News from Italy Rules the Roost, from The Winnipeg Tribune
* 'Smokey Joe' Runs a Close Second, from The Windsor Star *
Readers may ask, "Who is this Smokey Joe?" Just hang in there, eh!
This series of entries will be lengthy and readers will require patience when perusing materials associated with it. The entries will chiefly be filled with news items (articles, photographs, editorial cartoons, etc.) related to Allied progress in Italy and other theatres of war. And the news items will focus on the actions and events during January and February 1944, and not much more.
That being said, occasionally I will find a snippet of information about WWII veterans returning to Canada. The veterans, for the most part, were coming back to their homes due to injuries suffered on the field of battle. And because I am collecting these news items from The Winnipeg Tribune the combatants we learn about are generally from Winnipeg or area.
However, amongst the veterans returning home (rarely, every once in a very wee while) are a few Canadians in Combined Operations (see top photo!) who served during the Dieppe Raid, and subsequent invasions of North Africa (Nov. 1942) and Sicily (July 1943) and Italy (September 1943), and were returning to Canada on leave, before again volunteering for (or being placed in) service in various locations.
Canadian sailors cluster aboard Aquitania on its way to Halifax, 1943
L- R (front): Chuck (Rosie) Rose, Don (Westy) Westbrook, Al Kirby,
Joe Watson (straightening collar), Doug (Do-go, Cactus) Harrison
(My father and mates ended up at a Navy base (HMCS Givenchy III
) on Vancouver Island; others served on the East Coast (HMCS Avalon
, Nfld.); others returned to Europe and participated in D-Day France).
Able Seaman Lloyd Evans of Ottawa (left side of very top photo) writes about his WWII experiences that occurred after his return to Canada in his extensive memoirs as found at Combined Operations Command
, a very-detailed website created by Scotsman Geoff Slee. And though I have not been able to track down more information about AB Jean Kroon of Standard, Alta (right side of very top photo), I have received the following news article and rare photographs from the nephew of Thomas 'Smokey Joe' Fawdry of Harrow Ontario (the middle sailor).
Though it is apparent that the news article is from a newspaper linked to Harrow (likely The Windsor Star
) and first appeared in June 1944, about a week after D-Day Normandy, I include it here as it very closely relates to and supports my wish to find and present more information about those Canadians in Combined Operations who returned home in late 1943 or early 1944 and were featured or mentioned in news articles of the day. (Yes, June is close enough to January or February for me. Plus, I said in the first entry
that I would present the news article as soon as it arrived in the Royal Mail).
The following appear with a tip of the hat to Chuck Fawdry, Harrow ONT:
The next three excellent photographs are from Chuck Fawdry's collection:
Note to self: "Can we find a good photo of OS (Ordinary Seaman) Gale?"
The informative article provides names and addresses of sailors and other details that open up lines of inquiries for future research.
More information concerning Smokey Joe and the LCI(L)s he worked on during D-Day Normandy will be shared on a separate post in the near future.
And now, more news from digitized issues of The Winnipeg Tribune, from January 8 to 11, 1944:
We learn that Germany is in retreat on more fronts than one:
Canadians play a productive role in many ways in or near Ortona, Italy:
Canadians play an important (yet little known) role in the air as well. Kitty Hawks - aka "slow kites" - are involved too:
U.S. forces have their hands full, and so does the Mosley family!
Canadian forces share a house? Not for long -
Here is good news about the return to Canada of Canadians wounded in Sicily and the Italian campaign. Great smiles!
It was not long after the beginning of World War II that Allied planners realized that there would be an unprecedented need for various types of landing craft, of all sizes, to carry 10s of 1,000s of men and all the material of war to hostile foreign shores.
We read the following in a book dedicated to the history of Combined Operations:
Obviously two of the most urgent problems were the provision of Landing ships and craft, and the crews to man them. ...But as an illustration of the magnitude of the crew problem, the Joint Planners, in the very month of Mountbatten's appointment (Editor: On Oct. 27, 1941, Lord L. Mountbatten replaced Roger Keyes as Commander of Combined Ops), had persuaded the Chiefs of Staff that our requirements in LCTs (landing craft, tanks) alone for the eventual invasion would be 2,500 - 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 (Editor: The first 50 ratings, including my father, came from the Effingham Division of the RCNVR, Halifax, late 1941), but this was a drop in the bucket.
The Watery Maze by Bernard Fergusson
So, hurry up!
Many of the operations marked in red involved Canadians in Combined Ops
Photo - From inside front cover of The Watery Maze
War stories are shared - some are hair-raising - by Canadians who have returned from Europe:
The following photos relate to Canadians mentioned in the above article:
The story and photo below - both found in the January 10 issue - briefly features the Leguee family, including Pte. George H. ("Bert"?) Leguee, with the biggest smile, "the first of six sons on active service to return."
Then, the very next day, in the January 11 issue, I spotted the following:
Lest we forget, war is no friend to any of us and doesn't play favourites.
The map below provides a few clues about how far the Allies have progressed since Oct. 1. Recall that the landings in Italy began at Reggio (toe of the boot) on Sept.3 and at Salerno (near bottom edge of the map) on Sept. 9. Long slow slog does describe the progress in many regions overall:
Canadian war correspondent Doug Amaron has quite the tale to tell:
FYI - the pianist above has nothing to do with the story. He just happened
to be sharing space with Canadians and Germans on the same page.
Note - "Fighting General Mud" (#7 above) is likely an Italian news reel!
Canadian war correspondent Dick Sanburn has another story re aircraft, this time re the Luftwaffe:
Where's the typesetter!?
We finish today's entry with a short peek at how life at Royal Roads is going. "Royally," some will say:
More news soon to follow from The Winnipeg Tribune and other related sources.
Unattributed Photos GH