Saturday, January 23, 2016

Context for Combined Ops, "Uncle Sam's Merchant Fleet"

Uncle Sam Adds Muscle & Canadian Observer Spots Deadly Mine

Caption for above photograph: Here is the first picture showing arming of American merchant ships in conformity with Congressional action which revised neutrality act. Deck gun is being lowered into position at Hoboken, N.J., on one of first U.S. merchant vessels to be armed by Navy. (As found in The Halifax Herald, November 29, 1941)

In late 1941, very near the time new recruits in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve (at HMS Stadacona, Halifax) became Canada's first volunteers for hazardous duties overseas with Combined Operations, they may have heard the buzz about these items found in a local newspaper.

Deadly Mine Found By Observer

By Arthur Merkel, Canadian Press Staff Writer

HALIFAX, Nov. 28 - (CP) - A deadly mine which possibly drifted across the Atlantic from the coast of warring Europe nosed into an isolated Newfoundland cove not so long ago.

An official observer of the Royal Canadian Air Force's aircraft detection corps (who) promptly notified his reporting centre of the lethal visitor, said he moored it down safely and asked for instructions. He was told that a naval unit would proceed to the spot and dispose of the mine.

A short time elapsed and another message came in from the isolated observer: "Never mind naval unit. Have disposed of mine myself."

Tells of Mine Incident

Flt. Lt. E. B. Goodspeed, air detection officer of the R.C.A.F. told the story as an example of the enthusiasm displayed and varied tasks performed by the 2,000 civilians operating without remuneration as official observers for the A.D.C. in Eastern Canada and Newfoundland.

The mine incident is but one of many bright spots in Flt. Lt. Goodspeed's two years of service organizing and directing the A.D.C. He figures the observer was consumed with curiosity about the mine and, rather than wait  for the navy to arrive, set about to find out what made the thing work. Probably he removed a couple of harmless knobs, lifted a section out of the ship-wrecker and made it harmless by removing its batteries.

(In Ottawa Sunday night, the navy warned civilians against tampering with mines or other objects which might drift ashore. Persons sighting such an object, it advised, should report it to authorities and "until the arrival of someone qualified to deal with the object, the public should be kept as far away from it as possible.")

(As found in The Halifax Herald, November 29, 1941)

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