Friday, October 15, 2021

Video: Prep Work for "FAINT FOOTSTEPS WWII" (Pt. 6)

 Canadians in Combined Ops Visit the George Hotel, Inveraray 

Video Title - "Sailors Work Hard, Play Hard in Scotland"

My father said he trained like commandos and trained with commandos
but he wasn't a commando. He was a sailor (RCNVR) in Combined Ops

In the illustration below (from Irvine and Fullarton Times, 1942) one can see commandos taking a break while enjoying some steaming OXO in a mug. And in the water - likely Loch Fyne or Loch Long (Scotland) - between the large troop ship and shoreline, one can see Canadian sailors bringing the commandos to shore via ALCs, or Assault Landing Crafts. I think my father is just about to lower the ramp on the craft closest to shore and holler, "Go get 'em, boys!"

"I trained with commandos but I wasn't a commando."


The work associated with putting a short (e.g., five minute) video together is a story unto itself. I connect with several resources while putting a script together and then search far and wide for suitable photographs to illustrate particular sentences or events, etc. Not all of the resources or photographs appear in the video but I think they are valuable to pass along to readers.
Readers may find - by scanning my prep work - a particular link to a written source or photograph (e.g., the Imperial War Museum is home to over 11 million good to excellent WWI and WWII photos on file) that may prove useful for their own study or research. Happy Hunting I say! 

Below is the script associated with video 6:

[Some editting may take place while the video is being produced.]

Sailors Work Hard, Play Hard in Scotland

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, says an old proverb. I’ve read that it means that “without time off work, people (e.g., young sailors!) become bored and boring.”

Canadian sailors training on landing craft at H.M.S. Quebec on Loch Fyne during World War II worked long hours - handling tides, currents, ropes and anchors until it became second nature. Then, for fun, some rolled in the heather, bent a few serious rules, and visited The George Hotel on Main Street in Inveraray, Scotland.

My father said, “Gambling in any form was not allowed in the navy for fear the losers might steal, but a friendly game of craps with pennies was going on one night when rounds were being made. Sailor Art Bradfield of Simcoe, the winner, couldn’t sweep the pennies under his hat fast enough and was caught and severely punished (i.e., confined to barracks).”

Those not confined hiked to ‘The George’, and played another friendly game that didn’t end so well for one poor fellow.

“In our group was a seaman named William Kuntz,” recalls Dad. “He also liked to go into Inveraray (have a beer or two, but) he was absolutely blind in the dark.”

Anthony Bouchard (Ontario) and Dad would take him on each side by the arm and when they spotted a bomb blast door (a wall of bricks to stop an explosion from travelling up closes or alleys) they would suddenly pull away from him and let him run headlong into the wall.

Doug Harrison writes: William would yell, “Where are you guys? I’ll murder you, ya bums.”

“You can’t murder us if you can’t find us, Willie,” we said. “When we had enough laughs we would go back to his side - he would forgive us because he would never get back to base otherwise - but we would get it in the morning.”

And in the morning all were back to work, unaware that within 2 - 3 months of those (almost) carefree episodes in the Scottish hills and hotels, many young Canadians would participate in an ill-fated raid. But first they boarded lorries and trains bound for their next training assignments at Camp Auchengate, situated just south of Irvine (on the coast of Ayrshire, a 50 km. drive southwest of Glasgow), with ample access to wide beaches and the open sea, where even bigger and better bash ups occurred.

“We practiced running our ALC up the stern of the Iris and Daffodil, i.e., train ferries,” Doug says. “Their sterns were nearly completely open, but with waves and a stiff wind blowing it was difficult to hit the opening.” (Like trying to park a truck inside a garage that is moving up, down, left, right, back, forth and sideways).

He then describes a day when conditions were terrible, yet expectations remained high.

“One day I just could not make it. I had a Seaman named Jake Jacobs and he said, ‘Let me see her. I’ll put her in there.’ He pulled the ALC back, poured the coal to her and crashed right into the stern of the Iris. There was Hell to pay.”

Fortunately, Dad escaped the incident without injury or a black mark on his record.

And Jake? In my father’s notes I read, “Jake Jacobs was a lead swinger of the first water and said he would make it back to Canada before any of us, and you know, he did. He wangled it somehow and after Auchengate I never saw him again.”

Without Jake at the wheel, Dad’s luck with landing crafts might have changed for the better - had King George VI not popped ‘round.

607 Words

Below are most of the photographs I assembled for consideration to use in the video. Many will be editted before use. Not all will be used but some of the links may prove useful to others.

