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This Tide and Every Tide

Posted By on December 26, 2018

A distant sun, cold water...Because he was the son you bore, And gave to that wind blowing and that tide! (P. Ferguson image, December 2018)

A distant sun, cold water…Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!
(P. Ferguson image, December 2018)

My Boy Jack

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

Poem by Rudyard Kipling.

—————0—————

This evening I look to the words of another. A walk along the shoreline brings with each surge the crash of low falling waves. A gentle thunder – its repeated motion lashing at the sand taking some for itself until it returns its tumult, grain upon grain. The tide…the tide…deep blue with its tumult of souls within the sliding sands of time. With gentle motion I turn towards home. There are words for this day, a mixture of one with another, water and earth.

A Little Bit of Peace From Home

Posted By on December 25, 2018

Christmas at the Front - Unpacking the Parcels from Home.

Christmas at the Front – Unpacking the Parcels from Home by Fortunino Matania.
(Illustration from The Sphere, 5 January 1919)

Christmas Parcels

The joy delivered to soldiers at the front…a little bit of peace from home. Gathered together they made the most of their day. A little welcome celebration…pooling their newly delivered resources…Tommy, Billy, Robert, James, Jeremy and others…Merry Christmas to all.

Across British Columbia news of parcels and soldiers made their way into the columns across the province.

The Hedley Gazette
Hedley, B.C.
2 December 1915, p. 1

Packing Parcels for
Soldiers at the Front

The public is urged to exercise every care in packing parcels for the troops, as careful packing is absolutely essential to ensure delivery of the parcels in good order.

Parcels sent abroad require a higher standard of packing than is necessary in the Canadian Parcel Post, and this applies with even greater force to parcels for the troops. Those which are immediately packed run great risk of damage or loss of contents.

Thin cardboard boxes, such as shoe boxes and thin wooden boxes, should not be used: nor does a single sheet of ordinary brown paper afford sufficient protection. The following forms of packing are recommended.

(1) Strong double cardboard boxes, preferably those made of corrugated cardboard, and having  lids which completely enclose the sides of the boxes.

(2) Strong wooden boxes.

(3) Several folds of stout packing paper.

(4) Additional security is afforded by an outer covering of linen, calico or canvas, which should be securely sewn up.

The address of parcels should be written in ink on the cover preferably in two places.

The address of the sender of the parcel should also be stated in order that it may be returned if undeliverable. The contents of the parcel should be stated in writing on the cover.

—————0—————

The Prospector
Lillooet, B.C.
24 December 1915, p. 1

The Postmaster General of Canada has been successful, as a result of negotiations entered into with the Imperial Postal Authorities in effecting an arrangement with the British Government whereby parcels from Canada for Canadian soldiers in France and Flanders will be carried at the same rate of postage as applies to parcels from the United Kingdom for the Expeditionary Forces on the Continent.

The public are reminded, however, in accordance with the circular issued by the Department recently, that until further notice, no parcel can be sent weighing over seven pounds.

—————0—————

The Omineca Miner
Hazelton, B.C.
25 November 1916, p. 1

PARCELS FOR SOLDIERS
People of Hazelton Send Xmas
Cheer to the Boys in
the Trenches

Christmas parcels to the number of 112 have been sent to Hazelton’s boys in khaki by the Soldier’s Aid, and so far as known, no soldier from the town or vicinity has been overlooked. The committee’s campaign for the Christmas fund is proving successful…

On behalf of our soldiers, the committee extends hearty thanks to the ladies and gentlemen who assisted in the preparation and mailing of parcels, as well as to contributors to the Christmas fund.

—————0—————

The Enderby Press
Enderby, B.C.
25 January 1917, p. 1

How Trench Comforts Contributed
to Happiness of Boys at Front

The ladies of the Enderby Trench Comfort Club are in receipt of the following letters from the boys at the front.

