Dec. 27–Jan. 1, 1945

Dec. 27 — Went over to 6th Gen Hosp in the afternoon. Our work is not heavy but is steady. At 10 p.m.  — Joep, Get and I started for Ghent but had a car accident a few miles out of Turnhout, so Marion and Gordie returned to Zielst and Arnold, Joep and I did our shopping in Turnhout, and an ambulance came down and picked us up. Arrived home at 11 P.M.

Dec. 29 — Famous “Devils” party in our home tonight. The party was quite a success .

Dec. 31 — New Years Eve Party at Baselman’s home. Much the same crowd present as at Xmas Eve. We drank the Old Year out and the New Year in with Champagne.

Jan. 1, 1945 — At 9:30 A.M. a terrific German air attack on the Eindhoven Airport (Operation Bodenplatte). The windows in our buildings were broken and I believe 400 German planes took part in the attack. About 45 of our airplanes were destroyed on the ground and there were several killed and wounded. There was a great deal of excitement around. I have never seen so many aircraft in the skies at one time since Dieppe.

On January 1, 1945, the German Luftwaffe launched Operation Bodenplatte - often referred to as the Hangover Raid - and destroyed over 50 aircraft at the Eindhoven airfield (B-78) where Corporal Weiss (the figure on the far right) was serving on the ground crew. Walter Weiss. The Memory Project.

On January 1, 1945, the German Luftwaffe launched Operation Bodenplatte – often referred to as the Hangover Raid – and destroyed over 50 aircraft at the Eindhoven airfield (B-78) where Corporal Weiss (the figure on the far right) was serving on the ground crew. Walter Weiss. The Memory Project.

Dec. 13–Dec. 26, 1944: Christmas in Holland

Dec. 13 — Gordie and I drove up through Eindhoven, Tilburg to Breda to Army H.Q. After getting there found that Army had moved to Tilburg. In the evening I went out to dinner with Al Williams, at the airport. Saw Bill Mustard while there.

Dec. 14 — Ronnie and Vic Railton went to Paris on leave today. Dibb is still not home from England. Wish he would hurry up and get back. Tonight it was a grand service at dinner. Tony, Cal Stone, the Pay Master and the Auxiliary Service man were all here.

Dec. 16 — Gordie, Arnold Hodgkins, Marion Thompson, Joep and myself went into Ghent to do the Xmas shopping for the mess Xmas and to buy toys for the kiddie party. Had a very nice trip and did not get back until 1 A.M. Coming back through Antwerp we saw where a buzz bomb had landed a short time before. One bomb fell on Eindhoven today demolishing thirty houses.

Dec. 17 — Sunday — Two Nurses, Miss Bright and Miss Murray flew to Brussels on leave today. Eddie Walstein down to dinner today. Nothing exciting.

Dec. 18 — Started for Breda and Tilburg and had to call in at 6 Gen. Hosp. Met the people I needed to see in both other places there, so spent the day at the hospital. Everything was quiet.

Dec. 23 — Mess Xmas dinner in the hospital. Quite a success, but was very glad when it was over. On the 22nd, Gordie, Arnold, Joep, Get and I went to Ghent on a buying expedition. Had a very good trip and in the evening went to the Theatre to see “The Lady from Edinburgh,” a very good comedy.

Dec. 24 — Andre arrived — the brother of the kids here. He is a priest in ’s-Hertogenbosch and is home for a few days holiday. In the afternoon we held our kiddies Christmas Party. We had a picture show “The Three Bears.” The kiddies loved it. Had never seen a moving picture before. Afterwards Santa Claus came. All in all a grand party. In the evening the Officers had their Xmas Eve Party in the mess. The Officers present were: N/S Thompson, Bright, Vincent, Murray, De Rosiers, Maj Railton, Wolstein, Robertson, Ralph Turner (Legion Man), Capt. Dorman, Pay Master, Capt. Melon, Capt. McDonald, Place, Carson, Dibb and myself — the Civilians present were: Mr. Baselman, Mary, Ricci, Carrie, Lizzie, Maggie, Nellie, Harold, Wintermann, Bob Williamson, Mr. Wilbers, Mrs. Wilbers, Andre, Marie, Jeop, Johnnie and Get. It was a lovely party with Santa Claus and everything complete. The Canadian Legion put on a picture show, after which we had dancing. The party lasted until 4 A.M. after which Get, Joep, Johnnie and I went to Midnight mass in the Village Church.

