911 revisited

55Mercury

rigid member
May 31, 2007
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Thought maybe this should possibly go on the History board, but here I can claim mea nooba so I'm shoving it up yer Lounge!

So we're coming up to that time of year again. And I wrote about it, like, a week after the fact. So I'ma gonna share it with yas... cuz I can.

:?D

I'll save the Viners, ex- or otherwise, the pain of this nauseous read.... you've read it! or most of you have...

...but I invite anyone to share their tale on how they heard the news that day, or how or if it affected them or someone they know, or what their general thoughts or feelings were about it, as it was happening, or after it had all sunk in.

Okay, so I'll start...

here's my slant on a day in history:

***************************************

I was on the picket line that morning, doing time (8 'til noon, for $35
strike pay - God knows when I'll see it - apparently He has more pressing
issues) with the rest of my UNDE/PSAC local, hittin' the bricks, blocking
traffic a few minutes at a time, with the slim hope of actually affecting
anything or even 'making a statement' (the military only had to whine a
little to get their raise, so we thought that might work for us...making
them whine, that is), even if that statement is only, "we can't get any
respect, so we ain't giving any!"

Anyway, at 10am I offer to take over flagman duty for an hour, so I had to
wear the reflector vest and hold the Stop/Slow sign and take my cues from
the flagman a couple hundred feet away at the north end of our picket, and
the next half-hour passed by uneventfully. I think it was around 10:30 (I
had no watch on) that Ray, our local prez, grabbed a megaphone and addressed
the crowd of strikers. He didn't point it my way, however, and though I
tried, I couldn't make out, but wondered just the same, what he was saying
to them, and no one walked over to apprise me. (Though I'd never given it a
second thought that day, neither had I the inclination to inquire as to the
subject of Ray's address, such was my state of shock and grief to follow.
And it never occurred to me again, until I'd thought about writing this
account the next day, and it struck me how bluntly rhetorical that question
had become.)

Around a quarter-hour later, during one of the traffic stoppages, there were
around 15 vehicles backed-up at my end when this exec-looking type gets out
of his car, fifth from the front, and strides purposefully toward the MPs,
who were in their vehicle on the shoulder adjacent to me, maintaining their
police presence at the picket line so things don't get out of hand. The
suit, indignantly gesturing in my direction, begins interrogating the MPs as
they rise out of their vehicle to face him: "What gives this guy the right
to block this road? I'd like to make a complaint - who do I lodge a
complaint with?"

"Write your MP", I piped in, easily within ear-shot, and...no pun intended.

"...blah, blah, blah...", he persisted, his agitation mounting with every
deeper shade of red evinced on his face.

Meanwhile, the flagman at the other end yelled, "Break!", and when the
picketers cleared I flipped my sign around: SLOW, to which the traffic began
to flow.

"...and these people are blocking traffic!", he raged on, unaccustomed as he
most likely was to not having things his own way.

"Now you're the one who's blocking traffic, sir", I calmly interjected.

He glanced over and noticed the cars moving past me, turned around to see
about 20 vehicles now backed-up behind his. He stormed off, disgusted, and
as he drove past me I said, "Your patience is appreciated". (In retrospect
I'm glad I didn't antagonize further with, "Have a nice day!") The cops
just looked at me and smiled as I tipped my hat - they never had to say one
word to the guy!

I had to stop the vehicle at the very end of that next line because the
change had been called and picketers were commencing to cross. "Sorry," I
apologized, "We'll only hold you up a few minutes; we appreciate your
patience", and the driver, in army fatigues, didn't seem to mind.

About a minute later this driver rolls his window right down and says, "Have
you heard?"

"Heard what?", I answered.

A week later now, and it's still too hard to fathom: "Terrorists hi-jacked
two airliners and flew them into both towers of the World Trade Center in
New York City. Both buildings collapsed. They flew a third plane into the
Pentagon", the chap related, his children looking bewildered in the back
seat, trying to wrap their little minds around the significance of such
news, as was I.

I was stunned, letting it sink in, the surrealism commandeered my brain,
like I was Clark Kent being told the Daily Planet was rubble, and I was
thinking if this doesn't begin World War III then I don't know what will.
"Man, this could start World War Three", I blathered, unable to say anything
beyond what I'd just thought. On cue, an automaton, I flipped the sign. He
just nodded and drove on, a pall of gloom left on the day, and me, in his
wake.

