Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Photographs: Canadians in "Combined Operations", Part 1

 Combined Operations*, a Rare Text by Londoner Clayton Marks

Several Photographs Within are One-of-a-Kind as Well

Clayton Marks is back row (left). He did the writing and his wife Jewel did 
the typing. Combined Operations* was first printed/distributed in 1994.
The photo, taken in a photo studio in Glasgow, is found on page 89

[*This significant WWII history book - related to the 950 - 1,000 Canadians who volunteered for Combined Operations Command, a British organization - was reprinted in 2016 and is available via this site. See "books for sale re Combined Operations" under 'click on HEADINGS' in right-side margin.]


The 950 - 1,000 members of RCNVR who joined Combined Operations beginning in December, 1941, trained how to man and operate various types of landing craft soon after reaching the U.K., including Landing Craft, Assault (ALCs), Landing Craft, Mechanised (LCMs), Landing Craft (for) Infantry, Large (LCI(L)s) and more.

During the first two years of their service they participated in the Dieppe Raid (Operations Rutter and Jubilee on July 7 and Aug. 19, 1942 respectively), the invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch, beginning Nov. 8, 1942), the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky, beginning July 10, 1943), and the invasion of Italy (Operations Baytown and Avalanche, beginning Sept. 3 and 9, 1943, respectively).  

They suffered the first losses to their landing craft crews at Dieppe but persevered throughout the war and earned high praise - e.g., from General B. Montgomery for their outstanding efforts in Sicily - for transporting troops and all the material of war to (at times) heavily defended shores amidst "chaos and carnage."

Clayton Marks documents a good part of the Canadian story and inspired fellow shipmates to record more stories after his book was sold and distributed, e.g., at navy reunions. Links to two other volumes of Navy veterans' stories, entitled St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War, are provided on this website - e.g., Volume One; as well, Volume Two. (Links/addresses change on occasion; email gordh7700@gmail.com for assistance, if required).

Mr. marks also attempted to include photographs from his own collection and from other sailors using copying equipment from the 1990s. Some are quite good and others are in rough shape. I share his photos here (and some alternative options found online or in other books) with a bit of information related to the actions and events re Combined Operations.

The front cover - 

Combined Ops insignia, three military forces represented

The book's Introduction (Page 1) begins with the following:

This record contains some of the accounts and experiences of Royal Canadian Naval Personnel who served in Combined Operations during World War II. The growth of Combined Operations was considerable, from a small unit in 1941 to the utmost by D-Day (Normandy), 1944. 

Here are stories and data from the Officers and Ratings who served in this Organization. Whether these operations failed or succeeded has not been taken into account, but are presented here as they happened. 


The author wishes to acknowledge the many shipmates who contributed pictures, stories, sagas and many memories of our experiences in the Royal Canadian Navy (Combined Operations).

A special thanks to David Lewis, Roy Burt and Donald Kemsley for their assistance, and for pictures from their private collections. A special debt of gratitude is owed to Bill Grycan, Al Kirby, F.J. McParlan, Ted Zeally, Mac Rattan, Bill Prout, Everett Smith, Major C.H. Murphy and Robert McRae, to mention only a few of the many shipmates who so freely recalled the events and experiences that altered their lives. Also, to the memory of Tom Pickles, Bill Roberts, Lt. Dana Ramsay and Lt. Cdr. Jack Koyl for their part in our history...

The first illustration reveals the operations (and their start dates) that - for the most part - involved many Canadians in Combined Operations, beginning with St. Nazaire (western coast of France), March 8, '42. No credit is given to the illustrator/source but I include another copy from a known source.

Three boxes with hand-written details (top left corner, bottom right)
may be the operations/actions in which C. Marks was involved

Inside front cover of The Watery Maze by B. Fergusson

On Page 7 we find the following map of the U.K. revealing the many Combined Operations (C.O.) establishments:

Source: History of the Combined Operations Organization, 1940 - 1945
Published in London, 1956. Page 11

A coloured version of the map can be found at Combined Operations Command, a significant website for all to visit, created and maintained by Scotsman Geoff Slee.

