b. 02/04/1910 Cabano, Quebec, Canada. d. 08/08/1970 Quebec City, Canada.
Paul Triquet (1910-1980) was born in Cabano, Quebec, on April 2nd, 1910. In 1927, he enlisted in the Canadian military’s Permanent Force. At the beginning of the Second World War he was a member of the Royal 22e Régiment and went overseas with the unit in December 1939. He returned to Canada in 1940 where he worked as an instructor. After being promoted to Lieutenant, he once again went to the United Kingdom, and then to Sicily, in August 1943. On December 13th, 1943, he was promoted to Major. This was the eve of what was to become the historic battle of Casa Berardi, during which he earned the Victoria Cross for his remarkable courage. The spirited example he set was a source of inspiration for everyone.
The capture of the key road junction on the main Ortona-Orsogna lateral was entirely dependent on securing the hamlet of Casa Berardi. Both this and a gully in front of it had been turned by the Germans into formidable strong points defended by infantry and tanks.
On 14th December, 1943, Captain Triquet’s company of the Royal 22e Regiment with the support of a squadron of a Canadian Armoured Regiment was given the task of crossing the gully and securing Casa Berardi. Difficulties were encountered from the outset. The gully was held in strength and on approaching it the force came under extremely heavy fire from machine guns and mortars. All the company officers and 50 per cent of the men were killed or wounded.
Showing superb contempt for the enemy Captain Triquet went round reorganizing the remainder and encouraging them with the words ‘Never mind them, they can’t shoot’. Finally when enemy infiltration was observed on all sides shouting ‘There are enemy in front of us, behind us and on our flanks, there is only one safe place – that is on the objective’ he dashed forward and with his men following him, broke through the enemy resistance. In this action four tanks were destroyed and several enemy machine gun posts silenced.
Against the most bitter and determined defence and under heavy fire Captain Triquet and his company, in close co-operation with the tanks forced their way on until a position was reached on the outskirts of Casa Berardi. By this time the strength of the company was reduced to 2 sergeants and 15 men. In expectation of a counter-attack Captain Triquet at once set about organizing his handful of men into a defensive perimeter around the remaining tanks and passed the ‘mot d’ordre. Ils ne passeront pas’.
A fierce German counter-attack supported by tanks developed almost immediately. Captain Triquet, ignoring the heavy fire, was everywhere encouraging his men and directing the defence and by using whatever weapons were to hand personally accounted for several of the enemy. This and subsequent attacks were beaten off with heavy losses and Captain Triquet and his small force held out against overwhelming odds until the remainder of the battalion took Casa Berardi and relieved them the next day. Throughout the whole of this engagement Captain Triquet showed the most magnificent courage and cheerfulness under heavy fire. Wherever the action was hottest he was to be seen shouting encouragement to his men and organizing the defence. His utter disregard of danger, his cheerfulness and tireless devotion to duty were a constant source of inspiration to them. His tactical skill and superb leadership enabled them, although reduced by casualties to a mere handful, to continue their advance against bitter resistance and to hold their gains against determined counter-attacks. It was due to him that Casa Berardi was captured and the way opened for the attack on the vital road junction.
The victory at Casa Berardi made it possible for a French division fighting nearby to repel assaults by a division of German parachutists. When the French division staff learned that the troops who had made their success possible were French Canadian, they sent liaison officers to the site to establish the facts. As a result of the investigation, Triquet, after his return to Canada, was made a Knight of the (French) Legion of Honour for distinguished military service. The ambassador of the Free French to the United States went to Montreal in April 1944 to preside at the awarding of the decoration. General Triquet was the first Canadian to receive the Knight of the Legion of Honour during the Second World War.
In 1947 Triquet retired from active service after 22 years and became a district sales manager for a forest products company in Quebec; 1951 joined the Reserve Army as Commanding Officer of the Régiment de Levis (R.F.); 1954 appointed Colonel, commanding the 8th Militia Group. He retired to Florida in later life. He was made an Officer of the Venerable Order of St John in 1967, Commander of the Venerable Order of St John in 1969 and Knight to the Venerable Order of St John in 1976. Brigadier Triquet passed away on 8th August 1980 in Quebec City. He was cremated at Mount Royal Crematorium, Montreal, and his ashes were interred at the Citadelle de Quebec, Quebec City. His medal group is held by the Royal 22e Regimental Museum, Citadelle de Quebec, Quebec City.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: CITADELLE DE QUEBEC, QUEBEC CITY, CANADA.
BURIAL PLACE: CITADELLE DE QUEBEC, QUEBEC CITY, CANADA. ASHES INTERRED.
Valiant Memorial, Ottawa
Currie Barracks, Calgary, Alberta