Monday, January 25, 2021

Video: Faint Footsteps, World War II (Part 2)

  Canadian Sailors Volunteer for the Unknown in 1941

Based on Editor's Column (2)

WW I poster declares, "Join today!" Photo Credit - Library of Congress


I was able to string together thirteen columns for my father's hometown paper (The Norwich Gazette) about his WWII experiences before it was closed. I am offering them here in a series of posts that include videos in the 5 - 6 minute range.

I will attempt to write a 14th column as well, then a 15th, and so on, up to at least #24, using some of the photographs and historic details I have found that relate to not only my father but other Canadians in Combined Ops, men who volunteered "for the unknown in 1941."

Presenting VIDEO 2:

Poster found at the Imperial War Museum; Art.IWM PST 14076

More information about training on landing crafts can be found by visiting the A - Z Directory, then go to such headings as Photographs: Camps, Landing Crafts (Parts 1 - 15) and 'Training for Combined Operations' and more.

Questions or comments about the video or role of Canadians in Combined Ops - or related matters - can be sent to me at

Unattributed Photos GH

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Editor's Research: Canadians in Combined Ops Return Home (9)

 The German Forces Know How to Play Defence in Italy

But 50 German Planes are Lost in 24 Hours


The artwork associated with the above ad - a nudge to buy 'war savings certificates' - caught my eye as I scanned pages of The Winnipeg Tribune for any articles related to members of Canadian forces who had returned home from Allied WWII duties in Europe.

Studious readers may one day soon see the artwork again in another section of 1000 Men 1000 Stories entitled 'the arts of war' (see 'click on Headings' in the right hand margin). 

If there were dozens of stories associated with the return of the members of RCNVR who had also volunteered for the Combined Operations organization - and had been very busy for two years, 1942 - 1943, manning landing crafts filled with Allied troops and all materials of war at Dieppe, North Africa, Sicily and Italy - I would be the happiest of campers. But, so far, I know there are only a few stories, one or two about Canadian sailors who returned to Halifax in December, 1943, and after a few weeks of leave were found on trains bound for Combined Ops School at HMCS Givenchy III on Vancouver Island.

Five Canadian sailors heading westward to Vancouver Island, Jan. 1944
Don Linder, Chuck Rose, Buryl McIntyre, Joe Watson, Don Westbrook.
Smoke break at Hornepayne, Ontario, 572.4 miles north-west of Toronto
Photo - my father Doug Harrison, RCNVR, Combined Operations

LS Don Westbrook, RCNVR, Combined Operations, January 1944
Possibly outside the Edson train station. Photo - Don Westbrook

I am searching The Winnipeg Tribune  - issues from the 1st of January to the last of February - and so far not much has been found related to Canadians returning home. Could it be a secret operation?

"Pssst. Keep yer eyes peeled."
News clippings, editorials, photographs, illustrations and more now follow from The Tribune, first published from January 28 - 31, 1944:


As the war progressed, Canadians volunteered for different types of duties than had been offered or available during the early years of the war, e.g., the role of Beach Commandos. Beach Commando units landed with regular Allied troops and helped to establish then maintain the safety and smooth function of beachheads. I do not at this point if such Canadian commando units were involved at Anzio.

The RCAF's "swift Mosquito intruders" mentioned above were given more recognition in the next day's issue of The Tribune and I have included it here:

There is evidence that there was at least one Canadian member of RCNVR and Combined Operations (Colin MacKay) who was attached to an English ship in the Burmese theatre, but it is connected to events in 1945. Source is St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War Volume II, page 325. In the past Volumes I and II could be found online at the University of Alberta, in Calgary. Currently only Volume I can be accessed.

The lengthy story re the contribution of HMCS Prince Robert (along with the HMCS Prince David) to the Allied war effort is no doubt worthy of study. It has some connection to navy bases on Vancouver Island I have learned. At the time the above article appeared, Vancouver Island was home to Canada's only Combined Operations training camp or school. And later in the war (i.e., April - May, 1945), the "entire ship's company" underwent "specialized training" at the Comb. Ops school.

Their instructors were likely comprised of some of the aforementioned sailors who had arrived there by train in January 1944, including my father. 

At For Posterity's Sake we read the following: 

As the war progressed into 1945, the army's camp at Courtenay was soon closed down and the navy no longer was required to train army personnel in combined operations. However, Givenchy III continued to provide training on the assault course for the men of HMC Ships. During April and May, the entire ship's company of the anti-aircraft cruiser Prince Robert was accommodated on the spit for specialized training while the ship was refitting for duty in the Pacific. 

(See HMCS Givenchy III at

RCNVR messes pushed a lot of pancakes too. My father ate so many
during World War II he could not get one past his lips after the war

A news item in the next issue of The Trib (i.e., Mon., Jan. 31) mentions the above production so I present it here, two days early:

A lot of Canadians would love to watch Canadian Paramount News today. I think No. 5, "With Allies in Italy" would be a "must see' for many.

HELP WANTED: If a reader has a key to the front door of 'Canadian Paramount News' please let me know and I will publish it here.

One video/newsreel related to the Allied Landings at Anzio can be found here.

A photograph of Canadian POWs is seen below. An article re "...Parcels for Prisoners" follows it:

A link to a video on YouTube re the landings at Anzio and subsequent shelling of Monte Cassino was listed earlier and repeated here.

"Pssst. Did ya hear about the secret weapons?"

I ask, "Who would ever want to be in a convoy of merchant ships?" Please visit Passages: Canadian Sailors in Convoys for more details about convoys. 

Surely readers will not blame me now for using the opening artwork yet again. This last opportunity just fell into my lap!

"Pssst. Wanna know how to keep yer whites really white?"

And, finally - just under the wire - we see some members of Canadian forces returning home. Not an easy trip for some. (The cartoon might feature Canadians, in a 'universal-issue' sort of way. It is linked to King Features Syndicate out of New York and the top right speech bubble mentions "six states.")

In an aforementioned video re action in Italy, one could get a sense of the heaviness of bombardments exchanged by opposing forces. This short article provides another view:

More news from Italy and those who returned home will follow.

Please link to Editor's Research: Canadians in Combined Ops Return Home (8) 

Unattributed Photos GH