Western Scotland was home to several C.O. training camps and details concerning one of the most important - No. 4, HMS Quebec (near Inveraray) - are provided on Page 2 of the Introduction:


The Museum, the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom, was opened by Lord Lovat, the famous and much decorated Commando Leader, on May 25, 1984, in the presence of the Chiefs of Services in Scotland. It is located in Cherry Park, a few moments walk from the Castle, being established and managed by the Argyll Estates Trustees.

Lord Lovat at Newhaven after returning from the Dieppe Raid
August 1942. Source - Wikipedia

Inveraray was the first Combined Operations Training base from which assault landing techniques were evolved and nearly every raid that was made on the enemy coast line, such as The Lofoten Islands, Vaagso, Bruneval, St. Nazaire, Dieppe, The North African Landings, Sicily, Salerno, etc., owed something in its composition, either men, materials, or planning, to Inveraray.

Often in the early raids, Inveraray acted as an assembly point for landing craft and assault ships before their despatch on operations.

Over a quarter of a million troops of many nationalities passed through this town, forces from the United States of America, Canada, The Free French, The Netherlands, Norway, to mention a few...

Sometime after Mr. Marks' book was written the C. O. Museum was closed. That being said, during a trip to Scotland in 2014 I had the privilege of meeting both Geoff and Margaret Slee at their home (Geoff created and maintains Combined Operations Command website), along with Jim Jepson and his wife Patricia (Jim was the last curator of the C.O. Museum) while I walked the grounds of a caravan park, formerly HMS Quebec, Combined Operations No. 1 Training Ground (after Geoff and Margaret's offer to drive me there).

Geoff Slee and Gord Harrison at Slee residence.We look
like twins in our striped jerseys and blue jeans

Geoff and Margaret Slee. Please note the newsletter on table...
The 'Bulldozer' is a C.O. publication put out by Jim Jepson

At the former site of HMS Quebec, on a gray, drizzly day

Caravans are located beside Loch Fyne, a site that was home to
many wooden cabins for Allied forces during WWII

Imagine dozens of various types of landing craft atop these calm waters

Jim Jepson, short like me, tries to open the Combined Ops Flag

Roof tops and hill tops in Inveraray

This Inveraray street scene scene has not changed much since WWII.
Jim J. is in the lower far left corner, waiting to guide me to a diner.

After lunch in Inveraray with the Slees and Jepsons, we drove south along the coast road of Loch Fyne to the Jepson residence in Furnace.

The view toward Inveraray from the Jepson driveway

The bird's eye view from Furnace to the far side of Loch Fyne

The entrance to Jim and Patricia Jepson's home

While there, Jim handed me a book and said, "You should get this one. Lots of details re landing craft and Combined Operations events." 

The book's bottom photo reveals troops scrambling from a Landing
Craft Assault onto shores of Loch Fyne at HMS Quebec, WW2 

While leafing through it I came across the following photo:

Caption as found at Imperial War Museum: Troops and ammunition for light guns
being brought ashore from a landing craft assault (ramped) (LCA 428) on Arzeu
beach, Algeria, North Africa, whilst another LCA (LCA 287) approaches the
beach. Operation 'Torch', November 1942. Lt. F. A. Hudson, A12671 IWM

Having read my father's navy memoirs front to back several times I knew he landed American troops at Arzeu on November 8, 1942. I was tempted to bend the book so I could see more of the sailor's face (centre, left of seam) but it wasn't my book. And I knew in my bones it was Dad, and I have since found other photos taken by Lt. F. A. Hudson on that same day. I can spot my father in two more of Hudson's collection. (Yes, later I did buy the book too!)

Before the end of the memorable day at Inveraray and Furnace I recall saying to the Slees and Jepsons that I recognized my father in the book, and being sent home (AirBnB, Glasgow) with a lovely souvenir from the Combined Operations Museum.

