Tag Archives: WWII

1945 A Year to Remember

Part VI, Finding the Rivers, Marji Smock Stewart: 1945

My final year of high school (1944-1945) was at Owensboro Senior High. It was not especially outstanding. I felt older than the other students in my class, although I only turned 17.

Owensboro-High-School-postcard-kentucktravels.blogspot.com-2012-04-15On my birthday, Bill’s mother called me to come up to their house on Stewart Court. She had a gift from Bill. He was overseas in England and I was leading my own life. Dating and doing all the things that most teenagers do.

I always loved going to the Stewart home on the Ohio River. It was heaven on earth to me. My wonderful future mother-in-law had chosen a gold heart-shaped locket for me with two tiny pictures of her son inside. I still have it. With the locket was a note from Bill. He had known my age all along. How embarrassing. Oh, to be young again and longing to be older!

I received my diploma in May 1945 and enrolled in the summer session at Southeast Missouri State Teacher’s College in Cape Girardeau MO. My sister Betty and husband Bill Vogel were in college there. I lived in a girls’ dorm, had friends and dated but nothing special. Bill and I exchanged letters regularly but it was not terribly serious. The war was winding down.

V-J Day, Aug. 14, 1945

VJ Day 1945 vernon-b-smith-1946-jackxjoy-wikicommons
VJ Day, 1945 Orleans MA USA, painting by Vernon B Smith 1946 (tap to enlarge)

I was back in Owensboro by that memorable day in August when the Japanese surrendered. (Official surrender ceremony was held September 2, 1945.) A friend of Betty and Bill’s was visiting us; Dwight was a navigator in the Air Force. We were having our usual tasty Sunday dinner when the news came. People ran shouting into the streets, blowing car horns, etc. Dwight just kept eating. After all, homemade rolls and pot roast were hot and inviting. To a guy who had seen too much action, this celebration was a non-event. He continued eating Mother’s rolls until they were gone. Meanwhile, us noncombatants continued making fools of ourselves out in the street. The war was over!

Americans were still under food and gasoline rationing until up in 1946. We carefully guarded our sugar and meat coupons and never drove unless it was absolutely necessary. Servicemen started coming home and a major transition began for most people. Of course some families only experienced emptiness because their loved one(s) never returned, or returned in poor or maimed physical or psychological condition. That was sobering but, mostly, a new excitement filled the country. There was an exhilarating expectation that now, like prophesied in Isaiah 2:4, man would learn war no more. Sadly, almost 60 years later, man still hasn’t learned that.

Bill comes home

It was sometime after August 21, 1945 that Bill flew back to the States and went through official separation from army service in Camp Atterbury, Indiana. He arrived home not long after.

bill-stewart-group-photo-wwii
USAAF, WWII. Bill Stewart is in back row, just left of propeller on left (tap to enlarge)

Bill also earned a Commercial Pilot’s license for multiengine planes. He trained as a fighter pilot but had his ear drums badly damaged by a loud cannon explosion. Therefore he was shifted to piloting big planes whose slower speeds would not further impair him. That change might have saved his life? Many of his original squadron went on to fight over Africa and did not survive. Twice in that summer of 1945 Bill flew his large transport plane to evacuate some of the ambulatory survivors and inspectors from the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp. Not an easy assignment.

A proposal

Back in Kentucky, it didn’t take long for romance to be ignited. Bill was so ready to settle down and have a wife and home; he was 29. At 17 I still wasn’t mature but there were stars in my eyes. Bill asked me to marry him a short time after he arrived home. Daddy wasn’t home, so Bill asked Mother “for my hand.” He expressed some concern about our age difference. Mother seemed to agree but shared that her father was 13 years older than her mother. Then she told him Sarah McDonald had eleven children. That should have frightened him away but it didn’t.

I was working in a local attorney’s office at 35 cents per hour (that’s $2.80 per day or $14 per week). Bill went to Cleveland and other areas searching for a job. But really, he wanted to be home. Bill had his fill of travel. He had been gone from home since before 1937 when he hitchhiked to Minneapolis to enroll in the University of Minnesota. So he returned to Evansville IN in October 1945 and took a job as a salesman with the National Cash Register Company.

November Wedding

By October we both were ready to tie the knot and we set a date of November 10, 1945. Rev. Rake, who had also married my folks, married us in his study. It was a very small wedding with our parents, Bill’s sister Lillian and the couple who stood up with us. Betty was expecting her first baby in Jeffersonville IN and was under doctor’s orders not to travel.

McCurdy-Hotel-1947-Sep-Donahue-Collection-historicevansville.com
McCurdy Hotel lobby in Sept. 1947, Evansville IN historicevansville.com

After the ceremony, Daddy hosted a lovely dinner at the Hotel McCurdy in Evansville IN. This was when my family began calling Bill “Stew” since Betty’s husband was also Bill. To add to the confusion, Bill Stewart’s family called him Lester, his middle name. So I had one husband with three names – Bill, Stew and Lester.

I wore a chocolate brown suit with a creme silk blouse and had a hat and veil. The hat was made of gold sequins; Bill had bought it in Paris. Bill gave me a lovely orchid, which had zero fragrance. Not to worry, he also brought me several bottles of French perfume. Never had a bride smelled so good!