Pte. Victor E. Bogert…”I received your parcel on the 16th December and found everything to be useful, especially the socks and sleeping helmet, and the shoe lace was the very thing I wanted as I had broken one that very day; and the Oxo* was very handy for a cold I have got…I found it appetizing as a beverage and socks were certainly warm, and the handkerchief certainly was a good friend to my nose, and the cigarettes and sweets were very useful as they are scarce in France, and the cakes were a good evening’s enjoyment among the boys of my own billet…”

Lce. Corp. S.H. Allcorn: “Allow me to thank you and the many good friends and contributors for parcel received on the 26th December, which came as a very pleasant surprise and was very much appreciated…It reminded me of good old Enderby…”

Pte. T.M. Dunwoodie: “I am writing to thank you all for the parcel which I received last night. It certainly was a fine one and the cigarettes, tobacco and socks were especially welcome as I just out of the first and home-knit socks are always welcome. The cake and candy and other good things were too good to last long. The other boys in the hut all send their thanks to you and the others who helped to make it up…”

*Oxo was a beef stock cube originally produced in cube form in 1910. During the Great War more than 100,000,000 Oxo cubes were provided to the military.

—————0—————

Bella Coola Courier
Bella Coola, B.C.
10 March 1917, p. 1

Christmas at the Front

The slight sacrifices made by the ladies [W.C.T.U.**] of the valley in sending Christmas parcels to the front has met with such a chorus of thanks from our boys that we know our readers will enjoy the reading of the extracts from their letters…

Only a few lines to let you know that I received the welcome parcel of cake and chocolate on Christmas night. I had given up hope of getting anything that evening when along comes the boys through the trench asking for Sam Grant…I handed it around to some of the boys – Arthur Gothard, Pete Marren, Randolph Saugstad and those that I saw the next day. (Sam Grant)

**Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

—————0—————

 The Islander
Cumberland, B.C.
20 October 1917, p. 1

All those who are sending parcels to soldiers in France should send them immediately if they wish them to arrive by Christmas. Parcels for soldiers in England can be posted up till about 10th of November for delivery by Christmas.

—————0—————

Cranbrook Herald
Cranbrook, B.C.
10 January 1918, p. 3

LETTERS OF THANKS FROM BOYS
AT THE FRONT

Pte. W.H. Lewis, No. 931443
“D” Coy., 14th Platoon,
2nd C.M.R.
France

To Mrs. J.W. Burton, President W.I.***

Dear Madam: – I beg to acknowledge with deepest gratitude the Christmas parcel received by me from our friends in Cranbrook.

You cannot imagine what happiness it creates to have handed to us letters and parcels from those at home. Some poor fellows seem to be overlooked entirely, but I am pleased to say is not my luck.

Again thanking you and your society.

I beg to remain, Madam,
Yours gratefully,
W.H. Lewis

***Women’s Institute

—————0—————

Chaplains and the Victoria Cross

Posted By on December 24, 2018

Chaplain Victoria Cross. Dieppe. John Weir Foote

Dieppe, France, where Canadian Chaplain John Weir Foote’s 19 August 1942 actions led to the award of the Victoria Cross. Foote was captured in the assault.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2009)

Spiritual and Immediate Care of Their Soldier Flock

There is with each step wandering fields of conflict encounters with a difficult past.

Every visit has its encounters, perhaps a landmark rebuilt, a crater filled with water, a reused bit of rail, a bench, memorial, cemetery, statue, a fragment, a trace, an energy. Each place offers itself to us – each place provides encounters with history that can immediately stop us in our path.

It is the energy to which I turn…a spirit of seeking…and finding. Stand at these places and look around you…from earth to sky…to your feet – to the horizon…a landscape of colour. What do you see? Is there motion? Is there sound? Is there black in that blue? Compiled together – energy and spirit…it is this metamorphosis to which I turn. We are witnesses to all that we see…the loss, the regeneration, the peace now from the chaos then.

Reverend Edgar Noel Moore M.C

The headstone of Reverend Edgar Noel Moore M.C.
He Being Dead, Yet Speaketh. Blessed Are The Pure In Heart For They Shall See God.
Railway Dugouts Cemetery, Belgium.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

On occasion when I wander these places I find myself before a fallen man of god…an army chaplain who shouldered the spiritual care of his soldier flock, while at all times encountering sinister motion to counter his leader’s good words. As I stand before a Chaplain’s grave…I look around…at all the lives…the good earth and the good sky…it is energy…it is spirit. And yes I see the black in the blue, all colour is beautiful, but mostly I try to find the light in the darkness…I find more energy there.