[Also of note, Canada also had a land establishment re Comb. Ops., at Comox, B.C. It was commissioned in 1943, it's name was HMCS Givenchy III and my father served there with scores of other Canadian sailors from Jan. 1944 - late summer 1945. While there they played a bit of baseball, and sported jackets with a C.O. crest. Below, the sharp-eyed reader will spot a few C.O. crests relatively clearly, with the rifle pointing to the right. Rare item!!]

Navy No. 1 baseball team, HMCS Givenchy III, Comox, B.C., 1944
Back (L - R): Unknown, Ed Chambers, Bill Grycan, Unknown, George
Hobson (coach), Chuck Rose. Front (L - R): Doug Harrison, Jim Malone, 
D. Arney, Art Warrick, Joe Spencer. Collection of D. Harrison

Page 8 of Clayton's Combined Operations is devoted to four photographs of 'Our Leaders'. Unfortunately names were not provided. I believe I have seen the 2nd photo in my father's collection (I have been unable to locate it for this post) and hope to provide it later.

Lt. David Lewis connected with Clayton after Combined Operations
was published. He went on to collect stories and published two very
rare books re Canadians in Combined Ops. St. Nazaire to Singapore
(Links are provided to two volumes in my opening paragraphs above)

I see one familiar face, i.e., Lt. Cmdr. J. Koyl, front row, far left

Ed Corbett, far left. C. Marks, centre. Jack Koyl is far right

My father wrote a story or two re Jack Koyl and I have a few more pictures of him:

Jack Koyl is far right. Location is (Navy) Camp Auchengate, between 
Irvine and Troon, Scotland. Training aboard landing crafts took place.

Lt. J. Koyl is back row, first left. Location, HMS Saunders, July, 1943

Photo and caption are found in a volume of St. Nazaire to Singapore:

Obituary found online by Editor:

I conclude this post re photos from and related to Combined Operations by Londoner Clayton Marks, with a pretty clean shot of officers from the memoirs of Lloyd Evans (RCNVR, Combined Operations) with a related caption from a volume of St. Nazaire to Singapore:

I think Sub Lt. R. Crothers (back row, far right) is in an earlier photo w caption "Why Our Side Won". I could be wrong. I am pretty sure he contributed a good story as well to one of the volumes of St. Nazaire to Singapore as well. But that's for another day.

More to follow re photos from Combined Operations by Londoner Clayton Marks.

To view other photographs re Canadians in Combined Operations please link to

1) Officers: Lt. Jake Koyl, Big Shoes to Fill

2) Photographs: Aging Veterans Connect at Navy Reunions (Parts 1 - 3)

Unattributed Photos GH

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Video: Beer Tour in Hamilton

David, Paul and Gord Harrison (Dad) Hit Hamilton

So Many Fine Beers to Sample, So Little Time!!

I like sampling different kinds - all kinds - of beer. Why, last March, on
St. Patrick's Day, I sampled one in Gibbons Park. March Break, eh!!

A nice stout hits the spot! [A GH Video - 10 seconds]


The pandemic has slowed down my thirst for beer tours, and when I watch the video below [52 seconds] the desire returns, especially for a trip back to Hamilton. Merit, Brain and Grit, Fairweathers, Collective Arts - all excellent craft breweries. And The Brain is a sweet little bar with a very decent beer selection. Paul and David found a rare beer from Half Hours on Earth (Wingham, Ontario - now closed) at The Brain... so their interest in another beer tour in Hamilton is high.

Collective Arts lives up to its name; art was everywhere!!

Please link to more photos re Small Pleasures.

Second Video by David Harrison

Videos: Riding to Mont Tremblant (1)

 The Way to Mont Tremblant is Often Uphill

David and part of the gang push hard; I cruise along easily.
Video - 31 seconds


My oldest son David and a few friends raise money for a worthy cause by riding expensive road bikes to significant destinations. One year Team Stephie cycled from Lindsay to Mont Tremblant, the distance spread over three days and two nights. 

I owned a dependable motorcycle at the time so I tagged along and took a few photos and videos.