Dec. 25 — Xmas Day in Holland. We have our room all decorated. A Xmas tree and a Manger scene. Everything is very Xmasy. At 11 A.M. we had Church Service conducted by Lt. Col. Stone, Senior Chaplain in 2nd Corps. Our orchestra and choir were present. I read the lesson and really it was a beautiful Christmas Service, held in a tobacco factory in Zielst. At 7 P.M. we went in a body to Mr. Baselmanns home, which is where the mess is, and had a beautiful Xmas dinner and spent another evening in dancing. It was a wonderful Xmas — we can never be too appreciative of the Dutch — they are grand. Xmas mail did not arrive, but we all hope it will be here soon.

Dec. 10–12, 1944

Dec. 10 — Sunday. One year ago today I was wounded. Tony left this morning and tonight Pat Robertson got word to report to 2nd Can. General Hospital tomorrow. We are not very busy, but no other Canadian Medical Unit is either — we are comfortable, but time passes slowly. Our chief occupation for the next two weeks will be getting ready for Xmas kiddies party and our own celebration.

Dec. 11 — Very wet and miserable. Was busy all day trying to arrange local entertainment for our boys. It is awfully hard.

Dec. 12 — Pat Robertson left for 6th Can. Gen. Hosp. I do not know who will be coming here. Not a great deal of work to do.

Oct. 21-Dec. 9, 1944: A lengthy interruption

It has been a lengthy interruption in Doc Alexander’s story brought on by a whole host of life stuff: new home, new city, job search, courses … and on it goes it seems. In that time we’ve missed the Battle of the Scheldt and Walcheren Island, the fight to take the Breskens Pocket and beginning of the liberation of Holland. But as of today, Dec. 9, Alex and his 6th Field Dressing Station, is in Zielst, Holland, staying with a Dutch family and preparing for Christmas and up to his old tricks. He sent one of his officers home to England for Christmas without permission from the Army, writing,”If he gets caught I will lose my head, as I let him go without a pass — but hope it will work out alright.”

Doc Alexander and one of his officers have a laugh at Hitler's expense in April 1945. They found the photo in a convent. The sign in the background points in the direction of the 6 FDS (6th Field Dressing Station), which he commands.

Doc Alexander and one of his officers have a laugh at Hitler’s expense in April 1945. They found the photo in a convent. The sign in the background points in the direction of the 6 FDS (6th Field Dressing Station), which he commands.

Oct. 21 – Fairly busy today but not rushing. I went into Bruges this morning to interview Lt. Col. Ord D.M.O. of the S.S. Brigade about future operations in which we are playing a small part. While there, I bought some little souvenirs to send home. Do not expect to move from this spot for about two weeks.

Oct. 22 – Sunday John Holman and Gordie Johnson dropped in for a visit today. George McEarry had brought me a bunch of fresh orders in the morning.

Oct. 23 — Still fairly busy.  DADMS — 3rd Div. in today — after which I went to Ghent to Corps H.Q. A lot of activity, our role rather vague, but in some way linked up with invasion of Flushing.

Oct. 24 — Tommy Twiddle, Ronnie, Gordie and I went up into Holland in a Recce. Crossed the Leopold Canal then to Vatervlet, Ijzendijke and northwest to Schoondijke. The country is flooded, and the towns are all blown to pieces. We then went north east to the shore of the Schelde and went along the dykes to Doofplaat. I have not seen so much destruction in this war as there is in this little part of Holland south of the Schelde. Tomorrow my light section moves to Ostend and we are being relieved here by 5 FDS. We will probably be going to Ostend too, to receive casualties from the attack on Flushing.