Honeymoon weekend

There was no honeymoon for us. We had rented one room in a home in Evansville. We shared the kitchen and bath with the landlady, a war widow. She graciously arranged to be gone that weekend. As a dutiful bride I prepared breakfast the next morning. A total disaster. Bill wanted oatmeal which I didn’t have a clue how to prepare and I oversalted the sticky mess. Also I burned the bacon, which is the unpardonable sin. But Bill was sweet and did not complain.

We did walk to church on Sunday morning. Of course I wore my orchid and was dressed in my wedding suit plus coat with fur collar. I must have stood out like a Kmart Blue Light special. Someone came down from the choir and tried to get me to join the church and questioned my salvation. That embarrassed me. I think I was feeling pious for even being there, wed less than 24 hours. I still feel uncomfortable when well-intentioned people buttonhole a stranger, supposedly “witnessing”.

Four weeks, three moves

bill-stewart-17 nov 1945 photo Marji Stewart
Bill Stewart, Nov 1945 at parents’ home

In the next four weeks I moved us and our meager belongings three more times. Each time to a larger, more private place. All of this was via the bus or walking. Finally we had a small apartment with our own tiny kitchen and our own bath. What a luxury!

I had a job in a law office in Evansville and for the next nine months we stayed put. Of course we rode the Greyhound bus back to Owensboro many weekends. Bill probably needed that good mothers’ cooking to survive my efforts at k.p.

Next time: In July 1946 Bill decided he wanted to quit his job and take a trip out west. He received all his military training in the west and loved that country. So we bought a used car from a man in Fordsville KY.

(Previously on the Smocks: River Pilot, Air Pilot)

River Pilot, Air Pilot

Part V, Finding the rivers, Marji Smock Stewart: River Pilot, Air Pilot

MV-Sohioan-Curdsville-KY-1944
MV Sohioan, 1944 (tap for larger view)

Let me explain a bit about working on the river. The crew had to stay on 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, working 6 hours on and 6 hours off. The “dog” shift, or midnight to 6 a.m., was the hardest. Pilots usually drank a lot of coffee and smoked a lot. Keeping your eyes on the long barges way down in front of you wasn’t easy, especially in foul weather and moonless nights. You had to stay wide awake.

However, there was one big plus about working on the river: wonderful food. The cooks were always the top of the line and the crew were fed three solid meals per day, plus snacks in the galley any time. When guys worked 12 hours per day, good food was like jet fuel for a 747. Everyone ate together rather than separate areas for crew and officers. It really was one big family.

Crew earned days off and would be home for a longer time than ordinary workers would be. But at the same time, they were gone a long time. Actually their families could live almost anywhere as long as it was close to a river and other transportation means. As in the military, usually mothers had the entire responsibility for raising the kids and managing the home.

Granddaddy Smock died

On March 6, 1944 we got a call from Daddy’s sister Leora. Granddaddy Smock had died of heart failure. Mother quickly contacted Daddy who was somewhere on the Mississippi River. She, Betty and I drove to meet him somewhere and then we headed for the big farm house as fast as Daddy dared drive.

At Granddaddy’s funeral I felt as if a giant had died. He had so many friends and family. John Thomas Smock was 81. He had never been ill except for an abscessed tooth. What a life!

It must have been that trip home for Granddaddy’s funeral when the folks decided to leave Evansville and move to Owensboro. I had quit school only a few days after my 16th birthday. I helped Mother and cleaned the apartment next door after the couple left each day for work. That paid a quarter a day! But my wise mother knew I needed to be in school. Did they feel a smaller town in the hospitable Blue Grass state would benefit me more?

Pilot of MV Sohioan

Pilot Monroe-Smock-MV-Sohioan-Curdsville-1944
“Curdsville KY 1944, MV Sohoian, working boat towing oil. Monroe Smock was its first Captain”

So soon afterward Daddy began working for the Standard Oil Company of Ohio. He was made Master of their new top of the line boat, the MV Sohioan. That was a proud moment. Mother and Daddy were wined and dined in Ohio and Daddy received a nice raise. Towing barges of oil to their destination, usually New Orleans, was sorely needed in the WWII effort.

Elizabeth-and-Monroe-Smock-Owensboro-1944We moved to a house in Owensboro probably in April 1944. It was too late now to get in the local high school year. So Mother and I decided a stint at the local business college would be good for me. The skills I learned would be useful all my life; typing and bookkeeping. I learned shorthand too but used it very little, except while working in an attorney’s office.

At the business college I made several friends; it was a small group. One of my friends was Georgia. She was a bit older but we became quite close. Georgia had a friend Lillian.

Lillian had a brother Bill who was a pilot in the Air Force. He would be home for a brief visit from overseas in July 1944. Would I be interested in writing him and perhaps meeting him when he came home? It was a common practice to write to servicemen to help boost their morale. Of course I said yes. I think we exchanged two or three letters, the very thin airmail type.

Capt. Bill Stewart, US Army Air Forces* Pilot

bill-stewart-usaaf pilot ca-1944Sometime in July Georgia called and said Bill had flown in from England and we were to meet him the next day. So about 2 in the afternoon, Georgia looked out the second story window of the business college and said, “He’s there.” Sure enough, my blind date was standing on the sidewalk looking up. A handsome fellow in US Army uniform. I stuck my head out the window and we were introduced.

A whirlwind week followed. We dated every evening. I’m sure his parents longed for him to be with them every moment. But this guy had been overseas a long time and wanted to live every moment to the fullest. We went dancing at night at a nightclub on the river.

