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Permission to speak, sir?

Posted By on April 29, 2024

Dad’s Army: CP1 of Walmington-on-Sea

A weekend of what to watch was resolved as disc 1 from the original Dad’s Army (1968-1977) television series was launched over the weekend. The catchy theme, often mistaken for a wartime tune, was written by the show’s creator Jimmy Perry who together with Derek Taverner wrote the music. The seemingly familiarity of the tune was brought about when Perry asked Bud Flanagan the well-known wartime entertainer to sing the lyric. The song, Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr. Hitler? added considerably to our erstwhile Home Guard troop of those too old or too young to serve or those in reserved occupations. The British sitcom ran for nine seasons comprising 80 episodes and was broadcast on BBC 1.

Arnold Ridley as Private Godfrey MM. Wiki Image.

Arnold Ridley as Private Godfrey MM.
Wiki Image.

Though I have previously written about the cast and their wartime service, I will again mention that both Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey MM) and John Laurie (Private Frazer) were veterans of the Great War. Both men returned to service during the Second World War, Ridley being evacuated from Boulogne in 1940 and then served with the Caterham Home Guard (age 44) and so too Laurie (age 43). At the time of production in 1968 Ridley was 72 years of age and Laurie his junior at 71.

John Laurie as Private Godfrey. Wiki Image.

John Laurie as Private Godfrey.
Wiki Image.

The elder Private Jones was played by Clive Dunn (age 48) who wore late Victorian medal ribands on his CP1 battledress as a veteran of the Egypt and Sudan campaigns, the Second Boer War, India and the Great War. One of Jones’ catchphrases was, Permission to speak, sir?, and with the recent viewing I enjoyed his meanderings with the platoon and his ability to always be one step out from the remainder of his mates.

The British Home Guard wore printed shoulder designations comprising letters with numbers. The letters identified the area from which the guard was based, e.g. OXF (Oxford), DHM (Durham), NK (Norfolk), ESX (Essex) amongst many others. The television show used the designation CP1 and was not based on any town, the letters chosen were the show’s writers, David Croft (C) and Jimmy Perry (P).

This day 2024…one day 1941…

Posted By on March 29, 2024

One of the greatest generation. Radioman Everett Hyland, USS Pennsylvania (BB-38). (P. Ferguson image, July 2006)

One of the greatest generation.
Radioman Everett Hyland, USS Pennsylvania (BB-38).
(P. Ferguson image, July 2006)

Courage – Honor – Sacrifice

After several days visit to Waikiki to relax and seek an even keel…I have walked…from Natatorium to Fort DeRussy…wandered Honolulu in search of familiar old buildings. Found new and old to photograph. Been amused amongst the waves, drifted with the current, seen new living species, found cognac in the waters whilst removing plastic fragments and glass shards from the water and ocean floor. I become environmentally conscious here [though much admittedly there is more I could do].

Still, after these past days of low pressure there is one episode I must take in which was almost lost due to having been before…but there is no limit to how many times…and I feel the better for it…taking in what I do…Pearl…1941…Pearl 2024.

Highway pillar (from the bus) showing the Arizona Memorial. (P. Ferguson image, March 2024)

Highway pillar (from the bus) showing the Arizona Memorial.
(P. Ferguson image, March 2024)

Yes there have been visits before…but Pearl’s  7 December 1941 day is one to take in…here during one day in 2024. And its ok if this time I do not make it to the memorial…one more seat for someone who may not have been before. Having hopped on a bus near Ward Centre, the journey seems longer than I remember. Being on my own there is no one to remind me how far out 7 December 1941 is. As we near the Harbor there are reminders of what is on the horizon.

USS Arizona anchor, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (P. Ferguson image, March 2024)

USS Arizona anchor, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
(P. Ferguson image, March 2024)

Together with visits to the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial and Hawaii’s Great War Roll of Honor I have, this 2024, engaged the three monuments I forever bow with caring eyes and heart, recognizing with them courage, honor, sacrifice. Equal words these words…they can never be old fashioned – there is strength in their saying – expressions of respect for that the greatest generation…so too followed by today’s others who so too unfurl their acts of valor, strength, thoughts. This day 2024…one day 1941..

USS Missouri and the Arizona Memorial. (P. Ferguson image, July 2008)

USS Missouri and the Arizona Memorial.
(P. Ferguson image, July 2008)

Canada’s Military Medal Nurses

Posted By on February 25, 2024

Nursing Sister Mary Meta Hodge wearing the Military Medal. (Bassano Photograph)

Nursing Sister Mary Meta Hodge wearing the Military Medal.
(Bassano Photograph)

During Air Raids

Mary Meta Hodge was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in the Field. A resident of Winnipeg, Manitoba the above portrait appeared in the Canada Illustrated Weekly, 21 December 1918, p. 397. Nursing Sister Hodge was one of nine Canadian women awarded the Military Medal during the Great War. Eight of the women served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps and the ninth in the British Army.

Canadian Army Medical Corps

Matron Edith Campbell RRC
No. 3 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples, France

For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. Regardless of personal danger she attended to the wounded sisters, and by her personal example inspired the sisters under her charge. (London Gazette: 24 September 1918. Previously awarded the Royal Red Cross).

Nursing Sister Helen Elizabeth Hansen
No 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Etaples, France

For gallantry during an air raid at ETAPLES May 19/20th 1918. She worked devotedly in the operating room throughout the period of the severe bombardment, which lasted for two hours. Sister HANSEN was ready for any duty, and exhibited qualities of coolness and courage. (London Gazette: 29 January 1919).

