Thursday, July 30, 2020

Harrison Hop Farm Fotos (1)

Vigorous Vines Grow Five - Ten Inches Daily

Hop vines are green actually, but mine are GOLD Medal winners : )

COVID-19 prevents me from arranging free bus tours of my acreage. Free Fotos will have to do : )

The hop flowers grow in size daily, as if in their small way, to reveal a desire to keep up with the vines.

Crank up yer radio (yes, it's a real crank radio), and kick back.

To view photos of another pet interest (not of any pets) please link to Port Bruce: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.

Photos GH

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Six Canadian Sailors Make Headlines (5)

Al Kirby, RCNVR/Combined Operations from Woodstock, Ont.

Al Kirby, a Canadian at Roseneath Camp, Scotland, 1942
Photo Credit - The Memory Project


Al Kirby has been highlighted a few times on the 1,000 Men, 1,000 Stories site, e.g., in an audio file at The Memory Project , in a presentation re his story about the Dieppe Raid (in eight parts!), in group photos from 1943 (prior to Operation Husky) and 1994 (approx.; veterans talking about past experiences), and more.

Recently, while collecting information for another entry, I came across Kirby's audio file and as part of that presentation was an excellent-quality newspaper article (excellent details about his experiences in RCNVR and Combined Ops; excellent resolution photo of the old news report). I knew immediately that it would fit right into this series about "sailors in the news". Regular readers will recall the several changes to the title of this series, starting with "Four Canadian Sailors," then sporting "Five Canadian Sailors," and now "Six...". And you know how research works... one thing leads to another. Don't be surprised if the title undergoes future changes.

Though I have a few authentic photos of Al Kirby, I do not have his Navy records, or any leads to surviving members of his family. However, what is provided already, i.e., links to The Memory Project and his 25-page account of his involvement in the Dieppe Raid, offers readers a significant piece of Canadian World War II history, and what I share below will further add to that information.

I am going to suggest that the newspaper article was published in the Woodstock Sentinel-Review, in December, 1943, after Kirby returned to Canada aboard the Aquitania with my father and other mates in RCNVR and Combined Operations, post two years overseas duties (Jan. 1942 - Dec. 1943)

Seven Canadians returning to Canada in early December, 1943, on
RMS Aquitania. Don "Westy" Westbrook is above the W in Westy.
Al Kirby is behind him. Joe Watson, Simcoe, fixes his collar.
Doug Harrison, Norwich, Ont., is to the right of Joe.

The name of the Woodstock reporter is not given but when he says, "Not yet 20, (Leading Seaman Kirby) has three years' service," he is including Al's several months of training in Esquimalt, B.C., and Halifax, N.S., where he met many of the mates he appears with on board the Aquitania (above) and subsequent photographs.

It was in Halifax he took a torpedo course, which he refers to in a very significant story found in a small newsletter I have in my possession. 

Al Kirby writes:


In December of 1941, I was finishing my Seaman Torpedo Course at the Torpedo School in Halifax Dockyard, when I saw on the bulletin board, a notice asking for volunteers to go to England to train with the Royal navy for hazardous duties on small craft. I immediately thought MTBs (Motor Torpedo Boats). Now that sounded very exciting to a 17-year-old RCN Boy Seaman, so I reported to the R.P.O. (Petty Officer) and applied. The only qualification was that you be single and warm.

About December 20th, a hundred of us were loaded on to trucks and delivered to the ocean jetty behind the Nova Scotian Hotel and were marched aboard the Queen of Bermuda. She was a rather large liner, converted to an A.M.C.* with six-inch guns and she looked very impressive, sort of a big brother to Prince Robert.

