Information reposted and shared by Friends of Beaubears Island Inc., Senior Historical Correspondent, John English.
What the home front felt like, and soldiers N. Ramsay, C. MacDonald and L. Weouche (Augustine).
[I was born after the second world war, and I often wondered what the war meant to those on the “home front” or overseas. Most people I knew that were impacted didn’t talk about it. My grandmother wouldn’t, and she lost a son in Italy fighting the Nazi army. I was lucky enough to speak with a fine lady (now deceased) in 2017(she was 86 at the time) about her younger days, and I asked her what she felt while that war was being fought. At the time her family would listen to the radio, in particular the broadcaster Gabriel Heatter.] War rations and listening to Gabriel Heatter “The second world war was scary. To the point where we only got it through radio. And we were very lucky to have a radio, because Papa needed it for the business. And what you would hear – Gabriel Heatter (he can be heard at www.oldtimeradiodownloads.com/historical/gabriel-heatter/report-on-year-after-pearl-harbor-1942-1... and youtu.be/XHjYgEKmXhE) and he made it sound so awful. We were scared, really scared. He gave the impression that they (the enemy) were right over by the barn” I asked her about limitations on food, and she replied “We had ration books. So many tickets would give you a pound of sugar. And you only got what was in that book (for restricted rations). You would get meat if you needed meat. And I remember I went to get my grade nine at St. Mary’s (school in Newcastle), and you had to take the ration book with you. They wouldn’t give you any sugar for your cereal if you didn’t have the ration book… He (Gabriel) made it sound so real. And I remember, we were little devils too, ‘cause we (her and her siblings) wanted to listen to the Lone Ranger on the radio, and that was the time Gabriel Heatter was on. So we would go to the radio and get to that station.. But my father had to hear Gabriel Heatter, he had to have the news.. That field behind Harkins, were the ballfield is now, is where we stored pitprops cut by O’Brien’s to ship overseas for the coal mines”. [So the war was felt by everyone, and sacrifices were made by everyone. I think this is why the generation that went through the war is often called “the last great generation”. People didn’t shirk responsibility because it was dangerous or hard or too painful. The did what needed to be done to defeat the enemy, plain and simple. So just in my own little world, my mother lost a brother in the war, and a close friend that I grew up with has an uncle that served with distinction. Whereas Norman was killed in May 1944, and Chester’s heroic actions occurred in September 1944, that they were both in the Carleton & York, and that they both were fighting in Italy at the same time, it is possible that they saw each other at one point. Two soldiers from the Miramichi area fighting thousands of miles away, one my uncle, and one my friend’s uncle, may have known each other. How uncanny is that?] Norman Ramsay Norman Ramsay (see Fig. 0.5) died on this date in 1944 during military action in the city of Pontecorvo, Italy. He was 21 years old. Norman enlisted at age 17 in the Active Army after having served as a reservist in the North Shore Regiment for four years. A month later he was posted to the Carleton and York Regiment. Three months later he would be shipped overseas to the UK from where he eventually took part in the invasion of Sicily, July 1943. His remains lie in the CWGC, Cassino War Cemetery, which is 139 kilometres south-east of Rome. A number of our extended family have visited the gravesite. Norman is commemorated in a number of different ways; Book of Remembrance on Parliament Hill (www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/2609947 the Cenotaph in Newcastle and the Harkins High School plaque of war dead as well as the smaller memorial in Nelson. In addition, he is also commemorated through a beautiful stained glass window (see Fig. 1) in St. Mary’s Church donated by Erving (brother of Norman) and Jessie (wife of Erving). I have included a reference in the work done by Gary Silliker, a Veteran in his own right, as well as a photo of the stained glass window (source Harold Dolan).
Two Miramichi soldiers died on this day, in Italy, as the Allies broke the Hitler Line. They were from Newcastle and Doaktown. - the Liri Valley Norman Ramsay was the son of Ben and Clara Ramsay of Newcastle. He had served as a reservist in the North Shore Regiment for 4 years prior to enlisting in the active army in January 1940. Norman was posted to the Carleton and York Regiment in February and arrived in the UK in May. He took part in the invasion of Sicily in July, 1943. Supported by British tanks, the Carleton and York Regiment broke the “Hitler Line” during four hours of fighting against the determined and hardened troops of the 90th Panzer Grenadier Division. Twenty-two year-old Corporal Ramsay was killed during that fight. He was initially buried at Pontecorvo and later reburied in the Cassino War Cemetery, Italy. Norman is commemorated on the Newcastle cenotaph as well as on the Harkins High School plaque of war dead now located at Miramichi Valley High School (source: Miramichiers During Times of War, courtesy Gary Silliker)
They called him Gabe, because he looked like Clark Gable. He was in the North Shore Regiment overseas but volunteered for the Carlton York Regiment for battle in Italy His best Bud from Newcastle wrote this poem after hearing of his death MY BUDDY This boy that I write of , an Acadian lad, Was the best mate in our town that I ever had. We roamed the wood, fished the river, and jigged from our school. Yes, both of us experts at acting the fool. Norm, your face I remember so handsome , so true And I gave my best grip on my last meeting with you. You came on your leave to see me once more, And to share boyhood memories of home ;long our shore My Newcastle buddy, how well I remember you yet The best pal I had, one I'll never forget. That night in old England 'Twas a night of good cheer, As we sat in the pub and drank up our beer. The next day we parted near the old Sally Ann, And you walked down the road with a last wave of your hand. Months later you gave them all that you had, Your youth and your life, you Canadian lad. Yes, this Acadian soldier, this buddy of mine, In that blood bath of Hell on the Hitler Line. Written by Richard Gough Source: James English.