At the side of the road, I asked the MPs if they'd heard the news. They
said, "Sure; we been listening to it on our radio here for the last hour".

'Thanks for the heads-up', I thought to myself while feeling like I was the
last insignificant soul on Earth to find out.

My relief came a few minutes later; I handed him back the props while we
exchanged incredulities. No one seemed to really know what to make of it or
how it would bode for the future other than that it was not good.
"How truly worthless our plight here now seems", I remember saying.

With me back on the picket line, about 11:15am, Ray manned the megaphone
once more - this time I not only heard it, but anticipated it; he read from
a newly dispatched net communique:

"In light of the tragic events in Washington and New York earlier today,
security will inevitably be heightened at government offices and
institutions. Continuing our picket lines in these circumstances could put
our members at risk. In addition, many of our members would routinely
assist in protecting the safety and security of Canadians as part of their
jobs. Given the current situation, it is appropriate that they remain on
the job. As a result, the PSAC is suspending all strike activity for today
and the rest of this week.

"As public sector workers, our solidarity goes out to our Brothers and
Sisters in New York and Washington, and to all those who are affected."

On that note we broke it off and pulled up stakes; cleaned up the area and
headed home. On leaving I asked if the union meeting was still on for 7pm
that evening. "Yes", came the reply.

I suppose everyone has their own ideas about what it is we're striking for
and probably the 'bottom line' is reason enough for the lowest common
denominator. But for many more I think it's a matter of principle, that if
we're to be properly sodomized, hog-tied and held over a barrel, then pardon
us if we hoot and holler a bit; that if members of parliament and senior
bureaucrats can take hefty hikes to their six-figure incomes while limiting
everyone else to a paltry 2% snub they've got another thing coming: our
silence over their incomptence and gross waste of taxpayer funds won't
continue to be had so cheaply; that in 22 years with the federal public
service I have never, EVER, seen a contract increase that EVEN CAME CLOSE to
the increase in the Consumer Price Index; that, as one brother related in a
'town hall' meeting, "when I started here, I made the same as a Warrant
Officer - now, a corporal makes more than I do"; that the government can't
hire new tradespeople because few will work for so little, which sooner or
later becomes a safety issue because they end up calling back retirees, and
how long before one of them drops dead on the job, and at what risk to
others, and whose head will roll because of it? You can bet no one's - it's
the Canadian Way. (Look no further than Walkerton, the good-ol'-boy system
gone awry, for the kind of 'accountability' that gets imposed on those
criminally negligent in their duties - ZERO! ZILCH! EFFING NADA! - There was
a definite pay-off there, but it wasn't to the victims or the local
rate-payers; but I don't doubt it was designed to buy someone's
silence, to not implicate other shirkers of office within the local
bureaucracy.)

As much as we'd like to put up a common front, we know there is vocalized
dissention in the ranks. Not too few number those who think striking won't
amount to much more than 'our loss'. Some have made clear that they won't
endure a protracted strike and may be forced to 'cross the line', while
others think the government will legislate us back to work and are maybe
even 'crossing their fingers' that they do. Wouldn't that be just like the
government to NOT legislate us back to work so we'll self-destruct and be
further divided? Well, things don't look too hopeful and, against all
odds, we still feel like we've got to do something, even if it's just
a token sacrifice of pay for a lousy 'token' of a half-percent more respect
over what they're currently offering us. I can only cling to the delusory
prospect that in a flash of ingenuity, someone in Cabinet might determine
what a great boost to local economies throughout our beautiful country a
five percent public sector pay hike would prove to be. Imagine that! I'd
actually be able to 'afford' to order take-out every other week! oh yay.

Um...how many times am I allowed to digress?

There are other issues, with me anyway, like the fact that the bargaining
process is in arrears. In other words, by the time we ratify a contract
it's close to expiring. This is stupid and wrong. It means that near the
end of a contract being ratified the amount of 'back pay' accumulated over a
year or two becomes a bribe, so much so that our underpaid, impoverished
membership, dollar signs lighting up in their eyes upon their determining
the actual figure, will invariably vote 'yes' and settle for less than they
should. Every other union strikes the day their contract expires, but not
us. I can only blame the PSAC for allowing things to slide this far out of
control, though I know it's us, the grass-roots that are too apathetic and
complacent to object strongly enough to shake up the union hierarchy.
Anyway, I want the union to get out of this bargaining in arrears nonsense,
put the offer to us for ratification, and get into advanced negotiations for
the next round so that we can be prepared to strike the day our
contract expires, like a real union, and put an end to the back-pay bribe.

