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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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.

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