Friday, December 9, 2016

Custom Boat House (4).

Down to the Final Details.


A fall request for a custom birdhouse was accompanied by a good photo (above) and after deciding not to carve a tugboat's hull from a pine log - however, I have a good hatchet - I got down to business.

And business has been good, so far. The birdhouse is a goodly size and the boat's hull (2D) looks like it is seaworthy.



The home stretch is called 'A Few Final Details' and I should be packing up (and sweeping up) the workshop within a few days.

Let the winter of 2016 begin.

Link to Custom Boat House (3).

Photos GH

Audio: F. Turnbull, C.H. Roach - D-Day Normandy

"I Can Remember Letting Down the Ramp"

Landing Ship, Tank (LST) aground on Sword Beach, Normandy, 6 June 1944.
Photo Credit - Cyril Roach, as found at The Memory Project

Introduction: One will find hundreds of audio files related to the experiences of men and women associated with many branches of Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian organizations (e.g., Red Cross, CWAC, etc.) at The Memory Project. Most audio files are accompanied by authentic WW2 photos and a written transcript.

The two audio files presented here relate to two men in the Navy (one in the RN) closely linked to landing craft and, very likely for both, the Combined Operations organization.

Please link to the audio file that recalls the memories of Fred Turnbull.

From the audio transcript we read, in part:

As we got close to the beach.... at Normandy we were about seven miles off the beach. So going in, we didn’t have too much responsibility as a bowman. But as we got closer to the beach, I had to get ready, as a bowman, to let down the ramp at the proper time. So I would let the ramp down, and the idea was that the troops would go down the ramp as quickly as possible.

Mr. Turnbull goes on to explain his work with anti-broaching lines and their purpose. Canadians in Combined Ops would know the procedure by heart.

Please link to the audio file that recalls the memories of Cyril H. Roach

From his audio transcript we read the following:

I went through training and I became an engineer officer aboard an LST, which was a double-decker landing ship, which was used at the time of our landings in France....

On D-Day, we arrived in France, having left the Isle of Wight on the night of the 5th of June, about 11 o’clock. We arrived off of Le Havre.... the point where troops were landing, with the objective of Caen. On landing, the ship dropped the anchor a half a mile out and we then put full speed ahead onto the beaches, so that we were able to land the troops and light equipment, which supported also part of the [British] 6th Airborne Division, as well as other contingents of the army.

Mr. Roach (RN) describes "being shelled very heavily" and seeing thousands of aircraft above him. He remembers the moment when three Messerschmitts strafed nearby beaches, killing many troops and injuring men (including himself) aboard the LST. He makes a point of saying, "my crew were actually Canadians from out west. And they did an excellent job."

British landing ships moving troops upriver to Paknam, near Bangkok.
Photo Credit - Cyril Roach, as found at The Memory Project

Transition Zone Squared (7)

No Place Like Home Turf.

With the wind at my back.

Players in many sports like to play on home field before the home crowd. I'm sure several advantages can be listed.

When I go for a walk for fun and fitness I prefer home turf as well. I know where I can hit - when certain needs or goals arise - some good hills, clean comfort stations and a perfectly scenic four-mile route out of the wind, to name but a few home advantages.

 Yesterday I covered 5.5 miles. 24 mi. this week (so far)

This winter I will likely spend more time in downtown London and Harris Park (instead of Terry Fox Pathway, as last winter) because I'm thinking of ice-skating at The Market once in a while. Variety is the spice of winter. Have skates, will Salchow*!

Photos from along the way:



Another bad shelfie but I'm workin' on it!

* Salchow - Named after Ulrich Salchow, the Salchow is a figure skating jump with a takeoff from a back inside edge of one foot. The rotation in the air is made in the direction of the curve of the take-off edge. The landing is made on the back outside edge of the foot opposite the one used for take-off, and Gord can already complete the half-, three-quarter- and single-Salchow without doing any serious damage.


Photos GH

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Photos From Along the Way.

November WALKN.

A dead end route? Nope.

My comfort zone, distance-wise, for a healthy walk is 2 - 4 miles. Within that range there is much to see in this fair city, especially if one leaves the main sidewalks or pathways and takes a less-travelled route.

Looking south toward York Street. No parking zone


Photos GH

Monday, November 28, 2016

Transition Zone Squared (3) - November Endgame.

Close to a Wrap-Up

 Looks like a dead end. Not!

November, with wetter and cooler days than most recent months, is coming to a close. The weather, however, has not dampened my desire to get out the door on a regular basis and walk the city streets and pathways. As well, upcoming snowy days will not be a hindrance to my fun and fitness routine.

Using tunnel-vision, I see many miles ahead

 Yesterday I walked downtown and back, part of the way with my son and grandson, and completed an errand at the same time. Many of my walks are now linked to double purposes, i.e., fun and fitness, and picking up or dropping off an item. I think I'm the cheapest delivery service in London!

Walk #22 in November - 7.5 miles

After supper, because I don't get TSN on TV and I wanted to catch up on the Grey Cup game, I grabbed my high-tech Walkman and walked around the Village. The game was a real nail-biter, eh!? (If that wee AM/FM radio lasts another 20 years I'll be very happy.)

