The Invasion of Sicily on July 13th, 1943
The Battalion of Saskatoon Light Infantry of the Canadian First Division had orders to gain control of Sicily during World War II. The soldiers landed on the Sicilian beach and were supposed to defeat the Germans before crossing the Strait of Messina into Italy.
A Stroke of Good Luck
Pte. Clem Mageau was driving one of three Bren-gun carrier trucks which were also fully loaded with ammunition. The convoy was suddenly attacked while passing the elevated road towards the railroad. The enemy fire came from the left side of the road, and the first truck exploded into flames. One can hardly survive such an explosion, no matter the equipment worn at the time. A metal shaving kit in a backpack would most likely contribute to a fatal end.
Luckily for Magaeu, he wasn’t driving the first truck in line. He and all the soldiers on the remaining two carriers bailed out. Pte. Clem Mageau dove into the ditch and began to run toward the railroad, weaving and dropping to the ground. The Canadian Air Force provided cover with their heavy artillery. The young soldier used the opportunity to sprint back to his carrier and speed back to the base camp. As risky as his decision was, he made it alive despite being hit by an enemy bullet.
Turns Out Mageau’s Shaving Kit Saved His Life
The Canadian soldier’s priority was to report the events in his camp. He didn’t even realize he was hit until his commanding officers noticed a hole in his knapsack, which was resting on Pte. Clem Mageau’s upper back. After a quick examination, they found that a bullet had entered the knapsack, deflected against his metal shaving kit, destroying all of its contents, before existing alongside his neck.
It was clear that if it wasn’t for the shaving kit, the bullet would have hit Magaeu’s neck directly, and most likely it would have led to a fatal end. The moral of the story? Grooming saves lives.