After relating his memories of his time as the first Radar Officer on the Prince of Wales and, along with the Hood, the encounter with the Bismarck, Rear Admiral Stuart Paddon continues with memories of the occasion when the Prince of Wales transported Winston Churchill to Placentia Harbour in Newfoundland, then still a British colony, for a secret meeting with the American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The next event worth mentioning was that we were very surprised to receive Mr. Winston Churchill, whom we transported to Placentia Harbour in Newfoundland, where he met Roosevelt for what is now called the Atlantic Charter meeting. We were a private ship, no flag officer carried; however we had a tremendous amount of brass present on this occasion: all the Chiefs of Staff and a myriad of staff officers who were in Churchill’s entourage.
Time's Up - The Hunt is On
Our workups and test exercises on the Prince of Wales were fairly extensive but we had had only one main armament shoot, when about May 22nd, HMS Hood and ourselves had to proceed to sea to intercept the Bismarck, being shadowed with radar by HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk, two county class cruisers. Our Captain came on the PA system and told the ship’s company that he anticipated intercepting the Bismarck at roughly six a.m. on the 24th of May, some thirty hours away.
The Captain was Correct
At exactly six a.m. on the 24th of May we encountered the Bismarck at 26,000 yards, roughly thirteen nautical miles, twenty degrees to starboard. The Flag Office was in Hood and we proceeded in line-ahead with Hood leading. The Hood was a battle cruiser, without the armour plating which the Prince of Wales enjoyed. We were doing roughly thirty knows and opened fire at 26,000 yards.
A Canadian in the Royal Navy
When the war was declared in 1939, I was in Noranda, Quebec, in a gold and copper mine. I came back from there in September to complete my final year in Physics at the University of Western Ontario. We had just started the University year when we were approached by the head of the Physics department to see if we were agreeable to having our syllabus altered to give emphasis to electronics. If you recall in those days electronics, certainly at Western, was a post-grad course, not an undergrad course. We agreed.
RAF Scoops Electronic Talent RN Looks to Canada
This request had really originated with the Royal Navy, who had been unable to find any electronic talent at home because, I gather, all of it had been bought up by the RAF. The RN appealed to the Royal Canadian Navy, who in turn approached the National Research Council. Things proceeded as one might expect, until somewhere about February 1940. I then met the first naval officer I had ever seen, one Lieutenant-Commander Finch-Noyes. He made it known to us that in a relatively short time we would be proceeding to service with the Royal Navy in certain not very clear duties. There appeared to be a great deal of secrecy involved. We attested the 24th of April and I became an acting Sub-Lieutenant, in the RCNVR [Royal Canadian Navy Voluntary Reserve].
D-Day flyer says sights beat Star Wars
The following interview appeared in the St. Thomas Times Journal on the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994. Bill Golden was a founding member of the Elgin Military Museum.
Another in the series of letters home from the files at The Elgin Military Museum. Those on the homefront were desperate for news. Many of the letters found their way into the local newspaper - in this case the St. Thomas Journal so the community could share the apprehension, joy or sorrow.
Pte Tweed Tells of Capture
Intro to Recollections
With the presence of mind of an officer who was awarded the VD and was later the Commanding Officer of the Elgin Regiment, Lt. Col. Warren Andrews recorded his encounter with General Sir Arthur Currie, Commander of Canadian Troops and Kenneth Lawrence the last Canadian casualty of the Great War. The occasion was a celebratory dinner for thousands in St. Thomas, Ontario in 1921. The encounter did not begin well.
The Sound of his Voice
There is nothing to compare to the unexpected pleasure of hearing a loved one's voice on the telephone no matter how sketchy the details or how harrowing what you do hear maybe. This was certainly the case for Air Force Warrant Officer Bill Burton's mom, Mrs. E.A. Dunn. It was wartime and like many other stories from the front, a report found it's way into the St. Thomas Times Journal. She might have been caught up in the moment just listening to his voice but I am quite sure her imagination received a workout when she had time to take in words such as jungle and wild game.
The Answer is Often:
It was Meant to Be
We will never know why a very young Canadian seaman, ‘Bud’ Bridgman, volunteered to remain on lookout aboard HMCS Comox after the search for survivors of the Liberty Ship Martin Van Buren had ceased. Nevertheless, despite the bone chilling fog, Bud continued to scan what parts of the ocean he could see. Sixty six men are very grateful that he did.
Left: Seaman Arthur 'Bud' Bridgman
with 'Cookie' aboard HMCS Comox
Last Canadian Wounded in War Former St Thomas Man
Kenneth Lawrence Received Leg Injury, Necessitating
Amputation, Three Minutes before “Cease
Fire” Order Given
When Zeppelins Bombarded the
Introduction to Ephraim
E.D. Mitchell, a former St. Thomas boy, writing to his folks at Eden, Ont., from Otterpool Camp, England, gives some very interesting detail of his experience when the Germans bombarded that camp from Zeppelins. Signaller Mitchell was at one time connected with the grocery firms here of Swinn Bros., J.A. McCance, Egan Bros. and Butler Bros., and will be remembered by a large number of friends. For the last five or six years he has travelled for the Swift Canadian Company out of Winnipeg and Nelson, B.C. He enlisted last June at Winnipeg, and is with the Headquarters Staff, Fifth Artillery Brigade, Second Canadian Division, as signaller and dispatch rider. In his letter he writes:
Where there's a will there's a way
The 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1994 stirred memories far and wide including in the mind of a determined Frenchman who was only sixteen when a young Canadian 'soldier' turned up at the door of a neighbour in German occupied France.