Oct. 25 — Brig. Farmer arrived and left some orders which resulted in absolute confusion. Light section under Hans Geggie moved to Ostend. 5th FDS under Tommy Gibson relieved us here. In the afternoon Dibb and I drove to Bruges guiding Paul Carson and small staff in 60 cwt. followed by two ambulances. I went to AS H.Q. then went on to Ostend — left the second detachment with the first and arranged for Hans to move up the coast the following day. I then visited 105 Br. Gen. Hosp. and arranged for reception of casualties — then home. We are all packed, relieved of duty and waiting for further instructions. There is an Army show in Town — think I will go tomorrow if we are still here.

Oct. 27 — We are still sitting waiting for some one to make up their minds. Pretty grim. Last night we — Tommy Gibson and I attended an Army show in Town. Met Lloyd Muter of Calgary there. After the show we went out and had a beef steak. It is getting pretty cold around here. Visit by Col. Playfair, after which I took a very wet trip to Ghent to Corps H.Q. No satisfaction though.

Oct. 28 — Moved to a small port Town just outside Ostend, right at the harbor. Not badly located. Tomorrow will be busy establishing a Receiving Station.

Oct. 29 — Very busy today — have erected canvas after clearing a space on the wharf. Have hauled gravel and have completely organized the show. Tomorrow we will equip it fully, and from Tuesday night on — we man it completely. Today visited 105 British Hosp. and Commando H.Q. in Bruges establishing an evacuation line. By tomorrow night everything will be set.  The Unit are all most comfortably situated in parts of Town which are not knocked down. I have a very nice room and am getting a stove in tomorrow.

Oct. 30 — Very busy all day erecting canvas and locating stoves and stove pipes. We are situated right at the top of the ramp in Ostend Harbour. Visited the big bug in Town today. Another day and we will be pretty well set up.

Oct. 31 — Putting the finishing touches on and will move every available man out tonight at 6 p.m. It is going to be a miserable place but will probably not last long. At last we are here. The tents are in a U-shape right on the tip of the pier. My caravan is in the hollow of the U. Our set up is heated by stoves sunk into the ground. We have cleared a parking place for ambulances. The cook house is in an old shed and the men are sleeping — some in the shed and some in tents. The boats have loaded and pulled out. Many, many boats with all sorts of equipment and hundreds of commandos. They will attack Walcheren Island tomorrow. Our light section is going in on the attack in Flushing. We are here to evacuate all casualties coming back. Ostend Harbour is badly knocked to pieces but tonight it is all lit up and a regular beehive of activity. The purpose of this raid is to clear the road to Antwerp as a port. It will only take a few days I think to finish the job — then I don’t know what comes next.

Nov. 1/44 — At 5 p.m. — the first of the casualties returned. Up to midnight we handled three hundred and twenty five and ten dead. The attack on Flushing has been a big success, very few casualties. Tomorrow we expect a lot of army and a lot of dead. The old Unit is clicking like a clock. We had a few in during the night.

Nov. 2 — One boat load brought in one hundred and seventy eight casualties and about four hundred prisoners. We used the prisoners for stretcher bearers and are holding fifty for that purpose. We have now at noon handled five hundred wounded and twenty four dead. we are expecting a lot in this afternoon. The boats are not able to land, so casualties are coming back in very small numbers. The Navy have lost heavily — 60 % of naval craft employed have been lost. Only one large boat load of Army casualties have returned.

Nov. 3 — Several boats have returned which could not land on the other side due to heavy shell fire. The news from the island is good but we cannot trace casualties, so we are standing to. A bunch of vessels just returned which could not get on shore at all. 5 p.m. — just received word that Breskens is open so believe we are finished. Will have to remain open until further orders though. Very cold here today. Apparently things are going well on the island.

Nov. 4 — Still waiting. We have sent a bunch of medical supplies over by boat and have sent a truckload to Breskens. I do not think any more will be coming in here so hope to move soon. Tonight the Light Section returned from Flusing. They had quite an experience and were lucky in that they suffered no casualties.

Nov. 5 — We tore down all our tents etc. and moved from the Pier back to our H.Q. at Bredene. I had a case of the flu I guess, so I went right to bed.

