John Joseph Bialas
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Collection of photographs depicting John Joseph Bialas during his youth, while serving in the Canadian Army overseas in England and Italy during the Second World War, and his grave in Italy.
2017FB001.008: St. Basil’s Separate School hockey team group photo. Players are wearing hockey jerseys, with the other men in suits or clergy robes. The front row of players cross their hockey sticks behind two trophies. There is a young boy sitting on the ground between the two trophies. John Bialas’ jersey number was 5, and is seated in the front row 4th from the right.
2017FB001.003: John [second from right] and his cousin John Dancavitch [second from left] and two unidentified men in battle dress uniforms, standing in front of St. Balfour Church in Brantford, Ontario in July or August 1940.
2017FB001.001: John [on right] with an unidentified man walking in battle dress uniforms and wedge caps, on break at Grantham Place, Bradford, England circa 1943 to 1944. There is a brick building in the background with large windows with lace curtains and metal bars, as well as people behind the two men and to the left.
2017FB001.0014.1: John wearing his Cameron Highlander of Ottawa uniform sitting on a motorcycle with fields and hills in the background, while on leave in England, 1943.
2017FB001.0014.2: John wearing his Cameron Highlander of Ottawa uniform, standing with fields in the background, while serving in England, 1943.
2017FB001.0014.3: John wearing his Cameron Highlander of Ottawa uniform, seated on a pile of rubble with a stone building, probably a bunker, with two slits in the walls behind him, while serving in England, 1943.
2017FB001.005: John standing on a truck labeled “13”, wearing a German cap, holding another cap in his right hand, and grapes in his left hand, in Italy, 1944.
2017FB001.002: John standing outdoors in a bush dress uniform and beret, while on break in Italy, 1944.
2017FB001.004: John wearing a bush dress uniform and beret, holding a young girl in his arms, with another girl standing beside and to the right of him holding a shovel, while on break in Italy, 1944.
2017FB001.006: Coriano Ridge War Cemetery entrance and grounds, with visitors in the background.
2017FB001.007: John Joseph Bialas’ grave stone at the Cesena War Cemetery; Frank Bialas standing behind and touching the grave stone of his brother, John.
- John Joseph Bialas, the eldest son of John and Katherine (Serdersky) Bialas, was born on 7 May 1921 in Brantford, Ontario. He attended St. Basil’s Separate School and was a member of the St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church. He was one of Brantford’s best known young hockey players, playing for St. Basil’s, the Brantford Lions Club Hockey Team in 1940-1941, and the following year, on the Akron Clippers team in Ohio as a left defenseman. His love for the sport was apparent as he took his skates with him overseas. He worked at the Universal Cooler Company of Canada, Ltd. in Brantford, with “tin smith and acetylene welding” listed as his trade on his enlistment papers. Other service records note that his most recently employment was at Ford Motors Co. in Windsor, Ontario as a Drill Press Operator, for two months prior enlistment.
He joined the Brockville Rifles on 15 May 1942, completed his basic infantry training, and was mobilized on 1 September of that year at the age of twenty one. He was sent to Nanaimo, British Columbia and passed a Mechanics Course. He disembarked in England on 13 February 1943 as a private under the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade No. 5 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit. From May 1943 to March 1944, he served with the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Regiment, which included driver training. In April 1944, he was transferred to the No. 6 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit. The following month he was moved to the Central Mediterranean Force Westminster Regiment (Motors), Royal Canadian Infantry Corps, B Company, joining the Allied Armies in Italy on 16 May 1944 as reinforcements.
This timing would mean he participated in the conclusion of the Battle of Monte Cassino, the last of four Allied assaults to capture the Axis held Gustav Line in Italy, with the ultimate goal of capturing Rome (1). Beginning in January and ending May 1944, the Battle of Monte Cassino is considered one of the longest and deadliest engagements of the Italy Campaign.
The Westminster Regiment played a key role at the Melfa River, and opening the Liri Valley, to allow the Allied advance on Rome. Major John Keefer Mahoney of the Westminster Regiment A Company was even presented with a Victoria Cross, the highest award given to a British or Canadian soldier, for his leadership and execution of breaking through the Hitler Line and crossing the Melfa River.
John continued to fight in Italy until he was killed in action on 24 September 1944, and was buried at the Cesena War Cemetery. On 8 March 1944, he received the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, and was posthumously awarded the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, and War Medal.
1. Canadian Soldiers. “Italian Campaign.” Accessed 28 February 2017. http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/campaigns/italiancampaign/italiancampaign.htm.
- Date Of Event
- Personal Name(s)
- Bialas, John Joseph
- Local identifier
- Language of Item
- Geographic Coverage
Latitude: 43.1334 Longitude: -80.26636
Latitude: 42.73333 Longitude: 13.71667
England, United Kingdom
Latitude: 53 Longitude: -2
- Frank Bialas
- Recommended Citation
- John Joseph Bialas, Frank Bialas. 2017FB001.001.
John Joseph Bialas, Frank Bialas. 2017FB001.002.
John Joseph Bialas, Frank Bialas. 2017FB001.003.
John Joseph Bialas, Frank Bialas. 2017FB001.004.
John Joseph Bialas, Frank Bialas. 2017FB001.005.
John Joseph Bialas, Frank Bialas. 2017FB001.006.
John Joseph Bialas, Frank Bialas. 2017FB001.007.
John Joseph Bialas, Frank Bialas. 2017FB001.008.
John Joseph Bialas, Frank Bialas. 2017FB001.014.
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