May 23 – Yesterday I started my course, but did not attend lectures in the afternoon. Met Mrs. Spofforth and Ian and we came over here and talked until her train time. Today I have been at lectures and tonight am going to see the Play “There Shall be No Night”. Three years ago tonight, Muriel, Bob Taylor and I started for Calgary from Camp Borden for my last visit. Went to the Aldwych Theatre to see “And There Shall be No Night”. Wonderful play about Greece and when it was over run by the Germans.
May 21 – Must find out where my course is today, so I will be ready to get going in the morning. Expect to see Mrs. Spofforth and Ian tomorrow afternoon and I already have a seat booked for a theatre on Tuesday, but have forgotten the name of the play. This afternoon Tim phoned and I went down to the Harrisons at Argyle Mansions and had a piece of wedding cake and we drank to the health of the bridge and groom and saw Tim and Pat well on their way. Thus the wedding is a thing of the past. A great ending for this little diary but I want to send it back with Mrs. Spofforth tomorrow and have it put away with my other treasures. Once more I feel very lonely parting with it – but am afraid to keep it longer as I may lose it and I certainly value these two diaries.
The start of the third diary:
May 21, 1944 – Grosvenor Hotel – London. Attended Timmy Cameron’s wedding yesterday, and am starting a course in Neuro Surgery tomorrow. Am handing in my second diary to Mrs. Spofforth tomorrow. This is the start of my third diary since the war started. Certainly hope this will be the last one. This afternoon I got a phone call from Tim to come over to 48 Argyl Mansions to have a drink with them before they started out for Oxford. There were only the family present, so I went over for a few minutes and we got them started on their way.
May 19 – Caught the 9 a.m. train from Folkestone Central and have just now landed at the Grovesnor Hotel. Will go shopping this afternoon and go to Timmies wedding tomorrow, then will start my course Monday. Tonight was fortunate enough to get a real good seat at the Phoenix Theatre to see Ivor Nevill’es show “Arc de Triomphe”. It is a wonderful show, much like “Dancing Years”. Have arranged to meet Mrs. Spofforth and Ian on Monday afternoon.
May 20 – Am all ready now to go to lunch, then Timmies wedding. Arrived at St. Peter’s Church Eton Square about 2:15 and was met by Chuck Humber and an Officer from the Three Rivers, whom I know but cannot think of his name. Stood by the door to watch the guests arrive. There were Brig. Wyman, Freddie Jenner, Tommy Nightingale, Ralph Hyde, Sweet Beauchamp – chaps whom I know.
It was a very pretty wedding, then the officers lined up outside the door as a Guard of Honour. After, we went to the Goring Hotel for a reception following which I went back to the Harrisons for a while. Timmy and Pat went to the Mayfair and phoned for me to come over, so I went over and saw them for a few minutes, then had dinner at the Mayfair and arrived back at the Grosvenor at 11 p.m. A very successful day, one which I wouldn’t have missed for an awful lot. It was grand meeting all the folks and grand seeing a lot of the boys again.
May 9 – Went to a Corps meeting today outside Dover. The first time I have been to Dover since I was brought back as a casualty in the last war. Not much excitement – still busy building improvements in our trucks. They are gradually becoming very slick.
May 10 – Very anxious to see a paper today. All night long our building shook and windows rattled from explosions of our bombs on the French coast. There was a roar all night. Something was certainly catching it and I am mighty glad I wasn’t there.
May 11 – Usual day, still rearranging loads and making plans. Tonight Paul and Dib and I went to the theatre and saw one of the best revues. I have seen since coming over. We are sending Mac and Ronnie tomorrow night.
May 12 – Evening. Just saw our baseball team beat the Dentals 13-8. All afternoon and this evening the doors and windows have been shaking and almost a steady roar, dull in character, can be heard from the shore of France. It is misty over the Channel so can see nothing. This afternoon I went up to Shorncliffe Camp to see the old barracks where I used to be stationed. Was disappointed – could only recognized a few things.
May 13 – Saturday morning again – a beautiful day. The Dental Co. put a dance on in our auditorium last night to which all the Units I.e. 3 CCS, 6FDS, 8 Hy and 9th Dental attended. Who should walk in but Freddie Jenner. Expect to go to London next Friday to attend Timmie’s Wedding and then plan to stay the following week to attend the Post Graduate Course, if possible. Do not intend to work very hard at the Course. A large crowd of our old 1st Ar. Tank Bde. will be present, so I’m certainly looking forward to it. Got badly beaten at baseball today by 8th Hygiene Co. Got word today that Slim and Arnold Hodgkins are being posted to my Unit – great rejoicing.
