Please don’t get me wrong about what I am going to write here.
The reader who sent me this bottle knows I have been writing a lot.
I started writing about a man who was a sailor aboard a ship that was sunk of the coast of France.
I knew nothing about it, and I was curious to know more. However my wife’s uncle did not want to talk about the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan.
Moi j’étais sur l’Athabaskan… (Me, I was on the Athabaskan..)
So, in 2009, I created a blog: Souvenirs de guerre and, a little later on, this English version Lest We Forget.
It was like throwing bottles into the sea.
Many people found the bottles I threw into the sea. So many I had to write other blogs because their stories deserved to be told elsewhere.
RCAF 403 Squadron
RCAF 128 (F) Squadron
RCAF 443 Squadron…
I got this notification from WordPress this morning…
A 1000 likes on Lest We Forget!
I could reach 1,000,000 for all I care.
Don’t get me wrong. I do care when you genuinely like my posts, but I don’t write my blogs to get “likes”
I just like to pay homage to those who will never read what I wrote about them or would never dare add a “like” for fear I could contact them and make them talk about the war.
Of course some people will write back like someone on this post.
Small world that John Fairchild and Louis Ledoux are on the same picture.
I never got around to translate in English the last post on my blog Souvenirs de guerre.
It was about Louis Ledoux.
Louis is seen here with his crewmates. I believe this is the X gun emplacement.
Louis was killed in the attack.
John was taken prisoner.
His son Peter related to me in an e-mail this story about his father.
When the Athabaskan was sunk, John went overboard on the opposite side of the ship from the Haida which was under orders NOT to stop and pick up survivors; the captain did anyway but only picked up men they could see…and then went to high revolutions to get away from the patrolling German P-T boats. The RCN had just introduced a new flotation device which had a lamp attached that was activated when in contact with water; my dad was wearing one of these. At around the time of the sinking, John’s sister in Quebec City woke with a start seeing my father floating in the water with a big light over his head. She was the only one in the entire family that was convinced he was alive as his paperwork was lost for some time and the family had received a telegram indicating “missing and presumed drowned at sea”.
John was sent to prison camp with the other survivors; he and one of his mates escaped by hiding for three days in an asbestos filled attic when the Germans evacuated the prison (the Russians were approaching). They wandered west for a few days before being picked up by American troops who promptly arrested my Dad as they were convinced that he was a German posing as an escapee (blonde hair and blue eyes and all)! That took some time to sort out but, eventually, all the paperwork caught up to him and he came back to Canada.