With the passing of Sir Winston Churchill [January 1965], several human interest stories of a minor character come to mind. They concern his journey in August 1941 to meet with President Roosevelt at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. This meeting, as we all know, resulted in the momentous Atlantic Charter. I was privileged to serve on his staff whilst embarked in the battleship Prince of Wales for the trans-Atlantic crossing to and from Placentia Bay.
Taken on the quarterdeck of the Prince of Wales, shows Sir Winston taking a constitutional with Harry Hopkins during a lull in the bad weather which plagued the crossing. Also shown are Admiral Sir Dudley Pound (Chief of Naval Staff) General Sir John Dill (Chief of the Imperial General Staff) and Air Vice-Marshal Freeman (Vice-Chief of the Air Staff)
By Lieutenant Hugh E. Fackrell, RCNR of St. Thomas
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.
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].
The Answer is Often:
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
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.
Bridge Too Far
Confidential Book Box
Elgin Military Museum
Late Arrivals Club
Military Medical Care
Royal Canadian Navy