Some of my family have been to the CWGC, Cassino War Cemetery (see Figs. 2-4).
Charles Frank “Chester” MacDonald See Fig. 5 for his accommodation.
See Figs 6-11 for a column from local newspaper (unknown) sometime near the end of the World War 2 about that heroic event. All were provided to me by Kevin Godfrey, but because of space limitations some do not have him listed as the source.
See Fig. 12 for Chester with fellow soldiers. He on the far right.
See Fig 13 for a picture of Chester alone.
See Fig. 14 for Chester’s Military medal for his actions on the Gothic line in Italy.
L. John Weouche (Augustine) Louis (Lewis) John Weouche (Augustine) was a Mi’kmaw who enlisted in the 55th Bn in Sussex in July 1915. He stated that his name was just Louis John and that he had been born in Bathurst on 7 March 1894. He also stated his father was Frank Weouche of Ste-Anne-de-Restigouche, Quebec. Louis made his will and monthly pay allotment out to his ‘friend’ Mrs Barney Augustine of North West Bridge. According to the 1911 census a 15 year old boy named “Louis John Augustine” was the adopted son of Barney and Bella Augustine of Eel Ground. Private Louis John of the Natoaganeg First Nation served at the front with the 58th Bn and was killed in a disastrous attack on Regina Trench on 8 October, 1916. He is buried in the Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont, France (source: Miramichiers at times of conflict and war, courtesy Gary Silliker).
See Fig 15 for a picture of L. John Augustine’s tomb stone in the Somme valley of France.
Supplemental I am admittedly a Churchill supporter. He had some flaws, as we all do, but he was a one-of-a-kind moral builder. This piece describes the live of that remarkable man, and the Battle of Britain (which I think is the first really big success by the RAF): youtu.be/qWnKwFzx3Bc
For further info on WW2: www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/information-for/educators/quick-facts/second-world-war [And of course there were other wars such as WW1: encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/war_losses_canada#:~:text=As%20best%20as%20can%20be,in%.... And Korea, and Afghanistan, etc. And peacekeepers serving under the United Nations. Altho not a Miramichier, I cannot forget Roméo Dallaire - General Dallaire was appointed Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda prior to and during the 1994 genocide. General Dallaire provided the United Nations with information about the planned massacre, which ultimately took more than 800,000 lives in less than 100 days; yet, permission to intervene was denied and the UN withdrew its peacekeeping forces. General Dallaire, along with a small contingent of Ghanaian and Tunisian soldiers and military observers, disobeyed the command to withdraw and remained in Rwanda to fulfill their ethical obligation to protect those who sought refuge with the UN forces (source: www.romeodallaire.com/). His book states the ability of humans to murder others in a horrible way, even in the modern age: SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL: THE FAILURE OF HUMANITY IN RWAND. If one reads it, one is left with the sadness that many people died unnecessarily because of mismanagement by those above his position. Usually, the military forces’ governing model is all about command and control. In the heat of the battle, the aim is for soldiers to conduct their actions as they were trained to do. I have tried in this Nov. 11th series to provide examples of sacrifices made by civilians and enlisted men and women. Most on both the home front and in active service could not forget what resulted from conflict. Nether should we. I thank all current and former civilians and enlisted men and women who sacrificed in active duty, in support axillary roles, or on the home front to keep us a free people. ... See MoreSee Less
Information reposted and shared by Friends of Beaubears Island Inc., Senior Historical Correspondent, John English.
"Harold, Bud, and Alden Daley on D-Day, The NOrth Shore Cannon Ball, and my relatives that served".
[The Miramichi has a long record of military service, including the New Brunswick Regiment Canadian Artillery Company, afterwards known as No. 7, at Chatham, Northumberland County, was undertaken in 1866 (source: electriccanadian.com). See Fig. 1 for the officers:]
The Fenian movement had its origin in the troubles in Ireland, arising out of oppressive land laws and other local causes, and it soon extended to America where the politicians found it useful as a means of increasing their strength among the Irish people. At that time there were in the United States many hundreds of thousands of men who had recently been disbanded from the army at the close of the civil war, and who were only too ready to embrace any new opportunity of winning for themselves fame and rank on other fields of glory. Among these disbanded soldiers were many Irishmen, and it soon came to be known that bands of men could be collected in the United States for the invasion of this country with the avowed object o[f] driving the British flag from this continent and substituting the stars and stripes. It was impossible that the people of Canada could view without emotion these preparations for their undoing, and in New Brunswick especially, which was the first Province to be threatened, the Fenian movement materially assisted in deciding the manner in which our people should vote on the great question of Confederation when it came a second time to be submitted to them (source: The life and Times of Sir Leonard Tilley by James Hannay, 1897). [I believe the New Brunswick Regiment Canadian Artillery Company and others at the time (1866) were created to defend the soon-to-be-created country of Canada against any aggressors, including the Fenian threat.]
