Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Gerry O'Pray

Gerry O'Pray in Egypt with Miss Canada 1966, Diane Landry from Manitoba. Miss Landry was part of a delegation sent to Egypt to entertain the UN troops stationed there.

My name is Gerry O’Pray. I’m originally from Nova Scotia and now living in Toronto. I joined the military when I was eighteen, and I joined the Royal Canadian Signals. I was sent to Kingston, Ontario where I took my basic training. I was there for a year, taking my basic training and my trades training. After my basic training, which was training as an infantry soldier, I took my trades training, which was as a teletype and safe (cipher) equipment technician. Which probably nobody recognizes now, because I don’t think anybody knows what a teletype machine is now, but that was our means of communication then – or one of our means of communication then. After graduating from my trades training, I had a brief leave at home in Nova Scotia, and was posted to Fredericton, New Brunswick, where I served until 1961.

When I was finished in Fredericton, I was sent to the Congo, which was an on-going United Nations mission, called "United Nations Mission in the Congo." What happened was, in 1960, when the Congo declared independence, the country quickly degenerated into chaos because, the former colonial masters, the Belgians, had not prepared the people for independence at all, and there was nobody to run anything. There were no engineers, there were no doctors, there were no nurses, there were no teachers. So the whole country just fell into chaos, so, the first democratically elected leader of Africa, [Prime Minister] Patrice Lumumba, called the United Nations.

Mainly, what we were doing there was just stabilizing the country so that the country could actually start to work again. And many, many UN civilians were there, as well as the soldiers. The tour of duty there was six months, and I spent four tours there. I was there from 1961 to 1963.

A lot of things happened while I was in the Congo. One of the things I remember was kind of a culture shock for me, as a young man coming from Nova Scotia. There were thirty-four different countries, I think, in that mission in the Congo. It was everybody from Malaysians to Nigerians, to Scandinavians, to Indians and Pakistanis. So – almost the whole world was there, at one time.

It was a huge mission. At one point I think there was about twenty to forty thousand troops there, so that mission to the Congo almost bankrupt the United Nations. It only lasted for four years and I was there for the middle two years.

One of the personal points, while I was there, was we used to take some ribbing from our Irish friends [UN personnel]. They used to come to our canteen from time to time. They were chiding us that, are we still under British rule? Because at the time we were flying the Red Ensign, because the Union Jack of course was on the Red Ensign. It looks almost exactly like the Ontario flag.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

James Robert Murray

MURRAY, Robert James - Bob passed away on August 14, 2017 with dignity and respect. Bob was a part of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals and was a member of the Vimy Band, Air Transport Command Band and CFB Chilliwack Band. After a 30 year career in the military, Bob was involved in developing the LaSalle Seniors’ Band and was a charter member of the LaSalle Causeway Swing Band. He was always ready to play Last Post for other comrades. He recently received a commendation from the city of Kingston for his many years of playing Last Post at the Cross of Sacrifice for Remembrance Day Services. With his trumpet, his services spanned the 1967 Olympics, numerous tours and installation of the “Jimmy” at the Vimy Gate. He is survived by his partner Cori, his son Mark and Daughter Michelle and many grandchildren and great grands. He is predeceased by daughter Monica and son Michael. So many thanks to the fantastic palliative team at Providence Care Hospital. As music was Bob’s life, we welcome friends to come and share memories and music at the Royal Canadian Legion 560, Montreal Street in Kingston on Tuesday, August 29th from 4-6 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Joe’s Musical Instrument Lending Library. In care of GORDON F. TOMPKINS FUNERAL HOME - CENTRAL CHAPEL, 613-546-5454. Sharing Memories online guestbook www.gftompkinscentral.ca13202589

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ken Slater

Clipped from:
SLATER, Ken On December 24, 2007, Ken Slater passed away after a brief struggle with cancer, at the age of 83. He will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 60 years, Helen; son Bruce, daughter Linda, brother George, nephew Kent and family, nieces Pamela Arnell and family, and Barbara Fortin and family, sister-in-law Florence Euler, and Bijou and Lachance in-laws as well as many friends from skiing, golfing, curling and the Northern Alberta Signals and Communications Association. Cremation has taken place. A Celebration of Ken's Life will be held on Friday, January 4, 2008 at 2:00 p.m., at Evergreen Funeral Chapel, 16204 Fort Road, Edmonton. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, 11560 University Avenue, Edmonton T6G 1Z2.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Samson Young

Major Sampson Young is a first generation Canadian who immigrated to Canada as one of those thousands of refugees from South-East Asia. He is a Signals officer (RCCS) who joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990 and has been to two peacekeeping missions and two taskings (one in Canada and one at SHAPE (NATO)): 2006 in Bosnia, 2013 in D.R. Congo, 2014 in North West Territories and 2016 in Belgium. He has lived in three countries in three different political systems, from monarchy to communist in Laos, to monarchy in Thailand and now in a democratic system in Canada.

