Saturday, January 2, 2016

Articles re Combined Ops - Roy Burt, WW2 Experiences

Local Veteran Fondly Recalls Time Spent in Combined Operations, WW2

Below is an news article concerning Roy (Chocolate) Burt, RCNVR, Combined Operations:

"Roy Burt and Combined Ops' mates, Glasgow, 1942"
Photo Credit - Combined Operations by Clayton Marks

Caption that accompanies the above photograph: Roy Burt, who settled
in Osoyoos 40 years ago to take the job as post master with Canada Post,
fondly looks over some personal photographs taken during his time with the
Royal Canadian Navy. Burt joined the military as a boy seaman when he was
 only 17 years old and fondly recalls turning 18 because he was then able to
fulfill his dream to fight for his country during the Second World War.
Photo by Keith Lacey.

Local Veteran Fondly Recalls Time Spent in Combined Operations, WW2

When Roy Burt looks back on his remarkable and rewarding life, his six years as a proud member of the Royal Canadian Navy will always provide many of his fondest memories.

“I wanted to be a soldier since I was a young child so I joined the military when I was 17 years old … next to marrying my wife (Jean) and having kids, it was the best thing I ever did,” said Burt, who, at age 89, looks terrific and possesses a rare ability to remember minute details from his life dating back decades.

Burt is known to many Osoyoosites as the longtime post master with the local Canada Post office. He transferred from Williams Lake in 1972 and worked in Osoyoos until his retirement in 1983. He came out west to join the navy from his hometown near Hamilton, Ont. and has never left B.C. except for his six years in the armed forces.

With Remembrance Day ceremonies set for this Sunday here in Osoyoos, across Canada and around the world, Burt said November 11 always bring back a flood of memories – some tragic, but most of them good as he met “some of the best people I have ever met in my life was during my time in the navy.”

Burt was a proud member of the Combined Operations – a special team of 900 Canadian and mainly British soldiers who volunteered for “especially hazardous duty” and travelled around the world during the Second World War transporting men and equipment on huge naval landing craft.

“We went everywhere … I got to travel the world and loved every second of it,” said Burt.

After training for months in Scotland and England, Burt’s first active duty was being part of Operation Torch in the North African country of Algiers. He left on Oct. 26, 1942 on a convoy of 50 ships, with half of them headed to Algiers. A big part of their job was transferring American soldiers to various destinations using small landing craft, he said.

American troops making their way inland after landing at Arzeu. Several small
landing craft can be seen in the foreground whilst in the distance can be seen some
of the troopships that helped transport the men. Photo - Imperial War Museum

After an extended leave and further training, Burt participated in Operation Husky, which took him and the Combined Operations unit to Sicily in July of 1942. This time, his job was to help transport and transfer British soldiers to shore. Admitting he saw many of his fellow soldiers killed, Burt said he doesn’t like to talk about the losses, but is more than willing to talk about the good work performed by his unit.

Burt and his fellow soldiers from Combined Operations were then called back to Europe in the spring of 1944 and participated in D-Day, one of the most important military operations in history. Military planners had given Canada a major role on D-Day to take one of five designated beaches where Allied forces were to land to begin the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany. The Americans were designated to take Utah and Omaha Beaches in the west, British soldiers landed at Gold Beach and at Sword in the east, while Canadians landed at Juno Beach.

The greatest seaborne invasion in history was aimed at 80 kilometres of mostly flat, sandy beach along the Normandy coast, west of the Seine River. There were 155,000 soldiers, 5,000 ships and landing craft, 50,000 vehicles and 11,000 planes set for the battle. For Canada, 14,000 soldiers were to land on the beaches, while another 450 were to drop behind enemy lines by parachute or glider.The Royal Canadian Navy supplied ships and 10,000 sailors.

“We did six trips across the channel every day, transporting 300 soldiers at a time … we did that for just over a month,” said Burt. Being part of that historic event was something he will never forget, said Burt.

“That opened up that part of Europe to the Allied Forces and helped change the course of the war, so it was very important,” he said.

Being able to fight for his country to help defeat the Nazis remains something he’s very proud of, said Burt.

“When I joined I was too young to go to sea … I remember how happy I was to turn 18 because I joined the navy because I wanted to fight in the war. That’s why I signed up. I remember telling my band master that I was almost 18 and could finally get on a boat and he finally agreed it was time to leave the band.”

Link to the full story at Osoyoos Times, British Columbia online news.

Please link to a story by Roy Burt, The Saga of the Wine Barrels

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