June 2016
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You Don’t Seem So Far Away

Posted By on June 26, 2016

Patricia Colleen Dougan...my mum

Patricia Colleen Dougan…my mum

Miss You Forever

She was a Dougan…a Ferguson..a Rafuse. Daughter, sister, wife and mother.

She was half of all that I am.

She loved to dance, finding her way across a dance floor where one day she found herself in the arms of a soldier, a man she waited for. With the end of the Korean War Colleen and Eddie were married and had a son. Colleen, my mother, stood beside me through all my foibles and successes. She knew when to sing or knew just what to say, and though the years took my parents on separate paths and far apart she eventually found her way home.

When she came home, she was tired and frail. For the last few years Parkinson’s claimed her vitality and yet she fought back day after day. If one could only be so strong…and though I desperately wanted to save her, all I could do was let her go…perhaps on another path…where she might sing and dance again.

As I flip through image upon image of our family, her siblings and parents, nieces and nephews, she loved all. And then I find the one image that captured the heart of my father and here it sits before me. Mum…though for the last year you did not know me, speak or open your eyes…when I look upon you now…you don’t seem so far away.

Love you…miss you forever.

Patricia Colleen Rafuse (formerly Ferguson, nee Dougan)
August 1937 – June 2016

Canadian Scottish Stretcher Bearer on D-Day

Posted By on June 5, 2016

D-Day Stretcher Bearer William Garner, Canadian Scottish Regiment

D-Day Stretcher Bearer William Garner, Canadian Scottish Regiment

French Croix de Guerre, circa 1944.

French Croix de Guerre, circa 1944.

Sergeant William Garner
Croix de Guerre avec Etoile De Bronze (France)

On 6 June 1944 (D day) at COURSEULLES-sur-MER, France, K57764 Sergeant William GARNER, medical Sergeant 1st Battalion Canadian Scottish Regiment, landed with his unit on the beach amid heavy mortar and machine gun fire. Completely disregarding his own safety he began immediately to treat the wounded on the beach. While attending a badly wounded stretcher bearer, Sergeant William GARNER was hit on the face with splinters from a mortar bomb. Although bleeding very badly he continued his work and directed the work of his men until he became too weak from loss of blood to carry on. Although unable to advance with his unit Sergeant William GARNER has done his job. In addition to having treated as many wounded as possible, his display of courage and devotion to duty, inspired his stretcher bearers as they continued the advance without him, and set the very high standard which they achieved in the many battles which followed thus saving a great many lives.


Known Canadian Scottish Regimental Aid Post Soldiers
Bill Baxter
Doug Bolton
Mervyn Carlton
Jim Catteral
Dickie Duncan
William Garner
Bert Keller
Norman Lewis
Bob Trowsdale

Beach defences at Normandy, 1944.

The beach at Normandy, 1944.

The Regiment and D-Day

Some of the men did not get more than ten feet from the L.C.A. [Landing Craft Assault] before they were killed or wounded. The open beach made an excellent “killing ground”. The enemy knew it. So did the assault troops. The men ran across that open stretch as they never ran before, sending up fervent prayers of thanks as they did so that the sand was absorbing most of the shrapnel from the mortar bombs falling around them, and that the beach itself was not mined. So much happened in so few seconds as each man raced across the 75-100 yards of beach. A soldier would cry out, clutch his arm and feel the sticky warm blood beginning to soak his shirt. But he kept on going. Another would gasp and fall, not to rise again. (Roy, Reginald, Ready for the Fray, p.212)

Normandy, September 2009. (Image by WRP Ferguson)

Normandy, September 2009. (Image by WRP Ferguson)

Canadian Scottish Regiment Fatalities D-Day 1944
Lieutenant Francis G. Radcliffe
Private James A.E. Anglin
Private Edwin D. Boothby
Private Ronald V. Cameron
Private Robert N. Cooper
Private August J. Eckman
Private Clayton H. Evans
Private Walter E. Fahrni
Lance Corporal Andrew J. Finnie
Private Victor R.D. Garcia
Private Sigurd N. Huser
Private Leslie D. Jenkinson
Private William B. Lewis
Private Neil J. MacPherson
Private Adolph McCormack
Private Willford L. McLaughlin
Private Adolf G. Nilsson
Private Lawrence Osborne
Corporal John W.W.M. Parr
Corporal William G. Ritchie
Private John E. Stewart
Acting Lance Corporal John P. Thieme