[Somehow my father obtained 2 war rifles (see Fig 2). They don’t have a bolt action, so they are more right now a club than a weapon. But they are interesting, nonetheless. The German Mauser I.G. Mod 71 is the top one.]
Germanys first repeating rifle. As many as 1 million have been manufactured. The I.G.Mod.71/84 represents what may be the height of smalls arms manufacturing refinement, the workmanship being since unsurpassed. Although the I.G.Mod.71/84 never saw front line military service, many saw service with German reserve and behind the lines units through WW1. Large numbers were sold as surplus in the US and Canada and ammunition for them was made commercially into the mid-twentieth century (source: Wikipedia). Rifle No 5 Mk I—the "Jungle Carbine“ derivative of the British Lee Enfield No. 4 Mk I, designed not for jungle fighting but in response to a requirement for a "Shortened, Lightened" version of the No.4 rifle for airborne forces. Production began in March 1944, and finished in December 1947. No. 5 Mk I was popular with soldiers owing to its light weight, portability, and shorter overall length than a standard Lee-Enfield rifle. The No. 5 was first issued to the British 6th Airborne Division and in use during their occupation of Denmark in 1945 (source: Wikipedia).]
Pte Harold Stanley Daley (Service # G22937), and Bud and Alden
Harold Stanley Daley (see Fig 3) was born April 15, 1922, in Chatham, Northumberland County, NB, the son of Stanley Daley and Annie Ethel (Sutton). He had nine brothers Alden, Robert, Don, Burton, Joseph, Kenneth, Ray, Jack and Billy, and a sister Anne. Harold and his brothers, Joseph Alden Daley and Francis Robert (Bud) Daley all served with the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment. Burton Daley served with the RCAF in Lachine QC. The family was of Irish descent and was Roman Catholic. Harold attended St. Joseph’s School and later St. Thomas College in Chatham. He left school at age 16. Harold enlisted with the North Shore (NB) Regiment on June 17, 1940, in Chatham. He trained with the regiment initially at Woodstock and then at the new Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC), Camp A-30 at Sussex. The regiment was given a break for Christmas, 1940, and for the New Year’s holidays. The married personnel took the Christmas leave and single personnel were given New Year’s. On January 17th, the single personnel were returning via the CNR line from Campbellton to Sussex. An accident at the New Mills station held up the train for two hours and soldiers waiting in stations along the way were supplied generously with drinks from friends and family. When the train finally rolled out it was without lighting and the water coolers were empty. Complaints resulted in the confiscation of all liquor by the officers. A conductor then stated that an unlit train was good enough for this bunch and added that washrooms were only for officers. These proud and capable men who had volunteered to fight for their country would not be put down. Arguments turned into fights, then into a brawl and all control was lost. By the time the train reached the Rogersville Station, all of the windows had been smashed out of one of the cars. This was soon followed by the removal and ejection of many of the seats and the toilets. At Moncton, the train was met with a riot squad composed of all available military and police. The men were soon quiet, water was supplied, and most slept for the remainder of the journey to Camp Sussex. Two or three coaches had been damaged and the interior of one was destroyed. The episode resulted in a Court Martial and heavy fines for all personnel convicted. Unfortunately, Harold was in one of the rail cars. His pay of $1.50/day was put on hold to pay for damages to CNR property. Details of the story are told in the poem “The North Shore Cannon Ball” written by Arthur Shannon of Jacquet River and recorded by Anne (MacKay) Dickie.
The North Shore Cannon Ball Gather round boys and I'll tell you a story Or what happened in the C.N.R. When the N.S.R. boys were returning off furlough Of how they cleaned out every car. It was on the seventeenth of January, Nineteen hundred and forty-one. The boys were all feeling happy. We had lots of fun. A crowd was at the station To wave us Bon Farewell. Believe me we had no intention Of tearing that troop train to hell. The old cannon ball rolled into the station Two hours behind her time. We waved farewell to our sweethearts As the train rolled down the line. We were rolling along about five minutes, We were feeling pretty blue On parting from our sweethearts And all our friends so true. I pulled out a quart of whiskey And handed it to my pal. I thought if he had a few good drinks He would sort of forget that gal. Just then an officer entered And grabbed our bottle of rye. He threw it out the window. That damned near made me cry. I watched him as he proceeded To go from seat to seat, To take each ladies bottle And smash it at his feet. This was a rotten dirty trick You must admit it's true. But we took it with a smile What else was there to do! All was quiet till we reached Newcastle It was there the fun began! When the reckless Mirimichi boys Boarded the old tin can. Due to carelessness in Campbellton There was no lights on the train This made the boys resentful And they cried for lights in vain. Finally a conductor entered, A rather sassy cuss. He said that even an unlit train Was good enough for us. Now they had taken all our liquors Our Whiskey, Rum and Rye, The water coolers were empty And the boys were cracking dry. This made the boys grow restless No water or no light! They then began an argument Which ended in a fight. The fight became a scrap But this was only the start, It soon became a rough and tumble In which we all took part. The first crash cam without warning We all knew a window was gone. And as all was in the darkness The others didn't remain long. Crash after crash broke the stillness With a tinkling glassy sound, As the windows left their casing And tumbled to the ground. As the mile began to unravel The turmoil began to cease. And when at last we reached Rogersville Station There wasn't a window left in place. A crowd was there at the station The Cannon Ball to meet. When