Below, a slightly longer video [48 seconds]

Please link here to see more exciting adventures on motorcycle or bicycle - Motorcycle Miles 7: Port Bruce at Its Best

Unattributed Photos GH

Videos GH

Video: Dad's Navy Duffel Bag (No Music)

 Cool Navy Duffel Bag Goes Missing; Boy Scout to Blame!

A Collector of Militaria Googles 'Doug Harrison, V8809'

"What's this?" you say. I'm enjoying a trip back to 1963. GH


The concept of time travel relates somewhat easily to the imagination: We can see ourselves - in our minds eye - streak through space both backward and forward in time, e.g., talking again with mates from high school, 1960's music playing in the background: or, e.g., walking in the future with a grandson who realizes he looks a lot like his grandfather now that his hair has turned gray.

Sometimes an object from the past - because of a certain smell, colour or ability to prompt a hidden memory - takes us back many years. 

On Fathers' Day, 2021, I opened a parcel and my mind went back to 1963 or 1964. It would have resonated with 1944 in my father's mind as well.

A 2-minute video helps tell the tale:

If you want background music, turn on the radio

Script follows:

My father joined the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve in June, 1941.

He likely got his first duffel bag in Hamilton with most of his navy kit as well. He looks good in his navy blues.

He and about 100 others joined Combined Operations in late 1941, while in Halifax, and after training on landing crafts in the UK many served during the Dieppe Raid and invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Italy. While serving in Italy, all of their duffel bags, uniforms - everything - was stolen.

Dad and others returned to Canada in Dec. 1943 and many soon served at a Combined Operations School on Vancouver Island. Dad got a new duffel bag in early 1944, signed it, decorated it in a colourful manner, and happily… played a lot of baseball.

He was discharged in September 1945, returned to his previous job at the Norwich Co-op and raised a family of five with his wife Edith. I am the middle child, Gord Harrison, born in 1949.

In May 2021 I received a parcel, but waited until Father’s day to open it.

With family assembled I said, “In 1964 I’d found a dusty but cool-looking duffel bag in our barn. Unwisely I took it with me to a Scout camp - against Mother’s wishes. After I returned, the bag disappeared, likely to the town dump, and I knew it was my fault.

Luckily, a collector of militaria bought it amongst a pile of WWII items many, many years ago. And recently, while sorting his collection, he googled the 77-year-old signature on it.

Dad’s name took him to my WWII website. Well, emails flew back and forth, and the man surprisingly sent it to me. You can see Dad’s Navy duffel landed safely!

Yes. I’ll certainly treat it with much more respect this time ‘round.

* * * * * * * *

Please click here to view another recent video - "FAINT FOOTSTEPS, World War II, Part 7"

Unattributed Photos GH

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Photographs: Aging Navy Vets Reconnect at Reunions, Parts 1 - 3

 Their Years Passed, Their Memories Faded

Canadians in Combined Operations, Ahoy!

Back row, L - R: Joe Watson, Simcoe; Art (Gash) Bailey, London; Art
Bradfield, Simcoe; Jim Miller. Front L - R: Al Kirby, Woodstock;
Doug Harrison, Norwich; Norm Bowen, Constance Bay. 1990s


The 950 - 1,000 members of RNCVR who also volunteered for Combined Operations Command (C.O.C.) beginning in late 1941 stepped into the unknown to a good degree. They only learned what their role was going to be as a member of C.O.C. after arriving in the U.K. (at HMCS Niobe, Jan. 1942) and being sent very soon thereafter by train to H.M.S. Northney on Hayling Island, southern coast of England. 

We spent little time at Niobe but entrained for Havant in southern England, to H.M.S. Northney 1, a barracks (formerly a summer resort) with a large building for eating and then cabins with four bedrooms. This was December, 1941 (departure from Canada) or January, 1942 (arrival in Scotland) and there was no heat at all in the brick cabins. The toilets all froze and split. But we made out. Our eating quarters were heated...