May 14 – Paul Carlson and I went to a concert in Lea Cliffe Hall. Not bad. Today is Mother’s Day. I got up early and went to Church.
May 15 – Working very hard all day on loading tables. Murray Darawing, Goring Pinder all from Saskatoon and Young somebody or other dropped in for lunch. Murray was with me in Italy and apparently I attended a young Pinder in Saskatoon when he was a little boy.
May 17 – Arnold Hodgkins arrived last night but I don’t know whether I can hold onto him or not. It has been wet today. We were all blood grouped. Usual day today. Picture show tonight. Must go to Corps H.Q. in the morning.
May 18 – Went to Corps H.Q. in Dover to interview Brig. Farmer. Arnold Hodgkins reverted from Sgt. to Private to stay on our Unit today. I certainly hated to see that happen but it was the only that could happen and he chose to stay. Paul Carson and I went to a show tonight.
April 14 – Had to return to Corps again this morning. Most of our hospital canvas is own and packed ready for embarkation. Good job we started it as it is raining hard today and wet canvas is very difficult to move. Our Advance Party left this morning, we expect to leave on Thursday. Everything is a mess today as all our personal luggage goes in on Monday. Everyone is busy sorting now. Guess I will be going back to France without any leave – but I guess the quicker we get there the quicker we’re finished.
April 16 – Sunday. We had a Church Parade in the Sgt. Mess this a.m. It was a week late, but was an Easter Service. The rain was pouring down and just prior to Church we had a rum issue.
April 17 – Not raining today. Packing continues. Sent all our personal belongings to Aldershot today. Expect to move on Thursday.
April 18 – Packing about finished. EVerything in good shape. It is not raining but is terribly cold and damp. Can’t move any too fast to please us. Made complete Unit allocation table and loading table today. A deuce of a big job.
April 19 – Last night was the coldest night we have had yet. Our big black and white dog had five pups in the night using one other boys tunics as a bed. We sent her into the pound this morning in Lewes and on the way in she had one more pup. Everything is down not but our personal tents and Mess tents; some of those will come down after dinner. At 8 p.m. definite orders for the move came, so all canvas was struck, trucks loaded, convoys formed in their echelons and now all that remains is for 5:30 tomorrow morning when we move off.
April 20 – We slept out doors last night. It rained hard and we got a good drenching. At 4 a.m. we were up, had breakfast in the mud, rain, darkness and fog and set out for Folkestone. MacDonald (O.M.) and I drove in the jeep and went in convoy until they were well on a straight road, then we speeded on ahead and arrived at the Metropole Hotel, Folkestone, at 8:15 and with the aid of the Advance Party, had everything in shape by the time the Unit arrived at 12 Noon. We are in lovely billets and are just starting to settle in. Expect to enjoy it here very much.
April 21 – Had a glorious sleep last night – lovely bed with two mattresses on and between sheets. The CCS arrived about midnight last night; our boys had prepared a lunch for them. Today has been very busy – we have both been settling in and we have set up a M.I.R. and Miner Surgery. This is one of the grandest billets we have had, a place very familiar to me in the last war. On Sunday I want to take a drive up around Shorncliffe where I was stationed quite a while before. There is a great deal of air activity around here, and lots of flares dropped, but no bombs as yet have fallen in the two days we have been here. They tell me there is a terrific German searchlight which lights us up right across the Channel, but I haven’t seen it yet.
April 22 – Saturday. In the evening Mac Carson and I strolled down town and watched a parade “Salute the Soldier: All sorts of organizations were represented. Canadians, Americans, and English troops marched. It was a very good parade. Nothing of importance today.
April 23 – Sunday. Very lazy day. This morning sat on the beach watching flight after flight of airplanes flying towards France. A steady roar overhead all morning. This afternoon went to a baseball game. 6 FDS – 17, CCS –2. Tonight went to a picture show in the ballroom of the Metropole Hotel. “Five Graves to Cairo.”
April 24 – usual day – ballgame at night. 8th Field Hygien – 11, 6 FDS – 10
April 25 – Brig. Farmer visited us for a few minutes. We are still working on loading. Medical meeting at 3 CCS at night.
April 26 – Whole second floor of Hotel is being made into a 200 bed hospital – CCS moving up to 3rd floor. We have moved up to 4th floor, with Field Hygiene and Dental Co. are on the 5th floor. Went down to 13th Gen. to see if I could get Arnold Hodgkins for a few days. Had a letter from Slim Hooker today – will most certainly try and see him and get him if possible into the Unit.