Canadian Scottish Regiment Wounded D-Day 1944
Lieutenant James H. Russell
Lieutenant Vilheim R. Schjelderup
Lieutenant Robert E. Turnbull
Private Gordon T. Armstrong
Private James H. Ashley
Private Walter S. Barber
Corporal Maurice Barnett
Private Michael Belyan
Private William A. Brocklebank
Private John J. Buggy
Private William Bylyk
Sergeant Kenneth Byron
Private Sam Cook
Private Fred Darnton
Private Robert E. Ettinger
Sergeant James G. Forsyth
Private Benjamin M. Francis
Sergeant William Garner
Private John F. Grabish
Private Russell E. Greenwood
Private Harold D. Hammond
Private Clifford H. Hogan
Private Gunnar M.C. Hoybak
Private Philip P. Katchanoski
Private Earl L. Kellar
Private Gustave J. Kirko
Company Sergeant Major Rowland A. Knight
Private William Leier
Private Arthur S. Low
Private John A. MacIntyre
Private Gordon E. McDonald
Private Roderick R. McKenzie
Private Edward W. Morrisey
Private Emmanuel V. Neumann
Private James Nicoll
Private William O. Noon
Private Reuben Oldenburger
Private Reginald F. Oldershaw
Corporal Roy C. Parker
Private Edgar J. Parrent
Sergeant John H. Pelly
Private Andrew W. Pinchbeck
Private Michael Prokopchuk
Acting Lance Corporal Robert A. Robinson
Private William Semple
Private John Stewart
Regimental Sergeant Major James Stothard
Private Walter J. Sutyla
Private Robert W. Terry
Private Eric D. Thomson
Private John Thomson
Private Andrew F. Thynne
Private Robert Todd
Corporal Albert E. Truesdale
Private Frank W. White
Private Albert Wilcox
Private Albert W. Wilkinson
Lance Corporal Arthur Wilson

Jutland 1916: North American Fatalities Update

Posted By on May 31, 2016

In Memory of Fallen Comrades. Jutland Service 1933. British Pathé

Update to Two Days of May

A recent jaunt to the University of Victoria has found four other sailors with Canadian connections lost at sea during the Battle of Jutland May 31 – June 1, 1916.

Royal Canadian Navy

Engineer Lieutenant Stanley N. de Quetteville, HMS Indefatigable
Commemorated on the Halifax Memorial, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Only known R.C.N. sailor at Jutland. No other details known at this time.

Royal Navy

David William Shafto Douglas Commemorative Plaque.

David William Shafto Douglas Commemorative Plaque at St. Giles High Kirk, Edinburgh, Scotland. From Douglas Family history website.

Lieutenant-Commander David William Shafto Douglas, HMS Black Prince
Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, England.

Third son of Admiral Sir Archibald Lucius Douglas G.C.B., G.C.V.O., former Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth. The latter born at Quebec, Canada in 1842.

Captain Stanley Venn Ellis, HMS Defence
Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial

Son of the Reverend Henry Venn Ellis of Alderton Rectory, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England. Husband of Kathleen Venn Ellis (nee Beavan), Victoria, B.C. Only daughter of the Honourable Robert Beavan, sixth Premier of British Columbia.

Royal Naval Reserve

Engine Room Artificer John Shearer Ross, HMS Indefatigable
Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Son of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Ross, 15 Albion Street, Glasgow, Scotland. Former student of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Two Days of May

Posted By on May 28, 2016

The Skye Boat Song. Perhaps appropriate for Two Days of May. 

North Sea near the coast of the Denmark Peninsula May 31 – June 1, 1916

The research dance has started again. Realizing that the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland was on a fast approach I wrangled through several ideas firstly taking on the readily apparent. Perhaps a story of Boy 1st Class John “Jack” Travers Cornwell VC who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions aboard HMS Chester at Jutland?