Friends had loaned him their car to drive while home. On the weekend he took me out in his motor boat and we swam in the Ohio River. Bill’s home was on the river. His mom would prepare delicious meals and of course I ate with them. Lots of friends and family came to greet him and they were all over the place.

Robert-and-Mabel-Stewart-home-Owensboro-1944The river was prominent in Bill’s family’s lives too. The house had a huge yard, lots of trees and a big swing between two big oaks. Much of that yard is gone now, lost to erosion from the river. But it surely was a romantic setting.

This was heady stuff for a 16 year old high school dropout; dating a college graduate who held the rank of Captain and was a pilot too! I honestly think that neither of us expected to see the other again. Would we?

* The Air Force, called US Army Air Forces or USAAF, was part of the US Army until 1947.

Previous: Smocks on the Ohio River

Next: Don’t know where, don’t know when…

NB Regiment K.I.A. on D-Day

Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, France d-day cropped wikicommonsThe North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment, part of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, landed at Juno Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. They landed at what was code-named Nan Red Beach, near Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer. Thirty-five were killed in action that day in Normandy, and two the next day.

D-Day 75th-CBC-News-Network-Beny-sur-mer-norman-kirbyYesterday at the Bény-sur-Mer cemetery in France, North Shore (NB) Regiment veteran Norman Kirby paid tribute to his comrades in a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The Canadian Mint commemorated that anniversary with a silver dollar. It features Private George Baker from Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Pvt. Baker survived D-Day and the rest of the war. He passed away in 2003.

coinweek.com-royal-canadian-mint-30-jan-2019 d-day pvt-george-herman-bakerHis image was taken from film footage of the North Shore (NB) Regiment landing at Normandy.

North Shore (NB) Regiment R.C.I.C. deaths on D-Day

Here are the names of those who did not survive that day, taken from Canadian Fatal Casualties on D-Day (pdf). I have added information about each of them that I found online. All but a few are buried at Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in France.

North-Shore-Regt-A-Co-Jan-1944-veterans.gc_.ca

ASHFORD, Roger Alfred Edward, 38, Private, B/68655.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Alfred Henry and Florence Ashford, of St. Catharines, Ontario.
Born 5 Nov 1906 Selbourne UK. Enlisted 27 Apr 1943 Hamilton ON.

BLANCHARD, Alfred, 22, Private, G/23165.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Benoit and Laura Blanchard, of East Bathurst, New Brunswick.

BRANSFIELD, Claude, 21, Private, G/23034.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Ambrose and Frances Carroll Bransfield, of Escuminac, Northumberland Co., New Brunswick.

CLANCY, Rupert, Private, G/22885.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Born Chatham NB.

CLOUSTON, Murns Sydney, 26, Sergeant, G/22325.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of James and Francis L. Clouston, of East Bathurst, Gloucester Co., New Brunswick.
Born 17 Apr 1918 East Bathurst NB

victor-charles-crabbe-1940CRABBE, Victor Charles, 28, Corporal, G/18306.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Charles Colby and Geneva Bertha (née Burlock) Crabbe; husband of Katharine J. Crabbe (née Scott), of Argyle, Carleton Co., New Brunswick.
Born 3 Jan 1916 in Peel NB, married 1936, two children. Enlisted 21 May 1940 Woodstock NB

DALEY, Harold Stanley, 22, Private, G/22937.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Stanley and Annie Daley, of Chatham, New Brunswick.
Born 15 Apr 1922 Chatham NB

DOUCET, Aldie, 24, Private, G/23445.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Wilfred and Beatrice Doucet, of D’Aulnay, Gloucester Co. New Brunswick.

ELLIOTT, Bruce Franklin, 26, Sergeant, G/19083.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of George Burton Elliott and Emily Elizabeth Elliott; husband of Alfreda Marie Elliott, of Kentville, King’s Co., Nova Scotia.

ELLIS, Gordon Hubert, 23, Private 1st Bn., G/22375.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of William James Ellis and Lucy Melvina (née Good) Ellis; husband of Joan Norah Ellis, of New Carlisle, Bonaventure Co., Quebec.
Born 10 Mar 1921 Salmon Beach, Bathurst Parish NB

FORKER, Norman Alexander McEwen, 21, Private, D/137992.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Alexander McEwen Forker and Sarah Forker, of New York City, U.S.A.

GALLAN, Clyde Sydney, 20, Private, G/29013.
Bayeux Memorial, France.
Born 9 Apr 1924 New Carlisle, Que. Enlisted 5 Sep 1942 Fredericton NB
Son of Howard and Sarah Gallan, New Carlisle, Que.

GIONET, Antoine, 25, Corporal, G/23530.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Leon L. Gionet and of Zenobie Gionet (née Pailin), of Middle Caraquet, New Brunswick.
Born 10 Sep 1917 Caraquet, Glouchester Co NB

HACHE, Bernard, 24, Private, G/18987.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Born 10 Jan 1920 Riviere du Portage NB. Enlisted 18 Jun 1941 Woodstock NB.
Son of Marcel and Marguerite Haché

HACHE, Lionel, 24, Private, G/18858.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Born 3 Jun 1920 Upper Caraquet NB. Enlisted 10 Jun 1941 Tracadie NB.
Son of Edward and Arma Haché, Burnsville NB

IRVING, Andrew Edison Stewart, 23, Private, G/22858.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of William Wallace Irving and Ruby Irving, of Millbank NB.
Born 20 Dec 1920 Millbank NB. Enlisted 12 Jun 1940 Chatham NB.