Nursing Sister Lenora Herrington
No. 3 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples, France

For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. She remained at duty the entire night, and by her excellent example and personal courage was largely responsible for the maintenance of discipline and efficiency. (London Gazette: 24 September 1918).

Nursing Sister Mary Meta Hodge
No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Doullens, France

For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. Although injured by a falling beam, this sister displayed great presence of mind in extinguishing overturned oilstoves and later rendered valuable assistance in the removal of patients. (London Gazette: 24 September 1918).

Nursing Sister Beatrice McNair
No. 8 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples, France

For gallantry during an air raid at ETAPLES May 19/20th 1918. She carried on her duties throughout the night without interruption, and throughout the the period of the severe bombardment, which lasted two hours, Sister McNair showed great solicitude for the patients in her wards, and was wholly unmindful of her personal safety. (London Gazette: 29 January 1919).

Nursing Sister Eleanor Jean Thompson
No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Doullens, France

For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. Although injured by a falling beam, this sister displayed presence of mind in extinguishing overturned oilstoves and later rendered valuable assistance in the removal of patients. (London Gazette: 24 September 1918. Awarded the French Medailie D’Honneur des Epidemies en Bronze London Gazette 9 July 1926. No. 6 Canadian General Hospital).

Nursing Sister Lottie Urquhart
No. 2 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples, France

For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid, when four bombs fell on her wards. Regardless of danger she attended the wounded. Her courage and devotion were an inspiring example to all. (London Gazette: 24 September 1918).

Nursing Sister Janet Mary Williamson
No. 2 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples, France

For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. When in charge of a ward badly damaged, she displayed exceptional coolness, and, regardless of personal danger, sustained her patients and ensured their evacuation. (London Gazette: 24 September 1918).

British Army

Acting Sister Marie Dow Lutwick ARRC
No. 58 Casualty Clearing Station
Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve)

Born in Alma, New Brunswick. Awarded Associate of the Royal Red Cross in June 1918. Married James B. Taylor 1938. Died Canada 1953.

For bravery and devotion to duty during a hostile bombing raid when in company with the Matron who was severely wounded and a Sister who was killed. She crossed the open bomb-swept ground alone in order to procure help. Subsequently she returned to the Casualty Clearing Station and continued to work for many hours, under conditions of great danger. (London Gazette 4 June 1918. Previously awarded the Associate of the Royal Red Cross).

Blighty

Posted By on January 27, 2024

A wounded soldier destined for further care away from the frontlines. Canadian Official.

A wounded soldier destined for further care away from the frontlines.
Canadian Official.

Now me, I wasn’t scratched, praise God Almighty
(Though next time please I’ll thank ‘im for a Blighty)
From The Chances by Wilfrid Owen

Home

Blighty was Britain or England. The term was popular in both the First and Second World War but its origins were earlier. The word originated in India during the 1800s where blighty was used as slang to describe an English or British visitor. Additionally the term was used to describe specific items the British introduced to India such as tomatoes and soda water.

Blighty, as a term for home, was used by the British during the Second Boer War 1899-1902. Specific to being wounded a blighty was one when an injured soldier was bound for further care in Britain that required recuperation at home. Blighty magazine was a weekly edition produced during the Great War intended to be humorous featuring short stories, cartoons, poems and art such as illustrations and paintings.

Blighty

It seemed that it were well to kiss first the earth
On landing, having traversed the narrow seas,
And grasp so little, tenderly, of this field of birth
First three lines of Blighty by Ivor Gurney

For information on Great War military hospitals in the British Isles visit the Long, Long Trail.

Victoria Cross Review 1956

Posted By on December 20, 2023

Queen Reviews Men of Valour, 1956.
British Pathé

For Valour

For the Victoria Cross centenary Queen Elizabeth II reviewed an assembly of 300 men who held the nation’s and Commonwealth’s highest honour – the Victoria Cross. The review, conducted at Hyde Park, London 26 June 1956 respected the first presentations of the awards by Queen Victoria when she presented 62 awards at Hyde Park.

At the same time as the review an exhibition was held 15 June – 7 July 1956 at Marlborough House featuring several Victoria Crosses, citations and souvenirs retained by those who received the bronze cross pattee synonymous with valour. Included in the exhibition was the uniform worn by Queen Victoria at the time of the original V.C. presentations.

Marlborough House, The Mall, St. James's, City of Westminster, London. (Wiki Image)

Marlborough House, The Mall, St. James’s, City of Westminster, London.
(Wiki Image)

Several Canadian Victoria Cross recipients participated representing conflicts from the Second Boer War (1899-1902), the Great War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945). Those with connections to British Columbia included: Edward Bellew (7th Canadian Infantry Battalion), Rowland Bourke (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve), Robert Hanna (29th Canadian Infantry Battalion), John Kerr (49th Canadian Infantry Battalion), Filip Konowal (47th Canadian Infantry Battalion), John Mahoney (Westminster Regiment), Cecil Merritt (Saskatchewan Regiment), William Metcalf (16th Canadian Infantry Battalion), George Mullin (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry), George Pearkes (5th Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles), Cyrus Peck (16th Canadian Infantry Battalion), Ernest Smith (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada) and Charles Train (14th Battalion London Regiment).

One hundred recipients of the Victoria Cross were unable to attend the review.