Stamp produced for the 150th Anniversary of the institution of the Victoria Cross, September 2006.

Stamp produced for the 150th Anniversary of the institution of the Victoria Cross, September 2006.

The research commenced and like a new sailor learning his knots, the rope or in this case research seemed endless. Will I ever tie this story together? Cornwell was 16 years of age when he was mortally wounded at his gun station. However, there will be many stories written about “Jack” at this time. Perhaps a story of other boy sailors at Jutland, perhaps the young midshipmen too…perhaps…perhaps…perhaps a bell…

This is the steady wake of crafting a story.

Eight Bells

Time was indicated aboard ship by ringing the ship’s bell which was usually inscribed with the ship’s name. The end of the watch was signaled by Eight bells that “can also be a way of saying that a sailor’s watch is over, for instance, in his or her obituary, as a nautical euphemism for “finished”. For more read: Ship’s Bells

A Knot Comes Together

At last we have a story. Bobbing and weaving or perhaps pitching, rolling or yawing is better terminology for this blog I make a connection. My days of learning knots was in my Wolf Cub (pre-Boy Scouts) days in Nova Scotia. It seems three knots are what I now recall – reef, bowline and sheepshank – the latter lost to my finger memory. Nonetheless there is connection here. Our next step, from Cubs, was Boy Scouts, where we could add to our gathering of patches and accolades. Cornwell was a Boy Scout whose gallant stand at Jutland was further honoured in Scouts with the creation of the Cornwell Scout Badge “…awarded in respect of pre-eminently high character and devotion to duty, together with great courage and endurance.” See: Awards for Gallantry and Meritorious Conduct.

Cornwell Badge

Cornwell Badge

And all of this brewed from an idea about a ship’s bell! Astonishing! Now to find the peal of the bell – eight strikes should not be too difficult to source but after some while searching for the steady tone of tradition we seemingly have lost the tide. Steady on…and in so doing, we find another day in May to recall at this time of year though the anniversary has recently passed.

Wreath in the North Sea. In Memory of the Battle of Jutland.

Wreath in the North Sea by artist Claus Bergen, 1936.  In Memory of German sailors killed in the Battle of Jutland.


Ordered in mid-1916 HMS Hood’s design was modified as a result of the action at Jutland being fitted with heavier armour. Being very costly to complete, Hood was the only vessel of four planned Admiral-class battlecruisers completed. The Hood was named for Rear Admiral the Honourable Sir Horace Lambert Aleaxander Hood K.C.B., D.S.O., M.V.O.who was killed during the Battle of Jutland aboard HMS Invincible which was repeatedly hit by salvos from the German battlecruisers SMS Lützow and SMS Derfflinger. Suffering a fatal shot that struck “Q” turret the resultant explosion and sinking claimed 1,015 lives. There were six survivors.

Rear Admiral the Honourable Sir Horace Lambert Aleaxander Hood K.C.B., D.S.O., M.V.O.

Rear Admiral the Honourable Sir Horace Lambert Aleaxander Hood K.C.B., D.S.O., M.V.O. Killed at Jutland 1916.

Eerily similar to the sinking of Invincible, Hood was sunk May 24, 1941 by the fifth salvo fired by Bismarck resulting in a devastating explosion in Hood’s magazine that broke its back. Three minutes later HMS Hood,  the pride of the Royal Navy was gone. 1,415 men lost their lives. There were three survivors.

It was the wish of one of the survivors, Ted Briggs MBE, that one day the Hood’s bell, discovered on the seabed in 2001, would be recovered as a memorial to his shipmates. The tide was in Mr. Brigg’s favour when on August 7, 2015 the bell was retrieved from one and a half miles below the surface by a remotely operated vehicle from the M/Y Octopus. Once on board it was discovered that the bell’s rim was embossed with a memorial inscription to Rear Admiral Hood, the vessel’s namesake, reading in part, “KILLED AT JUTLAND”. 

The recovered bell was then professionally conserved choosing only minimal surface cleaning and “leaving the staining and the calcified work casts as evidence of the time spent in the sea.” (Paul Allen Expedition Team website) On the 75th Anniversary of the sinking of the Hood, May 24, 2016 the bell was unveiled by Princess Anne and is now displayed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as part of the new Jutland exhibit at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth.