[*merchant cruiser (AMC). An AMC is simply a fast liner that is requisitioned and armed by the government in wartime for naval service, manned by a naval crew. Its usual duties are to patrol trade routes, convoy merchant ships, and intercept warships that may be engaged in commerce-raiding against friendly shipping. Definition found online, linked to a lengthy, scholarly story about HMCS Prince Robert

That evening, just before supper, a tug pulled us out into the fairway and turned us around and we began to steam out of the harbour, all excited about our new adventure, but still not having been told what these small craft were. The buzzes (rumours) ran rampant, but I still clung to my belief that we were headed for MTB training...

...I went up to the upper deck to watch Halifax go over the horizon. I found the decks crowded with all kinds of sailors and what appeared to be utter confusion. Asking one of the juicier crew what all the excitement was, I was told that we had run aground. There was quite a blizzard coming down at the time and with the coming darkness I couldn't see a thing from the stern, so I went right forward on the focsie (forecastle, aka fo'c'sle) to take a look. To my astonishment, there was a big cliff no more than a hundred feet ahead of us and the ship was stopped... we were up against Chebucto Head...

Next morning, the rising tide lifted us off and we were towed back into harbour and disembarked. Since (HMCS) Stadacona had no place to put us, we were all sent home for Christmas and new years on - of all things - survivors' leave. It was late in January that we re-embarked to arrive in Scotland and learn that we were destined to join combined operations, driving landing craft.

                        The Yardarm, Volume 5, Number 1, RCN Assoc., 1993
                        Oxford County Navy Veterans Association

I referred to this story as "very significant" earlier, and I think for good reasons. People wanting to know more about the 1,000 (approx.) members of RCNVR who volunteered for Combined Operations (C.O.) may find aspects of an origin story here. These 100 sailors training at Halifax were the first drafts to go overseas to train aboard landing crafts to answer the call from the C.O. organization and the Royal Navy. We also learn the men did not exactly know what they volunteered to do until they arrived in the U.K. And though the aforementioned 100 sailors did not have difficulty volunteering for C.O. (e.g., they were single and warm), they certainly had trouble 'getting out of Dodge'. Two other accounts of the ship running aground can be found on this site and the report that the ship that eventually got them safely to Greenock, Scotland was the Dutch liner Volendam. 

As well, according to my father's memoirs, the buzz that may have sparked the sailors' initial interest in volunteering for Combined Operations may have come from Al Kirby.

Canada's first link to Combined Operations may have started with a buzz
at Wellington Barracks, HMCS Stadacona, in Halifax, late 1941.
Photo Credit - Nova Scotia Museum

Doug Harrison writes:

One day we heard a mess deck buzz or rumour that the navy* was looking for volunteers for special duties overseas, with nine days leave thrown in. Many from the Effingham Division, including myself, once again volunteered. (Will I ever quit volunteering?) The buzz turned out to be true and we came home on leave, which involved three days coming home on a train, three days at home and three days on the train going back.

[*If my father is referring to the Royal Navy then we may have a direct connection to Kirby spotting the 'notice on the Dockyard bulletin board'.]

After returning from leave we were put aboard a large passenger liner, Queen of Bermuda, which went aground going astern as we left harbour and couldn’t be moved. We bailed water all night with pails - on a huge ship like that - like emptying a pail of sand one grain at a time. However, we were transferred to a Dutch ship called the Volendam, with a large number of Air Force men. This was to be an eventful trip. 

Page 8, "Dad, Well Done"

The detailed article from Kirby's Woodstock newspaper continues: 

In Part 7 of Kirby's account re the Dieppe Raid,  one can read specific details re his responsibilities associated with manning a landing craft just offshore the beaches at Dieppe - a more complete timeline is given in Parts 6 and 7 - and how he responded to orders given him as an 18-year-old seaman.

When back in England the Canadians took part in more training activities and Kirby is highlighted in one part of my father's memoirs. He writes:

Nearby was the H.M.S. Chamois camp*. We moved there for a time and still used the same wet canteen. O/D Kirby* of Woodstock, a very young man (possibly 17 or 18 years old), got quite drunk and on his way back to camp was challenged to show his ID card. After he did so he went on to his barracks but then started to brood.

