Jacques Gagnon and I were hoping this would be Eugene Gagnon’s personal diary.
It was not.
Our hopes were shattered, but we had decided to share it.
I have second thoughts since yesterday when I finally saw it.
It is very personal and does not seem to contain historical facts that merit being shared on a blog about paying homage to those who gave so much for their countries in a war.
Lawrence Walton Montague was someone who had met Eugene Gagnon only once in his life.
It was on April 24th, 1942.
Pretty good little French Gangon (sic)
He met Eugene only once.
This is one entry in Lawrence Montague’s personal diary. I thought it was the first entry before I took a look at the original.
Lawrence was a cadet in Course 44. He enlisted in the RCAF and got his first training at No. 6 EFTS Dunnville, Ontario.
There are 363 entries. One is missing because he got drunk. He never drank after. He had never drank before and he wanted to try it. Most of the entries have no historical values per se.
13th January is an example.
I don’t think he liked the weather that much in Canada.
Quite different from where he came from, Coral Gables, Florida.
So how was the weather at No. 6 STFS Dunnville, Ontario on January 13th, 1942?
Lawrence writes about it.
Did an hour night flying tonight – terrible cross wind
Flew all morning and just after dinner a typical Dunnville Snowstorm roared in & flight was washed out.
It seems that I will be in Canada & get the full benefit of its nastiest weather – Jan. Feb. & March.
What happened elsewhere in the war while Lawrence was in the midst of a typical Dunnville snowstorm…?
January 13, 1942 (source here)
Having withdrawn 100 miles Southwest from the capital Kuala Lumpur, Allied troops establish new defensive positions from Muar River on the West coast 40 miles inland to the town of Gemas, where B company 2/30th Australian Battalion (Australian 8th Division under Australian General Gordon Bennett) prepares an ambush at Gemencheh Bridge over the Kelamah River.
Convoy DM1 arrives at Singapore from Durban, South Africa, with 9100 troops (including British 53rd Brigade), 3.7 inch anti-aircraft guns and 52 RAF Hurricane fighters. There are only 24 pilots for the Hurricanes which are quickly demolished by Japanese Zero fighters within 2 weeks.
Red Army meets stubborn German resistance in towns Northwest and West of Moscow. Both sides are immobilised by lack of equipment and supplies and by the extreme cold, leading to fierce hand-to-hand fighting. Soviet 11th Army and German 18th Motorised Division contest possession of Staraya Russa. Soviet 29th and 39th Army fail to penetrate German 9th Army defenses around Rhzev, leading to the creating of a German salient. Soviet 11th Cavalry Corps charge is held up Southwest of Rzhev, allowing Germans to maintain a corridor West from Rzhev along the main highway to Vyazma and Smolensk. The railway goods yard at Sychevka is contested in frenzied close quarter combat.
What about Eugene Gagnon’s personal diary if he had one and if we could get our hands on it… (based on his service record and taking into account Larry’s diary). Remember that Eugene was French-Canadian.
13 janvier 1942
Une grosse tempête de neige s’est abattue sur Dunnville juste après le souper. Quelques cadets ont effectué des vols de nuit, mais le tout a été annulé. Je suis ici depuis le 4 janvier. Je suis dans le Course 46. Hier j’étais à Mount Hope. Je suis heureux d’avoir finalement réussi la première phase de mon entraînement après avoir échoué celle au No. 9 EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School) St. Catherines. Je suis fier d’avoir persévéré. Je rêve d’aller me battre en Europe.
Voici une photo du groupe. Elle appartient à Buggs, un autre cadet. Je suis en avant dans le rectangle rouge.
Eugene Gagnon went on to became a staff pilot at No. 7 B&G School Paulson, Manitoba. He then went overseas and joined 23 Squadron and flew 33 missions on a Mosquito mostly over Germany.
Everything is on this other blog.
What more do we have to say to pay homage to Eugene Gagnon who met only once in his life Lawrence Walton Montague?