Emerson-Robert-James-junobeach.orgJAMES, Emerson Robert, 18, Private, B/131672.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Roy and Elsie James, of Hamilton ON.
Born 28 Jul 1925 London ON. Enlisted 21 Aug 1942 Hamilton ON.
His father was in the Canadian Merchant Marine. His brother Capt. William Albert James was also overseas, according to the Hamilton Spectator 12 January 1945.

KINGSTON, Earl Stewart, 28, Private, G/23245.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Born 29 Feb 1916 Bay du Vin NB. Enlisted 6 Jun 1941 Newcastle NB. Husband of Agnes Kingston.

LANDRY, Levie Joseph, 22, Private, G/51472.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Alex and Delphine Landry, of Upper Sackville NB. His brother Denis Joseph also fell.
Born 23 Jul 1921 Upper Sackville NB. Enlisted 1 Jan 1943 Fredericton NB.

(Landry, Denis Joseph, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. Born 28 Dec 1919 Upper Sackville NB, enlisted 16 Jan 1944 Borden ON. Died 31 Oct 1944 Service No G/59546. Buried Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, Netherlands)

LEWIS, Harold Thomas, 26, Private, G/32609.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Amos and Belinda “Linnie” (née Sabean) Lewis, of Port Lorne, Annapolis Co NS; husband of Elsie Mae Lewis, of Port Lorne.
(ancestry.ca gen records has 1900-1944 for him, while age 26 would mean born 1918)

James Ralph Main veterans.gc.ca
L/Cpl. J. Ralph Main

MAIN, James Ralph, 29, Lance Corporal, G/22152.
Bayeux Memorial, France.
Son of Amos and Jane E Main of New Carlisle, Bonaventure Co Quebec.
Born 21 Jul 1914 New Carlisle, Que. Enlisted 9 Jun 1940 Campbellton NB.

MALLALEY, John Thomas, 33, Private, G/23340.
Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, France.
Son of Thomas and Clara Mallaley (née Clara Jane Carrier?), of Lorne, Restigouche Co NB; husband of Opal Mallaley, of Lorne.
Born 1 Jan 1914 Lorne NB. Enlisted 9 Jul 1941 Rivière Jacquet NB.

MERSEREAU, Cyril Seton, 28, Lieutenant.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Claude Middleton Mersereau and Brigid Mary McGinley. Born 4 Jan 1916 Bathurst NB

John-A-MacNaughton-from-R-Walsh-at-James-M-Hill-HS-MiramichiMacNAUGHTON, John Archibald “Archie”, 47, Major.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of John Archibald and Maria MacNaughton, of Black River Bridge NB; husband of Grace Helen MacNaughton, of Black River Bridge.
Born 7 Oct 1896 Black River Bridge NB. Enlisted 7 Jun 1940 Chatham NB. Also in WWI ,104th Battalion, then 26th Battalion.

Major Archie MacNaughton, D-Day Heritage Minute

McCORMACK, Hugh Michael, 22, Sergeant, G/22831.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Born 29 Jun 1921.

McLEOD, George Bud, 27, Private, G/60509.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Born 6 Feb 1917.

PALMER, Earl Roderick, 21, Private, G/28691.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Born 20 Jan 1923, from St. Stephen NB

Randolph-Pitre-ctvnews.caPITRE, Randolph, 21, Private, G/52076.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Born 11 Jun 1922 Bathurst NB. Enlisted 6 Jul 1941 Richibucto NB.
Son of Joseph Pitre and Josephine Watson of Big Cove NB, Elsipogtog First Nation. (CTV News: NB students travel to Normandy to visit Canadian war graves)

RIGLEY, Edward Joseph “Ned”, 23, Sergeant, G/22845.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Born 7 Sep 1920.
(brother-in-law of A Company 7 Platoon Commander Lt. Fred Moar, who survived war)

ROY, Joseph Edgar, 21, Private, G/23307.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Jerome J P and Louise Roy, of Petit Rocher Nord NB.
Born 9 Sep 1922. Enlisted 9 Jul 1941 Woodstock NB

Albert-Joseph-Savoy-junobeach.orgSAVOY, Albert Joseph, 27, Corporal, G/22044.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Adolphe and Marie (née Pélagie) Savoy; husband of Pearl (née Lloyd) Savoy, of Escuminac, NB.
Born 10 Jan 1917 Chatham NB. Enlisted 10 Jun 1940 Chatham. 1 son.

STRANG, Arthur William, 26, Private, G/22728.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
s/o Jacob Ross and Jane Annie (née Stymiest) Strang, of Price Settlement, Northumberland Co NB; husband of Kathleen Ellen Strang(née Shepard) , of Price Settlement.
Born 28 Jan 1918 Tabusintac, Northumberland Co NB. 2 daughters.

Private Arthur Strang, video by Stephen Wilson

WALKER, John Ernest, 24, Lance Corporal, G/22835.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of George and Hazel Walker; husband of Rita Walker, of Hassocks, Sussex, England.

WALSH, Joseph Patrick, 28, Lance Sergeant, G/23259.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of James and Nellie Walsh, of Doyles Brook NB.