“No 5 ft. 2 in. English guard is going to challenge me for my ID card,” he said.

So, back he goes to pick a quarrel. Quite soon came an order: “You, you, and you. Take a stretcher down to the gate.” Who should come back but young Kirby, quite unconscious. The guard just slammed him over the head with the butt of his rifle.

Page 15, "Dad, Well Done"

Hmmm. It pays not to get too cocky with a 5 ft. 2 in. guard!

Two Canadians in Combined Ops stand guard in Scotland.
Doug Harrison (left), Al Kirby. Exact date, location NA

[*HMS Chamois was just south of HMS Quebec, the No. 1 Combined Operations Training

Centre; both are about 2 miles south of Inveraray, Scotland, on Loch Fyne. Dad refers to

Kirby's rank as O/D, i.e., Ordinary Seaman. So the story may have occurred in the spring

of 1942, before Kirby passed tests to become Able Bodied Seaman (A/B) or Leading

Seaman (L/S).]

In November, 1942, Al Kirby accompanied 100 or more other Canadians in Combined

Operations to the shores of North Africa to take part in Operation Torch. My father

landed American troops (possibly Rangers), part of the Centre Task Force, near Arzew.

I assume Kirby was in a flotilla nearby.

A Canadian sailor that is a dead ringer for my father leads US troops to

shore, November 8 - 10, 1942. It looks like two RN officers are also on

the Landing craft, Assault (LCA).

Arzew is just east of Oran, northern Algeria

The news article continues, with details about Kirby's role during Operation Husky
(invasion of Sicily) beginning in July, 1943.

Al Kirby, second from right, relaxes (inside a landing craft?) on board
a troop ship, while travelling around Africa, summer 1943, prior to the
invasion of Sicily. Photo Credit - The Memory Project

The members of the 55th and 61st Canadian Flotillas of landing craft had the role of transporting troops to shore during the very early stages of Operation Husky, likely using British LCAs (Landing Craft, Assault). The 80th and 81st Flotillas followed closely behind, transporting ammunition, fuel, machinery and all other materials of war in Landing Craft, Mechanised (LCMs).

Lloyd Evans, Joe Watson and Doug Harrison (all featured in this series of posts) mention the role of the Luftwaffe and how persistent were the bombings and strafings during the first three days of landings at George, Jig and How beaches on the SE coast of Sicily, between Avola and Syracuse.

My father (80th Flotilla) writes:

We started unloading supplies with our LCMs about a half mile off the beach and then the worst began - German bombers. We were bombed 36 times in the first 72 hours - at dusk, at night, at dawn and all day long, and they said we had complete command of the air. 

We fired at everything. I saw P38s, German and Italian fighters and my first dogfights. Stukas blew up working parties on the beach once when I was only about one hundred feet out. Utter death and carnage. Our American gun crews had nothing but coffee for three or four days and stayed close to their guns all the time. I give them credit.

Dad, Well Done, page 32

Map of Sicily landings from Combined Operations, by Clayton Marks

After the troops were on shore the 55th and 61st Flotillas returned to North Africa. The 80th and 81st stayed in Sicily for about 4 weeks. Soon thereafter, preparations were made for the invasion of Italy, Operation Baytown (at Reggio di Calabria, on the toe of the boot).

The remainder of the news article featuring L/S Al Kirby follows:

Editor's Note - I have found a few stories by the above-mentioned war correspondent Lt. Cmdr. Bartlett, and I may collect them in one place in the future, under the 'click on Heading' war correspondents in the right margin. If Kirby's name is mentioned I will link the article to this post.

Before we leave Kirby's adventures in The Med behind, I will display a very good photo in which he is found, taken prior to the invasion of Sicily:

As found in another book of stories by Canadians in Combined Operations,
St. Nazaire to Singapore, The Canadian Amphibious War, Volume 1

Where Kirby served after Christmas, 1943, I do not know, but I will keep my eyes peeled for more information related to the young sailor, along with A/B Jack Thompson of Moosejaw and Bruce Hawkins of Tillsonburg.