the girls asked us for souvenirs We gave them each a seat. We pulled out from Rogersville Station, We waved the crowd goodbye, But as soon as we were out of sight The mirrors began to fly. As the train rolled through the darkness The fighting began anew. And when finally we reached Moncton The seats were mighty few. Now what else could the Railroad expect, After all we had paid our fare. All we wanted was lights and water. For the service we didn't care. At last we reached the wonderful city Noted for its Magnetic Hill. But when we reached the station, Our hearts just stood stock still. Now word had gone ahead to Moncton That the North Shore was on the prod, And so they had prepared for us They turned out the riot squad. They had called out every soldier, The town cops and Mounties too! They even turned out the Air force To silent the North Shore crew. Now we had done nothing to cause such alarm And you know I could not till a like, After all there was nothing the matter. The boys were merely dry. Well finally they brought us water To quench our dying thirst. The water carriers kept watching us To see if we would burst. Now that we had got some water And all had drank our fill. We settled down to quietness And everybody was still. And so the train rolled out of Moncton, Her throttle opened wide While all inside were quiet As if everybody had died. So we slept till we reached Camp Sussex, Where we woke with heads like lead. They marched us to the barracks Where we headed straight for bed. And now that we are back in camp We are happy one and all But we still carry with us the memory Of the North Shore Cannon Ball. The End My[Karen (Dickie) Holtze]father, Lloyd Dickie spoke of this incident! The officers had stated that the washrooms on the train were only for the officers. These were proud and capable men who would not be put down by anyone. Needless to say the heads were thrown off the train as well! Their spirit and determination continued throughout WW II. Source of poem and Karen (Dickie) Holtze’s comment: restigouche.net).
The following summer on July 21st, Harold embarked for the UK with the NS(NB)R. They traveled from Halifax on the SS Duchess of York and arrived in Liverpool on July 30th. The regiment was initially transferred to Aldershot in the south of England but over the next three years trained throughout England and Scotland. Records show that at some time during 1942, the chaplain Rev. R. M. Hickey wrote home to Mrs. Annie Daley assuring her that her boys were attending mass and communion every Sunday. Harold and Alden were avid sportsmen and, when off duty, played baseball for the North Shore team in the Canadian Army League. Harold played right field and Father Hickey was the team coach. During the summer of 1942, the North Shore team won steadily playing teams from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Divisions. Finally, late in the summer they defeated the Seaforth Highlanders from Westminster BC and won the 1942 Canadian Army Baseball Championship. Few that day could have imagined that within four months of the Normandy landing, more than half of that championship team would become fatal casualties. On D-Day (June 6, 1944) Harold, Bud, and Alden all landed near the village Sant-Aubin-sur-Mer, France with the NS(NB)R. Harold with A Company, Alden with B Company, and Bud as a stretcher-bearer with regiment HQ. A Company suffered heavy casualties on the beach but Harold survived. Cpl Alden Daley received shrapnel wounds to both legs and was evacuated to England. Bud worked tirelessly with Doc. J. A. Patterson, Father Hickey, and stretcher-bearers Edward Hachey and Bob Adair to retrieve and treat the wounded. The regiment had made good progress and by 11:15 a.m. had control of most of Saint Aubin. LCol Donald Buell now ordered that they push south to capture the village of Tailleville, about 3 km inland. It was believed that a German command center that was controlling artillery fire on the beach was located at Tailleville. As they moved south, they encountered snipers hidden in the woods and grain fields and were targeted by artillery fire. The advance was led by C Company who came under heavy machine-gun fire. They responded with mortars and eliminated a machine-gun nest. C Company then sent patrols into the village to clear buildings and soon reported that its objectives were achieved. The firing on the beach had not stopped, however, and because of tunnels and trenches connecting the buildings, many Germans escaped and repositioned themselves. LCol Buell ordered that the clearing of Tailleville be repeated until the firing on the beach ceased. Shortly after giving these orders LCol Buell and Major Archie MacNaughton led an A Company HQ party, that included Harold Daley, into the village via a cluster of farm buildings. As they reached the farm entrance, they saw three Germans hitching a horse. A moment later, a machine gun in the loft of a barn opened fire and all dove to the ground. They tried to run for safety under cover of a smoke grenade but another burst of machine-gun fire instantly killed Archie MacNaughton, Harold Daley, and Art Strang, and fatally wounded Hech Archer. Harold was 23 years of age. Shortly afterward, the tanks of the Fort Garry Horse smashed their way into the farm compound. At about the same time a C company platoon led by Major Daughney, attacked from a different direction and eliminated the machine gun. The fighting continued, however, with grenades, flame throwers, and hand-to-hand combat, and it was 9:00 p.m. when they finally had control of Tailleville. For his service to Canada, Pte Harold Stanley Daley was awarded the following medals: 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defense Medal, War Medal 1939 -1945, and Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp. Pte Harold Stanley Daley, Maj John Archibald MacNaughton, and Pte Arthur William Strang are buried side by side in Beny-Sur Mer, Canadian War Cemetery, in France. Pte Harold Stanley Daley lies in plot I. G. 7. His name is also engraved on one of the North Shore Regiment monuments that stand along the seawall in Saint Aubin-sur-Mer. (source: text taken from junobeach.org). See Fig 4 for the three NS(NB)R Daley brothers Harold, Alden & Bud.