Among the many British Army Chaplains who served in conflict five men of the cloth (including a Canadian) were awarded the Victoria Cross providing spirit and energy to those of their flock…saving lives…when sinister motion was all around.

———-0———-

James Williams Adams VC. Afghanistan

James Williams Adams VC. Later became Honorary Chaplain to King Edward VII.
(Wiki Commons Image).

James Williams Adams VC
Bengal Ecclesiastical Establishment (Indian Army)
Chaplain to the Kabul Field Force
Battle of Killa Kazi, Afghanistan
Victoria Cross in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum

During the action at Killa Kazi, on the 11th December, 1879, some men of the 9th Lancers having fallen, with their horses, into a wide and deep ” nullah” or ditch, and the enemy being close upon them, the Reverend J. W. Adams rushed into the water (which filled the ditch), dragged the horses from off the men upon whom they were lying, and extricated them, he being at the time under a heavy fire, and up to his waist in water.

At this time the Afghans were pressing on very rapidly, the leading men getting within a few yards of Mr. Adams, who having let go his horse in order to render more effectual assistance, had eventually to escape on foot.

(Victoria Cross. London Gazette: 26 August 1881, p. 4393)

———-0———-

Edward Noel Mellish VC, MC. After the Great War he continued with the church as a Vicar in Essex and at the Church of St. Dunstan in Somerset. (Wiki Commons Image)

Edward Noel Mellish VC, MC.
After the Great War he continued with the church as a Vicar in Essex and at the Church of St. Dunstan in Somerset.
(Wiki Commons Image)

Edward Noel Mellish VC MC
Army Chaplain’s Department attached to 1st Middlesex Regiment
Battle of Loos, France 25 September 1915
Victoria Cross held by the Royal Fusiliers Museum, Tower of London, England

For most conspicuous bravery. During heavy fighting on three consecutive days he repeatedly went backwards and forwards, under continuous and heavy shell and machine-gun fire, between our original trenches and those captured from the enemy, in order to tend and rescue wounded men. He brought in ten badly wounded men on the first day from ground swept by machine-gun fire, and three were actually killed while he was dressing their wounds.

The battalion to which he was attached was relieved on the second day, but he went back and brought in twelve more wounded men.

On the night of the third day he took charge of a party of volunteers and once more returned to the trenches to rescue the remaining wounded.

This splendid work was quite voluntary on his part and outside the scope of his ordinary duties.

(Victoria Cross. London Gazette: Third Supplement 20 April 1916, p. 4119)
(Military Cross. London Gazette: Third Supplement 12 December 1919, p. 15438)

A film featuring Edward Noel Mellish at Deptford England is available from British Pathé.

———-0———-

William Robert Fountaine Addison VC continued to serve as a Chaplaincy following the Great War and served as Malta, Khartoum, Shanghaai and elsewhere. (Wiki Commons Image)

William Robert Fountaine Addison VC continued to serve as a Chaplaincy following the Great War and served as Malta, Khartoum, Shanghaai and elsewhere.
(Wiki Commons Image)

William Robert Fountaine Addison VC (Russian Order of St. George, 4th Class)
Army Chaplain’s Department
13th (Western Division), 38th (Lancashire Infantry Brigade),
Likely with the 6th King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) and 6th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Battle of Samna-I-Yat, Mesopotamia 9 April 1916

For most conspicuous bravery. He carried a wounded man to the cover of a trench, and assisted several others to the same cover, after binding up their wounds under heavy rifle and machine gun fire.

In addition to these unaided efforts, by his splendid example and utter disregard of personal danger, he encouraged the stretcher-bearers to go forward under heavy fire and collect the wounded.

(Victoria Cross. London Gazette: 26 September 1916, p. 9417)

 ———-0———-

Theodore Bayley Hardy VC, DSO, MC Died of wounds 18 October 1918.  Buried Rouen, France. (Wiki Commons Image)

Theodore Bayley Hardy VC, DSO, MC
Died of wounds 18 October 1918.
Buried Rouen, France.
(Wiki Commons Image)

Theodore Bayley Hardy VC DSO MC
Chaplain to the Forces attached 9th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
Victoria Cross held by the Museum of Army Chaplaincy

Victoria Cross

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on many occasions. Although over fifty years of age, he has, by his fearlessness, devotion to men of his battalion, and quiet, unobtrusive manner, won the respect and admiration of the whole division.