Al Kirby was a young recruit who saw a good chunk of the world in a short period of time, survived "chaos and carnage", and like many members of the armed forces, returned to Canada with a bride. I believe he settled down in Woodstock, Ontario, and he was active in his local Navy Association.

He was also active in collecting, writing and promoting stories related to Combined Operations. His 25-page account re the Dieppe Raid appears in Combined Operations by Londoner Clayton Marks (see next photo). And that book went on to inspire other C.O. veterans (see David lewis, below) to write, collect and self-publish two more volumes of rare stories. I tip my hat to them all. Without their help this archive would be very thin, indeed.

Sharing memories in London, on Clayton's back porch.
As found in Combined Operations by Mr. Marks

More information about Doug Harrison (already featured in this series of posts) and Buryl McIntyre, both of Norwich, will soon follow. Stay tuned.

Please link to Six Canadian Sailors Make Headlines (4b) for more news articles linked to members of RCNVR and Combined Operations.

Unattributed Photos GH

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Six Canadian Sailors Make Headlines (4b)

LS Art Bradfield, Land Establishments and Ships Ahoy!

L - R: Al, Joe, Chuck, Doug, Art, Don, Joe, Jake; at HMS Northney III, UK 1942
Their first training camp re learning about landing crafts, and not their last.
Photo Credit - From the collection of Joe Spencer, 2nd from left.


By the end of WWII about 950 - 1,000 Canadians (members of RCNVR) had volunteered to join Combined Operations (British organization; some would say "on loan to the Royal Navy"), had trained at several training camps that lined the coasts of the United Kingdom*, and had travelled aboard various types of landing craft and several different stalwart ships.

[*Later, in the fall of 1943, a Combined Operations training camp was established in Canada - in Comox, British Columbia, and some of the above sailors (including my father, Doug) served there after two years of overseas duty.]

Art Bradfield and mates were soon training at HMS Quebec, Inveraray,
and HMS Dundonald, south of Irvine, and near Troon, Scotland, 1942 

"Some of the above sailors served... in Comox, B.C." (1944 - 45)

Comox base was known as Givenchy III beginning in Oct. 1943
Photo - Navy records of Doug Harrison, RCNVR, Comb. Ops

The 950 to 1,000 men eventually participated in a distinguished list of significant, sometimes tragic, chaotic raids and enormous operations that included (for some) their first action - the Dieppe Raid - and subsequently, the invasions of North Africa (Operation Torch, 1942), Sicily (Operation Husky, 1943), Italy (Operations Baytown at Reggio di Calabria; Operation Avalanche at Salerno, both 1943), and Normandy (Operation Neptune, 1944). 

Not all of the 1,000 men were present at any one time in those actions.

LS Art Bradfield and his mates in the top photograph, because they were part of the first draft of Canadian sailors to go overseas, came to the end of their first two-year stint with RCNVR/Combined Operations in December, 1943 and were given the opportunity to return to Canada on leave, and while there they considered their options for future service*. Some, including Art, stayed on the East Coast of Canada; some volunteered for service at the newly-formed Combined Operations training camp on Vancouver Island, on the West Coast of Canada. 

[*It is my understanding, many members of RCNVR/Combined Operations, having enlisted at a later date, e.g., in 1942 - 44, were on hand in Europe to participate in D-Day Normandy.]

Art Bradfield's experiences overseas mirrored that of some of his mates, in terms of where he trained and served, but after his oversea's service was completed (Nov. - Dec. 1943) he travelled in a unique and very interesting route, as his list of land establishments and ships, and 1944 news clip (introduced in the earlier post 'Headlines (4a)) will indicate.