Doug Harrison (left) and Al Kirby on guard duty,
perhaps with “a rifle with no ammunition”

...We were issued brooms for guard duty in some cases at Northney, sometimes a rifle with no ammunition, and they were expecting a German invasion. Rounds were made every night outside by officers to see if we were alert and we would holler like Hell, “Who goes there? Advance and be recognized.” When you hollered loud enough you woke everyone in camp, so sentry duty was not so lonesome for a few minutes.

"Dad, Well Done", Page 11

They trained and trained some more on various types of landing craft at various training camps in England and Scotland. Their first action, unbeknownst to the raw recruits at the time, was the Dieppe Raid, followed a few months later by Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa.

When they reached their 70s, small reunions of some of these same sailors took place in various homes throughout Ontario. They would have had many stories to share, some found on this site.

Photo and caption as found in St. Nazaire to Singapore, Volume 1

Photographs taken at the reunions are shared with several other related pics and stories in three entries on this site:

Aging Navy Vets Reconnect at Reunions Part 1

Aging Navy Vets Reconnect at Reunions Part 2

Aging Navy Vets Reconnect at Reunions Part 3

Sailor Statue as found at Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax

To view more photos re Canadians in Combined Ops, please link to Photographs: A Canadian Sailor's Solid Record at 1,000 Men, 1,000 Stories by GH

Unattributed Photos GH

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Photographs: Aging Navy Vets reconnect at Reunions (3)

 The Reunions Head to Constance Bay, NE of Ottawa, ONT

Thank Goodness, Some Photographs List a Few Names

A statue dedicated to Canadian sailors, in Halifax, Nova Scotia


The veterans of RCNVR and Combined Operations likely gave support to Legion Branches and related associations for many years after the end of WWII. And as they grew older and driving here and there remained relatively easy (better cars and new highways, e.g., the 400 system, may have in fact made travelling easier), some veterans drove to one another's homes on occasion. 

It is very possible that, for the sake of an informal navy reunion, my parents spiffed up my 1960s basement bedroom - in the 1980s, long after I'd departed my hometown for greener pastures, i.e., university, Teachers' College, student debt, marriage, full-time work... you know the drill.

Some of the following photographs list names of Navy/Combined Ops vets and locations where the men met... to remember the past and move on with their own lives, 40 - 50 years after the war had ended.

Comments and questions can be addressed to G. Harrison at gordh7700@gmail.com 

The first picture seems to be flying solo; no names listed but I recognize a few sailors. The date in lower right corner is likely accurate or close to it:

L - R: Nelson Langevin, Gatineau, QUE. sits under the umbrella; my father, 
Doug Harrison, Norwich, ONT (standing); unknown, (sitting); Art (Gash) Bailey
(white hat), London, ONT.; Frank Herring (story reference to follow)

I had the surprised pleasure of meeting Nelson Langevin at the Canadian War Museum during a brief stop there one summer (on the return leg of a motorcycle trip between London and Halifax). Nelson was serving as volunteer in the museum library and was late in arriving, so I was about to leave - after writing a note to him. He was dressed very neatly and was sporting a Combined Operations tie!

Nelson said, "I've been to your house in Norwich, sat under the
maple trees in your back yard." I appear stunned into silence : )

Readers can find a relevant audio file here: Audio: Nelson Langevin, RCNVR and Comb. Ops, N. Africa

My father writes on the back of this photo: "Navy Buddies. Frank Herring (left), Doug Harrison." As well he adds, "At Constance Bay, ONT (NW of Ottawa), home of Norm Bowen."

July 31, 1992. The sailors are now in their early seventies.

Frank Herring and my father appear together in my father's memoirs as well. 

Doug writes:


My Navy buddy, Frank Herring, and I engaged in a Silent Pact overseas. When we were not required on board for duty we conspired to be the first ashore to get the pick. No Liberty Boat inspection for us - case the joint and slip ashore quickly and hopefully unseen.

