Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dad's Navy Days: December, 1943 - Packing up

The Spit at Comox, Vancouver Island

In February 1944 there were 51 landing craft on the
west coast of which all but 8 were based on Comox.
[pg. 232, The Naval Service of Canada Vol. 2]

About this time in December, 1943 my father was packing a three-foot deep canvas bag - property of the RCNVR - with his clothes and Navy kit. He would have been an expert at packing and he likely could have squeezed in a ball glove and bat if he'd known what adventures were ahead.

["Comox and Courtenay were Navy towns in the early 1940s"]

He was to embark soon to a train station that would carry him - and several Navy buddies - "to Givenchy III," he says in his memoirs, "known as Cowards Cove, at Comox on Vancouver Island." He later called it Heaven.

Only two stories and a few photos connected to my father's time there exist. Only a few people alive today can recall specific details related to the Comox Navy grounds because it closed shortly after WW2 was over.    

["Aerial view of The Spit, circa 1930"*
compliments of Comox Library/Archives]

Details related to the above photo:

     The Spit extending from the mainland (beginning
     upper left) is about 1.5 miles long

     There were few buildings on The Spit in 1930

     RCN presence grew significantly in the 1940s

     It was home to a network of government oyster beds

     My father ate a lot of the best oysters for free

     One ship is anchored at Comox's long pier

     My father became very familiar with that pier

     A pub was very close to the pier in the 1940s

     * click on photo for enlarged view 

Little remains of the long pier today but Comox is a thriving, friendly community. The Spit is now called Goose Spit and though one can drive onto the neck of the goose for about 500 meters, the existing Navy base is closed to visitors. (However, the fellow I met manning the gates was pretty friendly and helpful with information).

More to follow.

Please click here for more Dad's Navy Days

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