For those sailors whose watch is over…the sound of the bell has struck again.

North American Fatalities at Jutland

Able Seaman William George Cargill
Royal Navy (Age 22)
HMS Warspite
31 May 1916
Queensferry Cemetery
Son of William and Lois Berrill Cargill, of Chauvin, Alberta, Canada.
Born at Forfar, Scotland

Private Joseph Glover
Royal Marine Light Infantry (Age 22)
HMS Defence
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Son of David and Annie Glover, of 21, Manning Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Native of Belfast, Ireland.

Able Seaman Henry Charles Gibbings
Royal Navy (Age 27)
HMS Southampton
31 May 1916
Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Son of John L. and Mary Jane Gibbings, of Huntingdon, Quebec, Canada.
Born at Godalming, Surrey, England.

Commissioned Royal Marine Gunner John Henry Goss
Royal Marine Light Infantry (Age 32)
HMS Lion
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Son of Harry and Mary Ann Goss, of Stonehouse, Devon;
Husband of Edith Frances Goss, of Woods Lake, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada.

Yeoman of Signals Edwin Ethelbert Charles Greadon
Royal Navy (Age 31)
HMS Defence
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Son of Charles and Cordelia Greadon, of 53, South Woodrow Boulevard, Birchcliff Heights, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Native of Ireland.

Ship’s Cook William Harris
Royal Navy (Age Unknown)
HMS Indefatigable
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Husband of Susan Livingston Harris, of Canada.

Lieutenant Alexander Percival McMullen
Royal Navy (Age 24)
HMS Invincible
31 May 1916
Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Son of Alex. R. and Frances E. McMullen, of Dixie, Ontario, Canada.
Native of Tullamore, Ireland.

Able Seaman Alexander Simpson
Royal Navy (Age 38)
HMS Invincible
31 May 1916
Chatham Naval Memorial
Son of Robert and Elizabeth Simpson, of Dundee, Scotland;
Husband of Maggie Ann Simpson, of 22, Tay Avenue, Fairbank, Toronto, Ontario. Canada.

Leading Seaman Thomas Alva Thresh
Royal Navy (Age 22)
HMS Indefatigable
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Thresh, of 1638, Masson St., Rosemount, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Native of Bridlington, Yorks, England.

United States of America

Sick Berth Steward 2nd Class John Barry
Royal Navy (Age 29)
HMS Defence
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Husband of Margaret Barry, of 1179, Third Avenue, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Ship’s Steward 2nd Class Henry George Shapter
Royal Navy (Age 23)
HMS Defence
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Son of Henry and Florence Shapter, of 2, Southside St., Plymouth, England;
Husband of Edith Shapter, of 3681, Rolle St., Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Engine Room Articifer 3rd Class Andrew Thomas Anderson
Royal Navy (Age 25)
HMS Queen Mary
31 May 1916
Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Son of Daniel and Jessie Anderson, of 2,612, Canfield Avenue, Culver City, California, U.S.A.
Native of Edinburgh, Scotland.

North American Fatalities at the Battle of the Denmark Strait

Midshipman Thomas Norman Kemp Beard
Royal Canadian Navy (Age 20)
HMS Hood
24 May 1941
Halifax Memorial
Son of Comdr. Charles T. Beard and Kathleen A. Beard, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Midshipman Francis John Llewelyn Lloyd Jones
Royal Canadian Navy (Age 20)
HMS Hood
24 May 1941
Halifax Memorial
Son of Lt.-Col. Arthur Llewelyn Jones, O.B.E., M.C., and Marie Anna Rita Jones, of Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada

Midshipman Christopher John Birdwood Norman
Royal Canadian Navy (Age 19)
HMS Hood
24 May 1941
Halifax Memorial
Son of Captain Cyril Norman and Lydia Joan Norman, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Netherlands Remembrance and Liberation

Posted By on May 4, 2016

Wageningen. The building on the right is the location where on May 5, 1945 the 1st Canadian Corps accepted the unconditional surrender of the 25th German Army.