His marvelous energy and endurance would be remarkable even in a very much younger man, and his valour and devotion are exemplified in the following incidents: —

An infantry patrol had gone put to attack a previously located enemy post in the ruins of a village, the Reverend Theodore Bayley Hardy (C.F.) being then at company headquarters. Hearing firing, he followed the patrol, and about four hundred yards beyond our front line of poets found an officer of the patrol dangerously wounded. He remained with the officer until he was able to get assistance to bring him in. During this time there was a great deal of firing, and an enemy patrol-actually penetrated- between the spot at which the officer was lying and our front line and captured three of our men.

On a second occasion, when an enemy shell exploded in the middle of one of our posts, the Reverend T. B. Hardy at once made his way to the spot, despite the shell and trench mortar fire which was going on at the time, and set to work to extricate the buried men. He succeeded in getting out one man who had been completely buried. He then set to work to extricate a second man, who was found to be dead.

During the whole of the time that he was digging out the men this chaplain was in great danger, not only from shell fire, but also because of the dangerous condition of the wall of the building which had been hit by the shell which buried the men.

On a third occasion he displayed the greatest devotion to duty when our infantry, after a successful attack, were gradually forced back to their starting trench.

After it was believed that all our men had withdrawn from the wood, Chaplain Hardy came out of it, and on reaching an advanced post asked the men to help him to get in a wounded man. Accompanied by a serjeant, he made his way to the spot where the man lay, within ten yards of a pill-box which had been captured in the morning, but was subsequently recaptured and occupied by the enemy. The wounded man was too weak to stand, but between them the chaplain and the serjeant eventually succeeded in getting him to our lines.

Throughout the day the enemy’s artillery, machine-gun, and trench mortar fire was continuous, and caused many casualties. Notwithstanding, this very gallant chaplain was seen moving quietly amongst the men and tending the wounded, absolutely regardless of his personal safety.

(London Gazette: Third Supplement 11 July 1918, pp. 8155-8156)

Distinguished Service Order

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in volunteering to go with a rescue party for some men who had been left stuck in the mud the previous night between the enemy’s outpost line and our own. All the men except one were brought in. He then organised a party for the rescue of this man, and remained with it all night, though under rifle-fire at close range, which killed one of the party. With his left arm in splints, owing to a broken wrist, and under the worst weather conditions, he crawled out with patrols to within seventy yards of the enemy and remained with wounded men under heavy fire.

(Distinguished Service Order: Fourth Supplement 18 October 1917, p. 10705.
Full citation published 7 March, 1918)

Military Cross

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in tending the wounded. The ground on which he worked was constantly shelled and the casualties were heavy. He continually assisted in finding and carrying wounded and in guiding stretcher bearers to the aid post.

(Military Cross. London Gazette: Third Supplement 17 December 1917, p. 13182. Citation published 23 April 1918)

  ———-0———-

John Weir Foote VC Taken Prisoner of War at Dieppe. After his release the award of the Victoria Cross was announced. Foote was the Honorary-Colonel of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry 1964-1973. (Wiki Commons Image)

John Weir Foote VC
Taken Prisoner of War at Dieppe. After his release the award of the Victoria Cross was announced. Foote was the Honorary-Colonel of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry 1964-1973.
(Wiki Commons Image)

John Weir Foote VC
Canadian Chaplain Service attached Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
Battle of Dieppe, France, 19 August 1942

At Dieppe, on 19th August, 1942, Honorary Captain Foote, Canadian Chaplain Services, was Regimental Chaplain with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.

Upon landing on the beach under heavy fire he attached himself to the Regimental Aid Post -which had been set up -in a slight depression on the beach, but which was only sufficient to give cover to men lying down. During the subsequent period of approximately eight hours, while the action continued, this officer not only assisted the Regimental Medical Officer in ministering to the wounded in .the Regimental Aid Post, but time and again left this shelter to inject morphine, give first-aid and carry wounded personnel from the open beach to the Regimental Aid Post. On these occasions, with utter disregard for his personal safety, Honorary Captain Foote exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts. During the action, as the tide 1 went out, the Regimental Aid Post was moved to the shelter of a. stranded landing craft. Honorary Captain Foote continued tirelessly and courageously to carry wounded men from the exposed beach to the cover of the landing craft. He also removed  wounded ‘from inside the landing craft when ammunition had been set on fire by enemy shells.

