May 2 & 3, 1943

May 2: 6:30 a.m. up, dressed, shaved –everything packed up in readiness to throw on the Carrier when it comes. The room certainly looks bare and uninviting. We entrain at 9 a.m. and pull out at 10 a.m. We have been on the south coast for sixteen months, so are glad to be getting away to another part of the country – especially Scotland.

May 3: Arrived in this little camp just north of Solway Firth in Scotland at 5:30 a.m. today after a more or less tedious trip from Worthing. Was greatly amused at the leaning Church tower in Chesterfield. This little camp is in a hollow with quite high hills all around it. It is positively filthy. Stoney Richardson becomes O.C. H.Q. Squadron and Pim Watkings 2ic tonight. Tom Ward is gone and I guess Johnnie Cross will be going back soon. Bob Taylor is now O.C. “B” Squadron.

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About Rob Alexander

I am a writer, photographer and historian and the author of The History of Canmore, published by Summerthought Publishing of Banff, AB.

2 responses to “May 2 & 3, 1943”

  1. Mike Hunter says :

    Rob,

    It is fascinating to see how fast things are changing.
    It was only about a month before that the regiment had changed from Churchill to Ram tanks and now they are changing to the new Sherman tank. Those rapid changes must have resulted in a huge learning curve and expense!

    Some “big picture” info might be of interest to your readers.

    Ever since they arrived in England the Canadians have been considered to be a vital element in the “defense against invasion” strategy. Their training and their physical location (near the channel coast) have been directed to this end. Other than Dieppe they have seen little or no action and there has been great discontent about this inactivity both at home and in England.
    Now (1943) the risk of invasion has virtually disappeared and everything is swinging to the offense.
    At the highest levels plans are afoot for the invasion of Sicily/Italy.
    Up until late April 1943 Canadian troops were not part of the invasion plan.
    On April 23, 1943, as a result of major pressure from Ottawa and from the highest levels of the Canadian military, a decision was made to replace the British 3nd Division with the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and the 1st Canadian Tank Brigade. This must have been extremely upsetting for the Brits as they had already undertaken major planning and preparation. To their credit and without any apparent bitterness, they handed over all their plans and preparations to the Canadians and then helped them to initiate the activity.
    The Calgary Tanks, and my father’s medical unit, were small parts of the selected Canadian forces.
    Despite the fact that Doc Alexander has “no idea what is going on” this move to Scotland is for training in preparation for the Sicily invasion which is only a few months away. It will not be until they are on the ships that they will know where they are going.

    The numerous changes in personnel reflect Montgomery’s attitude of “out with the old and in with the young” (except for him of course).

    • Rob Alexander says :

      Hi Mike. Excellent background/big picture. Thank you for that. I find it hard to pull back and look at the bigger picture as I find I’m so immersed in my grandfather’s story. I can’t see the trees for the pine cones!

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