Vous aimez les navires de guerre?

If you like warships…

Souvenirs de guerre

En guise d’intermission avant de poursuivre l’histoire de cet aviateur perdu en mer…

A little intermission before continuing with the story of this pilot lost at sea.

 

Jean-Baptiste Normand Roy

If you like warships…

Go and visit this Website

Allez visiter ce site.

Il est impressionant.

Most impressive!

Ici, on a une photo et une histoire intéressante.

Here’s a photo and the story about that sinking.

On parle de ce navire sur Wikipedia.

The story on Wikipedia.

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August 6th, 1945 Redux

I have something to show you after you read this post I wrote earlier this year.

Start

Robert Richie died on August 6, 1945. He was an EMc3 aboard SS-332 Bullhead.

You can read my article about him by clicking here.

Donna who had read it wrote a comment. Yesterday she sent me some documents about Robert Ritchie.

I think it is most fitting to post them today.

Discharde papers Robert Ritchie letter of death Robert Ritchie naval letter 2 letter of death Robert Ritchie naval letter 3 Naval Letter 1 RJR Naval Cert

Stop

Robert Ritchie letter 3

Look at the date.

On Eternal Patrol

I am not a Navy man. In fact I don’t swim and I fear water. I almost drowned when I was five years old.

I was always fascinated by the Navy even if my main interest is aviation.

This fascination for stories of the Navy has haunted me since.

I wanted to post this on Rememberance Day but something came up.

Robert Joseph Ritchie is on eternal patrol since 1945.

Robert Ritchie

1925-1945

This young man has been on eternal patrol since August 6th, 1945.

No one will ever lay a wreath on his tomb next November 11th.

wreathThe reason is here…

Next time, I will tell you more about Robert.

Fourth from the left in the top back row

Sometimes we start with a little bit of information like fourth from the left in the top back row.

athab 2

Then this information grows and grows.

Remember, Barry first started with this comment.

Good morning Pierre

I continue to enjoy your blog. Just to identify my father John J. Acorn as being the fourth from the left in the top back row. In the picture Prisoners returning home to Canada. I will be sending you some material within a few days.

Thanks so much for your work on this blog I too can understand some of the hardships that these brave men have experienced in sailing the Oceans of the world during my career as a Master Mariner for 35+ years.

Barry Acorn

Fourth from the left in the top back row…

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Then…

Barry sent more precious artefacts.

This one.

HMCS Digby  Lunenburg 1944 modificationFred Acorn, John’s brother, was with HMCS Digby during WWII.The picture is date 1944.

The caption is unclear, but I believe it should be left to right 3rd row #3.

Fred Acorn 3rd row no 3

Barry sent also this…

The Digby crew list.

HMCS Digby Crew List

And these…

Barry has even more for us.

We Fight as One: the Sequel

From Barry Acorn… after he wrote this comment:

Good morning Pierre

I continue to enjoy your blog . Just to identify my father John J. Acorn as being the fourth from the left in the top back row. In the picture Prisoners returning home to Canada. I will be sending you some material within a few days.

Thanks so much for your work on this blog I too can understand some of the hardships that these brave men have experienced in sailing the Oceans of the world during my career as a Master Mariner for 35+ years.

Barry Acorn

Most precious artefacts!

athab2 pow releasedPicture taken from Yves Dufeil’s Website
John Acorn collection

IMG_0582[1]John Acorn’s collection

IMG_0583[1]John Acorn’s collection

IMG_0586[1]John Acorn’s collection

IMG_0588[1]John Acorn’s collection

IMG_0589[1]John Acorn’s collection

IMG_0590[1]John Acorn’s collection

IMG_0591[1]John Acorn’s collection

IMG_0592[1]John Acorn’s collection

IMG_0593[1]John Acorn’s collection

IMG_0594[1]Letter dated June 24, 1944

John Acorn’s collection

We fight as oneWe Fight as One

We Fight as One

Post 450

Sorry for posting so many articles on this blog this last week.

People have shared so much and are still sharing.

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I really intended to close the book on the story of HMCS Athabaskan.

Hmcs_athabaskan_g07

But can you really close the book on the Athabaskan which sank on April 29, 1944, off the coast of France?

cover page 1

Relatives of sailors of HMCS Athabaskan still fight as one, and this blog honours them.

We fight as oneWe Fight as One

The badge design was created by officers of the first Athabaskan, and has been kept to honour the entire crew after their ship was lost to enemy action. The badge commemorates their sacrifice and expresses the ideal of courage and devotion to duty.

source

Everytime I needed help with this blog, there was always a relative who would help me in my quest for the truth about what my wife’s uncle said in a family reunion in 2009. He wanted to see his nieces and his nephew maybe for the last time in his life.

Together, sailors’ relatives and I fought as one to preserve the memories of the sailors of HMCS Athabaskan, a Tribal-class destroyer I knew nothing about in 2009.

athab 2Prisoners coming back to Canada

I knew nothing about the Athabaskan, so after listening astonished to what my wife’s uncle told us in a family reunion, I had to know if he was telling the truth or not.

I had decided then to write about it and to share what people would shared, first on Souvenirs de guerre and its English version Lest We Forget.

From there Lest We Forget then evolved on its own.

They were several spin-off blogs.

One was on RCAF 403 Squadron which I knew nothing about in 2011 when while visiting Hamilton, I met the grandson of Walter Neil Dove, a Spitfire pilot with that squadron.