WIGGINS, Lambert Whitfield, 29, Corporal, G/18379.
Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Reviers, France.
Son of Lambert Williams Wiggins and Florence Alberta Wiggins, of Mars Hill, Maine USA.
Born 20 Apr 1915 Muniac NB. Enlisted 4 Apr 1940 Woodstock NB.

D-Day Memorial, Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer

canadian-memorial D-Day st-aubin-sur-mer-veterans.gcOn the D-Day memorial at Saint-Aubin, the North Shore (NB) Regiment names are engraved on the left side. Two more men, killed in combat the following day, are also included.

AURIAT, Jean Marie Joseph, Private, F/65252.
Douvres-la-Delivrande War Cemetery, Calvados, France.
Son of Francois Auriat and Victoire Montes, Saint-Front, Saskatchewan.
Three of his brothers were also in the Canadian Forces. Marcel, like his brother Jean, joined the North Shore (NB) Regiment. (See Auriat-Lamoureux Family History at saskhistory.ca.)

jean auriet and brothers wwii saskhistory.ca
Jean, Marcel, Albert and Paul Auriate, 1944 Le Patriote saskhistory.ca

CORMIER, Azade, 19, Private, G/23432.
Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, Calvados, France.
Son of Joseph and Marie Cormier, of Pokesudi, Gloucester Co., New Brunswick.

Battle of Normandy begins

Three hundred and fifty-nine Canadians died on D-Day. More than 5,000 Canadians were killed in the following two months during the Battle of Normandy, and more than 13,000 wounded. To all who died and all who survived, thank you.

Canadian Assaults D Day map junobeach.org
From What is D-Day? An FAQ – Juno Beach Centre junobeach.org (tap to enlarge)

Other sources

Soldiers’ photos came from the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, Veterans Affairs Canada.

CBC has more on Archie MacNaughton and his Heritage Minute.

At Maple Leaf Up, you can read about the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment on “the longest day”. See Nation and State for more on the film taken during the landing.

Angel in a Foxhole

Writer Dave Tabar wants to make a movie called Angel in a Foxhole – about Smoky, the Yorkshire Terrier war dog. Until July 4th, Blackpool Records will match all contributions. Here is Dave’s email.

angel in a foxhole - smoky facebook pageSmoky the WWII Dog – Short Film Project Update

96 year old WWII Veteran Bill Wynne needs your help! He has a Yorkie story that must be told –  the incredible and inspirational TRUE story of “Smoky”, his 4 lb. Yorkshire Terrier, who literally became the tiniest Hero of WWII!

dave-tabar-bill-wynne-my-smoky
Dave Tabar and Bill Wynne with Yorkie and Smoky photo

Little Smoky was stuck in a foxhole in New Guinea when she was rescued by Bill Wynne’s army regiment.  With Bill by her side, Smoky went on to win an army mascot competition, grace the cover of the GI newspaper, Yank Magazine, become the first-ever Therapy Dog and literally save lives and planes during the war.

Her heart-warming story shows how much our four-legged friends can accomplish and the powerful impact they have on others’ lives, even when they’re only 4 lbs. Little Smoky did not stop there! After the war, she became a celebrity in Cleveland, Ohio and had her own local TV show [WXEL’s Castles in the Air].

smoky-and-bill-wynne-1946
Smoky and Bill Wynne 1946

Help us share her charming place in history as a movie! Please check out our Indiegogo campaign and donate whatever you can – no amount is too small. With your help, 3-time Emmy Award-Winning Director Dean Love can create a memorable short film that will touch all of our hearts and help us convince Hollywood to turn this into a blockbuster feature. Let’s put Smoky’s name in lights and make 96 year old Veteran Bill Wynne’s dream come true!

Hear the story and contribute to the film campaign at Indiegogo – Smoky film.

To all who have helped fund the “Angel in a Foxhole: Smoky the WWII Therapy Dog” short film / Indiegogo campaign: Thank you for your support!

Blackpool Records matches funds until July 4th

We are writing to inform you that we have received a generous offer from Blackpool Records to match all personal donations received during the final days of the campaign, beginning today, to assure that we reach our minimum $25,000 campaign goal!

John_Purdy-and_Yorkie_Eventbrite
John Purdy will play Bill Wynne

Please consider a contribution, no matter how small, to take advantage of this offer. Otherwise, please forward this message to friends, family and others, as the current campaign ends on Wednesday, July 4th. Today we reached 50% of our minimum goal of $25,000 to produce the film that will put “Smoky” on the big screen at selected 2019 short film festivals, as we continue to work toward achieving a full feature film!

STUDIO A FILMS (Cleveland) and DEAN LOVE FILMS (NYC)

Angel in a Foxhole perks, and more about Smoky

wardogs_smoky_wynnephotoCheck out Indiegogo for great perks you get with your donation! If you want to know more about Smoky, see my review of Mr. Wynne’s book Yorkie Doodle Dandy. I also posted about the tribute Australia paid to her, as well as an email I received from Bill Wynne in 2015.

Of course, she is in the Dogs in War post written by Jim Stewart. Smoky’s Facebook page will keep you up to date on the film’s progress as will her website Smoky War Dog.

Code Talkers

youtube code talkers-white house
L-R: Fleming Begaye, Donald Trump, Thomas Begay, Peter MacDonald, Nov. 27/17

In the early part of World War II, the enemy was breaking every military code that was being used in the Pacific. This created a huge problem for strategizing against the enemy. Eventually a suggestion was made in early 1942 to use the Navajo language as a code.

