Charles Little Biography

As part of the Travel Study Program to Italy, each student was asked to choose a Canadian soldier who fought in the Italian Campaign. We were able to access their military file and begin doing research about the soldier do understand their background and their experience fighting in the Second World War. During the tour throughout Italy, we stopped at multiple cemeteries to visit the Canadian soldiers we were studying and give a brief speech about them.

Little is in the center holding the actual projectile.

Charlie Matthew Little is the soldier I choose for my presentation because he is from my hometown in Moncton, New Brunswick. I would like to start by discussing Charles’s life prior to enlisting in the Second World War. Charles was born on May 9th, 1921 at the Moncton Hospital. His parents are Myrtle Little and Edward Little, Charles also has a brother named Ralph and a sister named Gertrude. The little family lived in the downtown Moncton area at 121 Cornhill Street. Growing up Charles attended school and completed up to grade seven grammars. He was in great health and loved to get involved and be part of a team. He participated in softball and enjoyed swimming. Charles worked as a labourer on a farm for six years, making $12.00 a week. However, this was not Charles’s dream, he wanted to travel and see the world. When Charles was asked why he enlisted in the Army, he replied saying “for an adventure.” This was one of the main reasons that motivated Charles to join the military. On October 22nd, 1939, at age eighteen, Charles enlisted and became a member of the 8th Battery of Moncton in the 2nd Field Regiment. Charles trained as a gunner in Moncton until December when he was sent to Halifax to further his training with the 2nd Field Regiment, which also consisted of the 7th Battery of Montreal and the 10th Battery of St. Catherine’s. Charles served in Canada from November to December of 1939. On December 10th, the 2nd Field Regiment was deployed to England. While in England, Charles was able to form close friendships with the men in his regiment and with locales he met along his travels. England had become their new home. Records show that while Charles was in England between August and October of 1940 he was in and out of the hospital multiple times. However, the reasons as to why he was admitted were not mentioned in his file. During the summer and fall of 1941, Charles endured highly realistic exercises that would make their regiment even stronger. It was said that “nobody doubted that the 2nd Field Regiment was the finest of them all.” Charles remained in England until June 17th, 1943 when he was sent to Italy to assist in the Italian Campaign. By late December he arrives in Ortona after the Germans had been pushed back.

Ortona would be the last place that Charles celebrated Christmas. He, along with his regiment, were served an excellent meal which included pork, turkey, pudding, and beer. Most of the men also received letters and parcels from loved ones. Charles was able to enjoy his final Christmas with close friends from his regiment, which were now like brothers to him. By May 1944, the regiment was prepared to attack and help break through the Gustav and Hitler line.

On May 12th one of the main tasks that was given to Charles and the 8th Battery of Moncton was to blind the monastery hill. Charles also travelled through Pontecorvo and Aquino, breaking through the Hitler line. After D-Day on June 6th, the troops continued to head north to attack the Gothic line.  On September 1st, by the time Charles and his regiment crossed the Foglia River, it was noted that the men were becoming exhausted and strained from the constant moving, however, their were no complaints from the strong regiment. The enemy was thought to be retreating.  As stated in Farley Mowat’s book, The Regiment, about the 2nd Field Regiment, “the advance continued against varying oppositions. The Gothic line was supposedly cracked. Had it been known the fight had just begun.” On September 4th the 2nd Field Regiment was surprised when enemy aircraft came roaring in, dropping bombs on the area. Charles Litter was one of the men who was killed during this bombing. On the evening of September 4th, 1944, after a long hard fight, Charles’s adventure had come to an end. On October 3rd, nearly a month after Charles was killed in action a letter was sent to his mother,

   Dear Mrs., Little,

It was with deep regret that I learned of the death of your son, Gunner Charles Little, who gave his life in the Service of his country in the Mediterranean Theatre of War, on the 4th day of September 1944.

From official information we have received, your son was killed in action against the enemy. You may be assured that any additional information received will be communicated to you without delay.

The Minister of National Defence and the Members of the Army Council have asked me to express to you and your family their sincere sympathy in your bravement. We pay tribute to the sacrifice he so bravely made.

Charles completed 1787 days of service and he received multiple awards including the Italy Star, a Defence Medal, a War Medal, and a Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. Charles was reburied in The Gradara Cemetery, where he remains today.