Archive | May 2013

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.


Battle of the Atlantic (1940-1943)

The Battle of the Atlantic (1940–1943).

Interesting post (with photos) at Library and Archives Canada Blog about the Battle of the Atlantic and the convoys that were so essential to the war effort.

Here’s what Doc Alexander had to say about crossing the Atlantic in June 1941:

June 21: 12 noon – The convoy pulled out into the harbour. Six or seven troop transports – two Battle ships and a lot of Destroyers.
June 22: Nothing much to report – early this morning all the ships were in formation which was really very beautiful. We are all very happy to see the Battleships and Cruisers stick close. I am on duty as SMO – a lot of minor aliments and one case of Lobar Pneumonia. Everything going fine.
June 23: Very foggy during the night. Fog horns going constantly and ships making very little progress. Fog raised during forenoon and all ships visible. Nothing of importance. Very cold, climbed in bed and spent the afternoon – 5 p.m. Will now have to go on deck. Ralph is happy –is thrilled to tears. John Begg and I go for a stroll on deck and enjoy our first sight of the Land of the Midnight Sun.
June 24: Terribly cold today – we are told we have sailed up the coast of Newfoundland and are now on the southern coast of Greenland heading towards Iceland. Somewhere in the district where the Hood was sunk. Two of our destroyers have gone back. Our convoy consists of Pasteur, Brittania, Andes, Windsor Castle, two other transports – Battleship Repulse and Ramillies, and three Destroyers – their formation is very beautiful, but what a lovely target. John, George and I went on deck at midnight to find it broad daylight. Charlie Page is the Chief Flat Foot on board. A plane has been flying over us today. June 25: Still going strong – all boats in place – smooth sailing sea, nothing unusual taking place. Met a freight convoy bound towards home today. Hear all sorts of stories about Russian successes over Germany. Medical inspection today. One case of meningitis on board.
June 26: Scenery as unfamiliar as ever – no idea where we are, but rumour says we are south of Ireland. It also says a boat was sunk in the convoy right ahead of us. All the boys in good spirits but kind of bored. Very cold and windy on deck. No darkness at night at all, so guess we are near the Arctic Circle, but you can’t prove it by me. 11:45 p.m. Still as bright as day – eight more Destroyers of the Iceland Patrol joined us at supper time. Very strong wind blowing – sea becoming quite rough. George, Timmy and I have just made a tour of the decks and will now go to sleep. Our convoy consists of nineteen ships – eleven destroyers, one battle cruiser, one battleship and six large troop transports. The most impressive and thrilling sight I have ever seen.
June 27: Fine misty rain today – not nearly so cold or windy. One battleship, Ramilles, and three destroyers left our convoy at noon today, bound so we are told to Iceland to refuel. George, Timmy and I spent most of the morning on deck, looking at the various antics of these boats – nothing else to see. Saw some driftwood and a life raft drift by – some unfortunate somewhere. We are now in our seventh day out to sea. Amateur concert tonight – Ralph is taking part. Expect an air craft carrier to join our convoy tomorrow. At 12:25 a.m. George (Friar Tuck), Stanton, Poopdeck Payne and I danced the dance of the fairies on the sports deck in bright sunlight.
June 28: Very foggy and misty. Dutch cruiser joined our convoy. All making good time. Went to Sgt. Mess entertainment in evening. After – John B., Charlie Page, Col. And I went up on deck for an hour – joined by George and Timmy. Turned in at 1 a.m.
June 29: Starting of 9th day at sea. I think our ship has a flat tire. Very rough a.m. Supposed to be off north coast of Ireland, but I don’t know. We hope to be in sight of land soon. Are also watching out for German planes but have seen none yet. Expect to land tomorrow. Chas. Page and I went to Church and did everything wrong. Sited the Hebrides Islands at 12 noon – 12 midnight John, Charlie, Timmy, the Col. And I stood on deck and watched as we pulled into the outer harbour at Greenock.
June 30: Up at 6:30 a.m. As we pulled through the boom and entered the inner harbour. It is crowded with vessels. It is now 12 midnight and we are going to bed. The first draft of our Unit leaves at 10 a.m. Tomorrow to entrain for some new camp in Wiltshire. We leave at 2 p.m. For the same destination.

April 30 & May 1, 1943

April 30: All wheeled vehicles left this morning for Annon in Scotland. Jim and Mac are both gone. The rest of us are wandering around like lost sheep.

May 1: We all leave by train tomorrow. Ralph, Mike and I leave at 10 a.m. Bert leaves with second train about 10 p.m. We are all awfully anxious to get there now and to get settled down to what ever we are going to do.