A Bit of November Number Crunching:

     I should finish the month with 24 or 25 walks

     I should cover 100-plus miles

     My average walk should be around 4.0 miles

The last 10 weeks look pretty solid

Ten weeks ago I vacationed in PEI, only walked 11 miles. No regrets. Last week I ventured to the Bruce Peninsula, and I took an enjoyable break on two of the days up there. That being said, my 10-week average still looks AOK, right around 25 miles per week.

Vacations affect the 10-week average, but not by much

The jogging routine is over and done for 2016, and next year I will try to complete 60 - 70 jogs. Is there a marathon in my future? We shall see what we shall see.

December approaches and I will keep the following numbers in mind - 25 walks, 4 miles per outing, 100 miles (or so) by the end of the month. Yearly weigh-in should be positive!

Please link to Transition Zone Squared (2) - Walk-Abouts.

Photos GH

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Six (No, eight) Cedar Birdhouses 4

Ready for the Shelf


I think this set of birdhouses on a sturdy base - all with right proper fencing to keep cats away - will catch the eye.

These may also be the last birdhouses made this season, 2016, for my personal collection. Not bad, not bad at all.


Red cedar bodies with white pine roofs and trim. Smooth move

Please link to Six (No, eight) Cedar Birdhouses 3

Photos GH

Custom Boat House (3).

Progress Day to Day


Yesterday was too nice to me. Motorcycle weather. (So, the workshop was neglected).

However, the day before some progress was made on a lovely custom tugboat birdhouse. Infrastructure is coming together well.


Please link to Custom Boat House (2).

Photos GH

Transition Zone Squared (2) - Walk-Abouts.

In Ottawa 2014.


I locked my motorcycle behind the Jail Hostel and saw much of the city by foot. I discovered Ottawa is both big and small - big buildings upon which to gaze and reflect, small corner pubs within reach when my dogs barked and my throat was dry. "Chambly Noir, s'il vous plait. Merci." (Chez Lucien)

TZ2 (a set of 120 walks) has started off with 9 in a row. Lovely

 My sturdy map of Ottawa, near the National Library and Archives

 Significant sites are mapped and numbered - in bronze



Terry Fox: One of Canada's champions

Walk-abouts are my bread and butter when I travel. And between travels I walk the streets of London for fun and fitness and the occasional pit stop when dogs get tired.

"Stout for me, thanks."

Please link to Transition Zone Squared (1).

Photos GH

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Photographs: Coming Back from Dieppe, Sicily

Rare Photos - Canadians in Combined Ops, WW2.

From the Collection of Joe Spencer.

Greenock central station Glasgow 1942.

Used with permission of Gary Spencer (son of Joe Spencer)

The sixteen photographs presented are from a very rare collection belonging to Joe Spencer (Toronto, Brighton, ONT), now deceased, a former member of RCNVR and Combined Operations during WW2. The photos are shared with the kind permission of Joe's son, Gary Spencer. Each one came to me with a brief caption (now in italics under the photo) and gives us information that perhaps can be linked to other stories and other photos - some already shared or displayed on this site.

I will be careful to make readers aware of some of the connections these pictures have to Canadian stories, etc. However, I also welcome input from others about other links, in order to expand our collective understanding of what was happening in Combined Ops when these pictures were taken.

Top photo: Chuck Rose (3rd from left below) perhaps has just arrived in Greenock, Scotland, near the Canadian manning station at HMCS Niobe. If so, he and his mates were soon on a train to see their first landing craft at HMS Northney, Hayling Island.

8 men, Northney 3, Hayling Island, Hants

L - R: Allan Adlington (London), Joe Spencer (Toronto), Chuck Rose (Chippawa), Doug Harrison (Norwich), Art Bradfield (Simcoe), Don Linder (Kitchener), Joe Watson (Simcoe), J. Jacobs (unknown)

Context: HMS Northney was a training camp (4 sites) on Hayling Island, adjacent to Havant in southern England. These Canadians arrived at HMCS Niobe, Scotland from HMCS Stadacona, Halifax aboard the Volendam in January 1942.

In his Navy memoirs my father writes:

We spent little time at Niobe but entrained for Havant (near Hayling Island).... to H.M.S. Northney 1, a barracks (formerly a summer resort) with a large mess hall and cabins with four bedrooms. This was January, 1942 and there was no heat at all in the brick cabins. The toilets all froze and split. But we made out. Our eating quarters were heated. 

Link to more details concerning training at HMS Northney.

HMS Quebec, Art Warrick, 1942

Quebec, Ray and Jim, 1942 

Possibly HMS Quebec, 1942

Context: After their introduction to landing craft at HMS Northney, Hayling Island, the new recruits from Canada were sent to HMS Quebec, the Number 1 Combined Operations Training Centre near Inveraray, Scotland.

My father writes:

We were all in good shape and this was to be one of the more memorable camps, with our first actual work and introduction to landing barges.... there were lots of adventures, therefore many memories....

