Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Article re Combined Ops, "Canadian Seamen - A Motley Crew"

Veteran Canadian Seamen Numbering 500 Took Part 
In Attack Against Sicily

"Many landing craft were manned by Canadians in Combined Ops during
Operation HUSKY, Sicily, July 1943" Photo - Imperial War Museum

No Casualties reported in two RCN Flotillas - Some
Dominion Sailors Helped Ferry In British Troops

By Louis V. Hunter, Canadian Press War Correspondent

Allied headquarters, North Africa, July 14 -- (CP Cable) -- It was estimated today that 500 Canadian naval men took part in the Sicilian landings as members of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Navy and combined operations units. There were no casualties in the two R.C.N. flotillas which have returned to port, an R.C.N. spokesman announced today. Other flotillas have not yet returned.

Helped Land Troops

Some of the Canadian seamen ferried in British troops who were part of the first wave of the invading forces to move onto beaches in the southeastern corner of Sicily. The majority of the Canadian seamen were veterans of the Dieppe and North African landings last summer and autumn and were perfectly trained for their task. They came from all parts of Canada.

Canadians in Comb. Ops landed troops in SE Sicily
Map - Combined Operations by C. Marks, London

Besides the complete Royal Canadian Navy flotillas there were many Canadians serving in Royal Navy units. They were included in the 500 total. The first picture of the part these stalwart sons of the Dominion played was brought back from Sicily by Lt.-Cmdr. E. H. Bartlett*, R.C.N., of Toronto, press relations officer, who was ashore briefly in Sicily. The Canadian sailors were not perturbed when they were briefed for the landings a few days before the assault. Gathered informally on the decks of ships carrying them and their landing craft, they listened intently while officers outlined the operation, telling them where they were going and when the landing was scheduled.

Briefing officers used a map of Sicily set up on a board on deck to illustrate the plan of operations. There was not a murmur from the men when they learned what was coming. They continued to puff nonchalantly on their cigarettes and pipes. But when told that Canadian soldiers would be part of the invading force they “were simply delighted.”

The story of Petty Officer E. H. Randall, of Halifax, shows how well trained these Canadians were. Although his assault craft was not under fire a heavy sea was running when a line fouled the propellor, forcing him to drop behind. In the darkness he attempted to clear the stern but realized he would not be able to, so he decided to continue with one engine and skilful manoeuvering was in the exact position he was supposed to be at the proper time.

Carried Back Wounded

Some assault craft brought back the wounded to the ships offshore. A wounded British army officer sent for the coxswain of the craft that had carried him and thanked the crew. The coxswain was W.A.B. Tiner**, of Owen Sound, Ontario. Bartlett said the morale of the men was “tremendous.” Before the landing operations started, he went below decks to see what the men were doing and counted seven keen card games in one mess.

The Canadian seamen were dressed and ready to go ashore. They were a motley crew, in khaki or blue jerseys with blue flannels. Each wore the inevitable tin hat and carried emergency rations. They sipped cocoa, coffee, ate cheese, as they prepared for the landing. The traditional tot of navy rum was absent.

The first landing craft encountered some brisk opposition, but the troops wiped out machine-gun nests and the other opposition. The naval bombardment facilitated the later movements of troops ashore. The naval craft delivered the fighting men up the shore where the water was no more than ankle deep.

- As written in the July 23, 1943 issue of the Hamilton Spectator

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*E. H. (Ernest Henry) Bartlett enrolled in the navy in England in the 1920s but influenza kept him from serving. Once in Canada he found work on a Great Lakes freighter before illness forced him to resign. He eventually found work as a journalist with the Toronto Telegram from 1924 to 1969, where he was the local expert on naval issues. He became the paper’s travel editor in 1962.

Ernest enlisted as a public relations officer and war correspondent with the Canadian navy in WWII. He filed news reports on the war effort in the Pacific and Atlantic.

On 14 August 1943, the motor torpedo boat that Bartlett was aboard was shelled in the Straits of Messina between Sicily and Calabria. He and his shipmates were captured and sent to a German POW camp in Marlag und Milag Nord. The camp was liberated 2 May 1946.

Ernest, Jack and Richard Bartlett. A family that made combined efforts.

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**W. A. B. Tiner obituary (abbreviated) -

TINER, William - Leading Seaman RCNR - Staff Sergeant RCEME - March 18, 2010, William Avery Tiner of Markdale in his 93rd year. Bill is survived by his beloved wife of 66 years, Cecily (Sammy) Tiner (nee Warner) of Markdale and numerous nieces and nephews. Bill worked with his father in painting and decorating and then on the lake boats until he enlisted in the Grey & Simcoe Foresters June 10th 1940; transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in Feb 1941. As Leading Seaman, Bill was helmsman for Landing Craft Infantry (LCI), and took part in three Combined Operations landings: Algiers, North Africa in Nov 1942; Cape Pachino, Sicily in July 1943; and landed the Chaudiere Regiment on Nan Sector of Juno Beach, Normandy at 8:22 a.m. in the second wave of landings on D-Day, 6 June 1944. While stationed in Britain, Bill met Sammy and they were to be married on June 3, 1944 but Sammy was left at the altar when Bill's leave was cancelled for the impending invasion and he was unable to leave the base or to communicate with her. On July 2nd they were married at St. Michael's and All Angels parish church in Thursley, England. Bill was discharge in Aug. of 1945, but re-enlisted in the RCE in 1950. Bill served in Korea, Egypt, and Germany before discharge in April 1968 - a total of 23 years plus of service.

For more information, go to Your Life Moments 

For another article, please link to "Canadian Soldiers Showed Up Everyone"

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