Art's list of land establishments and ships (numbered 3 - 13) will
tell us a good deal about his travels during World War II

After some training re landing crafts (and carrying out other duties, e.g., standing guard, perhaps with a broom), Art returned to HMCS Niobe near or in Greenock, Scotland, in late March 1942 until getting shipped to HMS Quebec, Combined Operations No. 1 Training Camp near Inveraray, Scotland. 

H.M.S. Quebec - This is the camp in which the Canadians quickly got their feet wet related to training on landing crafts, with and without soldiers on board. Much had to be learned about various types of crafts (personnel, assault and mechanised landing crafts) and landing craft repairs and tides and kedge anchors, etc.

A29892. General view of HMS QUEBEC, Inveraray, from the North.
RN Photographer Lt. E.A. Zimmerman, Imperial War Museum.

A29897. Part of the training pool reserve at QUEBEC.
Photo - Lt. E.A. Zimmerman, Imperial War Museum.

More photographs related to training at HMS Quebec and be found here.

H.M.S. Dundonald* - A large training camp, found between Irvine and Troon, that allowed the Canadians to train aboard various landing crafts, including the Iris and Daffodil (listed #3 and #5 respectively; train ferries converted to transport landing crafts).

My father writes:

Soon after (i.e., some initial training at HMS Quebec), my group was sent up the Loch (Fyne) to Irvine and I shall always remember that town. We practiced running our ALC up the stern of the Iris and Daffodil, i.e., train ferries in peace time that carried whole trains across the channel between England and France. They were later to be used as ALC transports.

Their sterns were nearly completely open, but with waves and a stiff wind blowing it was difficult to hit the opening. We practiced and practiced, and once in, winches were used and helped get barges onto tracks. ("Dad, Well Done" page 15)

[*Dundonald is given the number 4 by Mr. Bradfield, as if it was the 4th vessel he had been associated with while overseas, but I have found no reference to to such a vessel. However, H.M.S. Dundonald was definitely a camp the Canadians would have been associated with, though the navy camp was called Auchengate, and there was an RAF Dundonald nearby as well, so it may have been hard for veterans to recollect all the the various camps and ships they were connected to or that were nearby their own.] 

H.M.S. Roseneath - A camp in NW Scotland that Art is associated with by a few short lines from my father's memoirs. The Canadian sailors went from place to place without much notice, to make use of various vessels when they came available. Little did they know they were preparing for their first action, i.e., the Dieppe raid of August 19, 1942. 

My father writes:

About Roseneath camp. It was where many chaps came down with impetigo and they were put on Gentian violet, the colour of an elderberry stain.

O/S Art Bradfield, of Bradfield Monuments in Simcoe (Ontario), went to Dieppe in pajamas - under his uniform - the only man to go to Dieppe in pajamas, and he got out of bed in Roseneath to do it. (Page 38, "DAD, WELL DONE")

Art is on the far right, back row. Not in pajamas, I would say.
Please note the caption above: "A celebration (was held) at Brighton on 
their own instead of the LSI (landing ship, infantry) Duke of Wellington."
Photo as found in St. Nazaire to Singapore, Volume 1

H.M.T.S. Ettrick - In the late spring or early summer of 1942, after training time at H.M.S. Dundonald, Art returned to H.M.S. Quebec near Inveraray, and recalls - according to his list of land establishments and ships - the Ettrick, a ship parked off the shore of Inveraray. Upon that ship the Canadians developed their climbing muscles.

Training ship Ettrick, with Inveraray in background. The Canadians'
first action, unknown to them, would be the Dieppe raid, August, 1942
Photo credit -

My father writes that the sailors "clambered up scrambling nets (seen in photo, astern of the exterior stairway) and Jacob's ladders and became very proficient because we learned to use just our hands.... Her freeboard was high, i.e., the distance between the water line and hand rails, and we got so it took about three seconds to drop 25 - 30 feet on scrambling nets." (page 13, "Dad, Well Done." )

H.M.S. Ennerdale - After training at H.M.S. Quebec, the Canadian sailors were shipped to the southern coast of England in preparation for Operation Rutter (first - and cancelled - attempt re Dieppe raid) and Operation Jubilee, the actual Dieppe raid. They travelled aboard the H.M.S. Ennerdale, which may have been a converted oil tanker. Records and photographs already presented confirm that Art Bradfield participated in and fortunately survived the raid. 

