Monday, June 29, 2020

A Week's Work (1)

Fun and Fitness, Monday to Sunday

It's all downhill to Stanley Street


I am studiously training for the 'maybe, might be' Around the Bay 30K, to be held on November 22nd, 2020, in Hamilton, Ontario, IF race organizers get permission to go ahead with registration (beginning Oct. 5, maybe) and are allowed to place hundreds of pylons and distance markers around the bay so that runners don't get lost in Burlington.

Might be a go. Might not.

Sometimes I head north on the Thames Valley Parkway (TVP)

That being said, I will train as if it is "a go" and keep a tally of how I am doing for the next five months. 

Training Chart - Week 5

Monday: 7-mile walk. 

Rain was in the forecast so I walked with an umbrella. Because I carried an umbrella, not a drop of rain fell from grey skies. Typical!

I walked from my house in Old South to the Fork of the Thames, stepped onto the TVP at HMCS Prevost and walked west toward the Wonderland Gardens. I covered one mile, from my house to the community gardens next to the TVP just NW of Prevost, as well as 4 kilometres on the TVP as I headed west toward the Gawdens. 

The TVP has distance-markers every half-kilometre and my pace was approx. 5min.10sec. per half-km. 

I turned around at the 4.5 km. distance-marker at Wonderland Gardens and retraced my steps home.

Distance - 2 miles (HOME to HMCS) + 8 km. (TVP) = 7 miles. Time - 2 hours.

Comments: Good workout. Had a short but pleasant chat with Alex, the Sausage King as he biked before going into work. 

Tuesday: I usually do a run, with lots of hills and repeats, on a Tuesday. However, I drove to Simcoe instead, to meet with the son of a WW2 Navy vet who was in the same crew as my father, in many ways. Drove back to London through heavy rain and took a well-deserved nap once back home. No running mileage, but I'll make up for it tomorrow.

Photo from under Kensington Bridge, on my way to Harris Park

Wednesday: 7-mile 'race pace' run

I set out to run at race pace, an easy 6-min. per km pace, but the day was cooler than usual and my legs were fresh (I took the day off yesterday), so I burned off an extra 20 - 25 seconds with each passing km without feeling like I worked too hard.

Distance - 2 miles + 8 km = 7 miles. Time - approx. 70 min.

Comments: Good workout. Cooler weather helps me run faster and steadier. If the "maybe, might be" 30K race takes place in late November, minus any snow or wind in the face, I'll be a happy camper. Note to self - I need to run a few hills by Sunday. 

Thursday: 7-mile run with hills
This hill leads to more hills, more hills, hills.

I only count the uphill part of a hill even though the downhill half is pretty important as well. And I only count uphills that are 100m or more long. Anything smaller is called a 'hilly bit'.

I usually run hills on Tuesday but due to an important meeting that day I ran my hills today. I usually head out the door in the morning but due to another meeting (with four city staff who visited my house to fix a broken water pipe in my yard), I shifted to the PM. If anything, I'm flexible.

Thankfully, the weather was not steamy and I hit ten hills (some were repeats, i.e., the same hill repeated) with good energy. A couple of times I told myself to slow down, "it ain't a race."

Distance - 2 miles + 8 km = 7 miles. Time - approx. 75 min.

Comments: Another good workout. I passed a guy on a bike who was struggling up one hill. As I went by he said, "I hate hills." Made me chuckle, but not out loud. If anything, I'm polite : ) I think the hills are getting easier, and that's a good thing because in Hamilton there are a couple of doozies.

Friday: 7-mile walk

"good pace" = about 5.5 - 6.0 KPH. Yeah, I'm on the clock

Good walk north on TVP toward the University of Western Ontario. I carry a water bottle and can get refills in Gibbons Park. Hey, the 'comfort station' was finally open - good news for two reasons (cold water fountain plus a bathroom; "water in, water out", that's a good deal).

Distance - 2 miles + 8 km = 7 miles. Time - approx. 2 hr.

Comments: Friday is usually a 'speed work' day but my schedule was wonky this week due to a day off on Tuesday. I won't take Saturday off and try to squeeze in some speedy moves.

