Soldier Spotlight: Sergeant Paul Smashnuk

Image: The Herald-Tribune, December 2, 1943

Rank: Sergeant
Died: November 24, 1943
Commemorated at: Moro River Canadian War Cemetery, Italy

Paul Smashnuk, born on July 14, 1919 at Andrew, Alberta, moved with his family to a homestead in an area of Bezanson known as Lindsay. Paul completed his education at the one-room Lindsay School following which, he worked on the family farm and trapped during the winter months. Paul decided to branch out on his own and found employment as an equipment operator and mechanic in Nanton, Alberta. On September 13, 1939, Paul answered the call of duty to Country and enlisted in Edmonton with the 92nd Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery. He was subsequently transferred to the 3rd Field Regiment where he served as a Sergeant during the Second World War. Paul arrived in England on December 11, 1939 where he remained until June 15, 1943 at which time he was sent to Italy. After the success of the Sicilian Campaign, the invasion of the Italian mainland was the next operation. The 1st Canadian Division, along with the 8th British Army, led the way across the Strait of Messina to the toe of Italy and then advanced towards the Gustav Line which was a series of concrete bunkers and artillery positions on the rocky slopes of mountains fronted by a no-man’s-land of barbed wire and land mines. The Canadians found themselves in the central mountain range where they met fierce German resistance along the Sangro River. Two batteries of the 3rd Canadian Field Regiment pushed forward with mules that pulled the battalion’s three-inch mortars and machine-guns down the muddy slopes. On November 24th, the thunder of guns of nine artillery regiments rolled through the valleys; however, by mid-afternoon, the progress was delayed by heavy enemy shelling. Sergeant Paul Smashnuk died on November 24, 1943 and is commemorated at the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery, Italy.

Son of Peter Smashnuk and Elena (nee Frunchak) Smashnuk of Bezanson, Alberta; brother of Nick Smashnuk, William Smashnuk, Eli Smashnuk, Dorothy (nee Smashnuk) Hotte, George Smashnuk, Mary (nee Smashnuk) Norton, Donald Smashnuk, Leon Smashnuk and Doreen (nee Smashnuk) Somotonk, predeceased by brother Harry Smashnuk; common-law husband of Rose (nee Kokotailo) Danyluk, father of Paul Smashnuk-Danyluk, both of Andrew, Alberta; he was 24 years old.

Citations: 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp.

Written by Wanda Zenner
January 2019

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.