H.M.S. Duke of Wellington - This ship is mentioned in the caption accompanying a photo of the "A Dieppe Eightsome" (second photo above), so Mr. Bradfield likely recalls the ship as the one carrying his landing craft across the English Channel to its drop off zone. It was seen by my father as it left for Dieppe on August 19th: "I wasn't there (to depart for Dieppe) because I was on leave but came back early (because, though I didn't know where, I knew there was a raid coming) and was in position to see the Duke of Wellington carrying barges, my oppo and other buddies to Dieppe and certain death for the soldiers." (page 20, "Dad, Well Done"

H.M.S. Louisburg I am going to suggest that Art mixed up the order for this next entry on his list of ships, etc. I have found no information re an H.M.S. Louisburg connected to the Dieppe raid but have discovered the following few lines at a fairly reliable source re an H.M.C.S. Louisburg. I believe Mr. Bradfield may have connected with the ship during Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, in November, 1942, a few months after the Dieppe raid:

In September 1942 Louisburg was sent to the United Kingdom as part of the Canadian contribution to Operation Torch. On 9 December 1942 she was rammed by HMS Bideford while anchored at Derry. She spent five weeks in repair yards at Belfast recovering from the damage. Upon her return to service, she was assigned to escort Torch-related convoysWikipedia

Summary re remaining ship on Mr. Bradfield's list:

Four last ships, and two last camps/bases

H.M.S. Glengyle - Because Mr. Bradfield very likely took part - along with many other Canadians In Combined Operations - in Operation Torch (invasion of North Africa, Nov. 1942) and Operation Husky (invasion of Sicily, July 1943), he may have had travelled on a few ocean-going voyages on the H.M.S. Glengyle. 

The following is found re that ship online:

She returned to the Mediterranean in November, where she was used to transport US troops for the Operation Torch landings, and was also involved in the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. Wikipedia

These ships are likely the last two vessels Mr. Bradfield travelled upon in the Mediterranean theatre of war in 1943 (i.e., to travel from Sicily to North Africa, then to Gibraltar, and then to England) before returning to H.M.C.S. Niobe in Scotland, before returning to Canada on leave.

H.M.C.S. Gatineau - We read that Mr. Bradfield served aboard the Gatineau, related to convoy duty, after his two years of service in Europe. Perhaps after being aboard the corvette H.M.C.S. Louisburg (mentioned earlier), he had wanted to try his hand at another type of service in something a bit bigger, and unrelated to landing crafts.

"North Atlantic convoys in the destroyer HMCS Gatineau

H.M.C.S. Avalon - This Canadian Navy base in Newfoundland not only put Art to work as a rigger, but served as a launch pad for a very interesting side career as a poet and actor.

I place a high value on Mr. Bradfield's handwritten list of ships he travelled or served aboard, and Navy or Combined Ops training bases he was attached to in some way. My father's own records (below) only reveal land establishments, and does not include some camps the sailors visited for a few days on their way from e.g., an invasion, to their next training camp.

The dates are very helpful. "Copra" was a mystery for awhile.
(Combined Operations Payments, Records and Accounts)

So, to have the names of some of the ships, and associated duties that sailors were sometimes given while aboard, provides a worthwhile educational opportunity.

More information about another Canadian sailor who made headlines will follow.

Please link to Articles: Six Canadian Sailors Make Headlines (4a) for more information about Art Bradfield (RCNVR, Combined Operations).

Unattributed Photos GH