I purchased my copy (used) at AbeBooks online for under $20 Canadian

Photo from H.M.C.S. One Photographers Impression, page 87

The Crow's Nest is but one Canadian Navy magazine worth its weight in gold
Link to CFB Esquimalt Naval Military Museum; look under Publications

Readers can link to a Crow's Nest article about Naval Commandos here. The first few paragraphs are provided below:

A very good article is provided below - as found in The Crow's nest June, 1945 edition - along with excellent art work, that focus on "Physical and Recreational Training as well upon the entertainment side of life", navy related:

One illustration in particular, found immediately above,
fit neatly into the script

This photo and next were taken during a 2014 trip to Inveraray, Scotland
The Combined Operations No. 1 Training Centre was 1 - 2 miles south. GH

"You a gambling man, Sailor? Just don't get caught!"

Art Bradfield, caught gambling as per the script, is above fifth from left.
Eight Canadians above, among many others, were introduced to various
landing crafts at HMS Northney, on Hayling Island, Feb. 1942

Art Bradfield later played a creative part in Navy stage productions.

Welcome to "The George", on main street Inveraray

William Kuntz is not stumbling in the photo above. My father, Doug Harrison,
is sitting nearby. SS Silver Walnut sailed around Africa, on its way to Sicily.

W. Kuntz and others are listed on Navy hammock below. The hammock was given to Sub. Lt. David Rodgers after he arrived on board the Walnut. It had earlier belonged to Stoker W. N. Katanna, second from left in above photo.

Bill Kuntz is in the front row, second from right, in the photo below. It is from the collection of Lloyd Evans, living in Markham when I met him a few years ago. Lloyd is in back row, fifth from the left. His group was the second division to volunteer for Combined Operations in late 1941. He and my father (member of the first division to volunteer for C. Ops.) journeyed across the Atlantic together in January, 1942 

Next are three photos as found at the Imperial War Museum. The location is the beach between Irvine and Troon, Scotland, near Camp Dundonald (army and RAF) and Camp Auchengate (Navy). Combined Ops training is taking place, and landing craft, perhaps manned by Canadians (if photos are from spring/early summer of 1942) can be seen in the background:
A13228. Lord Louis Mountbatten (on right) watching a landing exercise
on the beach at the combined operations centre at Dundonald Camp.
Here the men making their way out of sandbagged emplacements. 
Lt. S.J. Beadell, RN Official Photographer, IWM.

A13229. Lord Louis Mountbatten (on right) watching a landing exercise on the
beach at the combined operations centre at Dundonald Camp. Here the men are
leaping from a high embankment shored up with steel girders.
Lt. S.J. Beadell, RN Official Photographer, IWM

More photographs and information related to landing craft training can be found here.

A29875. General view of the beach at HMS DUNDONALD, Troon, where many
Tank Landing Craft tests were carried out. German prisoners are working in the
foreground. Lt. E.A. Zimmerman, Admiralty Official Collection, IWM.

More details related to landing craft training can be found here.

The next four photographs were taken during my trip to Irvine, Scotland, 2014. GH

Map displays the RAF and navy camps, landing strips, bogs, etc.
As found at Combined Operations Command by Geoff Slee

The next two photos relate to the train ferries that were used during training with landing craft. The Iris and Daffodil were two ferries recalled by Canadian sailors:

H11177. A landing craft containing a Valentine tank being launched down the
slipway of a landing ship during combined operations training on Loch Fyne
in Scotland, 27 June 1941. Photo - Major W.G. Horton, War Office, IWM.

My father's memoirs recall the hard work re train ferries and landing craft in Inveraray and Irvine, 1942:

Jake Jacobs says, "Let me see her, I'll put her in there!" He crashed instead.
The second paragraph concerns commando-style survival training

Doug Harrison, far left. Jake Jacobs, far right. Jake got home quicker!
Gambler Bradfield, 2nd left. Photo from Joe Spencer's collection.

The King talking to A/B Stride when he inspected the FX Division of
HMS BELFAST. Most of the men are survivors from other ships.
Mason, H. A. (Lt) A18663 Imperial War Museum collections

Video 6 in the series will soon follow.

Questions or comments about the above post can be sent to

Please click here to view Prep Work for "FAINT FOOTSTEPS WWII, Pt. 5"

And please click here to view the finished video "FAINT FOOTSTEPS WWII, Pt. 5"

Unattributed Photos GH

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