Sunday, April 19, 2015

Motorcycle Miles

Port Bruce

So, I paid my motorcycle insurance bill and on a nice day during this past week I warmed up my bike and headed toward a very familiar destination, Port Bruce, on the north shore of Lake Erie about 60 kilometres SE of London.

I don't know if this will be my last year to own a motorcycle (downsizing is on my mind) but I am hoping to ride a lot this year, maybe even to the East Coast of Canada again. I sure like that long ride.

Please link to more Motorcycle Miles

Please link to 'We Were As Two Ships', my latest entry on a new blog entitled FAINT FOOTSTEPS, WW2

Photo by GH

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Passages: From The Liberation Trilogy

Passages: As Posted at New Blog

The Liberation Trilogy is one of the best sets of WW2 books I have read, and some of author Rick Atkinson's paragraphs jump off the page as worthy prose.

Below is a recent post from "Canadians in Combined Operations, WW2" my new website at wavynavy.blogspot.

Grind of a Thousand Whetstones

An Army At Dawn (The War in North Africa, 1942 - 1943), the first volume of The Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson, was a book of firsts.

It was the first book in which I purposefully tried to trace my father's footsteps when he was a man of the barges during WW2. (The invasion of North Africa in November, 1942 was his first D-Day of three).

It was the first book in which I wrote 'prose' or 'prose of war' as a marginal note. I envisioned Mr. Atkinson being forcefully caught up in the words, phrases and sentences , and the events - seventy years old in 2012 -  drew breath and lived again.

I have since read others in which some paragraphs go beyond being the repository of mere facts and details, and illuminate the reader in a unique, poignant manner, but An Army At Dawn led the way. Excerpts follow.

The TORCH Plan, on Paper

   Three hundred warships
   and nearly four hundred transports
   and cargo vessels would land
   more than 100,000 troops - 
   three-quarters of them American,
   the rest British - in North Africa.

Task Force 34 would sail
for Morocco on Saturday morning.
The other armada would leave Britain
shortly thereafter for Algeria.
With luck, the Vichy French
controlling North Africa would
not oppose the landings.

   Regardless, the Allies were to
   pivot east for a dash into Tunisia
   before the enemy arrived.

An Army At Dawn, pages 30 - 31

Map of North Africa: Photo credit - Beachhead Battlefront

The Ships are Loaded

In Britain:

All the confusion
that characterized the cargo loading
now attended the convergence of
34,000 soldiers on Hampton Roads.
Troop trains with blinds drawn rolled
through Norfolk and Portsmouth,
sometimes finding the proper pier
and sometimes not.

   Sober and otherwise,
   the troops found their way to 
   the twenty-eight transport ships.
   All public telephones
   at the wharves were disconnected,
   and port engineers erected a high fence
   around each dock area...

Thousands struggled
up the ramps with heavy barracks bags
and wandered the companionways for hours
in search of their comrades.
A distant clatter of winches signaled
the lifting of the last cargo slings.

   And a new sound
   joined the racket:
   the harsh grind of
   a thousand whetstones
   as soldiers put an edge
   on their bayonets
   and trench knives.

In America:

Dawn on October 24
revealed a forest of masts and
fighting tops across Hampton Roads,
where the greatest war fleet ever to sail
from American waters made ready.

   The dawn
   was bright and blowing.
   Angels perched unseen on
   the shrouds and crosstrees.

Young men,
fated to survive and become old men
dying abed half a century hence,
would forever remember this hour,
when an army at dawn
made for the open sea in a cause
none could yet comprehend.

   as the great fleet glided past,
   dreams of them stepped, like men alive,
   into the rooms where their
   loved ones lay sleeping.

An Army At Dawn, pages 38 - 41

About those same days in 1942 my father, a Canadian member of Combined Operations (1941 - 1945) wrote, rather matter-of-factly, the following (in part):

We left Greenock in October, 1942 with our LCMs aboard a ship called Derwentdale, sister ship to Ennerdale. The 80th and 81st flotillas, as we are now called, were split between the Derwentdale and Ennerdale in convoy, and little did we know we were bound for North Africa.

I became an A/B Seaman (Able-bodied) on this trip and passed my exams classed very good. We had American soldiers aboard and an Italian in our mess who had been a cook before the war.

In the convoy close to us was a converted merchant ship which was now an air craft carrier. They had a relatively short deck for taking off, and one day when they were practicing taking off and landing. A Swordfish aircraft failed to get up enough speed and rolled off the stern and, along with the pilot, disappeared immediately. No effort was made to search, we just kept on.

One November morning the huge convoy, perhaps 500 ships, entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar. It was a nice sun-shiny day... what a sight to behold. (pages 23 - 25, "DAD, WELL DONE")

Photos by GH

Monday, April 13, 2015

New & Improved Harrison Special

Barnboard from Fenelon Falls

 "I think all it needs now is a hydro pole"

If you like peeking inside other peoples' workshops just to see what's going on, drop by my new blog entitle The Workshop. Plans are drawn up regularly and projects soon follow. And sometimes it's the other way around!