[Relatives of mine that served in the armed forces: Canadian Forces: Father Earl English, Uncle Alden Daley, Uncle Bruce Nixon, Uncle Bill Herbert, Uncle "Rollie" Rollins, Great Uncle Herbert English, Uncle Norman Ramsay, Cousin Pat Nixon, Cousin Kim Nixon, Cousin Brian Nicholas (US Forces). Source: Brian Nicholas. I hope I have instilled in you from my Nov. 11th series that war is the ultimate reality in destruction of property and lives. Further proof can be seen in the following (Fig. 6).]
Jackie Flieger and I bought a house in Blackville in 2020. Unbeknownst to us, a longtime owner was Reg Price (see Fig. 7). From the neighbor of 80+ years of age, I learned that he had served in WW2, and was significantly injured, and he carried that sacrifice all the rest of his days. This is his story:
Wounded and in hospital on V.E. Day By Reginald Price My name is Reginald Elbridge Price and I am a World War II veteran who served with both the Victoria Rifles and the North Shore (N.B.) Regiment. I was born on March 14, 1922 in McNamee (O'Donnelltown), N.B., the son of Everett Price and Agnes O'Donnell. I married Emma Nicholson and we had one child, Blaine Price. I enlisted in Fredericton in January, 1942 and was posted to Woodstock, N.B. for basic training. I was assigned to the Victoria Rifles and shipped to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario for training. Eventually I ended up in Debert, N.S. and served as a driver while waiting to be shipped to England, I think in 1944. I boarded a troop ship in Halifax and landed in England and was sent directly to Camp Aldershot. Over time, I ended up as a reinforcement to the North Shore (N.B.) Regiment and was in Support Company for awhile and then ended up in C Company. Somewhere in Germany, I was assigned as a C Company driver. While driving my jeep I was hit by either a shell or I drove over a mine. Since I was in the jeep and badly wounded, I really do not know all the details on how I got hit. I am putting together the story based on what others told me had happened. What I do know for sure is that after the jeep was blown up, I had a bad head injury, a broken arm and my left side was hit. It was in April 1945. I was transported back to England and ended up at a military hospital in Basingstoke, England. I was in Basingstoke Hospital on V.E. Day. The hospital staff came in and told me that the war was over. I was in Basingstoke from April to July, 1945. On July 10, 1945 I left England aboard a hospital ship and landed in Halifax. I was transported to the military hospital in Sussex, N.B., but was shortly after transferred to Sainte-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, just west of Montreal. I remained in Sainte-Anne de Bellevue hospital until November 1945. I was given a 42 day pass and I went home to Blackville to celebrate Christmas '45 and New Year's '46 with my family. I was discharged in January, 1946 in Fredericton with the rank of private. I worked for a brief time at the Renous Ammunition Depot but was laid off because I just couldn't do the work. I have been on a military pension since 1946. Mr. Reginald Price passed away the evening of Monday, December 17, 2012 at the Miramichi Regional Hospital at the age of 90 (source: memoriesofblackville.com). ... See MoreSee Less
Information reposted and shared by Friends of Beaubears Island Inc., Senior Historical Correspondent, John English.
2nd part of a 2 part series.
'Padre' HM Hickey - requiem aeternam dona eis Domine on D-Day.
[This piece is graphic in the nature about war, reader discretion is advised] The Scarlet Dawn Into the night we sailed as silently as thieves bent on their journey under the cover of darkness. Not a light showed in all that vast expanse of boats, but here and there, by the reflection of the water, you could make out the indistinct form of a boat, like a giant whale sleeping. Only the dull throbbing of the engines broke the silence. We went down to our bunks, but it was hard to get sleep. We have been warned to keep our gas masks handy, for, in case of a German air attack, a smoke screen would be laid to blot out the fleet. It was warm and stuffy down there and, of course, the thought of stepping into battle at daybreak wasn't a thought to lull you to sleep; but we weren't jittery. The last I remember before dozing to sleep was Captains Gammon, McQuarrie and LeBlanc shooting a game of dice on the floor near my bunk. I found a shilling in my pocket and, as money had such little value there, I invested the whole of it in the game and dozed asleep. I awoke with a start. Somebody was saying something about daybreak. The engines had stopped and the boat was still. We rushed up to the deck and there about ten miles away was the coast of France about to awaken to a tragic day. Overhead our planes droned past and in a few minutes the coast lit up with the well known flares of bombing; then, with a terrific crash, our heavy guns on the destroyers behind us opened up and the air was filled with the whistling of shells speeding on their way to destruction and death. Breathless we stood and watched - and there before us broke the scarlet dawn! No sun come up; the clouds hung low and dark; the waves rose cold and unfriendly like, and along the coast our bursting bombs and shells threw up a crimson curtain. We lined up on the deck just as we had done on schemes. I took the pyx [a small round metal receptacle used to carry the Eucharist to the sick, source: merriam-webster.com] from my tunic pocket and received Holy Communion; then, as shells screamed and whistled and our planes droned above, I gave my men a general absolution. "To boats," came the command, and in perfect order, groups of thirty stepped into the little gasoline boats on the deck. Slowly they were swung out, then down, down, down, till they struck the water. It was seven o'clock. We pushed away from the "Brigadier" like life boats leaving a sinking ship. The sea was rough. Soon the area was dotted with our little boats bobbing up and down like sea gulls on a choppy sea. We lined up in position and started slowly over the ten miles to shore. The German guns had now opened up and their shells came screaming back to answer ours. In we moved. The last three miles were to be covered with a burst of speed. The German small arms fire was now reaching us. Suddenly our boat leaped forward with a burst of speed into the jaws of death! Not time was lost, the boats dumped as they turned, many were sunk; the water was covered with wreckage. Joel Murray from Cross Point and I landed together in the water but we could