The Marine Corps recruited 29 young Navajos, not telling them what they are being recruited for because this was a top secret operation. They were just asked ‘you wanna join the Marines? You wanna fight the enemy? Come join the Marines.’ Then they were separated from all the rest of the Marines. Took them to a top secret location. That’s where they created a military code to be used in the Pacific.

After creating 260 code words, the 29 young Marines – half of them were sent overseas to join the 1st Marine Division. On August 7th 1942, 1st Marine Division hit the beaches of Gaudalcanal. This was the first battle where the Navajo code was to be tested in actual battle.

Three weeks after the landing, General Vandegrift, Commander of the 1st Marine Division, sent word back to United States saying, this Navajo code is terrific. The enemy never understood it, he said. We don’t understand it either, but it works. Send us some more Navajos. So that opened up the gate for United States Marine Corps San Diego to start recruiting more and more Navajos, using the same tactics.

The 13 of us, we still have one mission. That mission is to build National Navajo Code Talker Museum. We want to preserve this unique World War II history for our children, grandchildren, your children, your grandchildren.

Why? Because what we did truly represents who we are as Americans. America, we know, is composed of diverse community. We have different languages, different skills, different talents, and different religion. But when our way of life is threatened, like freedom and liberty that we all cherish, we come together as one. And when we come together as one, we are invincible.

-Peter MacDonald, Sr., Navajo Code Talker

This is part of what Peter MacDonald Sr. said at the White House on Monday. Mr. MacDonald, Fleming Begaye and Thomas Begave are Marine Corps veterans of World War II, Navajo Code Talkers. It played on Wednesday’s As It Happens on CBC Radio (beginning of Part 3).

Navajo US Marine Corps code talker recruits, Fort Wingate NM wikicommons
First 29 Navajo US Marine Corps code talker recruits being sworn in at Fort Wingate NM

This was a rare opportunity to hear about the history of the unit directly from those involved. But Mr. MacDonald’s speech didn’t get a lot of television coverage. Yep, President Trump opened his mouth.

So thank you, CBC, for playing this excerpt. It made me go look for the full speech, which I found on Real Clear Politics – both transcript and video.

Wartime Foresters

“The King’s Government call for lumber men and all skilled workmen not eligible for the Regiment or the Royal Naval Reserve for service in the forests of the United Kingdom.”call for foresters in evening telegram-7-apr-1917-heritage-nf

In World Wars I and II, Britain needed foresters. Lots of timber available, especially in Scotland, and both military and civilian need for lumber. But not enough people left in the UK with the necessary skills and strength to cut and mill it. That’s where Newfoundland, Canada and other British dominions came in: to provide the skilled labour.nfld-forestry-corps-scotland-wwi-heritage-nf

The Newfoundland Forestry Corps sent about 500 men overseas in 1917 to cut and mill wood. From 1939 to the end of WWII, the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit sent about 3,680 men. They worked in Scotland, England and France.

nofu-badge-wwiiAccording to Neary and Baker (2010:9), “the largest single group of Newfoundlanders to go overseas during the Second World War did not go in uniform, but as members of the Newfoundland Forestry Unit.” In both wars, the forestry units were civilian.

The same rules for recruitment applied in the Canadian Forestry Corps (CFC) but it was part of the Canadian Armed Forces. The CFC was created in 1916 and disbanded in 1920. It resumed service in 1939 to 1945.

Foresters as Soldiers or Civilians

The difference in civilian or military categorization didn’t matter at the time, but it did afterwards. In Newfoundland, men of the forestry units were not eligible for veterans’ benefits. The same was true for veterans of the Merchant Marine, a civilian unit responsible for keeping shipping channels safe for military and commercial vessels. Finally in 1962, the forestry units and Merchant Marine were recognized under the Civilian War Allowance Act. In 2000, their veterans received the same benefits as those of military branches.Nfld foresters nofu-log-loading-duthil-1944-ngb-chebucto

In both wars, many men left the forestry corps to sign up for combat units. Either they reached legal enlistment age or got the required education level. The war dragged on, and needed more and more fighting men. So the physical requirements changed. Men rejected earlier for combat due to maybe not meeting the height or eyesight standards became eligible.alfred-j-munnings-draft-horses-lumber-mill-in-the-forest-of-dreux-leicestergalleries-com

Lumbering was still needed too, however. So men continued to be recruited to replace those who had left. And there were injuries and deaths. It may not have been combat, but woodswork is dangerous. While working, 335 NOFU men were injured severely enough to be sent back home and 34 were killed. That’s one tenth. In WWI, 14 names are on the honour roll for the NFC.

2010 Peter Neary and Melvin Baker (eds.), Introduction, History of the Participation by Newfoundland in World War II, Allan M. Fraser (pdf)

The story of NOFU is in They Also Served by Tom Curran, St. John’s: Jesperson 1987. See Newfoundland’s Grand Banks for names, records and photographs from WWI and II.

VE Day 70th

VE Day post, photo Jim Taggart, George Anger, Bill Carley 1944May 8th 1945, Victory in Europe Day, marked the end of one part of World War II. War with Japan continued until two atomic bombs were dropped in July. Japan signed a formal surrender on September 2nd.