With that as a bit of background I'll cut to the union meeting, 9/11/19:00h.

Nothing too detailed here (I don't have the memory for it) but I can touch
on a few of the issues raised at the meeting. Just general strike-related
stuff, mostly, like how to muster the membership to the warpath to deal a
deathly blow to The Great Satan, er... Treasury Board; or what do we do
about scabs in the membership who end up crossing our lines if we can't beat
the livin' **** out of 'em? "Shun them", came the answer. What? That's
hardly The Canadian Way! It's more like, "Here, take this broom-stick and
when I bend over, shove it up my ass as hard as you can and see if you can't
do more damage than the last parasite. I still have a spleen intact, after
all,...so piss on you!" But seriously....we also discussed where would we
picket? Location, location, location...is there some strategy we should be
heeding? Most folks just want to picket our workplace, the base, at its
gates. Simple, but futile...if we're not going to be militant about it and
shut the base down, i.e., no commercial traffic free-flow without
consequences: no more Mr. Nice Guy; it's got to cost them
something - their insurance deductibles, maybe even higher premiums.
But most would lack the heart or stomach for something like that (not this
cowboy). Others think we'd get more media attention if we picketed with
another local in downtown Barrie. I tend to agree, since we're neither
angry nor militant enough to effectively strike our own workplace, at least
we could jam up downtown somewhere. And speaking of the press, did you know
that the public service is not too highly exalted in the public esteem? Me
neither, but I wouldn't put it past the ingrates! heh Apparently there's a
rampant false impression out there that public servants are all gorging
themselves at the trough. Wrong, fools! Don't confuse us with bureaucrats,
contractors, consultants, senators, deputy-ministers, and politicians!
They're the ones taking you for a ride that you're all too complacent to
even vote them out of office or voice objection over. And all I can say is
you deserve the fleecing you're getting out of it - every last $billion!

I guess I better tie this in to the disaster soon if I don't wanna lose ya!

A Sister said she thought the Attack on America presented us an opportunity,
at which point I said I agreed before I'd even heard her out. She went on
to say we could exert more pressure at the borders and before she could
elaborate, her suggestion was dismissed out of hand, citing untenable
sanctions in a time of crisis would heighten public scorn and prove a
detriment to our cause. To this I also agree.

After various other discussions, I had occasion to again bring up the
history-in-the-making, which had been unfolding these past 12 hours.

"Ray, you said that we are not held too high in the public eye, but I think
the events which occurred south of the border today could provide us, or the
PSAC, a rare window of opportunity, not to use as a bargaining chip, but
rather as a face-saving means to back out of this strike, which many members
don't want nor can long commit to, and put the offer to the membership,
which they'll likely ratify because no one can afford to be on strike while
failing to stare down that sizable back-pay bribe, and do it all ostensibly
under the banner of patriotism and national unity in support of our closest
ally, which should garner us some favour in the public eye, while at the
same time moving us toward a more forward-, as opposed to backward-,
bargaining stance which would lead to the eventual end of the back-pay
bribe - a victory of sorts, when you add the proper spin."

May I say that when I talk, people's jaws drop.

"What do we want to help the Americans for?", said one guy lacking vision.
(I swear, some people can't see beyond their own goddamned noses!)

'Fool!', I thought. "It wouldn't be 'for them', it would be for OUR
benefit," I tried to explain...Aw, ya can't tell a Heinz pickle nothin'! At
least there was one member who voiced favour for my suggestion, but anyway,
no motions were made nor carried on any issue that night, so my 'vision'
didn't even get to die on the order table.

One thing about windows of opportunity: evanescence is their essence - here
and gone! I should know: I've missed enough of them!

Peace, Salaam, Shalom

:?)

010918

*********************************************

Stay tuned right here for early November, when I'll post my dad's experience in a B-24 Liberator crew in the Battle of the Atlantic.
 

Kreskin

Doctor of Thinkology
Feb 23, 2006
21,155
149
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Very interesting Merc. A lot going on for you and the world on that day.

I'm on the West Coast. I remember my radio alarm go off to the voice of a news woman saying that the WTC had burned and collapsed. When I got to the TV I thought a lot about my 3 month daughter and how the world she will grow up in will very different from the one I knew.
 

lone wolf

Grossly Underrated
Nov 25, 2006
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In the bush near Sudbury
I was driving that long 30 miles for another of many visits with my doctor. Freakin' early morning appointments!