reach bottom and made shore. A young lad next to me fell, a bullet got him. I dragged him ashore, and there in that awful turmoil I knelt for a second that seemed an eternity and anointed him - the first of the long, long list I anointed in action. There was a long fifty yards of wide, open beach between the water's edge and the cement wall; if you could make the wall you were safe, for a time at least, from the enemy fire; but ah, so many of our fine young men didn't make it. There on the open beach they lay, dead or dying. It was our duty to get to them, so with our stretcher bearers and first aid men, Doctor Patterson and I crawled back again across that fifty yards of hell. The beach was sprayed from all angles by the enemy machine guns and now their mortars and heavy guns began hitting us. Crawling along in the sand, I just reached a group of three badly wounded men when a shell landed among us killing the others outright. That is why the report got around that I had been killed in action. Someone saw the shell hit and figured I had got it too. The noise was deafening; you couldn't even hear our huge tanks that had already landed and were crunching their way through the sand; some men, unable to hear them, were run over and crushed to death. A blast shook the earth like an earthquake, it was the engineers blowing the wall. All the while enemy shells came screaming in faster and faster; as we crawled along, we could hear the bullets and shrapnel cutting into the sand around us; when a shell came screaming over, you dug into the sand and held your breath, waited for the blast and the shower of stones and debris that followed; then when it cleared a little, right next to you, perhaps someone you had been talking to half an hour before, lay dead. Others dying, might open their eyes as you reached them. By the little disc around their neck I knew their religion. If Catholic, I gave them Extreme Unction with one unction on the forehead, but whether Catholic or Protestant, I would tell the man he was dying and be sorry for his sins, and often I was rewarded by the dying man opening his eyes and nodding to me knowingly. It was a hard job to get the wounded on the stretchers and carry them to the shelter of the wall. I will never forget the courage of the stretcher bearers and first aid men that morning. If some men are living today, next to Almighty God they can thank men like Lieutenant Hisslip of Vancouver and his stretcher bearers, and I will always remember the bravery of these first aid from our own regiment, Edward Hachey, Buddy Daley[ from Chatham] and Bob Adair. They stayed with us on the open beach until we carried all the wounded we could to safety behind the wall and gave them what help we could. Major Ralph Daughney crept along the wall to where I was. "Father," he said, "there's some of our men badly wounded up among the houses." I followed him. A ramp had been placed against the wall by now. Over it we went to what could have been sudden death, for the houses facing us about fifty yards away were still held by German snipers. I often wonder why we both weren't picked off as we came over the wall. I like to think a German sniper spared me; I like to think that a German sniper had me in his telescopic sight, but when he saw by my collar and red cross arm band that I was a chaplain, he stayed his finger - well, I like to think it. Ralph and I never reached those men. Two stretcher bearers ahead of us stepped on a mine just as they reached them and a terrific explosion killed the stretchers bearers and all the wounded. The awful concussion drove Ralph and me back; half dazed, we jumped down again behind the wall. Like a hospital patient you lost all idea of time in action. Time meant nothing. We were told after that we had been on the beach for two hours. By now what was left of the regiment was up in the village clearing the German out of their strongholds. It was a hard slow struggle. Doc Patterson and I kept close to each other. We left the beach and, following a little path that led through an apple orchard, we reached the one cobble stone street of Saint Aubin. The first French people I saw that day were some men, women and children crouching in a little cave near the beach. Up in the village the people had run to whatever protection they could find in cellars and out in the fields; some, unable to get away, were killed, others badly wounded. A man ran across the street, he wanted help; we followed him into his house and there on the floor lay his young wife badly wounded. Doc stopped the bleeding with a first aid dressing, and she tried to bless herself when I told her I was a priest and would give her absolution and extreme unction. Their children, three little girls of about four, six and eight, looked on terrified, maybe as much because of us as their mother. I spoke to them, but it only seemed to terrify them all the more. Then I remembered I had three chocolate bars in my pocket, part of my day's rations. I gave them to the little girls. Oh the power of a chocolate bar! The terror vanished from six brown eyes, and even there as terror reigned, three little girls attempted a smile as I patted their curly heads. "I think she'll live", said Doc. I told the husband what the Doctor had said. "Thank God, thank God and you," he answered and a new light was dancing in three sets of big brown eyes and Doc and I hurried away, feeling we had already made friends in France. I often wonder if the little woman lived. I'd like to go back to St. Aubin and visit that home again. Alexandre Constant, I think, was the family name. As we came out we were caught in a barrage of German mortars. The handiest shelter was a cellar already packed with civilians. We huddled there for a while until Doc spoke his famous words: "We're no good here Father." How often we were to hear that from the Doc. When tempted to get under shelter and stay there, when we could be of help somewhere else, the Doc would remind us that "we were not good there." So, with that reminder, we started on again. We found B Company under Major Forbes and Capt. McCann in difficulty; they were trying to take a German pill box. A pill box looks just like a beaver's house, but you can't see what's underground. This one, as we learned later, had two underground shelters. They held on there till late in the afternoon; but when our flame throwers went into action over a hundred of them came out and surrendered. Somehow, Doc and I lost one another, but our plans told us we were to meet at the church. Sure enough, I found him in the rectory which was