We trained on assault landing crafts which carried approximately 37 soldiers and a crew of four, i.e., Coxswain, two seamen and stoker. Some carried an officer.... ALCs were made of 3/16 inch plating, thick enough to stop a .303. (They) sat three rows of soldiers including two outside rows under 3/16th inch cowling, but the centre row was completely exposed. 

We also trained on LCMs, or landing craft, mechanized. LCMs carried soldiers or a truck, a Bren gun carrier, supplies, land mines, gasoline, etc. But LCMs wouldn't stop a bullet.

Link to more details concerning training at HMS Quebec.

ALC 269 leaving Newhaven, Aug. 21 1942. L. Birkenes, C. Sheeler 

ALC 269 returning to Southampton fron Newhaven. C. Sheeler, Joe Spencer

Context: The operation the first Canadians in Combined Ops participated in, i.e., after training at HMS Quebec and Camp Auchengate (Irvine), was Operation RUTTER, the raid on Dieppe. RUTTER was planned for early July, cancelled one day before the event, and reinstated as Operation JUBILEE, set for August 19, 1942. The above two photos are dated Aug. 21 and were taken two days after their ALCs returned from Dieppe. Joe Spencer, under the White Ensign above, is known to have participated in the raid.

Link to more details and photographs concerning the Dieppe Raid.

RFA Ennerdale off Greenock (no date) 

Art Warrick, Verne Smart on the Ennerdale in Algiers

Context: Canadians travelled aboard the Ennerdale on their way to Operation RUTTER and aboard it again (and its sister ship Derwentdale, both oil tankers) on their way to the invasion of North Africa. In the top of this pair, one can see landing craft either on deck or hanging on davits aboard the Ennerdale, and in the second we see Art and Verne standing inside a landing craft, likely an LCM.

Link to more details concerning the invasion of North Africa.

C. Rose (front left), J. Dale (top left), P. Bowers (top centre),
Joe Spencer (front right), J. Watson (top right). Glasgow 1943

Context: The date is helpful. Canadians in C.O. were back in Scotland's Combined Ops camps, training in the early months of 1943 for upcoming operations in Sicily (July - Operation HUSKY) and Italy (September, Operation BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE). There would have been a few opportunities while on leave to visit Glasgow. Photo shops, pubs, dance halls.... take your pick.

Link to more details concerning men on leave.

LCM 81-7 hoisted off E. Charmain in Sicily, July 10, 1943. MacGregor's boat 

Ismalia, Egypt. -  P. Martel, E. Chambers, S. Ingram, N. Mitchinson 

Charley Sellick, Jim Ivison. Sicily 

Jack Trevor. Sicily 

Unloading LCM, Green Beach, Sicily 1943 

Convoy, Sicily to Malta. J. Spencer in boat 2nd in foreground

Context: The invasion of Sicily was a great ordeal for Canadians in Combined Operations. Once the emptied troop and supply ships left the coast, men lived aboard their LCMs or in caves. For 4 weeks or more, hard duty persisted on the beaches in order to supply troops moving slowly north toward Messina. In August the men were sent to Malta for rest and recuperation from illnesses, e.g., dysentery. They were also told to repair tired, damaged landing craft for the upcoming invasion of Italy. No rest for the weary.

Link to more details concerning the invasion of Sicily.

Editor: A big thank you to Gary Spencer for these lovely, historic scanned images. I tip my hat to both Gary and his father, Joe Spencer.

More links from Joe's pictures to other stories and images to follow.

Please link to Photographs: LST, LCM, The Beaver Club, Bell Tents

Unattributed Photos GH

Custom Boat House (2)

Making Waves

The Pankhurst M

The birdbox w attached pilothouse is of goodly size and the boat-shaped facade has to fit just right. After a couple of adjustments I think I have 'the look' finished in a reasonable style. That's me all over - reasonable. : )

Now, for details.

The Pankhurst M tug will soon be ready for the water!

More details to follow.

Please link to Custom Boat House (1)

Photo GH

Six (No, eight) Cedar Birdhouses 3

These Two Got Left Behind


Earlier in the season I cut stock for eight lovely red cedar birdhouses but only had room to attack six with the sander and paint brush. I don't call my space the 'wee' workshop for no good reason. : )

That being said, as I approach the end of the season I will put on a rush to get things tidied up in there.

Don't feel blue. I haven't forgotten you

So, today I cut trim and add a few details to these sturdy models.

Please link to Six Cedar Birdhouses 2

Photo GH

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Custom Boat House (1)

The Pankhurst M, Tugboat

Birdbox section is 8"H x 7.5"W x 7.5"Deep, w plywood roof
Pilothouse, left, 4"W, 5"Deep

I've never been on a tugboat, but as I studied photos of the Pankhurst M I thought it. I think it would be a remarkable experience in some ways, and hard work at times for the crew. Pros and Cons, like a lot of other things in life. Good work and Hard work, at the same time.


 Overhead view is in top right corner of sketch

The facade/boat hull profile will be 18 - 20"Long

So, this custom project is underway, I'm using white pine, and there will be a lot of careful painting.

More photos of the M to follow.

Please link to Six Cedar Birdhouses 2

Photos GH