My mother was on Dundas Street East in London Ont. on VE Day. She said when the news spread, everyone ran into the street screaming, laughing, hugging anyone at hand. They stayed outside for hours, revelling in the knowledge that the war was over. Bluebirds were flying over the white cliffs of Dover, the boys were coming home.

VE Day meant coming home

Coming home took time. Dad’s official discharge papers are stamped November 28th 1945, Wolseley Barracks, London Ontario. My mother and her parents met him. My 3½ year old brother was in his VE Day post, soldiers on Jeep at Camp Borden England 1944grandpa’s arms. He didn’t know the man they all were hugging and kissing and crying over. But he connected the name with the daddy he’d been told about. He slithered, Mom said, across from Grandpa’s arms to Dad’s.

My parents knew they had been luckier than others in the war and the post-war adjustment. Mom was happy to stop restaurant and factory work and stay home with her child. Dad had spent his war working on army vehicles in England and Scotland. At home, he worked on civilian vehicles. They made their photo wwii Bill Hardy and George Angercontribution to the Baby Boom. The war receded into the background, never forgotten but not active in their lives.

Decades later, Mom found an undeveloped film in a drawer. It wasn’t one of hers. From the printing on it, she saw it was from the UK. She realized it was Dad’s from the war. So she was a bit nervous about getting it developed. So was he, I think. What would be on the pictures? Soldiers. Some of them he hadn’t seen since.

VJ Day – war is over

photo Bill Stewart Captain US Army Air ForceMy parents-in-law survived it too. They had to wait until VJ Day for it to be over. Bill was a pilot in the US Army Airforce. A blast to his eardrum during training put an end to his hopes to be a fighter pilot. Instead he flew transport planes, cargo and people. Some of his passengers, near the end of the war, were survivors from POW camps and Buchenwald, a concentration camp.

He came home to Kentucky in August 1945. He brought gifts from Paris for a girl he had met when home on leave in 1944. One was a gold sequinned Juliet cap. She wore it at their wedding three months later.

 

Yorkie Doodle Update

After I wrote a review of Yorkie Doodle Dandy (St. Thomas Dog Blog, April 2012), I got a lovely email from author Bill Wynne. 

 Yorkie Doodle author Bill Wynne with Yorkie in Cleveland parkThank you so much for the wonderful review of my memoir about my dog Smoky… I’m working a on a second book because YDD has been popular and resulted in many diverse things happening. Among them, some readers asking for another book. It will be “Angel in a Foxhole:  Yorkie Smoky and Her Friends.”

Below is what is happening currently with our 69 year old hero:

A British TV company will record an interview in Cleveland Ohio, for “SUPER TINY PETS” broadcast, at the Smoky Memorial to be aired in the U.K. May 9, 2012

Smoky will have a memorial in Brisbane Australia within the next month or two. There are six memorials for her in the U.S.A. The following is part of the program that will be printed for a Smoky memorial dedication in Brisbane Australia.

Smoky-with-wounded-soldiersThrough the encouragement of Nigel Allsopp, one of Australia’s foremost animal advocates and dog experts, Smoky is to be honored by the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital on an original site where she medically served at a U.S. Military Hospital in 1944.  I am so proud that she is to be remembered here, the land of our close WWII Ally and in the city of her birth. Unwittingly we began the animal therapy movement which has proven its benefits for many of the maladies brought on during war and peace throughout the world. Smoky led the way, performing her special magic. Helping cure those in need in the unique way that therapy dogs are so innocently capable of doing. “Smoky is the First Therapy Dog of Record” (from Animal Planet, research)

Smoky Too beside pile of Smoky books
Click for larger view

My sincere thanks to the Board and Staff of Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital for establishing this memorial. To the Australian Army Forces who participated in the ceremony honoring ” WWII’s smallest soldier,” thank you…

See attached photo for many publications inspired by YDD. This photo was taken last Sept [with Smoky Too]. There are 11 publications out since.

Sincerely, Bill Wynne

Thank you, Mr. Wynne, for keeping the memory of this little dog – soldier, therapist and entertainer – alive. What makes Smoky so remarkable is that she was truly a Renaissance Dog – she did it all. By honouring her, we remember and honour them all.   Military dogs, guide dogs, therapy dogs, search dogs, sled dogs – all working and service dogs, as well as those who simply excel at being our best friends. (From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, June 7/12)

 

Yorkie Doodle Dandy

Click to buy on Amazon

I don’t know much about WWII, and even less about the American campaign in the South Pacific. I learned a lot, and felt it, reading about a Yorkshire Terrier. William Wynne’s book about his dog Smoky takes you to the war with him. He explains it so clearly, the geography of battle, the military sorties and the day-to-day existence of the soldiers.

Military history was not his purpose in writing Yorkie Doodle Dandy: A memoir. It is about a dog he acquired in New Guinea while stationed there as an aerial photographer. One part of the story of how Smoky came to be with Bill really struck me. Another soldier found the tiny dog alongside a road, trying to get out of a foxhole. He didn’t like dogs, but he couldn’t leave this little scrap of a being to fend for herself. He brought her back to camp even though he wasn’t even remotely tempted to keep her. That, in an environment where death, killing and suffering are part of everyday life, is the act of a truly good man.