already turned into a dressing station. It was filled with wounded civilians and soldiers. We made the rounds, then on we went to catch up to the regiment that was now moving up to attack the German headquarters at Tailleville. The place was an old chateau hidden in a clump of trees; it looked as silent as an abandoned farmhouse, but, when we got in range, every tree spoke with a tongue of fire. Quickly we dug in with the small shovels we carried on our backs. How you can dig when you're digging for your life! Foot by foot our men advanced through the network of trenches and barbed wire around the chateau. The Germans took their last stand inside the building and fought on till our tanks came up and blasted the side out of the place. Finally, about twenty Germans, with their hands in the air, ran out to surrender. The rest of their garrison lay around the yard or in the chateau, dead. They were the first German prisoners I had seen. They stood trembling with their hands up, you could see they thought we were going to shoot them. And now, when I recollect, I almost think shooting would have been more merciful than the awful barrage of words and tongue lashing they got from Captain McElwain. The place was a maze of trenches and underground passages. One trench ran right to the beach. We knocked down the door of one underground passage and out trotted a dozen horses, three or four cows and a flock of hens, cackling their indignation. The Germans must have intended to make a stand there. What we were most afraid of now were booby traps. Bobby traps were simply tricky ways of blowing you up. You might innocently open a door and step right into the next world; you might press the starter of a newly acquired German car and go sailing through the air with it. One fellow picked an innocent looking beer bottle off a window sill and the whole side of the house fell on him with a terrific bang. All was quiet now. Did some of us foolishly think it was all over"? Maybe we did, but we were to learn. Little did we realize then, as we learned afterwards, that only a few miles ahead, in the gathering dusk, the great German General, Kurt Meyer, now in Dorchester penitentiary, stood with his crack army anxiously awaiting orders from Hitler to strike. That hesitation right there in the gathering duck is what lost the war for Hitler. We learned, after the war, that Meyer wanted to meet us on the beach and fight us there. Had he been allowed to do it, I'd have little to write about and perhaps I wouldn't be here to write it. But every order had to come from Hitler, and his plan was to let us land and then hit us; but when, on the third night, Hitler gave orders to attack, Meyer's army found us too many and too strong. Expecting the German artillery to open up, Colonel Buell and I jumped down into a German trench. "How is it going Colonel?" I asked him. "Well, Father, we're not near our objective yet; we should be in much farther than we are," he said, and I noticed a strained look on his face. "Let us thank God we're here at all," I answered, and by way of encouraging him more I added: "And look at all the nice hens and cows and horses we got out of it." Even in that tense moment that smile of his played on his lips. The Colonel doesn't know how much that smile encouraged me, it told me he was master of the situation. Then he was quiet, and I was quiet too, for I began asking myself how I would ever stand perhaps three or four years of this. Something answered and told me not to be foolish, that it could be all over for me very soon; that maybe in the matter of minutes or hours I would be lying with those already gone, for now bits of news were coming in; yes, so and so was killed; another was badly wounded; someone else was missing. Suddenly the booming of guns behind us and the whistling of shells overhead told us our artillery was in; but will you believe it, right there an old French woman made us and our artillery look ridiculous; for, with a pail in her hand, she sauntered cross the field, sat down on her milking stool and calmly milked her cow. Night came on. All around you could her the clatter of picks and shovels as each man dug in for himself. I made the rounds of all the companies and returned about midnight and started digging in for myself. "Come in with us Father," someone sang out in the dark. I went over to find Fred Druet of Chatham and John Leet of Bathurst snuggled in a fine trench. There is always room for one more man in a trench you know, so in I crawled; but the part I'll never forget is the can of self-heating soup Fred Druet opened and handed to me. That was the first food I tasted that day. No sir, the Savoy in London never produced the like of it! An Anxious Night "Boys, it's dark!" said Leet. "Dark, it's as dark as the inside of a black cow," answered Druet. He hadn't said the words, when from the black distance came the unmistakable "ou-ou-ou" of German planes. Nearer and nearer they came, when suddenly, right above us, lights began to appear as though a little altar boy were lighting candles in the sky. Earthward they slowly moved and as they did they expanded and brightened. They were flares, a kind of torch attached to a small parachute dropped from planes to light up the bombers' target. They lit up everything s bright as day. To me that was the most nerve-wracking thing in action. You lay there in a little trench feeling that a German pilot had his eye right on your and that he had private orders from Hitler to get you. Nearer and nearer the flares came; you'd think they were coming right for your trench; you took a breath each time one of them hit the ground and went out. We soon learned to watch for the red flares, for as I heard an old timer tell a new comer one night: "Look son, them red things up there wasn't hung up there for a color design." No, as we learned, when everything was lit up with the white flares, a lone plane would come in, choose the target and drop red flares over it; this was a signal to the bombers coming behind to drop their load there. As we lay there the red flares came on. I thought they were coming right for our trench, you always think that. It was the beach they were after where men and equipment were still pouring off the endless line of boats. We were about a mile from the beach then, but that's not a comfortable distance in a bombing. The first German bombs came whistling down and, as they did, as though someone pressed an electric button, a curtain of ack ack fire from our guns leaped heavenward for miles and miles along the coast. Even in its awfulness it was