Walking through Gibbons at a good pace toward my 
turnaround marker, north of UWO campus

Saturday: 7-mile walk/run

Week's total mileage (from Sun. - Sat.) = 42.5 miles. AOK

I like this type of outing. I walk for 5 min. then run for 3 min., and cover about a half-km per interval. And, as it worked out, I pushed the pace when running in order to say "I did some speed work, worthy of a geezer." I didn't want to overdo the speed because I have a long run next day.

Distance - 2 miles + 8 km = 7 miles. Time - approx. 90 min.

Comments: The walk/run combo is a 'tweener' and it fits the bill during a wonky week.

Sunday: Long run

According to my running chart, I needed to run 9.5 miles, or one kilometre farther than my last long run on the chart (from two weeks ago). I want to hold the pace very close to race pace (i.e., 6-min./km.) during long runs and on Sunday I did not do too bad in that department. 

Only 1 Km was at 6-min. My groove is 10 sec./km faster.

Distance - 2 miles + 12 km = approx. 9.5 miles. Time - approx. 90 - 95 min.

Comments: Good energy, no struggles or sore spots. Next long run - in two weeks - will break the 10-mile barrier. I'll be ready.

Nice and gradual increases in the long run department

re mileage: the weekly average is staying pretty consistent

More to follow as the October 5 registration date for the "maybe, might be" Around the Bay 30K approaches.

Please link to New Running Goal, New Training Chart (2) for more details.

Photos GH

Sunday, June 28, 2020

War Correspondents: Canadian Writers - Sicily 1943 (3b)

A Lot of Canadians Were Busy During Operation Husky:
The 1st Division, Sailors on Landing Crafts, Writers

This rare group photo of dedicated Canadian press representatives in Sicily
during Operation Husky has inspired a few posts re war correspondents


I discovered the above photo from the Library and Archives, Ottawa that includes such well-known names as  Ross Munro and Peter Stursberg, and it has encouraged me to go back to The Winnipeg Tribune to cut and paste some of the many significant news stories that were posted on the date recorded on the photograph, and during the next two days as well. A few stories re Operation Husky, beginning July 10 1943, were delayed until the 14th or 15th issues of The Tribune, and there are many mentions of the progress of Canada's 1st Division.

Though most eyes were on the advances made by the Canadian Army, our Navy (including the RCNVR and its many members of Combined Operations) and Air Force were very busy in many capacities and are mentioned here as well.

Today The Winnipeg Tribune is digitized, easy to explore

Ross Munro seems to have filed valuable stories whenever an opportunity presented itself, and several others followed suit and blazed their own important trails. I think that our understanding and studies about the roles of Canadians during WWII are very much the better because of their efforts.

All articles and photos (and occasional ad; do you like salmon?) that you see below have been downloaded from high resolution PDF copies of clean images of The Winnipeg Tribune (unless indicated otherwise). Please visit the site at your leisure that has been created at the University of Manitoba. It is a tremendous resource, in my opinion.

From the front page, July 14th:

The photo was likely taken near Gela on Sicily's southern shore, and to
the west of where Canadian troops landed (map to follow) 

Details re invasion barges are hard to make out; they are likely LCMs
(i.e., landing craft, mechanised). A.P. Wirephoto

Canadian writers Ralph Allen and Ross Munro also made the front page: 

The very top photo, w Ross Munro seated in a jeep, reportedly was taken in Modica on the 13th, and in the article below, delayed from July 12 (from Ispica), we read that "Modica, 10 miles northwest of here, surrendered" to Canadians earlier that morning. Things are happening fast, and Canadians - army, navy, airforce, writers with burdensome typewriters - are in the vanguard!    

Canadian Army troops heard encouraging words - below, in two small reports - about their service from three high-ranking commanding officers (McNaughton, Cunningham and Montgomery) before setting foot upon Sicily's shores. 