Drawing by Gord Harrison
Ashore very early at Southend-On-Sea, we went straight through the black-out doors into the Top-Hat pub. Oh Boy! Two WAAF Corporals, a beautiful blonde and lovely brunette. With two or three Johnnie Walkers tucked under our belts for courage, we asked if we could sit down with them. The answer was in the affirmative. I sat by the blonde and Frank by the brunette. Things are great, going according to plan. Time passes and all too soon it’s “Time Gentlemen Please” by the governor.

It was suggested by the girls that we go to a penny arcade down the street where there were pin ball machines and even one-armed bandits. Away we go. No pain. I grasp the arm of the blonde and Frank the brunette. There is a big pile up at the black-out doors. People going out and some coming in, trying to get a last beer. We finally manage to get out into the darkened street and when we arrive inside the lighted penny arcade Frank has the blonde and I have the brunette. Such is life.

The remainder of this story doesn’t sound so consistent with the Silent Pact. I suppose it is a Silent Tribute to all the WAAFs, I don’t know, but it’s all true. Events were to prove, in my own mind at least, that I did not lose in the shuffle in the black-out doors of the Top-Hat Pub at Southend.

"Dad, Well Done", page 53

* 'Its Epilogue' can be found on this site; please click on Story re Combined Ops, "Beautiful Friendship with Gracie"

Frank Herring appears in the photo below, taken at HMS Saunders, Egypt, June 1943, as Canadians in Combined Ops prepared for the invasion of Sicily beginning on July 10.

Photo and caption from  St. Nazaire to Singapore, two rare volumes
produced by Canadian Navy/Combined Ops veterans in the 1990s

Three reunion photographs follow that are of the same group. Names were listed on the back by my father but no location is given. I know my parents hosted an informal get-together - once at least - but they had a barn at the back of their property, not a vinyl-sided garage as seen here:

Back row, L - R: Joe Watson, Simcoe; Art (Gash) Bailey, London; Art
Bradfield, Simcoe; Jim Miller. Front L - R: Al Kirby, Woodstock; 
Doug Harrison, Norwich; Norm Bowen, Constance Bay. 1990s

Norm Bowen, right side of the front row of retired sailors above, hosted a reunion at his home, as seen earlier. He and my father had a disagreement early in their navy careers (Norm was likely just following orders to get kit bags sorted - and get help, if needed - but my father did not want to help out... maybe because (according to Norm's D.O.B. on his obituary) Dad was three years older than Norm. Above, it looks like things have been patched up : ) 

Great photo of Norm Bowen as found in obituary, Ottawa Citizen

For more information about Norm's adventures re RCNVR and Combined Operations, please click on Audio re Combined Operations: Norm Bowen, SICILY

Another sailor my father rubbed shoulders with was Joe Watson of Simcoe, Ontario. They trained together in Hamilton in 1941 and travelled to the United Kingdom together in January, 1942 aboard a Dutch liner, the Volendam. They returned to Canada together in December, 1943 aboard the Aquitania, and shortly thereafter travelled together to the Combined Operations School at HMCS Givenchy III on Vancouver Island, where they served with scores of other Canadian sailors until war's end.

Enthusiasm reigns supreme! Maybe it was a long drive to get there.

Joe straightens a collar, Doug behind him (right). Aquitania, December 1943

L - R: Don Linder, Kitchener; Doug Harrison and Joe Watson; 
Buryl McIntyre, Norwich; Chuck Rose (Rosie), Chippawa. Jan. 1944
Ready to board a train from Toronto, Ont. to Vancouver, B.C.

Seven sailors on the ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo, B.C. Jan. 1944
Back L - R: Art Warrick, Hamilton; Ed Chambers; Don Westbrook (Westy).
Front L - R: Joe Watson, Don Linder, Doug Harrison, Unknown

While Joe Watson was travelling out west by train, or while he was settling into new barracks at Givenchy III near Comox on Vancouver Island, his hometown newspaper ran a story about his two years overseas (likely in January or February, 1944):

Doug Harrison served on the same landing craft as Joe Watson in Sicily and tells much of the same story related to the strafing by a German plane:

July 10, 1943. We arrived off Sicily in the middle of the night and stopped about four miles out. Other ships and new LCIs (landing craft infantry), fairly large barges, were landing troops. Soldiers went off each side of the foc’sle, down steps into the water and then ashore, during which time we saw much tracer fire. This was to be our worst invasion yet. Those left aboard had to wait until daylight so we went fishing for an hour or more, but there were no fish.