Thus, Michel Juniau and his wife from Beaumont le Roger in the Commune d'Ecardenville la Compagne, France began the search for 'Jones Stanley.' Memories fade after fifty years; Michel thought that 'Jones' had lived on a farm somewhere in Canada before the war and that he had a sister named 'Lucie'. This was not much to go on but they persevered approaching the Canadian embassy in Paris and then writing countless letters to municipal offices all over Canada. It was a long process.
Sixteen year old Michel put on his best clothes to pose with the Canadian 'Jones Stanley' who was being hidden from the Germans by neighbours.
"It seemed like good thing; but wait till I tell you"
All went well; the target was successfully bombed, and the aircraft turned for home. A short time later they were attacked by a German fighter aircraft and unceremoniously shot out of the sky. There was enough time, however, for all seven members of the crew to bail out. It was later determined that the Pilot was injured on his descent and was captured by the enemy, but the remaining six crew members all landed safely and were sheltered by French families until their return home.
Photo right shows the bombed area at Trappes
The turn of the 20th century saw many a young Englishman come to our area to make a new life for himself. Thomas Richard Young was among those who ventured forth from Bournemouth, Hampshire, to the Aylmer area here in Elgin County in the spring of 1909. By 1911, he was working on the farm of Leslie and Helen Cameron in Bayham Township south east of Aylmer. Tom then took up the challenge of going west and on October 23, 1915 he enlisted for service overseas.
One Man's War - Shared with the Country
"Sgt. Jack Arnold Stollery, a Canadian Army photographer, has been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry which inspired the troops taking Ortona in Italy, says Reuter. The citation said:
"During the entire battle for the town his gallant conduct and devotion to duty was outstanding. His appearance with the forward troops in moments of great danger armed only with a camera was commented upon and was in no small way responsible for bolstering the morale of the fighting troops. Throughout the whole campaign, Sgt. Stollery has continually displayed great gallantry and devotion beyond the call of duty."
After the war, Jack spent some time with the National Film Board in Ottawa before returning to St. Thomas where he set up a photography business. Sadly, he died suddenly in 1974 at only 57 years old.
The View from Sailors from St. Thomas, Ontario
The Halifax Explosion December 6, 1917 was the largest man-made explosion until the nuclear era. There are many excellent resources about this event. What follows are the memories of two St. Thomas men writing home to their parents in the aftermath. Seaman Gunner James A. Cluskey and Seaman Owen George Young were serving in the navy as members of the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve (the precursor to the 'Wavy Navy'). They were witnesses to the catastrophe and the aftermath.
In the Beginning
46 William St. corner of St. Anne's Place
Avis Dolphin came to Canada with her recently widowed mother before the First World War. They moved into 46 William Street and Avis attended Wellington Street School. When she was twelve, her mother decided to send her back to England to finish her education. So, despite the fact that the much touted phrase "we'll be home for Christmas"  did not prove true, Avis traveled to New York with two nurse companions, Miss Hilda Ellis and Miss Sarah Smith, to board the Lusitania on May 1st 1915. Seven days later she was tossed into the sea and had to fend for herself.
Parts of the letter that she wrote to her mother on May 10th from the Waverley Hotel in Dublin, Ireland were published in the St. Thomas Journal and appear below.
From One of the Lads
The Following Letter from Lance-Corporal A.l. Satchell, was written to his mother Mrs. Emma Satchell, 52 Maple Street. He left with the 91st Battalion and is now with the 12th Reserve Battalion. His sisters are Mrs. A.W. Osborne, Fifth Avenue, Mrs. Wall, 60 Chestnut Street and Mrs. H. Osborne, 52 Maple Street.
St. Thomas Journal Sept 15, 1916
Life Before the Front
About the Author
Capt. N.M. McDougall, of the Elgin Regiment, transferred to Brigade Headquarters and, for the D-Day operation, served as a tank unit landing officer with the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade. His job was to reconnoiter areas for tank operations. In 1945, the President of the Provisional French Government, General Charles DeGaulle, presented McDougall with the Croix de Guerre avec Etoile de Vermeil for his actions during the D-Day landing.
The rocket ships provided the most spectacular sights. The rockets went off in groups of ten or so, with only seconds between groups. It was a fiery show as hundreds of rockets were shot from the banks of pipes on the decks of the rocket ships.
The sudden death of Norma Chamberlain [1927-2017] on Friday, May 26th comes as a shock. Norma had a firm grip on what it means to remember our military heritage and the importance of service to our community. The wife of the late Lt. Col. Robert Chamberlain, a founding member and former Chairman of the Elgin Military Museum, she made a significant contribution to the evolution of the museum in her own right. For Ian, Melissa and myself (Catherine), she and ‘Bomber’ were always a part of our lives and will continue to be in our memories.
The Elgin Military Museum has a vast collection of letters, articles, poems and pictures of veterans and others who served their community over a period of two hundred years.. This blog is our way of sharing them with you.
Elgin Military Museum
Late Arrivals Club
Military Medical Care
Royal Canadian Navy