Tony Battista is seen just prior to the screening of Gino A Child of War at the Old Town Hall on May 3. Thompson Goddard Photo

WINCHESTER – About 70 people viewed the movie of the story of Gino A Child of War at the Old Town Hall in Winchester on Fri., May 3. The movie tells the story of Gino Bragaglia who was “adopted” by members of the Canadian 4th Armoured Division during the Italian Campaign of World War II. The movie was made by the Combined Forces production company and the book published by Double Dagger Books Ltd. and edited by James Leslie.

As a five-year-old Gino, whose parents had been killed during the conflict, was wandering amongst the ruins in the Italian town of Frosinone and upon him being found by Canadian soldiers was, for a few years by Canadian soldiers who were fighting the Germans. In a book of the same name, his experiences with the Canadians, an American soldier and the family who raised him after the Canadians left are chronicled. Additionally, there is the story of Gino’s search for his identity and those soldiers who provided him with a safe haven during the war are told.

“$1930 was raised. $965 was given to North Dundas District High School (NDDHS) to support the awesome work the students are doing to research all the names of North Dundas Fallen and to put those names on metal crosses which will be displayed each November and the other $965 was sent to the film production company who felt it was important to tell this story of Gino and of Canadian Soldier’s humanity during war time” commented a representative of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 108 in Winchester, organizers of the event.

NDDHS teacher Kevin Bell attended the event and mentioned his students are working on two projects.  The students are working on a research project on the local men who served which includes sources such as the Canadian Virtual Memorial, digitalized service records, and battalion war diaries to find information.  The second project involves students making crosses “for our service personnel killed in the wars.  Each cross will be inscribed with his name, unit, date of death and age at time of death”, with Bell continuing how approximately 130 of these crosses will be made with the completion expected next fall.

Members of RCL Branch 108 hosted a reception following the screening which allowed people to gather and speak with Tony Battiste who was the executive producer of the film.  As the evening opened, Battiste explained the film is factual and based on research done in 2010.  It was noted how Gino is still alive, with plans to visit Ottawa in the near future.

Notes of thanks were provided by the Winchester Legion spokesperson to “Tony Battista and Combined Forces Production out of Calgary AB for allowing us the opportunity to screen the movie. Township of North Dundas who allowed us the use of the facility free of charge. The Winchester Movie Committee who helped show the film and operated the snack bar. The Winchester Legion who not only donated $500 abut also sponsored the popcorn for all attendees. The Winchester Lions who donated $500 and of course, all those who attended and donated generously.”

The film is scheduled to be shown at other Eastern Ontario locations, with information regarding this available on the Facebook page of the Winchester Legion.