Read more: Link

Monday, May 29, 2017

Wayne Marshall

"I joined the Army in the fall of 1952, and went into a new apprentice soldier programme for boys that were sixteen years old. It was part of the regular Army. I served on continuously from then right up until just before I was fifty-six years old, giving me almost forty years of regular service."

Read more Link

John Slater

"And all I was interested in was, I’m going home. It was a lovely time when I got that message. I thought, oh, thank God. I’m alive. And then, boom, shook the hell out of me."

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Laurence Giselle Bennett

When I enlisted, you chose what you would like to be. You could go into administration; that is stenography and that sort of thing. You could go into signals, RT was radio traffic control, which is what I wanted, different departments and I wanted traffic control but unfortunately, the section was closed when I applied so you had to go through a test and they helped you determine where you should go. And they decided signals would be for me because I guess I had rhythm and I could recognize things of that nature, so that’s why I went into signals, wireless training.

Read more Link

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Marshall Chow

Marshall Chow in Kingston, Ontario

This North Battleford, Saskatchewan native volunteered for service in Europe where he served for 4 years as a wireless operator.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mary Laura Wong

Mary Laura Wong (Mah) enlisted with the CWAC (Canadian Women's Army Corps) in Vancouver, British Columbia where she was employed as a teletype keyboard operator. « View Transcript


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hart Compilation

CTV Montreal: Heroic veteran recalls Dieppe raid | CTV Montreal News

Dieppe veterans recall fateful WWII battle

Dieppe remembered, 70 years later: ‘We reached the beach, all hell broke loose’ - The Globe and Mail

Signaling celebrations and military achievements | Kingston East News

Dieppe hero recounts his role on that fateful day

Canadian and Allied Jews at the Raid on Dieppe
Two Canadian Jews were honored for their part in this battle. Sgt. David Lloyd Hart, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, of Montreal, received the Military Medal at Buckingham Palace in the presence of hie two brothers who are also serving overseas, for his courage and efficiency in maintaining radio operations on the headquarters staff barge while it was under heavy enemy fire.

Canadian Dieppe Raid Veteran says it was supposed to be just another drill.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Alice Elizabeth Wilson (nee Slinger)

I guess I was in Grade 13 when the war broke out and as soon as I finished high school, I joined up. I thought that sounded like the best bet for me. I liked the idea of the naval service.

Well, I enlisted at HMCS York in Toronto, that was the closest one to where - I came from Guelph and that was the closest place. When I decided to go in the navy, I was sent to Saint-Hyacinthe in Quebec for my training in wireless. Well, it was very different. I found it was a very – the camaraderie was very good and also by deciding to take the wireless, I wanted to take something where I could have a course and have extensive training, really. You know, I could have joined as anything and I knew I had decided I wanted to take what would give me the most training.

Well, I went to Coverdale naval station outside of Moncton, New Brunswick. Well, that’s where I practiced my trade of listening for U-boats. Well, we intercepted communications in German U-boats and took bearings on their location and on their transmissions. Their messages only lasted about 30 seconds so you had to be quick to get them.

Oh, well there, well, we had what we called Operations where we worked to begin with and then we were sent out to shacks, they called them shacks. So nobody knew, nobody could see them. We were up high on a hill at Coverdale and then when we were sent out to these shacks to do our work, nobody could see what we were doing, we’d worked all night long. Well, we used to work, well, 12 hour shifts. Actually, our work was top secret, we couldn’t tell anybody what we did. I couldn’t tell anybody at home what I did. I wasn’t allowed to. And in fact, this friend in Guelph sent me a Christmas card and said – I thought she was being facetious that she said, “Don’t sink too many submarines.” So I quickly tore up her letters in case somebody found it because we weren’t to tell anybody what we did and of course, I hadn’t, not even my parents or my brothers and sisters.

Oh well, I was a wireless telegrapher and when the war with Germany was over, I stayed in and I took the – well, the Germans used Morse Code. And so I stayed in and the war with Japan was on so I stayed in for that. And the Japanese code was, we had to do it on typewriters because it was so long, the code, it was the Germans plus a few more characters. So actually, I was in New York on leave when the war with Germany ended and I went there and for two weeks’ holiday.

And we had our very dowdy uniforms, our black stockings and black Oxfords and the Americans had these beautiful all summery outfits, they had like cotton dresses and shoes with pumps and nylons stockings and so they were very much more fashionable than we were.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Thomas Hanson

My name is Tom Hanson. I was born in Montreal and joined the Army in Montreal in early September 1939. I was trained as a commercial telegraph operator before the war, so I joined the Signal Corps, naturally.