April 27 – Received a letter from Poop Deck today. Saw Brig. Farmer and have asked for both Sgt. Hodgkins and Slim Hooker. We will have to wait and see how we make out. Went to a musical review tonight – Ronny Place, Paul Carson and I. Not bad. There is an air raid on tonight, but it does not seem to be anywhere near here.
April 29 – Rather foggy and damp today, but really not raining. Regular routine work. Last night we had a Unit dance at which 3 CCS, 8th Hygiene Co and 9th Dental Co. were guests. It was held in the large ballroom of the Metropole Hotel, with our own orchestra attending, and was a great success. This morning I am waiting on a visit from Brig. Farmer DDMS. Tomorrow I have to send a R.A.P. to Corps H.Q. – Capt. Geggie will be going. Brig. Farmer has been and gone. Had lunch with us. A very successful inspection.
April 30 – Drove to Cuckfield to the 13th Can. Gen. Hospital to see Arnold Hodgkins. I had perviously put in a claim for him, but I do not believe he will be physically fit to come. It was a beautiful drive – the countryside was glorious. During the night there was terrific air activity over the Channel and all sorts of coloured lights could be seen going up from the French Coast.
May 1, 1944 – “May Day” the big day in Russia, I wonder if anything sensational will happen. It is a wonderful day out. We are having a Unit photograph taken today. Col. Cooper, 3 CCS; Col. Porter, 2 CCS and I starting for East Anglia some time today on a scheme. Expect to be done four or five days. We left Folkestone at 4 p.m. proceeding north, we had our driver and batman along and had two staff cars and one jeep and two 160 lb tents. we passed through London, north to Litchfield (sp? Letchworth) in Hertfordshire about forty miles and pitched out tents in a farm yard. Mr. and Mrs. Seymour invited us in, where we had a wonderful meal of fried eggs and chips.
May 2 – Started north again at 9 a.m. passed through Stamford, Grantham, Lincoln and straight north to Scunthorpe where we are billeted with Xth Field Amb. Gus McCarrol and I went into Town and spent the evening. This exercise we are on is known as “Kate.”
May 3 – The district where we are now is Lincolnshire in the Midlands. The Town of Scunthrope is a large steel manufacturing Town. We are practising crossing a tidal river 350 yds wide in Pontoon boats. we in Corps troops are to supply the medical services for the crossing. The river is the River Trent, a tributary of the River Humber. I made a recce of the whole district today in my jeep.
May 4 – Got up at 3:40 a.m. and proceeded to Barton’s Ferry to watch the assault Inf. Bn. cross the river in their storm boats – small boats with outboard motors. They were followed by a #9 raft which is a pontoon boat bearing at least two Bren Carriers or one 60 cwt. These in turn were followed by #18 raft about twice the size. Each raft is propelled by four outboard motors. We crossed the river in a duck, and who should be on the same duck but Hughie Young, now Brig. O.C. – 6 Bde. It is now 8 p.m. and I have just returned from the river. Expect to start south again either tomorrow or the next day as the scheme is now over.
May 5 – Met DDML and ADMS and went to Jolly Sailor for hot rum. Broke camp in pouring rain and started for home at 2:30 p.m. It was a mighty cold wet drive. We came as far as Litchfield and slept in the barn at Seymours – where we again had a wonderful supper and breakfast.
May 6 – Drove straight to Tilbury Ferry where we crossed the Thames to Gravesend and swung onto the Canterbury Road. Stopped at Sittingbourne for lunch then went to Ashford and then thru to Folkestone. Was mighty glad to get back home again, where I found enough work to keep me busy for the next few days.
May 7 – Sunday – am up read to go to church, then will get back in my books again. It was very clear today, we can see the shore of France very distinctly from here and even with the naked eye can make out rows of buildings. The alert is on for shelling from there, but so far no shells have dropped here. Perhaps they are dropping a few in Dover. The shell alert is simply two air warnings a minute apart with no “All Clear”.
May 9 – Went to a Corps meeting today outside Dover. The first time I have been to Dover since I was brought back as a casualty in the last war (Doc Alexander suffered what was known during the First World War as “Disordered Action of the Heart.” It was better known as shell shock, or today, PTSD. When he left Europe, he was in a mortar unit. When he returned, he was transferred to a medical unit and served as a stretcher bearer. This had a deep affect on him, leading him towards medicine after the war. Prior to enlisting to serve in the First World War, he was studying agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan). Not much excitement – still busy building improvements in our trucks. They are gradually becoming very slick.