Sept. 19: Went forward to the West Nova Scotias this a.m. Got into German fire. Two men hit – at least one German killed. Moved up to Laurenzana, skirmishes and mines. Road blown at Anzi. Went in with West Nova Scotians as they attacked Potenza – had quite a few casualties., mines and blown bridges everywhere.
Sept. 20: We are now sitting in front of Potenza. There is some machine gun and mortar fire. We have been shelling the Town. The bridges are blown and we are making detours. Expect to move in with four “A” Squadron Tanks in a few minutes. Moved 50 miles yesterday. Moved off at 10 a.m. behind seven “A” Squadron Tanks and passed over a detour to road, then after the Tanks had blown up the front houses which lodged the machine guns we all passed in to the Town. It was badly knocked to pieces and mined. I went into an air raid shelter and found hundreds of civilians lodged there. Their welcome certainly brought a lump to my throat. We established a collecting post in first city square and evacuated several W. Nova Scotians. Also found several of their dead and removed their personal belongings and handed them in and reported their location. One of our Tanks was blown up by a mine with casualties to infantry on the outside. At 1 p.m. the City of Potenza was in our possession and we moved north of Town and took up covering positions north of the Town.
Got called back in afternoon to attend an American Air Force chap who was shot down Aug. 28 – had been a prisoner in hospital here until just before we came – then escaped, even though he had a broken leg. We tried to get him to Collecting Post but came under such heavy fire we had to go back. The Infantry finally cleared up the snipers in the Town who had hidden until we passed, then opened up.
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:https://docalexander.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1485&action=edit&message=10
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.
The Metwata Armouries in Calgary wouldn’t looked much different on March 17, 1941 when the personnel of the Calgary Regiment formed up and marched to the nearby railroad tracks where they boarded a train waiting to take them to Camp Borden in Ontario. On that day, Doc Alexander wrote: “Executive presentation. Left home 5 p.m. for Mewata. Entrained opposite barracks for Camp Borden.”
We drove up to 14th Can Gen Hosp at Holley to see Ness – who is in bed with arthritis. He has been boarded “E” and will be leaving for Canada soon. Also Gordon Duncan who has just recently joined the staff, we then drove down to Ed’s Mess, had supper and then drove home.
Feb. 15 Annual innoculation of B squadron this morning, and H.Q. Squadron this afternoon. Don’t know just when I will manage to get the other two squadrons.
10 p.m. am getting the things together to send home by Hess. Wish I could climb in with them to go too. I want Muriel to have this book as a souvenir and a brief running account of my first two year’s experience in the Army. It’s like parting with an old friend to part with this book, but from here I carry on in another diary which I hope to carry home with me. Thus endeth Volume 1. I hope you will enjoy reading it and perhaps get some idea of my thoughts and actions during all these months. Please take awfully good care of this as I prize it very, very highly and shall look forward to spending many happy hours with it when I return.
Feb. 12 Very busy today. Ed arrived this afternoon and has just gone home – we have had another nice visit. He will be here tomorrow to spend the weekend with me and on Tuesday is bringing his Unit down for a combined scheme with the Tanks. Will not see him very much after this week – as we soon will be on the road again.
Feb. 13 Ed came down today and we went into Eastbourne to a picture show. Came home very late and he spent the night with me.
Feb. 14 We drove up to 14th Can. Gen. Hosp. at Holley to see Hess – who is in bed with arthritis. He has been boarded “E” and will be leaving for Canada soon. Also saw Gordon Duncan who has just recently joined the staff, we then drove down to Ed’s mess, had supper and drove home.
Everybody up, shaved and glistening – ready to load into trucks in a few minutes and proceed to Rottingdean where the inspection will take place. Imagine it will be rather chilly standing out there today but everybody is more or less keen. Will tell you more about it tonight.
Arrive on the hills just east of Rottingdean at 9 a.m. and line up in review order, around the edge of a big basin like valley. The Tanks of the Ontario Regiment around the crest of the hill, the Royal stand back in the center. On one side of the stand are the Ontario Reg., those not with the Tanks, RCASC, RCCS, Ordinance, Field Amb., Heavy Support Group – and on the other side of the stand are the Three Rivers and then ourselves.
At 11:30 we march back over the hill to harbour and eat – then by 2:30 are again lined up on Inspection Ground.
At 3 p.m. – the Royal Party and Gen. McNaughton arrive, the Royal Standard is raised and the General salute is given on the opening bars of “God Save the King”.
He then walks down the front of the Three Rivers and Calgary – gets into a carrier and drives up in front of the Tanks to the far end, then walks along the 11th C.T.R., RCOC, RCASC, RCAMC, and Heavy Support. Then three cheers for the King – and it is all over. We arrive back home at 6 p.m. – all very cold and tired.
Feb. 5 Excellent day today – Dr. Seddon on Peripheral Nerves all day. Course closed at 4:30 p.m. At 6:15 p.m. attended Adelphi Theatre and saw “Dancing Years”, a musical play which has been running all through the war. As good a show as I have ever seen.
Feb. 6 Arrived home in Worthing at 2:30 p.m. Will not get back into normal routine again. Expect to be inspected by the King on Thursday.
Feb. 7 Am going out to Spofforths for dinner tonight. was just talking to Ed Brown on phone. He is coming to visit on Tuesday afternoon, so am looking forwards to a good day. Have just heard that Frank Fish anaesthetist at No. 14 Gen. Hosp., and Hess is there as a patient.
Feb. 8 Ed arrived about 2:30. I removed a cyst from the face and then he stayed and visited until about midnight. Today is rainy and wet and we are all terribly busy getting ready for the bid day tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. Another air raid. Planes very low but hidden by clouds. Dropped a few bombs and did some machine gunning.