[Sometime after the invasion began, members of RCNVR who had volunteered as well to join the Combined Operations organization ("on loan to the Royal Navy" some would describe it), distinguished themselves in the service of Monty's 8th Army by manning four flotillas of landing crafts on the eastern task force, south of Syracuse. Monty's words of praise for those hundreds of Canadian sailors comes later].

The next writer is not Canadian but he is writing about "Ross Munro's eye-witness dispatches":

[Editor's Note: It is interesting that something is said above about the significant service of Canadians at Dieppe, overlooked as it was at the time. How could the large numbers of Canadians be so easily overlooked (i.e., the highest number of all troops at Dieppe, nearly 5,000 of the 6,100 there; the US contributed the fewest, approx. 50)?  A variety of reasons, I suppose, but whatever the reasons, they will have to be dragged out again soon. The Canadians in Combined Operations (400-500 sailors from RCNVR) manned four flotillas of landing craft during Operation Husky and I think they have been solidly overlooked to this point in time].

So, I wasn't kidding about the salmon : )

Mr. Young may have been the first Canadian writer who rubbed shoulders with a member of RCNVR and Combined Ops, i.e., a nattered stoker: 

William Stewart's articles are familiar to me, and he gets a word in as well on July 14 1943:

Louis V. Hunter may have been the second Canadian writer to rub shoulders with Canadians in Combined Ops, but he is a highly distinguished second because he spent some time with members of two Canadian flotillas once they returned to North Africa after their part was played in Sicily (the 55th and 61st flotillas of assault landing craft, which took 8th Army troops ashore beginning in the early hours of July 10 1943). He mentions "other flotillas have not yet returned", and is referring to the 80th and 81st Canadian flotillas: 

To Mr. Hunter I tip my hat!

I am making a break here, in the middle of an incorrect sentence. It should read, "The first picture... was brought back by Press Relations Officer Lt. Cmdr. E. H. Bartlett, R.C.N., of Toronto, who was ashore briefly on Sicily."

I like the following story because it refers to the resourcefulness of Canadian war correspondents, particularly Ross Munro during the early stages of the invasion of Sicily. How he beat the crowds of other writers, we may never know.

More to follow from the next day's issue of The Winnipeg Tribune, featuring Canadian correspondents.

Please link to War Correspondents: Canadian Writers - Sicily 1943 (3a) for more information.

Unattributed Photos GH

Friday, June 26, 2020

War Correspondents: Canadian Writers - Sicily, 1943 (3)

July 13, 1943, Ross Munro Takes the Cake!

Photo Credit - Library and Archives, Ottawa Canada


This is one instance when a photograph is worth 1,000 words and more. I found it recently posted on a website linked to Facebook called "Canadians in the Italian Campaign in World War II," and as I reflected on the caption I wondered if Ross Munro - in the passenger seat - was able to post a story to a Canadian newspaper on the date mentioned, i.e., July 13 1943.

Thanks to online digitized newspapers (e.g., link to The Winnipeg Tribune) and reels and more reels of microfiche (e.g., The Montreal Star at the University of Western Ontario), I have readily available options to help me answer my own question. Due to COVID-19 I chose the online Tribune.

The answer is "yes" and more. Munro posted on July 13 and so did other Canadian writers. And I was able to find a paragraph that allowed me to imagine that Canadians in Combined Ops were active as well on that day, transporting men and the materials of war to the shores of Sicily - as Allied troops advanced and cried out for ammunition, more petrol for jeeps, ration tins and much, much more.

Below, readers will find news items from the pen of Canadian writers and photographs that provide a look at action (and folks who are trying to catch a few winks) related to the articles. 

Please visit The Winnipeg Tribune by using the link provided above for more information about he various theatres of war, in July and beyond. Happy Hunting, I say. 

Before we get to a lengthy article by Ross Munro, I offer a front page piece by another productive Canadian from The Winnipeg Tribune:

Editor's Note: Mr. Allen mentions in the second paragraph from the top that "Syracuse, Avola and Pachino - were taken with Canadians either on the scene actually at the time of surrender, or in the immediate vicinity." And he is correct in more ways than he was aware at the time of writing. 