A signal came through, i.e., “Do not fire on low flying aircraft, they are ours and towing gliders.” What, in the dark? Next morning, as we slowly moved in, we saw gliders everywhere. I saw them sticking out of the water, crashed on land and in the vineyards. In my twenty-seven days there I did not see a glider intact. 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.

As found in St. Nazaire to Singapore, Volume 1.
Photo by RCNVR Officer David J. Lewis (D.J.L.)

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.

Ephus P. Murphy’s pet monkey went mad and we put it in a bag of sand meant to douse incendiary bombs and threw him over the side. The Russian Stoker on our ship, named Katanna, said Dieppe was never like this and hid under a winch. Shrapnel and bombs just rained down.

Photo found in Combined Operations by Londoner Clayton Marks

Canadians in Combined Ops unloaded troops and materials of
war at Jig, How and George beaches near Noto and Avola

Sticks of bombs hit the water off the coast of Sicily

My oppo (pal, chum), Leading Seaman Herring, was bothered constantly with constipation, but when bombs began to drop close in Sicily, his problem suddenly disappeared, he was so scared. 

Once, with our LCM loaded with high octane gas and a Lorrie (truck), we were heading for the beach when we saw machine gun bullets stitching the water right towards us. Fortunately, an LST (landing ship tank) loaded with bofors (guns) opened up and scared off the planes, or we were gone if the bullets had hit the gas cans. I was hiding behind a truck tire, so was Joe Watson of Simcoe. What good would that have done?

Our beach had machine gun nests carved out of the ever-present limestone, with slots cut in them to cover our beaches. A few hand grenades tossed in during the night silenced them forever.

Slowly we took control and enemy raids were only sporadic, but usually at dawn or dusk when we couldn’t see them and they could see us. At such times we had to get out of our LCMs and lay smoke screens, and travelled the ocean side or beach side depending upon which way the wind was blowing. Even then they could see the masts sticking up. During one raid I was caught on the open deck of the Pio Pico, so I laid down - right on a boiling hot water pipe. I got up quickly.

A stick of Axis bombs lands near LCTs and LCMs near Avola, Sicily.
Photo credit - St. Nazaire to Singapore, Volume 1

We were never hit but six ships were hit in a sneak attack out of the sun by German fighters carrying a bomb apiece. At night they would drop chandelier flares with their engine motors cut off. Everything would be dark and then suddenly it was like daylight. The flares were on parachutes and took forever to come down. After the flares lighted us up in came the bombers. Fortunately our gunners got so expert they could shoot out the flares.

"Dad, Well Done" pages 31 - 32

Based on the above episodes above, one can see why Canadian sailors would have much to talk about at navy reunions.

L - R: Nelson Langevin (lower left; Al Kirby, Art Bradfield, Doug Harrison

Busy as Bees: Nelson Langevin travelled around Africa aboard the Otranto with Chuck Levett of Comox; Al Kirby learned his landing craft was headed for Dieppe while crossing the English Channel w Canadian troops from Winnipeg on board (25-page account in Combined Operations); Art Bradfield served at Dieppe and wrote many poems about his 'Navy Days' (many found on this site); Doug penned his memoirs in 1975 and many stories in the 1990s for his hometown newspaper (most found on this site). Snoop around the website and if needed, write me for the links: gordh7700@gmail.com

Another reunion, another location 'unknown'. But my father listed names/date.
Back L - R: Art Bailey, Norm Bowen, Jack Rimmer, Doug Harrison, Sam Belisle,
and __ Martin. Front (bent legs) L - R: Nelson Langevin, Tom Scott. May, 1987

Three of the gents above show up in this next photo. Readers may recognize a couple of others oft-mentioned on this site as well, close friends of my father and mother, and frequent visitors to my childhood home in Norwich, Ontario in the 1950s and early '60s as I recall.