Please link to Barnboard BH w a Twist 3 at The Workshop blog

Photos GH

Thursday, April 9, 2015

From The Workshop

Shows Promise

Not only do I think this birdhouse style shows promise, I think Gord's new blog (The Workshop by G. Harrison) does too.

Please do drop in.

Link to B & W Barnboard BH w Twist

Photo GH

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I Take Me a Trip (13)

One Good Journal

I took a journal with me during my motorcycle ride to Halifax - to bury my father at sea - in 2010. Yup, it comes in pretty handy now as I share details about the trip. Details: A lot of highs. A few lows. I got home safely. So, it was a good trip. Change that - it was a great, great trip.

Read more at Gord's new blog, Faint Footsteps, WW2.

Photo GH

The Long and Short Of It (12)

East Coast, Here I Come!

'Faint Footsteps, WW2' continues:

In 2010 I planned a motorcycle trip to the East Coast of Canada in order to bury my father at sea. My plans included a lot of to-do lists, charts and graphs. I tried to cover all the bases.

I also packed a notebook in which to record my daily adventures. I share some of the highlights and lowlights at my new blog.

Link to The Long and Short Of It 12

Photos GH

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ten Years Ago

Boston Marathon

Ten years ago this month I ran the Boston Marathon. The long, hot run was but one highlight in my long, hot and dusty running career. Ten years ago I stood 5 ft. 6 in. tall (my drivers' license said so, at the time), weighed 140 pounds and ran around London in spandex tights or shorts.

Today I stand 5 ft. 5 inches tall, weigh 155 pounds soaking wet, walk around town regularly (with a walking mate) in baggy jeans and worn-out running shoes, and am known in my family as one who can paddle a long way under his own steam.

Today's Motto: Not Much Gets Done Without Steam Work.

Link to one of my new websites, Faint Footsteps, WW2

Photos GH

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Faint Footsteps, WW2

My father started his military march as a raw recruit in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve in Hamilton, 1941. He continued his training in Halifax, volunteered for the Combined Operations organization and soon marched in Scotland and England, where he prepared for the Dieppe raid and Allied invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Now I am doing the marching, so to speak, to learn more about his WW2 adventures.

If you would like to learn more about my adventures following my father's faint footsteps made during WW2, please visit my new blog - Faint Footsteps, WW2 

My most recent post tells the story, mainly with the use of photos, of how I built a boat in which to transport my father's ashes from London to the Atlantic Ocean, and thereby fulfill my promise to bury him at sea.

Link to I Build Me a Boat


Photo by GH

Book re Combined Operations

"DAD, WELL DONE" Navy Memoirs

If you want to learn more about Canadians who served in the Combined Operations organization during the Second World War, please visit my new blog - Canadians in Combined Operations, WW2.

"Then one day, the day we had been waiting for came - V.E. day - and
what a celebration. They poured beer in my hair, there was no routine,
everything went mad and uncontrolled but nothing untoward happened."

The most recent post is Chapter TEN in my father's Navy memoirs, written in the mid-1970s, about his service on Vancouver Island - including his V-E Day celebration - after two years of 'HO' or 'Hostilities Only' in Europe.


Link to Three New Blogs

Photo GH

Large Triplexes 2

Spring Line Up

More photos of Gord's line up of large triplexes can be seen at 'The Workshop' blog - in mere seconds.

Let me know what you think.

Photo GH

Monday, March 30, 2015

New Blog - The Workshop

More Photographs, More Projects

Please visit Gord's new blog, The Workshop, to view more photos of projects built inside his wee - and oft-times dusty - workshop.

Most recent post at The Workshop

As well, click on the Label below (i.e., the workshop) to view a countless number of posts from Gord's original and dust-covered blog, It Strikes Me Funny.

Photos GH

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Three New Blogs by G. Harrison

It Strikes Me Funny is Closing Down

I am currently developing three new sites. Please join me there, if interested.

US Troops land in N. Africa (Nov. 1942) with aid
from Canadians in Combined Operations

Faint Footsteps, WW2 - I am learning more about my father's WW2 experience in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve and Combined Operations Organization, and I share short stories of his time, for example, in Scotland (training exercises) and Sicily (Allied invasion, July 1943), and of my own travels for research purposes.

Canadians in Combined Operations, WW2 - At this site I list books, photographs, memoirs and more details about the Combined Operations organization and Canadians who served in it during WW2.

The Workshop - I spend productive time in my small woodworking shop almost everyday and post progress reports and photos of various projects.

Top Photo - credit to Imperial War Museum
Bottom Photo - GH

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Has Sprung

It's Official

 Spring Daffodils

Spring Rietveld Chairs

Spring has sprung, the deck chairs have 'riz

Soon as they dry, I know where my butt iz.

Link to My Morning Smile

Photos GH