He likely became aware that when Syracuse, Avola and Pachino were taken by Allied Army forces, there were some Canadian troops in the area. But what he likely did not know was that there were other Canadians "on the scene... or in the immediate vicinity" - but they were not connected to the army. 

Several hundred members of the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) and Combined Operations had landed British troops (part of Gen. B. Montgomery's Eighth Army) in the 80th and 81st Canadian Flotillas of Landing Craft north of Pachino, between Avola and Syracuse. In Navy memoirs, beaches near Avola (and Noto, farther south) are mentioned more than once.

Leading Seaman Doug Harrison (RCNVR, Comb. Ops, 80th Flotilla) writes:

In late spring of 1943 about two hundred officers and ratings of Combined Ops (CO) left Britain from various ports to man LCMs in the invasion of Sicily on July 10th. Some of these men suffered terribly from dysentery while camped in the desert waiting for slower ships to arrive with their boats and many were still in a weakened condition when they hit the beaches south of Syracuse near a town named Avola and in the Pachino-Marzamemi Beaches further south. These Canadian sailors, with no change of clothing, subsisted on what they could scrounge for themselves for over a month at Sicily. 

Some slept on the beaches and on landing craft and one group found safety from bombs in an abandoned limestone cave near the beach. Very damp and lizardly, it was a welcome haven at night.  

"Dad, Well Done", page 75.

Doug's commanding officer, Lt. Jake Koyl of Saskatoon, mentions in memoirs that the Canadians landed U.K. troops south of Syracuse at JIG, HOW and GEORGE Beaches. The map below reveals how close the beaches are to Avola, i.e., about 1 mile.:

Photo Credit - Royal Naval Beach Commandos 1942-45 

Correspondent Allen was very likely unaware that Canadian sailors were in the vicinity and living in caves near the Avola beaches. During the war, many were the times when the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing. (FYI - Another Navy memoir recounts a sailor's day-long trip into Avola to see what he could see. He likely did not see writer Ralph Allen).

Allen continues:

If the above troops did not make it to Sicily, perhaps they were involved two months later in the invasion of Italy. And while the S.S.R.'s trained atop Universal carriers, the First Canadian Division is drawing closer to Sicily and landing beaches around the corner from Pachino.

Ross Munro offers the following eye-witness account, published in the July 13 issue of The Winnipeg Tribune (but delayed from July 9, 1943):

Readers: Please manoeuvre your way to the top of the right-hand column
above, before continuing with the single column below : )

Though Mr. Munro was not the only Canadian war correspondent in Sicily, he was first off the boat on many occasions, and some related details about his significant stories is mentioned in the July 13 1943 Tribune while he is getting his photo taken in a crowded jeep!

The following article concerns another Canadian war correspondent, Louis V. Hunter... and his wife:

The photo above appeared on the Tribune's front page and I include it here because it is slightly related to the short piece below that is part of a lengthy article that started on the front page as well, on July 13 1943. Below we catch a glimpse of how large the support team had to be in order to feed, fuel and arm the landed Allied armies already moving northwards upon the island of Sicily.

Troop ships and cargo ships off-loaded men and the material of war into assault landing crafts (ALCs or LCAs) and landing craft mechanised (LCMs) which landed and deposited loads continuously for several weeks. Landing crafts and ships filled with tanks and lorries and jeeps and cannons and more men also kept the beaches very busy. 

There were no small roles and Pte. Archie Anderson deserves mention for keeping the supply chain moving - soldiers can live without ration tins for a few days but don't slow down the jerry cans of fuel or crates of ammo or there'd be hell to pay. And don't slow down the landing crafts because large ships can't offload when there are no ports available, which was often the case. 

Note the last sentence!

Canadian war correspondents catch my eye more frequently now than in the past because they often played for the home team and mentioned Canadian units. And on very rare occasions they mentioned the men (e.g., Canadians in Combined Ops aboard landing crafts, and Archie Anderson, etc.) who helped keep the transportation of men and material of war on schedule. 

More to follow from The Winnipeg Tribune concerning Canadian war correspondents. I even think a few Canadians in Combined Operations get mentioned by name!

Unattributed Photos GH