Nov. 6 — Got called to go over to Ostend and pick up Athol Gordon and take him to Corps H.Q. in Ghent. Have to return tomorrow to get our definite movement orders. During the day and night, one hundred and seventy cases were evacuated to Ostend.

Nov. 7 — Gordie and I returned to Ghent and found that we were attached to Army and would remain in Ostend until Walcheren and South Beveland are completely cleared up. Very cold trip in the open jeep.

Nov. 8 — Still waiting. Navy informs us that no more will be coming. DDMS of 52 British Div. arrived today to find out the picture. We will probably be here a few days more. Have killed seven geese and have enough canned chicken to put on a feed for the boys on Nov 11th. Will also have rum issue and some cigarettes and chocolate to give out.

Nov. 9 — Very cold and raw. Twenty four bodies washed ashore today. We are burying them. We are waiting patiently for word to move. In the meantime we are making ourselves comfortable. Dibb, Antoni, Paul, Ronnie and I went by ambulance in to Ostend to see Richard Green in Bernard Shaw’s play “Arms and the Man.” We enjoyed it very much too. Orders just came in for our return to Eecloo tomorrow. We got back to the convent.

Nov. 10 — Arrived safely back in Eecloo and were greeted as long lost children. We are all settled down again as before. I have a stove in my room and am real comfortable. Tomorrow is our Armistice celebration. We have a picture show in the evening and should have a very good time. No order yet as to our future role.

Nov. 11 — Our celebration was very quiet but very successful.

Nov. 12 — Went to Church this a.m. Nothing doing at all. Simply waiting.

Nov. 13 — Lt. Col. Tuffy Tunan and Maj. Bill Slack arrived from Army with the information that we are moving up to Eindhoven in Holland to open up an Advanced Surgical Centre and Air Evacuation Cushion. I accompanied them back to Ghent but no definite date has yet been given. On leaving the building I met Bert Little who is assistant Field Cashier. He was our paymaster in the Calgarys when we came over.

Nov. 14 — Sister Gerard and Mother Superior visited me during the evening last night. Today has been cold and damp. No further word of moving. Chas. Ross dropped in for a few minutes today.

Nov. 15 — Grand picture show here last night. “Russia Calls.” Went to H.Q. in Ghent this A.M. for movement orders. None available yet. Padre Walker left us today to take up his duties with the South Sask. Regiment.

Nov. 16 — Ronnie and I spent last evening playing Crib. This waiting is getting on our nerves. No sign of any movement yet, so we just sit and wait. Ronnie and I went down town and had a grand dinner, pork chops with eggs and fried potatoes. Just waiting for the 9 P.M. news now.

Nov. 17 — Col. McFarlane, Col. Montgomery and Lt. Col. Ross paid us a visit. It is a terribly wet and cold day.

Nov. 18 — Went to Army H.Q. in Ghent and found our orders to move waiting for us. I am leaving with an advance party at 1 P.M. The Unit will leave tomorrow morning at 7 A.M. 9:30 P.M., Mac, Gordie and I in my Jeep, followed by my caravan with L/Cpl Flint, S/Sgt Howell, and Fred Hyman, followed by one M.A.C. ambulance with Sgt. Beatey, Davis, Weis and one river left Eecloo at 1 P.M. and arrived at Zielst six kilometres from Eindhoven at 5:30. We went to the air field and finally found one officer and two men of 5 F.D.S. in our Advance Party. The building was given a terrible name, but after working all evening, we are at last set up and will have a good set up. We passed through Ghent, Antwerp, Turnhout, Westinalle, Aestmalle and into Zielst. We crossed the Dutch border a few miles east of Turnhout.

Nov. 19 — Ronnie arrived with six truck at 12 noon by 3 p.m. all were here. We are very busy fixing up broken windows etc.

Nov. 20 — Gordie and I drove up to Corps H.Q. at Nijmegen today. Four nursing sisters will arrive tonight and an F.S.U. tomorrow morning. The nursing sisters — Miss Bright, Thompson from Saskatoon, Miss England from Calgary and Miss Vincent from Winnipeg. I have found real billets for everybody and a wonderful mess. I now have the best billet I have ever had.