When landing craft appeared he carried wounded from the Regimental Aid Post to the landing craft through very heavy fire. On several occasions this officer had the opportunity to embark but returned to the beach as his chief concern was the care and evacuation of the wounded. He refused a final opportunity to leave the shore, choosing to suffer the fate of the men he had ministered to for over three years. Honorary Captain Foote personally saved many lives by his efforts and his example inspired all around him. Those who observed him state that the calmness of this heroic officer, as he walked about, collecting the wounded on the fire-swept beach will never be forgotten.

(Victoria Cross. London Gazette: 14 February 1946, p. 941)

Not in the face of the enemy

Posted By on December 23, 2018

John Rennie served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada

Acting Sergeant John Rennie G.C. saved the lives of soldiers during a training exercise.
(Wiki Commons Image)

George Cross Recipient: John Rennie

On 24 September 1940 the George Cross was instituted by King George VI for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger* not in the presence of the enemy. It is the second highest award for gallantry and follows the Victoria Cross in the Order of Precedence. A posthumous award of the George Cross was granted to Acting Sergeant John Rennie of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.

The George Cross

The George Cross for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.
(Image from www.veterans.gc.ca)

During a grenade-throwing training exercise, 29 October 1943 at Riddlesworth, England a live grenade having failed to clear the protective embankment fell back into the trench that the trainees occupied. Quickly, John Rennie, pushed one of the soldiers to the side, picked up the grenade and when attempting to throw the grenade out of harm’s way it exploded mortally injuring Rennie whose body shielded three fellow soldiers who were within five yards of the explosion.

John Rennie was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

At Brookwood Military Cemetery, England. The grave and marker of John Rennie G.C.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2010)

The Aberdeen, Scotland born John Rennie came to Canada as a young child and grew up in Kitchener (formerly Berlin), Ontario. He joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in July 1940 and arrived in England with the battalion in the summer of 1943. John Rennie G.C., aged 23, is buried at Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey, England.

*From the Fifth Claus of the George Cross Warrant.

In the Service of Peace

Posted By on December 20, 2018

Sergeant Edward William Ferguson of the Royal Canadian Postal Corps, Congo Christmas rush 1960. (Ferguson Family)

Sergeant Edward William Ferguson of the Royal Canadian Postal Corps, Congo Christmas rush 1960.
(Ferguson Family)

Canadian Armed Forces Away at Christmas

Sergeant Edward William Ferguson was a career soldier and during his 21 year army career served on several United Nations peace-keeping missions across the globe. Korea, Egypt, the Belgian Congo, Cyprus. His journeys took him to many other places fulfilling a childhood vision to see the world, sometimes not always at its best. He was an amazing photographer.

Ed Ferguson frequented many places that continue to remain common discussion for his generation and those a bit younger. Recently I watched four men, of an age, sitting over breakfast sharing stories. Were they speaking of Naden, Stadacona, Work Point, Cold Lake, Soest, Verl, Metz, Marville, Grostequin, Baden-Baden, Rabat, Zweibrücken, Decimomannu or one of a thousand plus other places that our armed forces have been?

Often our nation calls and they go. Separation from family can occur at any time. Ed Ferguson was in the Belgian Congo attached to 57 Signals Unit, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, for Christmas 1960. On his return he spoke frequently of his time there, playing chess with the father of actor Michael J. Fox, of the rebellion, Tshombe and Leopoldville. The last Christmas I recall him away was 1970 when on attachment to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Cyprus. Some may recall their postie, the man in the red jogging suit who came back to Canada a trim and fit 180 lb. soldier. He ran everywhere, probably every day when not on duty. Running was part of his youth, regained in 1970 and how he missed it when age took fleet of foot away from him.

The Congo image of Sergeant E.W. Ferguson was published in Canadian newspapers that appeared across the country. I always liked it…surrounded by the mail…parcels at Christmas. Its quite a reminder of days gone by…of a career soldier…and Dad. Miss you forever…and in tribute to your attempts to play an alto sax…a little Christmas music….sounds just like him!!!!