Over the last few weeks I have been riding my Yamaha Virago on a regular basis - short trips, just here and there - in order to bond with the bike and prepare for a possible big ride, e.g., to the East Coast in mid-summer.
Here are a few photos from my 'Port Bruce Photo File'.
Note to self: Good coffee in The Bruce. 120 km. easy loop on scenic roads. North Shore of Lake Erie feels like home.
A 'Book Barn' of ample size has been parked inside the front door of 'Milos' Craft Beer' establishment almost since it opened over a year ago. A sign on it reads 'Little Free Library - Take a book, Leave a Book'. Message received.
I visited a coffee shop in Wortley Village recently and noticed a small space on a shelf was dedicated to the sharing of books. A single sign read 'Take a Book, Leave a book'. I understand.
No matter what type of sign I put on these book barns I bet people will get the message. Share.
But, before I get to the signage, I have to add doors, paint this or that, and cut up trim by the yard.
Bernard Fergusson's account (published 1961) of the four year period between the British Army being evicted from the Continent in 1940, and the landing of British and American troops in Normandy in 1944, is a full and detailed story about the origins, purpose, early raids and activities related to the Combined Operations organization. It has been said that Mr. Fergusson was "allowed free access to all the documents, archives and minutes of meetings, which have hitherto been secret."
Readers interested in Canadians who served in Combined Operations might underline some of the following, as I did:
"Obviously two of the most urgent problems were the provision of landing ships and craft, and the crews to man them... as an illustration of the magnitude of the crew problem, the Joint Planners, in the very month of Mountbatten's appointment, had persuaded the Chiefs of Staff that our requirements in LCTs alone for the eventual invasion would be 2,250 - a figure to daunt almost anybody. And where were the crews to come from? Canada made an offer, which was gratefully accepted, of 50 officers and 300 ratings, but this was a drop in the bucket." Page 93
Much is written about Lord Louis Mountbatten, the assault on Dieppe and the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Normandy, and the book emphasizes the role of the Combined Ops organization at every turn.
Important photographs and links to other important books, for further reading, are provided.
"The story of Mulberry (harbours) is a story of its own"
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.
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.
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")
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!