Nov. 21 — Vic Railton, Pat Robertson and 6th F.S.U. arrived today. I am now in my new billet and very comfortable.

Nov. 22 — Went to airdrome this morning and accompanied Williams and M.C.O. to 79th Gen. Hospital to a British Medical conference. This was in Eindhoven. Returned home and hustled up the gang on getting the hospital ready. Hauled straw etc. Now have forty cases waiting air evacuation in A.M.

Nov. 23 — Very busy today. We have admitted and sent by Ambulance and loaded on aeroplanes for Brussels. We have fifty nine waiting for evacuation in the morning.

Nov. 24 — Very rainy and wet. We admitted some cases and evacuated about sixty by air to both England and Brussels. Was working on the Air Field a great part of the day. It is partially under water and very muddy. Brig. Poirret, Col. McFarlane and Col. Ross called again this afternoon. Had a visit from Johnnie and Harold again this evening. Now to bed.

Nov. 25 — Another very wet day, nothing unusual. Lt. Col. Forbes of North Nova Scotias spent the day with us and will fly to England tomorrow. Paul Carson, Cpl. Austin and Conrad went north to establish a RAP at 205 RMC.

Nov. 26 — Went to Nijmegen to Corp H.Q. — had lunch there then went to Osste over the Canal on a ferry and visited Paul and his boys. They were O.K., so Gordie and I drove a new way home via Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven and Zielst. Found Maj Ed Walstein from 6th Gen. visiting the Unit, also Maj Stone, senior Padre of 2nd Div. Nothing much happening. Believe we will be here until New Years.

Nov. 27 — NCOs and Nurses held a musical evening here tonight. We had a lot of fun — very few casualties coming through.

Nov. 28 — Very cold and wet. The Dutch people are having music this evening. Had a very nice musical evening at home. About supper time Col. Sinclair, acting DDMS Army dropped in for a few minutes.

Nov. 29 — Visited a Corps Medical meeting at Grave, on the road to Nijmegen. Saw all the old boys and had a long talk with Clint Crawford. In the evening, went to the home across the road and played bridge.

Nov. 30 — A beautiful day, some casaulties are coming in. Have been out to the airport this morning. Miss England leaves this afternoon for 3CCS. Gordie Johnson, Avison and Reg Bridge dropped in for a visit. Gordie is going home to Canada pretty soon. This evening there was a party in my home — we all had a grand time.

Dec. 1//44 — More casualties in tonight, but still not very busy. It is very dark and drizzly out. Geo. just brought me in a cup of coffee. Last night at the party I used my Christmas cake from Scarboro Church. It certainly went over big too.

Dec. 2 — Ronnie and I went to visit the man across the road. Spent a very enjoyable evening. More casualties coming in.

Dec. 3 — A lot more casualties in today but still we are not busy. Xmas mail is coming in very well now. The weather has been much more pleasant in the last few days, but it is gradually getting colder. Expect to go to Ghent in the morning. A rather miserable trip.

Dec. 4 — Gordie, N/S Bright, Johnnie Wilburs went into Antwerp in my jeep. We went to 6th Gen. Hosp. when Johnnie had his dinner, then N/S Bright, Major Eddie Walstein and I went to the Officers Club at the Excelsior Hotel. In the afternoon we did our shopping and then returned home.

Dec. 5 — Santa Claus day. I am having Santa Claus with the family tonight. We have Xmas parcels piled all over the room and Joep and Johnnie are in the room busily wrapping parcels. I got things for each of then in Antwerp and am just as excited as they are. This is a wonderful place I am in — a real home away from home. Last night with the kids we played Bobbie’s poem of “Pooh”. N/S Murray and Bright came over today and packed my parcels for the folks. Everything looks real Christmasy. Last night the little boys put out their wooden shoes with the carrot in each for the White Horse and a piece of bread and a cigar for Santa Claus. This is the first real touch of home life I have had since leaving home and I love it. Jacsic has just gone out to escort Santa Claus and Black Jack who will come at 8 P.M. We are having a Unit dance tomorrow evening as well. In this part we have to make our own amusement, but I hope we spend the winter here, if we must stay overseas. Lt. Dibb flew to England today to visit his family. If he gets caught I will lose my head, as I let him go without a pass — but hope it will work out alright.