I went overseas with 1st Corps Signals, and served with them in England until mid-September of 1943, at which time we were sent to Sicily with the 2nd Contingent, including the 5th Division and a number of core troops, artillery regiments, to reinforce the 1st Division which were already there. To support them and create, in effect, a full Canadian corps.

I served in Italy, coming up as far as Ravenna on the Adriatic coast and taking along the way the action at Cassino. From Ravenna we moved down to Naples and then to Marseille to join the Canadian Army in northwest Europe. I was with them until the end of hostilities, and then volunteered for action in the Pacific. I came home, but the war in the Pacific ended before the proposed 6th Canadian Division was mobilized and could be moved there effectively.

Because my wife and my children have asked me very often about the war, and not willing to be fatiguing about it, I started to write about it, and I've written so far about three particular incidents. The death of a young soldier while he and I were talking. Another one concerns a line patrol to repair a ruptured communication line with my Corporal, who received the Military Medal for that particular action. Also, one about the experience of being bombed out in a soldiers' hostel in London in 1941.

In this one incident, I was a Sergeant in the signals section attached to the 1st Canadian Medium Artillery Regiment, and included in this section was a component known as the 'Line Section'. They were responsible in the signals for laying telegraph lines. One night when we were in Ravenna, and getting a fairly heavy counter battery fire, a Corporal of the Line Section – a chap by the name of Percy Gunn – came up to me and told me that he was out of manpower. His men were all employed, and we had to go out and find break in the communication line to some other artillery regiment, and could I find a man for him. I couldn't find one, so I went with him. While I was senior in rank to him, I was acting under his direction because it was his trade, not mine. Anyway, it was pretty busy. We got caught in fairly heavy shellfire at the point where the line had been burned out, because a truck loaded with ammunition or fuel or something had been hit and burned. It was kind of noisy and very lit up, which gives you the impression the whole German Army are looking over your shoulder. So we got the job done, got it fixed and went back, and a result of that, Perce Gunn got the Military Medal.

Jack Neilson

My name is Jack Neilson. I served in the Canadian Army Signal Corps. And I think that from a very early age I was destined to join the armed forces. My great grandfather served in the British Army. My grandfather in the Canadian Army during 1918. And my father in the army from 1930 to 1951.

My own service runs from 1954 to 1982. I had a desire for travel and adventure and looked on the military as the best way to fulfill that desire. In 1954 I joined the Naval Reserve as a communicator. In 1955 I transferred to the regular Navy, again, as a communicator and I set off for HMCS Cornwallis for basic training. Things went well 'til the end of basic when we were on a final training cruise and it was discovered my eyesight wasn't good enough for my trade. Kind of a funny story on that one. The first incident was I reported a light which ended up being a star just rising over the horizon. The second was reporting an aircraft which turned out to be a seagull. That's when they sent me for the eye test. So my only options given were to transfer to cook or steward or take my leave 'cause all the other trades were full. Even though I'd attempted a career in the Navy, I always wonder if the army should have been my choice.

They released me from the Navy and I was told to report to the Army Recruiting Centre in Winnipeg. In September of '56 I enlisted in the army and I reported to the School of Signals in Kingston, Ontario. And at that time basic training was infantry-oriented, very tough. This was followed by driver training and dispatch rider training. Dispatch riders delivered messages in the field by motorcycles or sometimes by Jeep. On completion of training I was posted to the 1st Canadian Infantry Division Signals Regiment in Camp Borden, Ontario as a dispatch rider.

In 1958, was assigned to 3 Brigade Signals which relocated to Gagetown, New Brunswick. In 1961 I did a partial tour in October to November, with the United Nations operation in the Congo. And I worked out of Leopoldville, which is now Kinshasa in a detachment to provide communications relay functions. Our mandate was to prevent civil war, arrange a cease fire and halt all military operations. Prior to this was the apprehension and detention of all foreign military and para-military personnel not under UN command. And it was specifically related to mercenaries. Use of force was authorized. Maintaining the territorial integrity of the Congo was added to the mandate which led to the UN fighting the ... forces in the Catanga Province, these were led by foreign mercenaries again.

On return from the Congo I was a posted to a newly formed unit attached NORTHAG, the Northern Army Group of NATO. We provided strategic communications at the headquarters level and tactical communications for the British Army of the Rhine. Our role was to act as a first line reaction defensive force in the event of a Soviet invasion.

On return from NORTHAG in 1965 I was posted to Camp Borden Signal Squadron where we provided communications facilities and working in a blast-proof underground bunker. This also had facilities so the Ontario Government could continue to function in the event of a nuclear attack.