First school busses of the season were out and about, so I was more on the alert for tykes on the road than I was to the tunes on my radio.

"Man, that's a lot of commercials" I cursed to myself - until I heard about a plane hitting a building somewhere.

The irony. That World Trade Center has got to be like the ultimate in sore thumbs. Bombed a few years back, now it's in the way of an airplane. It all seemed like a terrible accident. I was just swinging south for that final five-mile leg when the second plane hit.

In the waiting room, nobody heard. I carried in the news that morning. Sounds like the start of long, bitter war. Doc overheard me. His face went white and his eyes darted about as he ordered a TV be brought into the main office.

"Damned Palestinians!" he cursed....

Wolf
 
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55Mercury

rigid member
May 31, 2007
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...
"Damned Palestinians!" he cursed....

heh, I wonder if that doc thought "Palestinians" when the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. Seems we gotta constantly fight that urge to jump to conclusions.

Anyway, thanks for your replies, guys. Thought I'd throw this up there one more time in case anyone else wants to share their memories of the goings-on in their lives that day...

...or the day John Lennon died...

...or the day JFK died...

heh, I'm not too picky.

;?)
 
May 28, 2007
3,866
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Honour our Fallen
Just got in the night before from driving from quebec city and halifax...
Phone rang...."Hello"
"turn on the TV!"
"Why ?what channel?"
"It doesn't matter just turn it on now"
"oooo k?........

The first plane had hit and the secound hadn't......

Jfk...was in grade 2....the annoucement was made by the teacher and we all prayed....

John lennon....At my girlfriend's...a russian Jew who it ment nothing at all to....I remeber seeing Elvis costello a few weeks later and he was wearing a bullet proof vest on stage...statement or fear..i wonder...
 

Just the Facts

House Member
Oct 15, 2004
4,159
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I worked at a securities trading firm at the time...tv's all over the place. Watched it all unfold live that morning.

JFK - Don't remember.

John Lennon - driving home from Toronto, turned on the radio and noticed beatles tunes on every station. Oh oh. Sure enough.
 

55Mercury

rigid member
May 31, 2007
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yeah, I heard it on the car radio too, though the details are so foggy... I think because I didn't want to believe it and may have blocked them out. I remember it downing me out though, that one of my idols, one of the guys who taught me to sing harmony had been senselessly murdered and was lost to me forever.

With JFK it was in school, grade 3, when our teacher, Mrs. MacMillan, came into the classroom crying her eyes out when she told us the news. Evidence that this man, our Great White Hope it seemed, (unlike George, the Great White Bastard) was truly loved by many outside the USA. Of course we all cried to see our teacher so distraught.

so... anyone wanna do Elvis, Lady Di or Mother Theresa?

:?D
 
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Kreskin

Doctor of Thinkology
Feb 23, 2006
21,155
149
63
heh, I wonder if that doc thought "Palestinians" when the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. Seems we gotta constantly fight that urge to jump to conclusions.

Anyway, thanks for your replies, guys. Thought I'd throw this up there one more time in case anyone else wants to share their memories of the goings-on in their lives that day...

...or the day John Lennon died...

...or the day JFK died...

heh, I'm not too picky.

;?)
JFK died on my second birthday. I can remember watching the tv while my mom was making me a birthday cake and crying. That's the earliest memory I have.
 

lone wolf

Grossly Underrated
Nov 25, 2006
32,493
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In the bush near Sudbury
A couple of friends were over and we were jammin' when the wife came into the room and told me. 'course, hearing one of your idols is dead is a bit hard to believe, so Nick, Bud and I flipped on the stereo. Sure enough, some guy named Mark David Chapman had blown John away in New York. My guitar caught a lot of tears that day.

JFK? I remember hearing about it over the PA in my Grade 2 classroom.

Challenger? Just came in from extinguishing a car fire and it was on TV....

Wolf
 

Toro

Senate Member
I had taken the ferry over to Vancouver Island the previous day to see my parents. Had I not gotten over on the 10th, I would have been stranded in Vancouver for several days.

When I woke up on 9/11, and saw what happened, I knew that many, many more people were going to die.

I had interviewed with a firm located in the towers in the spring of 2001. As I watched the events unfold, I thought that I could have been in there, and how lucky I was to be alive. Fortunately, everyone in the firm made it out, but I didn't know that until the next day.
 