Wageningen. The building on the right is the location where  the 1st Canadian Corps accepted the unconditional surrender of the 25th German Army, May 5, 1945 .

May 4th – May 5th

It’s a fine day as the classical notes from a flute drift across the airwaves into the clubhouse. I turn towards the retro-styled ’30s radio as the tempo rises, lowers and then gently hovers as my thoughts cascade towards these day in 1945 – May 4th/5th, the Netherlands and the Canadian Scottish.

It is Remembrance Day in the Netherlands (May 4th) – a time when their citizens commemorate those who gave of themselves…for this nation. It is when this solemn understanding is passed on to their younger generations and it is followed by Liberation Day (May 5th), an event that many Canadian veterans have participated in.

Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery.

Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery.

For 129 soldiers of the Canadian Scottish Regiment whose short lives are part of the Netherlands national memory, they can be found whilst trekking across this grateful nation at Bergen-op-Zoom, Groesbeek and Holten. I have been there walking these places and today, as a piano hurls its notes from the broadcast, I take myself back to my last trek across Netherlands – the Walcheren, the Scheldt, Middelburg, Berg en Dal, and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Nijmegen and Arnhem.

Mario Ruaben. Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. A family friend of my father.

Mario Ruaben. Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. A family friend of my father.

I recall walking the cemetery at Groesbeek knowing that my father journeyed here in the 1950s to visit a family friend from Lethbridge, Trooper Mario Ruaben of the Fort Garry Horse. The image that Cpl. E.W. Ferguson took that day remains in the family photo album, marking an important visit for my dear father. It is in these footsteps that I have returned.

I call my father as a cellist climbs and dives along the fingerboard in search of each perfect note.  I enjoy the cello as it its tone etches into my being and briefly I think upon a Canadian chaplain, a Victoria Cross recipient himself, who enjoyed helping his cello with its voice. It was my father who developed my tastes and interest in music and as we part for today I know that today’s musical metaphor is not without its purpose.

Private E.S. Hansen, Canadian Scottish Regiment, Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery.

Private E.S. Hansen, Canadian Scottish Regiment, Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery.

Music kindles memory – it reminds us of places and people – where we were, perhaps, when we first heard the James Bond theme, the Pink Panther theme or that well known theme by John Williams (a film incidentally celebrated this day, May 4th, by its many fans). As the cello softly finds its passion I wonder, what these days of May 1945 were like for the Canadian Scottish? As their pipes played somewhere across the Netherlands I think of those who survived and of those who remained.

Dutch visitors to Holten Canadian War Cemetery. During our visitor we were fortunate to answer questions of several locals. Memorable for all.

Dutch visitors to Holten Canadian War Cemetery. During our visit we were fortunate to answer questions from several locals. Memorable for all.

At the Canadian Scottish 100th Anniversary gala I met a veteran who was happy to show me a picture from the anniversary publication. It was of Wageningen – he had been there – 1945 – and he told me a story or two. His voice then spoke of his brother whose time in the Netherlands is forever marked at Groesbeek. It was a touching moment. The picture, our Canadian Scottish veteran pointed to, was one that I had taken and I felt honoured that he wanted to share his story because of this one image. There was more though. I recognized the veteran’s surname when we were introduced. It had been previously etched into my memory as I had written, sometime previous, his brother’s biography. And so the path continues that I may be fortunate to return and seek out his brother at Groesbeek.

Victoria's Peace Tulip Garden.

Victoria’s Peace Tulip Garden.

As the cello fades I reach over and turn down the volume. The silence is soon replaced with the steady clop of a horse and carriage taking its visitors towards the inner harbour where on many days the sound of the pipes rises in welcome near to the Netherlands Peace Tulip Garden and Centennial Carillon.  The Netherlands remembers Canada May 4th, May 5th and all year round.

Gardener at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission gardener at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery.

Netherlands Honours to the Canadian Scottish Regiment

Bronze Cross
Lieutenant (Acting Captain) K.S.D. Corsan
M106087 Corporal W. Lawrence

Bronze Lion

Lieutenant-Colonel D.G. Crofton
K62895 Corporal F.J. Nicol
M105556 Corporal W. Paradis
K71271 Private R.H. Rideout