canada. He was the 5th child of Charles Sabo and Vera Sebok who had emigrated from Hungary in 1910. He worked at the local Gypsum Lyme and Alabaster Mine in Caledonia. From 1937-1939 Zuli was part of the Active Militia of Canada with the Dufferin Haldimand Rifles a local militia with a proud historical past going back to the war of 1812. He volunteered on the 21st day of June 1940 with the 11/69th Field Battery of the R.C.A. (Royal Canadian Artillery), CASF (Canadian Active Service Force) in Hamilton, Ontario. Zuli’s Regimental Number was B11239. He was accepted into the army on strength and trained as a gunner. This training took him to Petawawa Ontario Military Camp, Sussex New Brunswick, Camp Tracadie New Brunswick before disembarking from Halifax on July 19th 1941 overseas to Liverpool England UK where he became part of the 12th Field regiment and received more training. On May 8th 1944 the 12th Field Regiment became part of the RCA 1st CORPS, 3rd INFANTRY DIVISION. The 3rd Infantry was prepared to lead and were the first to fire on Juno Beach Normandy France on D DAY, OPERATION OVERLOAD June 6th 1944. They penetrated deeper into France than any other allied force eventually cementing a foothold in France and securing Caen. On August 14th 1944 while still in Falaise France for one hour and ten minutes the 12th Field Regiment came under friendly fire known as the Quarry Incident and said to be the “grimmest day of the war”. This left the moral very low and caused these men to dive for coverage over the next several days. A local Caledonia boy was injured in this incident Archie Samuels shown in the Picture “The Battery Boys”. As the 3rd Infantry Division continued through northwestern Europe they were sent to secure Scheldt an area of Holland and the port of Antwerp in Belgium known as operation SWITHBACK and eventually closing the Bresken Pocket where they became known as the “WATER RATS” because of the breaching of canals, locks and dikes and having to deal with low lying flooding. On March 23rd the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division participated in Operation PLUNDER crossing the Rhine. After this success the 3rd went on to liberate Holland near the town of Emden on the Dutch German border. May 8th 1945 marked the end of the Second World War in Europe. Zuli and his two brothers Ernie and Joe who served alongside each other for five years survived and returned homes and to their mother.
I don’t have any letters written home by my dad but in his memorabilia was documentation of where to send mail and who was responsible: Home port for postal service Wren Moffatt, HMCS STADACONA, c/o Fleet mail office. I also came across Measure Up Your Letters Home in his Soldier’s Service Book outlining how to communicate home to your family. I have included two letters that were shared with me by a local retired teacher and part time historian Margaret Clause who found these in the local paper called The Sachem. Also included is the photo of local girl Wren NORMA MOFFATT. The second letter from Archie Samuels was another local boy injured at the tragedy of Falaise.
IN A MOTHERS ARMS
I’m telling this story for my family; we all remember things differently and perceive situations in relation to our age and state of mind. Zuli Sabo was my step father, I called him my Dad. He put a roof over my head from the time I was 18 months old until my late teen years. He held all three of my children in his arms. My oldest son is named after Zuli, they both share their second name Phillip. The photographs assembled here are his photos of places time has not forgotten. In our hallway hang’s a picture of Zuli and two of his brothers Ernie and Joe in their WWII uniforms. The frame is engraved with “CANADA” and “FOR KING AND COUNTRY” (King George the VI). Under the pictures hangs his war medals and legion pin. There are no heroic medals just the usual ones for participation, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-1945, 1939-1945 Star, and the France and Germany Star. I don’t mean to make this sound trivial it was far from it for my dad, the war was a vital part of his life. He was the strength of this war the reason they accepted him in the Royal Canadian Artillery. These five years were part of him for the rest of his life till the day he died, December 26th 1985. I didn’t think my dad spoke much about this while I was growing up or I didn’t ask about it or really understood what happened but after researching into this I realized how much more it was a part of our family life and putting this story together was important.