Cliffy

Standing Member
Nov 19, 2008
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Nakusp, BC
 

Danbones

Hall of Fame Member
Sep 23, 2015
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I was running a pawn shop like outfit at the time
so we had it on about 40 TV's
Having worked in extractive demolition for a time:
Just from the pancakes alone it was obviously not what was claimed
 

WLDB

Senate Member
Jun 24, 2011
6,182
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Interesting reading the older posts. Im one of the younger people on this site (unless things have changed). I was 13 when it happened. I remember it well. I remember the first anniversary very well too but for a different reason. I didnt fully "get" how big it was or how awful it truly was as it was happening. It took a year for that to really kick in for me. I was just too young, immature or both to get it at the time.
 

Cliffy

Standing Member
Nov 19, 2008
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Nakusp, BC
I was living out in the bush, playing with my dog when a friend said I had to see what was going on. I went to his house and saw the first go down. I said, "that looks like a demo". Then the second went down and I said, "Wag the Dog" and walked out. Half the news casters said it looked like a demo. Next day they said nothing about demos. The great silencer in the sky descended on the world. The official story sounded so ludicrous I stopped listening.
 

55Mercury

rigid member
May 31, 2007
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Stay tuned right here for early November, when I'll post my dad's experience in a B-24 Liberator crew in the Battle of the Atlantic.
hmmm

seems I just left y'all in the lurch way back when

anyway, seein' as how it's Remembrance Day here's my dad's war story.

(thank you for your service, Dad, and your dna!)

My Dad's war story.
or
How my dad sunk the Irish fishing fleet!
Aug/97
Son
I received my copy of this book from the widow of our co-pilot, Marjorie Ingram. The book has been well researched and is reasonably accurate about the activities we were involved in during the war. I have since purchased four more copies of the book; one for each of my sons.
I suggest you read the book before you read my letter which is enclosed. Enjoy.
Dad
17 February 1997
Dear Marjorie
Yes, I was tickled pink to receive the book you sent to us. "Endurance" did bring back alot of memories. I have to confess that some of my recollections don't match up with accounts of our crew as stated, and I can only refer to the statement on page 58 that "50 years later memory must play occasional tricks."

My recollection of the account given by Allan Edgar on page 96 was that it was Christmas Eve 1944 that we made contact with a schnorkel, dropped sonobuoys around midnight, heard a bell and subsequently heard some singing in German. The unique part was that they were singing Christmas carols that were clearly recognizable except for the language.

Again the prang shown on page 162 and the related account on page 187 doesn't match with my memory. The crash occurred on takeoff after a tire blew out just at lift off speed, causing the aircraft to go into a ground loop with the resulting prang. The wing tank in the wing touching the ground burst spewing gasoline over the escape hatch at the same time the tire that blew caught fire which meant that we got soaked with gas and had to jump through the fire as we escaped. Wilf was first out and I was second mainly because we were sitting right under the escape hatch. The whole crew cleared the aircraft in 20 seconds with only Bert Booth, the tail gunner, exiting from the tail turret. Fortunately there were no serious injuries, although maybe Allan did break his ankle, I don't remember.

The crew picture on page 131 has been incorrectly identified. The back row is reversed R to L and I'm second from the right. Wilf is first left in the front row and the unidentified RAF on the right is Bill Mayes.

Again, the account related on page 184 doesn't match with my memory. My recollection is that we were flying the MK Liberator where the navigator sat directly behind the skipper. We hit a seagull on takeoff and there was blood and guts all over the place only I recall it coming through the copilots window and it was Arthur and Allan who did the most to stem the gale coming through the opening. Whatever, it was harrowing.

Another inconsistency is in Appendix 2 where they show Arthur leaving the squadron on Feb. 28, 1945. My recollection is that Arthur remained on our crew until operations ceased in June, 1945. As a matter of fact in the picture of the crash on May 10, 1945, I'm pretty sure that that is Arthur walking away from the aircraft when we went down to see the damage the next day.

I thought I would relate some stories that were not told but about which you no doubt heard from Arthur.

We first met and formed a crew in Nassau in the Bahamas. Arthur selected Wilf, Hardrock(*), Tex, and myself as his crew and we started flying B25 Mitchells in the fall of 1943. Some time later we converted to B24's and we all became part of Harry Pooles' crew. Harry had already done a tour of duty on Coastal Command flying Hudsons and Wellingtons. He was restaffing for a second tour of duty. Since the B24 was a much larger aircraft we picked up the engineer, Harry Andrews, and the three RAF gunners.