26th photo recon squadron logoWhen Smoky came to Bill soon after, he did basic obedience training with her for her own safety. Then, out of boredom and seeing how quickly she learned and enjoyed it, he began teaching her tricks. She became a star performer, providing entertainment for his mates and putting on shows for troops and in hospitals for wounded soldiers. While not an official war dog, she performed military duty, becoming a mascot of his squadron and given the honourary rank of corporal. She logged many hours of flight time, in reconnaissance and combat missions. Yorkshire Terrier Smoky in her specially made war coatHer most important military action was pulling telephone wire 60 feet through a drainage pipe. It took her minutes to do what would have taken men days.

Back in the USA

He brought her back to the States where she became a celebrity both as a war dog and performer. With Bill’s wife Margie, they spent time in Hollywood in the movie dog training business. He tells us about kennels and trainers known to all of us who love watching dogs in movies. They returned to Ohio when Bill was offered an aerial photography job in NACA (National Advisory Memorial to Smoky and war dogs in Cleveland 2005Committee on Aeronautics), later NASA. But performing was in Bill and Smoky’s blood. They entertained in circuses, hospital wards, stage shows and on their own live television show. She also was the first therapy dog on record due to her work with wounded soldiers and later in US hospitals.

Yorkshire Terriers were not common in the US at that time and, with her, Bill became involved in dog shows and the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America. Smoky lived to a good old age, happy and pampered and forever the star, also forever the war hero. There are monuments to her for her war work and her irrepressible spirit of fun.

The greatest tribute to her is this wonderful memoir about her life by a man Bill Wynne accepting PDSA bravery award for Smokywho deeply loved her. It also is a tribute to the soldiers who loved and protected their official and unofficial war dogs. He tells of the extraordinary measures they took to make sure their animals were part of ‘bringing the boys home.’ He didn’t intend the book as such, but it’s also a testament to him – a good man and a great veteran. Thank you, Mr. Wynne, for sharing your war and your dog with us.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, April 26, 2012

 

The Princesses Louise

PLP-Sign-photo-Dorothy-StewartIs Princess Louise Park in Sussex named for a British Royal or a horse?  I’ve heard both answers. The person was daughter of Queen Victoria and patron of the 8th Hussars Regiment.  The horse was the 8th Hussars Regimental Mascot.

Princess Louise, the horse, was an Italian-born WWII refugee. She later was naturalized as a Canadian citizen, made a Freewoman of the Village of Hampton and a member of the Canadian Legion #28 Hampton Branch.

Princess-Louise-marker-photo-D-StewartShe and her daughter, both members of the 8th Hussars, are commemorated with their own marker close to the Cenotaph  in Hampton’s Veterans Park.

A foal found wounded beside her dead mother in Coriano, Italy, Princess Louise was rescued by 8th Hussars men from the Hampton and Sussex area.  She then traveled with them for the rest of the war – to Regimental mascot Princess Louise and 8th Hussars in ItalyFrance, Belgium and Holland.  It took considerable ingenuity to pull that off.

When the men moved by ship to France, they were not allowed to take animals.  So they modified a truck that was being transported, building a stall behind a false wall in it. Two of them went AWOL for a short period of time during loading.  Afterwards, the charges were quietly dropped.  Perhaps the machinations went quite a way up the chain of command?

8th Hussars Regimental Mascot

Princess Louise and the regiment were in Holland at the end of the war.  When it came Camp-Sussex-Mural-photo-D-Stewarttime for the men to come home, they couldn’t bring her back on the troopship.*  They left her with the British Army Veterinary Corps, asking them to get her on a ship as soon as possible.

She arrived in New York a few months later.  From there, she went by train to Saint John where she was given the keys to the city.  She then traveled in style to Camp Sussex in the town of Sussex and served there for 27 years as Regimental Mascot.  Her duties included Sgt-Bickerton-Princesses-Louise-Sussex-1954representing the regiment in Remembrance Day services and most civic events in Sussex.  She greeted officials and was a favourite in parades around the province.  H. Thad Stevens was her first handler and Sgt. Gordon Bickerton took over care of her and her daughter.

Legacy

Princess Louise gave birth to three foals.  After she died in 1973, a daughter named Princess Louise 2 served as mascot until her own death in 1981 at the age of 27.

Legion-application-photo-D-StewartPrincess Louise’s horseshoes, framed, hang in the Hampton Legion.  Also there is her application for Legion membership.  Her hoofprint is on it, and beside “number of dependants” is typed “3420 (total Regt’l enlistment)”.

Her story was written by LCol. R. S. McLeod.  You can read it here.  A children’s book about her, The Pony Princess, was published by the Hampton Legion, written by Ana Dearborn-Watts.  It was given to area school libraries.  The President of the Hampton Legion told me that usually every Remembrance Day “somebody writes something Dearborn-book-photo-Dorothy-Stewartabout her.” Indeed a story this lovely, of horses and men, should not be lost to us.

I borrowed the photos of Princess Louise from the Saint John Telegraph-Journal’s 2011 Remembrance Day story, here. You can read more about the 8th Canadian Hussars here.

*US WWII veteran Bill Wynne, in his book Yorkie Doodle Dandy, tells how Princess-Louise-shoes-photo-D-Stewarthe successfully smuggled Smoky, his Yorkshire Terrier, back. He laments, however, that others were not so lucky with their adopted dogs, monkeys and other pets.  But he doesn’t mention any serviceman trying to sneak a horse on board!