And then in 1966 the Canadian Armed Forces Motorcycle Display Team was formed to participate in centennial activities during 1967. I volunteered and, after very rugged testing and evaluation period was selected for their team. We provided a 45-minute show which included high speed precision riding, acrobatic stunts on motorcycles, jumping through fire, etcetera. We also provided two 10-man teams who provided similar services to the Canadian Armed Forces Tattoo.

From May to October in 1967 we did a cross Canada tour performing in 105 locations from BC to Newfoundland.

Michael Gerard Blaise “Chip” Young

I went up around the Annapolis Valley [Nova Scotia], but the camp I finally went to, to take my training, my basic training, and my advanced training, was at the Barriefield [Camp], [in Kingston,] Ontario. And it was good up there, we lived in tents. In fact, I ran into my older brother who was in the army, he was up there at Barriefield waiting on an overseas draft for England at that time. The oldest brother, his name is Cletus, John Cletus, he’s up in Sudbury, up around Sudbury, Ontario or Sault Ste. Marie. He’s in his 90s now.

I believe, from Kingston, Ontario, when the first time, I was up in Barriefield and that and missed the drafts, I think it was after that that I went up to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. And, from Yellowknife, I went to Norman Wells, Northwest Territories. And I went to a place they called Baker Lake, Northwest Territories, as an army radio operator. And that was a four-man [station], there was a sergeant and a cook and three of us operators, by the Baker Lake, there were other [radio stations in the north], not very much. I can remember that, at times, I met Eskimos that had never seen a white man, a white person before, and the caribou herds used to, right on the camp, was right next to the station, right next to the caribou trail. Caribous start marching by, it might take five, six days, or a week for the whole herd to pass through. It was thousands upon thousands upon thousands. You wouldn’t believe it, it’s something you’d have to see to believe.

Read more: Link

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Faces of War

This database features photographs of men and women who served in the Canadian Forces during the Second World War. Taken from the Department of National Defence (DND) collection at Library and Archives Canada, these photographs depict military life during the Second World War.
Visitors can search almost 2500 images from the DND collection, representing each branch of the Canadian Forces: Army, Navy and Air Force.

Signal officers of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (W.R.C.N.S.), Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, October 1943. Link

Signaller Irene Cheshire of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (W.R.C.N.S.), H.M.C.S. CORNWALLIS, Deep Brook, Nova Scotia, Canada, August 1945. Link

Signallers Marian Wingate and Margaret Little of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service at work. Link

Signallers, Royal Canadian Navy Signal Station, Gordon Head, British Columbia, Canada, 17 March 1942. Link

Signalman A. McNeil entering Caen in a captured German halftrack vehicle, Caen, France, 10 July 1944. Link

Signalman F. Roy of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (R.C.C.S.), 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade, stringing wires for a signals exchange, Normandy, France, 24 June 1944. Link

Signalman F.R.J. Savage of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (R.C.C.S.) and the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade reads the inscription on a plaque dedicated to an unknown British soldier buried on 9-10 November 1920. Boulogne, France, 19 September 1944. Link

Signalman J. Bennett of the 1st Canadian Railway Telegraph Company, Royal Canadian Engineers (R.C.E.), installing wire on a pole in the railway yards, Louvain, Belgium, 6 January 1945. Link

Signalman J.A. Knirchk, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (R.C.C.S.), 4th Canadian Armoured Division, stringing a line on a statue, Eikelenberg, Belgium, 23 October 1944. Link

Signalman J.T. Prime of 1st Canadian Army Signals, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (R.C.C.S.), operating a local radio receiver and remote unit, Zeddam, Netherlands, 4 April 1945. Link

Signalman N.L. Garrant and G.K. Gree of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade digging a slit trench in the Normandy beachhead, France, ca. 8-9 June 1944. Link

Signalman Rusty Forsythe and Captain R.W. Armstrong digging slit trenches during Operation SPRING south of Ifs, France, 25 July 1944. Link

Signalmen Clark and Waters operating a signal projector aboard the destroyer H.M.C.S. ASSINIBOINE at sea, 1940. Link

Signals Centre of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division near Castelnuovo, Italy, 17 March 1944.
(Foreground, L-R): Signalman C.H. Groat, Corporal W.G. Davenport, Signalman W.D. Lansdell, Lance-Corporal A.B. Mitchell, Signalman C.K. Hillyer. (Rear, L-R): Captain G.R. Kell, Sergeant-Major A.L. Hurst. Link

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tom Jenkins - NATO, Peacekeeping

Tom Jenkins joined the Artillery Reserves in Brandon, Manitoba while still in high school in 1972. In January, 1974 he was released from the Reserves and joined the regular force of the Canadian Forces. After basic training at Canadian Forces Recruit School Cornwallis in Nova Scotia, he reported for trades training at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics at Canadian Forces Base Kingston, Ontario. There he was trained as a Communicator Research Operator, working in the signals intelligence field.
Read more Link