On one of our final trips out of Nassau we were sent to do an anti-submarine patrol off the coast of North Carolina. The "met" forecast was for clear skies and low winds so it looked like it would be a piece of cake. We took off early in the day and did our patrol to the wee hours of the morning when we started back..I asked Bill Mayes, the tail gunner, for a bearing and he gave me a reading of 30 degrees West which meant we were in a gale. Since Bill had just joined our crew I thought maybe he didn't know how to take a drift and I chose to ignore his reading and continue with the met forecast. I then asked Wilf to get me a radio fix but that resulted in a position that was quite distant from where I thought we were. While continuing on a straight course, I received another group of fixes which formed an arc of about 200 miles. I clearly didn't know where we were. I chose the last fix given to me as being correct and plotted a course from there back to base which was due west. Fortunately we came straight home, albeit about an hour late. I learned a lesson that you had to rely on everone in the crew knowing how to do their job. On reflection, it seems that we got caught in the Bermuda Triangle where unusual atmospheric conditions occur, and we were lucky to find our way out.

/cont'd
 

55Mercury

rigid member
May 31, 2007
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Shortly after that we were transferred back to Montreal for the purpose of flying a new Liberator to India. It was early spring of 1944 and the weather in Montreal was terrible. After about 6 aborted attempts to leave Dorval due to weather or lack of aircraft we were posted overseas and crossed the Atlantic in a crowded troop ship. It was not the most pleasant experience. We arrived in Gloucester about the beginning of May, 1944, and we were immediately posted to Ballykelly to join 120 squadron. Once established on the squadron we made some uneventful missions, but some of the trips were memorable and I will relate some of these, although not necessarily in chronological order.

The normal routine on the squadron was to fly a mission of up to 24 hours after which there was a day to rest, a day off, a day of ground training, a day of air training, and then off on another mission. It was a five day cycle and every three months there would be a week or two of leave. Quite often, we would take the two days off after a trip and go to Belfast and do the "rounds". At other times, the crew was billeted together in a Nissen hut (except for the officers) and we would scrounge coal together to keep the pot belly stove going and wait for the welcome cry of "NAFFI up", which was the refreshment truck. My favorite was custard tarts.

On one trip we were sent out to escort one of the Queens. We reached our destination, made contact by Aldis lamp, and proceeded to stooge around the ship for about 10 hours. When the mission was complete we again contacted the ship to say that we were leaving and they responded with a message that we had difficulty receiving, partly because it was a four stacker, and partly because aircrew were not as adept at reading the Aldis lamp as the sailors were. After circling the ship about ten times we finally collectively figured out they were saying "thank you"!

And then of course there was "D-day". During the briefing we weren't told that we were taking part in the invasion of Europe, we were merely told to do an anti-submarine patrol off the coast of France near Brest. No need to say when we arrived on the scene in the early hours of June 6, 1944, we were startled at the number of ships and aircraft in the area. The sea was literally black with ships, the sky was black with aircraft, there was black smoke and red flames billowing up from the ground, and we were stooginhg around at 500 ft. being in kind of a loge seat at a theatre watching it all go on.

One of the most harrowing trips we had occurred when we took off we had a hydraulic system failure and the wheels couldn't be raised. Since our previous two missions had ended withe some kind of a mechanical failure, the skipper asked Harry how long it would take him to fix it. Harry said he thought he could have it working in about 1 1/2 hours so the skipper decided to carry on with the mission while Harry fixed the hydraulic system. We were to meet one of the Queens in mid-Atlantic for escort duty and it would take about 3 hours to get there. The skipper got the aircraft up to about 1000 ft. with the wheels still down but after about an hour we had an engine failure; shortly after that another engine went and then a third. We were losing height fairly quickly when the skipper ordered us to throw everything out and jettison whatever we could. It sure looked like we would have to ditch and with the wheels down chances of survival would have been slim. When I jettisoned the acoustic torpedoes in the excitement I forgot to put them on 'safe', so they went down live. We had to send "SOS"'s and I'll never forget our position - it was TARE, OBOE, ZEBRA, EASY, FIFE, FIFE, FIFE, FIFE. With all the other things that were going wrong the intercom was intermittant and I had a heck of a time getting our position through to Tex, but he finally received it and sent out about 28 SOS's. We were about 300 miles out to sea due west of Ireland. After we had thrown everything that was movable overboard the skipper and Arthur were able to maintain height on just one engine but we were so close to the surface that they had to make a 'flat' turn using the rudders only. As gasoline was being used they were gradually able to gain some height. I was able to locate a pass in the Donegal Mountains at 1200 feet and we just got through that and made it back to Base with about zero fuel left. My shorts were the same colour as a baby's diaper. We all thought we were going to die. The next day we learned that none of our SOS's had been received, likely because of our proximity to the Donegal Mountains. We also heard that someone had blown up the Irish fishing fleet.