Dec. 7 — Well, Santa Claus eve is over. Both Santa Claus and Black Jack arrived and it was a lot of fun. The family gave me a lovely marble pair of book ends, and the house across the road an old typical china plate with a windmill on it. It was the nearest approach to home I have had since leaving. Tonight we have our dance. Whether it will be successful or not, I do not know.

Dec. 8 — The dance is over and has been a huge success, calling for a repeat next Thursday. There was a very large crowd and everything hit on all fours.

Dec. 9 — The Catholic Church has opposed the dances and there is a wee bit of of friction, but it will straighten out O.K. We held an impromptu farewell for Tony tonight. He is leaving us to go to a recce Btn — and we do not feel very happy about it.

Oct. 10–20, 1944

Oct. 10 – Still busy. Chas. Ross inspected the Unit at work. All is going well. An awful lot of bad cases are now out of danger. It is getting rather chilly here now – guess we have had our good weather and must get ready for winter.

Oct. 12 – Major Stubbs (Br.), his interpreter and wife and myself drove into Ghent, in a Jeep, then picked up a Chev Sedan and drove to Brussels. We formed a party with the interp., wife, sister and father and set out to see Brussels. Saw the Square with gold leaf on the buildings, supposed to be the most beautiful Square in Europe. The Royal Palace and the City in general. It is very beautiful. Late in the evening we returned to Ghent, got back into our Jeep and returned to Eecloo.

Oct. 13 – Made a hurried trip to Bruges to the hospital. In the evening, went to 4th Div. H.Q. and had supper with Russ Noble.

Oct. 14 – Started clinical meetings in the hospital. This afternoon went to 22nd Field Ambulance at Maldegem – then came back and had a visit from Joe Larryman O.C. of 14th Field Amb. Two abdominal cases today. Very quiet.

Oct. 15 – Quite busy today. Col Gossage ADMS – 4th Div. called in to thank us for our work here. They are moving tomorrow. Some people from Brussels came in for the evening. Very wet and miserable.

Oct. 16 – General meeting of the O.C.s of all Corp Units at Rear H.Q. Corps, about one mile out of Ghent. Nothing much new. On arrival home found patients waiting and we were very busy for a few hours.

Oct. 17 – Not busy today but do not know what the evening will bring. Most of our busy spells are at night. Sent two nurses to #2 CCS today, that leaves me four.

Oct. 18 — Brig. Farmer arrived with orders for Maj. McLaughlin from 10 F.S.U. to proceed to Antwerp and fly to England en route for Canada. We all feel very sorry about this. He is going back to become Professor of Surgery in Western University. Yesterday I was invited to let my name stand for nomination in West Calgary — no hesitation in refusing. Went to Antwerp in the Jeep in the rain. Visited Chas Bennett at #8 Gen. He is going home the last of the week. Had a long chat with Reg Bridge while there. Fairly busy at hospital today.

Oct. 19 — Gordie Champaigne and I drove up through Bruges to Ostend to find a suitable location if needed. IT is a beautiful drive, but a good deal of the country is under water, and the great majority of the bridges are blown up. Ostend has been fairly hard hit itself, especially around the wharfs and Gas works. I did not find what I was looking for so returned in time for a late supper.

Oct. 20 — Had to go to Corp H.Q. in Ghent today covering a meeting at which I am to go tomorrow in Bruges. r.e. “Exercise Infatuate” Charlie Ross was in for awhile today. It is a terrible day, rainy and cold. We have no heat in our building yet. Busy here tonight, mostly English Engineers.

Oct. 3 – Oct. 9, 1944

Oct. 3 — Went to Dixmude to see the rear party. An Orchestra came down and played for a dance given by AGRA. I spent the night in the hospital with Hans Geggie.