Canadians in Combined Operations aboard HMS Keren  on their
passage around Africa on their way to Sicily, summer 1943.
Don W. and Chuck R. and their children are known to me.

Two stories by John (aka Jack) E. Rimmer appear in St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War 1941 - 1945, Volume 1  online at the University of Alberta. Go to pages 113 and 193. Tommy Scott is mentioned in the first story "at the 35th reunion in Thunder Bay in 1989". Chuck Rose and Ted Sale are mentioned in the second story. Happy hunting, I say.

The following photo is of three sailors on another ship during its own trip around Africa. They would have been well known to my father as he was on the SS Silver Walnut as well. He was likely given this photo by another vet, as the names are written in another style than Doug's.

L - R: Knubby (Limey) Percy Marian (a Brit?): Ed Corbett, E. Gallant
"Trip on Silver Walnut, 1943" writes my father on the back, same photo

The Navy Museum in Esquimalt B.C. is home to a navy hammock with Ed Corbett's and E. Gallant's name on it, along with the other members of the 80th Flotilla of Canadian Landing Crafts (including my father's and a few other familiar names on it). It had belonged to the afore-mentioned Stoker Katanna who gave it to S/Lt. David Rodgers when he came on board the Walnut minus his bedding. Rodgers returned the hammock during a Navy reunion in Australia (long after the war) and it was donated to the Canadian Navy Museum shortly thereafter.

A photo of SS Silver Walnut from my father's collection

Above two photos from Editor's collection. Taken at Esquimalt Museum 

The next two photographs are included with my father's reunion collection, but I do not recall that he travelled to the Tower Hill Memorial, Trinity Gardens, London, England at any time in his life. Perhaps someone gave him copies. My mother went to London at one time in her life and her hand writing appears on the back of the first picture below:

Dad writes, "Merchant Navy Monument at Trinity Gardens. Copper plaques
in backgr. 24,000 names - Men, Ships. M. Navy and Fishermen Lost, WWII

Part of the copper plaques: My mother writes, "(Dedicated) To Merchant Seamen, To Men of the Fishing Fleet, War Graves Comm. Cemetery":

"I travelled with Warwick Castle (above) once or twice. She was sunk."
Doug Harrison wrote the above line on back of the photograph

I conclude this series with my own photo of 'the Sailor Statue' as found near the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The monument meant a great deal to my father.

I saw the statue for the first time when my father handed me a picture postcard of it, in the early- to mid-1980s. He said, "I want to be buried at sea." Those words immediately erupted into an energetic debate between him and my mother two seconds after they left his mouth - at their dining room table; I sat opposite them. Father wanted to be buried somewhere at sea, he didn't elaborate; Mother didn't want to be buried alone. "Husbands and wives are supposed to be buried together!"

During the hour-long drive back to my own home I determined that I agreed with both of them, but had no notion of how they both could "get their wish" at the time.

[Inscribed on base of installation: "The sailor statue representing those valiant young Canadians who served in both war and peace is symbolic of the thousands of sailors who were instrumental in the victory at sea and a fitting acknowledgement to those who continue to maintain the peace." The Atlantic Chief and Petty Officers' Association]

 An idea very quickly sprang to mind many years later, the spring of 2003, between the time my father passed away (Feb. 03, 2003) and the date of the internment of his ashes beside his wife, my mother. Half his ashes were buried next to mother's grave; most of the remainder were buried at sea. But that's another long story.

At reunions the navy veterans surely recalled many tales we shall never hear. But as more are discovered they will find a home here.

Please link to Photographs: Aging Navy Vets Reconnect at Reunions (2)

If readers have photographs and stories of WWII veterans, especially those of Canadians in Combined Operations, please do not hesitate to contact G. Harrison at gordh7700@gmail.com or leave a comment in the section below. GH

Unattributed Photos GH