Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Photographs: Coming Back from Dieppe, Sicily.

Rare Photos - Canadians in Combined Ops, WW2.

From the Collection of Joe Spencer.

Greenock central station Glasgow 1942.

Used with permission of Gary Spencer (son of Joe Spencer)

The sixteen photographs presented are from a very rare collection belonging to Joe Spencer (Toronto, Brighton, ONT), now deceased, a former member of RCNVR and Combined Operations during WW2. The photos are shared with the kind permission of Joe's son, Gary Spencer. Each one came to me with a brief caption (now in italics under the photo) and gives us information that perhaps can be linked to other stories and other photos - some already shared or displayed on this site.

I will be careful to make readers aware of some of the connections these pictures have to Canadian stories, etc. However, I also welcome input from others about other links, in order to expand our collective understanding of what was happening in Combined Ops when these pictures were taken.

Top photo: Chuck Rose (3rd from left below) perhaps has just arrived in Greenock, Scotland, near the Canadian manning station at HMCS Niobe. If so, he and his mates were soon on a train to see their first landing craft at HMS Northney, Hayling Island.

8 men, Northney 3, Hayling Island, Hants

L - R: Allan Adlington (London), Joe Spencer (Toronto), Chuck Rose (Chippawa), Doug Harrison (Norwich), Art Bradfield (Simcoe), Don Linder (Kitchener), Joe Watson (Simcoe), J. Jacobs (unknown)

Context: HMS Northney was a training camp (4 sites) on Hayling Island, adjacent to Havant in southern England. These Canadians arrived at HMCS Niobe, Scotland from HMCS Stadacona, Halifax aboard the Volendam in January 1942.

In his Navy memoirs my father writes:

We spent little time at Niobe but entrained for Havant (near Hayling Island).... to H.M.S. Northney 1, a barracks (formerly a summer resort) with a large mess hall and cabins with four bedrooms. This was January, 1942 and there was no heat at all in the brick cabins. The toilets all froze and split. But we made out. Our eating quarters were heated. 

Link to more details concerning training at HMS Northney.

HMS Quebec, Art Warrick, 1942

Quebec, Ray and Jim, 1942 

Possibly HMS Quebec, 1942

Context: After their introduction to landing craft at HMS Northney, Hayling Island, the new recruits from Canada were sent to HMS Quebec, the Number 1 Combined Operations Training Centre near Inveraray, Scotland.

My father writes:

We were all in good shape and this was to be one of the more memorable camps, with our first actual work and introduction to landing barges.... there were lots of adventures, therefore many memories....

We trained on assault landing crafts which carried approximately 37 soldiers and a crew of four, i.e., Coxswain, two seamen and stoker. Some carried an officer.... ALCs were made of 3/16 inch plating, thick enough to stop a .303. (They) sat three rows of soldiers including two outside rows under 3/16th inch cowling, but the centre row was completely exposed. 

We also trained on LCMs, or landing craft, mechanized. LCMs carried soldiers or a truck, a Bren gun carrier, supplies, land mines, gasoline, etc. But LCMs wouldn't stop a bullet.

Link to more details concerning training at HMS Quebec.

ALC 269 leaving Newhaven, Aug. 21 1942. L. Birkenes, C. Sheeler 

ALC 269 returning to Southampton fron Newhaven. C. Sheeler, Joe Spencer

Context: The operation the first Canadians in Combined Ops participated in, i.e., after training at HMS Quebec and Camp Auchengate (Irvine), was Operation RUTTER, the raid on Dieppe. RUTTER was planned for early July, cancelled one day before the event, and reinstated as Operation JUBILEE, set for August 19, 1942. The above two photos are dated Aug. 21 and were taken two days after their ALCs returned from Dieppe. Joe Spencer, under the White Ensign above, is known to have participated in the raid.

Link to more details and photographs concerning the Dieppe Raid.

RFA Ennerdale off Greenock (no date) 

Art Warrick, Verne Smart on the Ennerdale in Algiers

Context: Canadians travelled aboard the Ennerdale on their way to Operation RUTTER and aboard it again (and its sister ship Derwentdale, both oil tankers) on their way to the invasion of North Africa. In the top of this pair, one can see landing craft either on deck or hanging on davits aboard the Ennerdale, and in the second we see Art and Verne standing inside a landing craft, likely an LCM.

Link to more details concerning the invasion of North Africa.

C. Rose (front left), J. Dale (top left), P. Bowers (top centre),
Joe Spencer (front right), J. Watson (top right). Glasgow 1943

Context: The date is helpful. Canadians in C.O. were back in Scotland's Combined Ops camps, training in the early months of 1943 for upcoming operations in Sicily (July - Operation HUSKY) and Italy (September, Operation BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE). There would have been a few opportunities while on leave to visit Glasgow. Photo shops, pubs, dance halls.... take your pick.

Link to more details concerning men on leave.

LCM 81-7 hoisted off E. Charmain in Sicily, July 10, 1943. MacGregor's boat 

Ismalia, Egypt. -  P. Martel, E. Chambers, S. Ingram, N. Mitchinson 

Charley Sellick, Jim Ivison. Sicily 

Jack Trevor. Sicily 

Unloading LCM, Green Beach, Sicily 1943 

Convoy, Sicily to Malta. J. Spencer in boat 2nd in foreground

Context: The invasion of Sicily was a great ordeal for Canadians in Combined Operations. Once the emptied troop and supply ships left the coast, men lived aboard their LCMs or in caves. For 4 weeks or more, hard duty persisted on the beaches in order to supply troops moving slowly north toward Messina. In August the men were sent to Malta for rest and recuperation from illnesses, e.g., dysentery. They were also told to repair tired, damaged landing craft for the upcoming invasion of Italy. No rest for the weary.

Editor: A big thank you to Gary Spencer for these lovely, historic scanned images. I tip my hat to both Gary and his father, Joe Spencer.

More links from Joe's pictures to other stories and images to follow.

Please link to Photographs: LST, LCM, The Beaver Club, Bell Tents

Unattributed Photos GH

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