March 1–30, 1945: The beginning of the end

 Private Robert A. Boicey of the Signals Platoon, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, cleaning his weapon in a German home, Lembeck, Germany, 29 March 1945. LAC.

Private Robert A. Boicey of the Signals Platoon, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, cleaning his weapon in a German home, Lembeck, Germany, 29 March 1945. LAC.

March 1/1945 — Another busy day — lots of wounded coming through. We have been absolutely swamped with visitors today. Col. Morgan Smith pulled an inspection accompanied by DADMS, then Capt. Jennings from Army H.Q. was here. Major McLaren — 15 FDS visited and Major Bramley Moore. So all in all we had our hands good and full. Tonight I have just finished the monthly report, so am ready to fall in to March.

March 3 — A hurry up call today to hand over to the Air Force tomorrow afternoon and move to Tilburg on Monday to relieve the 2 CCS. Quite a shock, especially when we are so busy.

March 4 — Today I drove up to Schijndel taking Get and leaving her with Joep while I went up to recce the position and then go to Army to report. Our Advance Party is already there and we are all packed ready to proceed at 8 A.M. tomorrow. Everything is in a dither tonight.

March 5 − 8:30 A.M. — we moved off from our home in Zielst to Tilburg. On arrival we immediately set up a 100 bed hospital and started admitting patients. At night, Gordie and I drove over to St. Michels Castle and held a Court of Enquiry. It was snowing and raining when we got home at midnight.

March 6 — Ronnie returned home from leave. Everything is in readiness now for me to go to England on my leave. Johnnie and I will got to Zielst this afternoon and I hope to fly to England tomorrow. Col. Morgan Smith ADMS Army Troops will fly with me. Gordie, Johnnie and I drove to Zielst after supper and spent the evening there.

March 7 — Col. Smith arrived at 10 A.M. and we went out to the Eindhoven Air Field and after waiting around for an hour or so caught a big Dakota carrying casualties back. We left Holland at 1:10 P.M. and landed in Red Hill at 3 P.M. — then caught a train to Farnborough, got our clothes out of kit storage and went over to #4 Can. Gen. Hosp. to spend the night.

March 8 — Saw Bob Mater and Bill Boyd and then caught a train for London and got a room in the Grosvenor Hotel. After lunch went to the bank and CMHQ and got all my odds and ends caught up — also got a ticket for three theatres.

March 9 — Shopping in A.M., sleeping the afternoon and attending Apollo Theatre in the evening to see “Private Lives”. Good too.

Diary #4
March 10, 1945 to September 13, 1945

March 10 — Shopping in the A.M., sleeping in the afternoon, and the “Saville” Theatre in the evening to see “Three’s a family”. Not bad but not so good as the night before.

March 11 — Sunday — went to Carleton Theatre in the evening to see “King Henry V”, cinema — excellent.

March 12 — Saw Bill Hunt and Molly. Saw Bennett from the Calgary Tanks, who was captured at Dieppe. Also met his wife. Attended Hippodrome Theatre in the evening to see “Meet the Navy”, a complete show by the Canadian Navy. It was really excellent.

March 13 — Attended Strand Theatre and saw “Arsenic and Old Lace”. Very good show. One more show and my leave is over.

March 14 — Last day in London. Attended the Aldwych Theatre tonight and saw “Tomorrow the World”. It was excellent. I am now packed and ready to go to Worthing in the morning. Will entertain Bennett and his wife here tomorrow night and fly back to Holland on Friday morning.

March 15 — Caught the 9:25 train at Victoria and arrived in Worthing just before eleven. Was met by Mrs. Spofforth — spent the day there and arrived back in London at 7:30. Mr. Spofforth was at the train to meet me. He, Bennett, his wife and myself went to dinner at the Berkeley Hotel. Then Mr. Spofforth and I walked back to Victoria.

March 16 — Arrive at #7 St. James Street at 8:30 A.M. took off from Beach Hill in a Dakota and landed in Brussels on the drome just south of the City at 12:10. Took off again at 1:10 P.M. and landed in Tilburg at 1:50. Very nice to be home again. My first greeting was to be told that I had been given the M.B.E.

March 18 — Went to Eindhoven field and spent the night at Zielst. We are not so busy evacuating patients but are very busy getting ready for the wedding.

March 19 — Saw Bruce Vale and Andie Andrews from 3rd Canadian Gen. just back from Italy.

March 20 — Priest, from the 3rd F.D.S. had lunch with me.

March 22 — The big wedding day. I gave the bride away, Arnold was best man and N/S Ashley stood up with the bride. Stoney performed the ceremony and Dolly Vincent sang “I’ll walk Beside You”. The service was held in a Protestant Church in Tiburg, attended by all available members of the the Unit. and several nursing sisters who were friends of Vernas or ex-members of our Unit. We went an ambulance to Zielst and brought our Dutch friends over. After the service we had a reception in the Mess to which all the NCOs of the Unit were invited.

March 25 — Gordie and I drove down to Eindhoven Air Field and found that the evacuation centre had moved forward. We then went to Zielst and spent a couple of hours at Wilbers.

March 27– It has been a very heavy week  –  Two N/S-Miss Bradley and Miss Gates are going back to 20 Gen Hosp today and will be replaced by two others.  Col. Gossage  paid us a visit this morning. We are expecting to move again in a matter of days.This time we hope to go back to Advance Surgical and jump into Germany.

March 28 – Visited by Charlie Ross, Art McFarlane and Brig. Poiret – a shipment of canaries arrived for U.K.

March 29 – Gordie and I went up to Nijmegen to Army H.Q. where I had lunch – I then to No. 1 Canadian General Hospital, then to the new air field.  After that I went to No. 2 CCS where I had dinner with Col. Leith and met an awful lot of my old friends. I next visited No. 6 CCS and had talk with Bob Mustard on Air evacuation.

March 30  – Dibb went to Army H.Q. at Malo – two nurses from #7 Gen. arrived  – Miss and Mrs. Scott. Murray Dowing, Tommy Douglas, McCallashum, and Bining had lunch with us.

March 31 – Ken Dickson dropped in for a few minutes. Marion Thompson and Eddie Walstein are here now. Johnny Wilbers is spending a couple of days with me.

March 31 – Ernie Marshall, Maj. Craig, Eddie Walstein, and Marion Thompson spent the evening with us in the Mess. The news is encouraging now – it looks like the beginning of the end.

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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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