/cont'd
 

55Mercury

rigid member
May 31, 2007
3,020
235
63

On one of our training exercises we were to intercept a Polish sub in the North Sea and practice using the Leigh light. We would find the 'blip' on the radar screen, home on it, turn the Leigh light on, the Polish sub would dive, we would drop our dummy 10 1/2 pound bombs, take pictures, and then go away about 15 miles and repeat the exercise. We did this about a half dozen times and on the next run we homed onto a 'blip' that turned out to be a Canadian Corvette which surprised both us and them. We didn't drop our bombs but the bomb bay doors were open. The next trip we took to Belfast a couple of days later we shared a compartment with some Canadian sailors and heard them talking about the plane that had surprised them with a Leigh light attack. When we told them that it was us, they said we were lucky because their skipper was so furious he was ordering them to shoot us down. We had a good party in Belfast.
On another training exercise we were to have gunnery practice on some numbered targets that were located in a lake in the middle of Northern Ireland. The targets were numbered from 1 to 12 and our exercise was to shoot out targets 5, 6, 7, and 8. Hardrock was in the upper turret and he had the first go. On the first pass he destroyed 9, 10, 11, and 12. The skipper said "Hardrock, you're supposed to aim at 5, 6, 7, and 8." Hardrock said "Sorry skipper, my aim was a little off. Let's make another pass." On the next pass, Hardrock took out 1, 2, 3, and 4, and when we left only 5, 6, 7, and 8 were left standing. I think the skipper was a little chagrined but he knew that Hardrock was a good gunner.

At one particular time we were fifth on the availability list for operations. There was a squadron party that night and since there were rarely more than four missions flown on any given day, at our urging, the skipper requested permission for our crew to attend the party which was granted. At 2:AM after partying all evening long we were called to the operations room for a briefing. When we took off a couple of hours later everyone was really beat. When the skipper got up to about 1200 ft. he asked for a course to our destination, put George on (the automatic pilot), and we all fell asleep. Three hours later I was the first to awaken, checked our position by LORAN and we were right on target. We were excorting one of the Queens and nothing further unusual happened - although this may have been the Aldis lamp trip, I'm not sure.

On one of our leaves we were all going to London for a change of scenery. We had to take the train to Belfast, take another to Larne, take the boat to Stranauer, and then another train to London. On the boat I became ill and by the time we reached London I was really sick. Hardrock volunteered to stay with me in a Canadian hostel until I felt better but he eventually had to call the resident nurse who thought I had malaria and was able to get me to a hospital. I finally was diagnosed as having meningitis and I was a pretty sick kid for a few days. I had to have some lumbar punctures which were very painful, but with proper treatment I was eventually cured. Altogether I was in the hospital about three weeks and then I had to take another three weeks convalescence leave, so I missed about a month of duty with the crew. I remember Arthur visiting me at the hospital during his vacation but as I recall I was not quite with it at the time. Also while in hospital I remember a V2 landing nearby and the whole building shook. My dad had a couple of girlfriends (sisters) from the first world war and they came to visit me in the hospital. I later spent my convalescence period with them. They had a nice home in Seaford, Sussex.

