Archive | October 2014

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.

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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 CanadianSoldiers.com)

 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 CanadianSoldiers.com)

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.