Oct. 4 — Drove him to Eecloo, arriving here just in time for lunch. Not awfully busy but by appearances, we are preparing for a big drive. The roads are filled with artillery and troops seem to be coming from all directions. This afternoon Brig. Fenwick paid us a visit. Tonight we had a picture show in the big school hall. The rest of the time, I have been working on a quarterly return.

Oct. 5 — Brig. Farmer visited. We are all set up to look after the casualties for the big attack of the Scheldt.

Oct. 6 — Casualties began coming in in the night. We are running purely as an Advance Surgical Centre and have been going very steadily since about 8 p.m. yesterday. Out Officer personnel now consisted of:
Capt. Place
Capt. Geggie
Capt. Carson
Capt. Walker, Padre
Capt. Harrison Paymster, No. X FSU
Maj. Twiddle
Capt. McColdrum FTU
N/S Bright
Major McLaughlin
Capt. McDonald
Mr. Dibb
L.G. Alexander
Capt. Douglas No. XI FSU
Capt. Wilson
N/S Thompson
Quite a little outfit.

Oct. 7 — Still very busy. The 3rd and 4th Divs. are having a very stiff fight at the Scheldt Estuary and we are covering their front. Four more Nursing Sisters arrived today. We were visited today by the DDMS of 21st Army Group.

Area where the 7th Brigade made their assault crossing on 6 October, photographed in 1946, looking east.  The bridge in the background is near Oosthoek. (From the Official History of the Canadian Army via

 Canadians assaulted the Leopold Canal, seen here, beginning Oct. 6 as part of the battle to capture the Scheldt Estuary. (From the Official History of the Canadian Army via

Oct. 8 – Sunday, six burials today. Still very busy. Russ Noble and old Dalrymple were down last night. They have made me a big present of a Jeep, which is certainly much appreciate. Doug Harkness called me today for a short visit. I am sending three Nursing Sisters and a Nun to Brussels tomorrow.

Oct. 9 — Another busy day. Penny Watkins dropped in a for a visit today.

Sept. 17 – Oct. 2

Sept. 17 — Usual run of work , not busy but fairly steady. Visited the home of Mon. Joye today — very nice. Got a new German ambulance today which I am fixing up as a caravan — very nice too. One new truck and two more to come.

Sept. 18 — Snuffy Smith, Ronnie and I started out in Snuffies car and first drove to the Canadian memorial in St. Julien; then Palcapole, Ypres and on to Lille, where we stopped and had lunch and admired the weird hats worn by the ladies. We then drove to Loos, and down the old familiar Loos Arras Road to the Canadian Memorial in Vimy. it is very imposing but not beautiful. We visited Canadian trenches of the last war and returned home. Tonight there is a combined concert, by our Unit and Belgium artists in the town cinema. We are just waiting to go. At the concern our own band, assisted by Arnold Hodgkins put on a grand show. We were all there, who could be spared from hospital duty. A Mdm. Storey — 1st prize winner on piano at Warsaw and a Protege of the Queen of the Belgiums came from Brugge and played for us. It was heavenly. Another artist who was first tenor in the Opera Comic in Paris before he was ejected by the Germans sang several solos, among them in English “Ah Sweet Mystery of Life at Last I found You,” and then three local Belgium boys played accordions. It was a grand success. These people had not been allowed to hold any kind of concert for four years and they went wild with joy. We entertained the artists at the mess following the concert, and had a grand time. Dixmude will always be a second home to us. It has been wonderful, far ahead of anything I’ve seen.

Sept. 19 — Just sent the artists back to Bruges in a Jeep. Mdm. Storey is a Court Artist and a very famous painter. No. X F.S.U. — Maj. McLaughlin and Capt. Douglas and nine men have arrived. It has been very busy today and I have no doubt but that a good deal of surgery will be done here in the next few days.

Sept. 20 — The famous dance came off tonight. Such crowds you never saw. It was a grand success. We are now practically closed, so are enjoying ourselves.