/cont'd
 

55Mercury

rigid member
May 31, 2007
3,020
235
63
On one of our training exercises we were to intercept a Polish sub in the North Sea and practice using the Leigh light. We would find the 'blip' on the radar screen, home on it, turn the Leigh light on, the Polish sub would dive, we would drop our dummy 10 1/2 pound bombs, take pictures, and then go away about 15 miles and repeat the exercise. We did this about a half dozen times and on the next run we homed onto a 'blip' that turned out to be a Canadian Corvette which surprised both us and them. We didn't drop our bombs but the bomb bay doors were open. The next trip we took to Belfast a couple of days later we shared a compartment with some Canadian sailors and heard them talking about the plane that had surprised them with a Leigh light attack. When we told them that it was us, they said we were lucky because their skipper was so furious he was ordering them to shoot us down. We had a good party in Belfast.
On another training exercise we were to have gunnery practice on some numbered targets that were located in a lake in the middle of Northern Ireland. The targets were numbered from 1 to 12 and our exercise was to shoot out targets 5, 6, 7, and 8. Hardrock was in the upper turret and he had the first go. On the first pass he destroyed 9, 10, 11, and 12. The skipper said "Hardrock, you're supposed to aim at 5, 6, 7, and 8." Hardrock said "Sorry skipper, my aim was a little off. Let's make another pass." On the next pass, Hardrock took out 1, 2, 3, and 4, and when we left only 5, 6, 7, and 8 were left standing. I think the skipper was a little chagrined but he knew that Hardrock was a good gunner.

At one particular time we were fifth on the availability list for operations. There was a squadron party that night and since there were rarely more than four missions flown on any given day, at our urging, the skipper requested permission for our crew to attend the party which was granted. At 2:AM after partying all evening long we were called to the operations room for a briefing. When we took off a couple of hours later everyone was really beat. When the skipper got up to about 1200 ft. he asked for a course to our destination, put George on (the automatic pilot), and we all fell asleep. Three hours later I was the first to awaken, checked our position by LORAN and we were right on target. We were excorting one of the Queens and nothing further unusual happened - although this may have been the Aldis lamp trip, I'm not sure.

On one of our leaves we were all going to London for a change of scenery. We had to take the train to Belfast, take another to Larne, take the boat to Stranauer, and then another train to London. On the boat I became ill and by the time we reached London I was really sick. Hardrock volunteered to stay with me in a Canadian hostel until I felt better but he eventually had to call the resident nurse who thought I had malaria and was able to get me to a hospital. I finally was diagnosed as having meningitis and I was a pretty sick kid for a few days. I had to have some lumbar punctures which were very painful, but with proper treatment I was eventually cured. Altogether I was in the hospital about three weeks and then I had to take another three weeks convalescence leave, so I missed about a month of duty with the crew. I remember Arthur visiting me at the hospital during his vacation but as I recall I was not quite with it at the time. Also while in hospital I remember a V2 landing nearby and the whole building shook. My dad had a couple of girlfriends (sisters) from the first world war and they came to visit me in the hospital. I later spent my convalescence period with them. They had a nice home in Seaford, Sussex.

/cont'd
Back on the squadron we had a trip where I was standing on the flight deck on takeoff and we ran into some turbulence. I made a grab to support myself and managed to stick my little finger into a cooling fan. A section of my little finger was partly lopped off through the centre of the nail. Arthur put on disinfectant and bandaged the finger. It didn't feel sore and I wanted to take my regular shift but they wouldn't let me and Allan navigated the whole trip. When we got back to base I didn't realize the skipper had radioed that there was a casualty on board and as soon as we landed an ambulance met us at the end of the runway and they rushed me to medical quarters. I remember the MO was quite upset when he found the casualty merely had a cut little pinky. He had been called out of the movie.

There is one recollection that I have that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. My recollection is that the Bismark reappeared after the Allies thought it was sunk (records show that that was May, 1941, before I was old enough to be in the service). In any event, a battleship had taken refuge in the fiords near Trondheim, Norway. There was going to be a 1000 bomber RAF raid to try to flush out the battleship. On our mission we flew to Wick in Northern Scotland and then we proceeded to fly to the Trondheim area to do a square search (CLA) for subs. Our orders were not to shoot unless we were fired upon because we were so close to enemy territory. Shortly after we started our search we passed a Blohm & Voss doing a similar search and we passed them on each adjacent leg. They had obviously been given the same orders, so each time we passed, the crews waved at each other. I still don't know which battleship it was. A friend of mine has suggested it might have been the Tirpitz, but in my recollection it is still the Bismark.

After VE day we were tasked to round up the subs in the Atlantic which took us about a month to complete. The picture on page 189 of the book shows some of the subs we brought in tied to dock in Londonderry. Subsequently we were allowed to go down to meet our adversaries in the subs. They were a bunch of young guys like us who I'm sure were just as happy as we were that the war was over.

Well, my dear, I hope I haven't bored you to tears with my tales.
Mary Jo joins me in wishing you well, and thanks again for the book.

Best regards,
Don H