Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Editor's Research: Canadians in Combined Ops Return Home (11)

  Faint Hope Concerning Returning Sailors as This Series Continues

There is More Positive News From Various Allied War Fronts

Video Link to Canadian Troops in Ortona, Italy!

Video Link to Action at Anzio Beachhead as Well!

Thanks to a WWII Navy vet and Mr. Google, this news item led me on very
rewarding searches. Above article from the collection of Lloyd Evans


There will be good news ahead, for certain. The above news article from The Evening (Ottawa) Citizen is but one proof that members of RCNVR and Combined Operations - after serving at the raid upon Dieppe and invasions at North Africa in 1942, and at Sicily and Italy in 1943 - did return home on leave before moving on to other areas of service beginning in January 1944. 

The pandemic restricts my search for further articles from The Ottawa Citizen and The Windsor Star, in which I am certain other articles appear re the men in the top photograph. And one day in the future I will be happy to add other proofs from those newspapers to this series. 

As well, stay tuned to the next entry in this series (featuring the February 5th and 7th editions of The Winnipeg Tribune); a news clip from The London Free Press will be presented concerning two veterans of RCNVR/C.Ops and details re Dieppe, Africa, Sicily and Italy. They were not from London, but from a small village about 45 miles SE of London and about 15 miles south of Woodstock.

As readers and I have experienced in the past, there are often news articles in The Trib that link in some way to the adventures of Canadians in Comb. Ops, though they are not mentioned directly. And such is the case in this post re the February 3rd and 4th editions from 1944.

Readers are once again encouraged to visit The (digitized) Winnipeg Tribune as found at The University of Manitoba, and if there are any questions or comments they can be addressed to Gord H. (London, ONT) at gordh7700@gmail.com

Though several news stories depict the German forces as 'on their heels', we know from history that they were capable of holding defensive positions for longer than some Allied leaders hoped and predicted. (An article is presented later re 'Monty's' own prediction re the end of the war).

'Mosquito attacks' are mentioned above, and the production of Mosquitos is linked to London ONT. Photos and news items re the Mosquito have been presented on this site. Go to Editor's Research: Operation Baytown (Italy WWII) (10a)

Fox Movietone News produced scores of very good quality news reels and many can still be viewed via online sources. Please click here to see a news reel  (Fox, Vol. 26, No. 42, 8min. 29sec.) that touches on several of the items listed below, including Canadian troops capturing the city of Ortona, Italy:

Hats off to the University of Southern Carolina and their vast library!!

Oh, Dear. Will I shed tears for the officers, who "now entitled to draw one bottle of beer weekly and a third of a bottle of scotch monthly, will get nothing."

To tell the truth, I will, based on the knowledge that I like my bottle of beer at 5 PM a few days per week, and definitely enjoy a wee dram with my next door neighbours every once in awhile. And that's in peace time. I think I would look for it almost as a necessity - more covetously for sure - during war time

That being said, if the officers were the same as referred to back in July, 1943, in my father's memoirs, all I can say is - they've had some practice going without.

Doug Harrison (RCNVR and Combined Ops, 1941 - 45) writes:

Our LCM was fortunate enough to pick up rum destined for the officers’ mess; but it never arrived there - we stowed it in the engine room. From then on we went six or seven miles up the beach at night, had a swim, slung our hammocks and drank ourselves to sleep, to awake in the morning covered with shrapnel, but never heard a sound.

"Dad, Well Done" Page 33

The exact location of the next episode is not given, but we do know how pork got on the menu for Allied troops in Italy:

Guessing when the war will end when in the middle of a tough slog somewhere near the Adriatic Sea in Italy is difficult. It would be easier to determine the origin of the story, somewhere in Southeast England. I say 'New Haven.' And you?

The following news clips are from Friday, February 4, 1944, straight out of Winnipeg. Enjoy the show from Anzio!!

While looking for a news reel about Ortona I spotted two or three that revealed some of the action related to the Anzio beachhead. Readers are encouraged to view the very good quality video (Fox Movietone, Vol. 26, N0. 50, 7min. 56sec.) as found in the Digital collection at the University of South Carolina.

The Tribune missed their chance to use a great headline... The Great Escape!

Whatever the newspaper, regular presentations known by some as 'the Butcher's Bill' will appear:

Some may ask, "Is nothing sacred?" Others may answer, "Not during war."

I do like to feature certain war correspondents on occasion, especially Canadians, and many would admit it was no easy job:

The Butcher's Bill is delivered to all sides in any war:

Both 'pros' and 'cons' are connected to this wee clip:

Here's a rare item; a clip about British sailors travelling west - in Canada. I know about Canadian sailors (including my father) travelling west to Comox (home of Canada's only Combined Operations School or training camp on Vancouver Island) by train a month earlier. But British sailors? Why? HELP WANTED!

I can understand why diaries were taboo. I also know, having heard from one particular Canadian sailor in Combined Operations, that men were not allowed to carry cameras. But more than a few did, and I am one person quite happy that they did.

After 'one particular Canadian sailor in Combined Ops' (i.e., Lloyd Evans, on the left below) passed away, his son sent me a file of over 100 WWII photos, as "rare as 'hens' teeth" my father would have said. 


Back L - R: Unknown, P. Bowers, Lloyd Evans, Don Westbrook
Front L - R: Don Linder, Unknown, Doug Harrison (my father)
Canadians in Combined Ops, The Mediterranean, 1943

Good prices on Main Street. I've heard of 'Street Meat.' But 'Mall Meat?'

The Anzio beachhead is much in the news. Here's a good map to go with the story:

I find that the following short story is actually one of the big stories of this entry.

Herein lies mystery: What was his second decoration? Is there another story to this story?

As well, herein lies unexpected candor: A returnee is home, and he doesn't want to be home.   

Langstaff's unhappiness is related to his belief that the war is not yet won, and he feels he hasn't done his bit by coming home. He is not done with war. And I feel that there is an interesting story in what he says and believes.

A few veterans of Combined Ops wrote about survivor or survival guilt, about the feelings and thoughts that plagued them after a mate had been killed. "Why him and not me," some might ask. And I would not be surprised if Langstaff and others didn't want to leave the war behind because they were leaving others behind, some who were their closest mates, friends who would friends for a lifetime. They might also feel guilty about someone else having to do their job, fill their seat or position on a landing craft.

Some members of the armed forces, upon returning home (glorious though it may have seemed at first), might also feel that those 'over there' would think less of them to be sitting safe in Canada.

For example, when my father initially described where he landed on Vancouver Island in January 1944, he wrote the following:

Then I went to Givenchy III, known as Cowards Cove, at Comox on Vancouver Island. It was absolute heaven there. Just normal routine... ("Dad, Well Done" Page 40)

I don't know where or how the term 'Cowards Cove' originated as it relates to Givenchy III, Canada's only Combined Operations School or training camp. I have not seen the term used in any other way. But I feel it is related in some way to the feeling that those who worked there were not doing their bit.

[HELP WANTED: Anyone with more information - please write me at gordh7700@gmail.com]

More to follow from The Winnipeg Tribune.

Please visit the previous post by clicking here, Editor's Research: Canadians in Combined Ops Return Home (10)

Unattributed Photos GH