Sept. 21 — Was picked up in the square in Dixmude by a Belgian Red Cross officer and his girl — we went for a drive with them to Formiere — 5 kilo. from the coast. The Bishop of Bruges was there and sent for me, so I hobknobbed with nobility for a while. Am entertaining George and his wife tonight. Tomorrow am invited out for dinner to a Belgian doctors place. High life isn’t it.

Sept. 22 — Snuffy Smith and I went out to dinner at a Millers place — had a grand feast and a very nice time. Afterwards, Gordie and I had to go to the 16th Gen Hosp. in St. Omer. Saw Col. Hassard and old Pat Patterson. Very late when we got home. World here for me to report to Col. Gassage ADMS of 4th Div and to recce a suitable spot north of Ghent (Gent) for an “Advance Surgical Unit.”

Sept. 23 — Ronnie, Gordie and I started from Dixmude at 10 a.m. — drove south east through Tielt — then north to Eecloo (Eeklo) — a lovely town about twenty miles north of Ghent and about twenty east of Bruges. Reported at 4th Div. H.Q. and then ran into Doug Harkness — had a grand visit with him and lunch, then went and met Col. Gasage and we drove down to Oost Eecloo, Leuebeke, then back to Eecloo, searching for a suitable spot. Found one in a convent and hope to move on Monday, but must wait for Bde (Brigade) order.

Sept. 24 — Went out to dinner at a Doctor’s home in Courtimarck today. There were present, a Dutch doctor escaped from a German concentration camp and a boy from Danzig who had recently escape also being held for six years. Both were very bitter. On returning home, orders were in for a move tomorrow, so everything very upset tonight.

Sept. 25 — Left Dixmude at 8:30 A.M. — Gordie, Mark, S.Sgt Schofield and I in jeep and Cpl. Flint, Fred, Cpl Herman, Sgt. Brady and Sgt. Carter in my caravan following.  Had a good trip down — laid out our hospital and Gordie and I went back and met and guided the convoy in 12:30. It is a beautiful place — the sisters and natives again furnished my room. It is beautiful. Everybody used to call me the Burgermeister of Dixmude but now I have changed my name to the Earl of Eecloo. Saw Doug Harkness again tonight. We opened at 3 p.m.

Sept. 26 — 9 p.m. World came in that my four senior NCOs were to report to Dieppe tomorrow to return to Canada as escorts for P.O.W. Quite a bat in the head, but by midnight, I have my new slate formed and everything is running normally. Much busier tonight.

Sept. 27 — S/Sgt. Schofield, Sgt. Kirby, Sgt. Alfred and Sgt. Archer all left for Dieppe en route to Canada. The new slate of NCO’s were already at work. Attended Mass this A.M. at 8 A.M. — sat through Belgium National Anthem. Picked up by friends and taken to Bruges — to dinner and after visited a local doctor, the Bishop and then went sightseeing in the Town. Returned home early in the evening.

Sept. 28 — ADMS 4th Div — Chas Ross and others held a conference in my room in the afternoon. In the evening Dalrymple and Russ Noble were over. Two nurses N/S Thompson and N/S Braide arrived today. Our rear party is still in Dixmude.

Sept. 29 — Busy all day. Saw Grant Marshall, Doug Harkness and in the afternoon Brig. Farmer was here and we visited ADMS – 4th Div. This job keeps a person on his toes all the time. Am going on call tonight.

Sept. 30 — Pat Patterson, McLaughlin, Tom Wilson and I attended 4th Div. Medical meeting in Maldegem, we each gave a small talk. It is still fairly quiet and will be for the next few days I believe. Expect to see some rather dirty fighting here soon when 3rd Div. comes in. (Battle of the Scheldt )

Oct. 1/44 — Most of the Officers and one Nurse went in to Ghent to a Concert Party. I stayed at home and entered the Senior Padre of the 4th Div.

Oct. 2 – Chas. Ross, Athol Gordon, Col. Gassage and a Belgian doctor visited us today. We are still playing a waiting game, not a great deal of work. In the afternoon I went in to Ghent for a short visit. It is a lovely town. In the evening Dan Woodside called in for a visit. I have not seen him for three years. Very cold and damp, but our quarters are excellent.


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