pretty, as our guns, like so many fountains, sprayed the clouds with golden nuggets, and the red tracer bullets, like giant sparks from Vulcan's chimney, rocketed skywards. Morning dawned - none too soon. It was quiet now, so quiet you could hear the lark singing as the sun started to come up just down at the water's edge where we landed yesterday it seemed. I received Holy Communion. I doubted of every seeing my Mass kit again. Yes, we washed and shaved and set about preparing our "Compo" breakfast. Who will ever forget the twenty-four hour compo package with its two squares of oatmeal which, when soaked in water, produced something like the paste mother used to make for wall papering and the stick of gum on which, Montgomery said, a good soldier could march all day, and the "boiled sweets," a half-brother to the old fashioned Christmas candy of 1880? One lad, stirring away at the magic porridge, sang out to me: "Father, this porridge should be treated like you treat Newfoundland flippers." To my question: "And what are flippers?" he looked surprised and said. "Well, them's the side paddles on a seal, and the best way to prepare them is, you open the flipper and nail it to a board; then you hang it out in the sun for a day; then you take it in, take it off the board, then you throw away the flipper and eat the board." Yes, there was humor even though death lay around and stalked us on every side; it had to be that way, for when a man lost his sense of humor in action he was done. Then came the darker side of war as we set about to bury yesterday's dead. One by one we identified them, wrapped them in their blanket and lowered them into their narrow grave. On some of the German dead I found rosaries and badges of The Sacred Heart. Quietly the men gathered around and stood bare headed as I blessed the graves and said, for the first time in action, the prayer I was to say so often: "Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine" - "Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord." Source of the above text: “The Scarlet Dawn” (1949), by Rev. (Major) R. M, Hickey, MC Roman Catholic Chaplain for the North Shore Regiment who landed on the shores of St. Aubin sur Mer on June 6, 1944. pages 192-203, canadianwarbrides.com An endorsement of the man under the cloth Father Hickey was a cousin of my mother’s. She spoke very fondly of him and how he always had a kind word for everyone. He served with the North Shore Regiment and the men who served with him he called his boys! He loved these men and wrote a book called The Scarlet Dawn. His stories are about his wartime experiences from the time he did his basic training to his trip to England by ship and what happened when he landed in Normandy on D-Day with the first wave going into the German storm of fire. He pulled wounded men from the water as bullets splashed around him, he gave last rites to those who would not survive, and he tended to all around him in spite of the danger. His Military Cross which he kept close was well deserved, but for him, the appreciation of the men he served with was far more important. As a young child I remember visiting him with my mother and father, he was very kind and had a wonderful sense of humor. I have his books that he wrote which he autographed… great memories. To come full circle though was when my husband and I visited the Beaches of Normandy a few years ago and to hear the tour guides speak of my distant cousin with such admiration and pride was a gift I cannot replace. They even had copies of letters that he had written home of which I now have a copy. Priceless memories. Source of the above text: tulipfestival.ca
[The more I learned about “our boys”, the more I realized what happened, how horrific war is, and what we owe all the men women that served or serve now. Churchill was right; 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much been owed by so many to so few'. He was paying tribute to the enormous efforts made by the fighter pilots and bomber crews to establish air superiority over England (source: parliament.uk). But that describes our current times too; our boys and girls kept and continue to keep our enemies at bay, and therefore our country free. Thank you all for your service and sacrifices] ... See MoreSee Less
Ruby was given flowers for her kindness to spend time with me 😀.
The Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS; popularly and officially known as the Wrens) was the women's branch of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. First formed in 1917 for the First World War, it was disbanded in 1919, then revived in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War, remaining active until integrated into the Royal Navy in 1993. WRNS included cooks, clerks, wireless telegraphists, radar plotters, weapons analysts, range assessors, electricians and air mechanics.
The Battle of Britain, also known as the Air Battle for England (German: die Luftschlacht um England), was a military campaign of the Second World War, in which the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of the Royal Navy defended the United Kingdom (UK) against large-scale attacks by Nazi Germany's air force, the Luftwaffe. It was the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces. The British officially recognise the battle's duration as being from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz, that lasted from 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941. German historians do not accept this subdivision and regard the battle as a single campaign lasting from July 1940 to May 1941, including the Blitz.
The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and originated from the term Blitzkrieg, the German word meaning 'lightning war'.
Canada, like several other Commonwealth nations, created the Canadian Merchant Navy (French: Marine marchande Canadienne) in a large-scale effort during World War II. 184 ships are involved in merchant shipping activity in the Canadian shipping industry.
The Canadian Merchant Navy played a major role in the Battle of the Atlantic bolstering the Allies' merchant fleet due to high losses in the British Merchant Navy. Eventually thousands of Canadians served aboard hundreds of Canadian Merchant Navy ships (source Wikipedia).
I said I was a choir boy. I mis-spoke, I meant an alter boy.
I said it was the Russians that invaded Holland. I misspoke, I meant the Germans.
On 31 March 1949, Newfoundlanders became Canadian citizens (source: heritage.nf.ca).
Photos from Ile Beaubears Island Interpretive Centre's post ... See MoreSee Less