Walter Dove

Then another spin-off blog on RCAF 128 (F) Squadron stationed in Dartmouth,  Nova Scotia, and later on in Torbay, Newfoundland when Greg told me his grandfather was stationed there before being posted with 403 Squadron.

blog 128

Another spin-off was on 23 Squadron, a Mosquito Squadron with the RAF where a French-Canadian from Bromptonville, Quebec, flew 33 night missions over Germany from December 1944 until the end of the war.

Eugene Gagnon 194523 Squadron group photo July 1945

Another one was about HMCS Regina when someone wrote me about a relative who survived the sinking.

HMCS_Regina_K234_CT-252

All these blogs (there are also others) first originated with this one about HMCS Athabaskan.

We fight as one… and we still do.

I am writing this because of this excerpt from Sherry’s e-mail I posted yesterday.

This part struck me the most.

He (Ernest Takalo) said the French men stuck to themselves and only spoke French to one another, so they never got to fully know one another.

It’s funny how a French-Canadian started writing a blog about a ship he knew nothing about, first posting what he had learned on a blog written in French, then deciding to share everything with English-speaking people so they could share with him paying homage to those who fought as one.

We fight as oneMaybe there is a lesson to learn from all this…

Final post

This will be my final post about the story of my wife’s uncle being aboard HMCS Athabaskan.

Pierre Bachant

Sherry Pringle who wrote this book is still trying to help me.

All-The-Ships-MenSherry called Ernest Takalo who was a stoker aboard the ship on April 29, 1944.

Pierre,

I called Ernie just now. He said there were 32 stokers onboard. They did not all know one another – only the sailors on their shifts. The name Pierre or Pete Bachant is not familiar to him. He said the French men stuck to themselves and only spoke French to one another, so they never got to fully know one another.

He has no recollection of “Slim”.

Something struck me from one of your emails. Pierre lied about his age, as did many others including my Uncle Moe. However, they did have a competition of sorts – whoever was the youngest on ship got to wear the Captain’s hat and jacket and be captain for Christmas day. John Fairchild won out over Moe and Ernie. But….. they were all born in 1924. At the time the ship sunk  the youngest onboard were 19 years old. Your uncle would only have been 16! I realize there were mistakes in the recording of all this, but it does seem improbable to me that there would have been a three year gap in age from your uncle to those who were considered the youngest on ship.

Sorry I could not tell you differently. Perhaps I told you once before but there was an Athabaskan from our town who claimed to be onboard that night. He even gave details of the sinking to the local paper where his account was reported. In 2001, Herm Sulkers came to visit from Victoria. He called this man on the phone as he knew him. Turns out that the Napanee man was on leave when the sinking occurred and told an untruth. Herm said there were several who reported to be there when they were not.

Having said all that, no one wants to think their loved one was not totally honest. Veterans Affairs might hold the true definitive answer. I think the age thing says it all.

Love your blog. Keep up the good work.

Sherry

Pictures from the Netherlands: then and now

Look at the expression on the boy’s face…

For that matter look at all the people’s facial expressions on all these pictures sent by a reader who lives in the Netherlands.

bevrijding 011

 

Canadians liberated the Netherlands in 1945.

People never forgot.

bevrijding 012These pictures were shared this week by someone I have never met.

bevrijding 016

Where were those pictures taken?bevrijding 034

The answer is just after this picture of a German soldier.

The look on his face says it all.

bevrijding 046

These pictures were sent to me by Hennie Berendsen. I asked him if I could post them.

He shared those pictures reacting to a post I wrote on this other blog about RCAF 403 Squadron.

You can read it here if you want.

Hennie had sent me some pictures about one of the pilots who was shot down in the Netherlands in 1945. I wrote his story in 2011.

You can read it here if you want.

Hennie read that post and he shared these pictures for my readers.

burial-place-hank-bird photo-wreck-1 photo-wreck-2

I always write something when someone shares pictures or stories and he or she wants me to share them. I do all this to find relatives of those who never came back.

I never got any messages from Admiral Byrd’s relatives. Maybe one day I will.

So what about these five pictures?

Hennie wrote me this…

Here are the pictures taken 31 march 1945 of the liberation of Ulft.
Canadian  8th RECC and Regiment Fusiliers  Mont Royal.
They took prisoners of German Fallschirmjager.

He added this after…

Hello Pierre,

I’ve pictures of  the liberation of  the place Ulft made by a civilian.
The liberators  Canadian 8th Recce with Les Fusiliers Mont Royal,
Easter Day  found us in the town of Ulft (war diary) MR 068670 sheet P-1 which had been entered the previous day against scattered resistance, consisting mainly of snipers and A/A gun stations used on ground role.

Thanks to Karl Lusink Drempt.

Ulft is a small town near the German frontier in the east of  the Netherlands, about 60 miles from the German Ruhrgebiet.

Many planes crashed in the neighbourhood, the résistance movement had helped also many pilots to escape. (Cappetti-line)

Sincerely,

Hennie

Hennie sent me more pictures with this message.

Hi,

In honour of our Canadian Liberators a few years ago, they rebuilt a Bailey bridge over the river “Oude IJssel” in our town, as you can see in the attachment.

Hennie

DSC00803 DSC00806 DSC00924

Footnote

Dutch travel photographer Hans Hendriksen aimed to honour all the brave British and Canadian soldiers who liberated the central-eastern part of the Netherlands (called Achterhoek) from the 5-year German occupation in April 1945 by making this sequential compilation of restaured, improved and post-colorised historic photographs.

UlftClick here…