Saturday, February 4, 2017

Context: "Navyman Sent To Jail" in Scotland.

More Good News and Bad from Irvine News.

Saltcoats Heritage Centre, 2014.

Catch a bus on High St., Irvine, for Saltcoats (just past Stevenston).

While training on various types of landing craft in Inveraray or Irvine, Scotland in early 1942, Canadian volunteers for Combined Operations would have had access to local newspapers (e.g., The Irvine and Fullarton Times), as well as gossip and rumours (i.e., buzzes) between mates, and radio reports and news reels in local cinemas. 

Much of what they read and heard would have fostered some discussion, concerns and possibly the occasional smile amongst the young Canadians. Whatever the case, they slowly learned their way about prior to their first calls to action, i.e., the Dieppe raid (August 19, 1942) and later the invasion of North Africa (November 8, 1942).

They might have spotted some of the following items in a local newspaper:

The Irvine and Fullarton Times, June 17, 1942

We read:

A plea by a naval officer that a Stevenston man now serving on a minesweeper should be handed over to the naval authorities proved unavailing at a session on Monday in Androssan Court, presided by Ex-Provost Hopperton.

Accused, who was on leave at his home in Stevenston, pleaded guilty to a charge of having - in New Street, Stevenston, on Saturday night - committed a breach of the peace by having driven a horse and cart while under the influence of drink and having resisted arrest.

Mr. Joseph Kirkland, the Burgh Prosecutor, said that accused was seen by a constable behaving in a very disorderly manner, cursing and swearing. Suddenly he disappeared into a close, and when he reappeared he was driving a horse and cart.

Fortunately, Mr. Kirkland proceeded, the street was clear of traffic at the time, as accused was unable to drive the horse in a straight course. The owner of the horse, which had been tethered to a post, emerged on the scene, and caught the animal by the head. Accused refused to relinquish the reins and, exerting pressure on them, brought the animal to a sudden stop. The result was that the horse stumbled and fell, and a shaft of the van was broken, causing damage estimated at 15s.

Accused, proceeded Mr. Kirkland, was taken from the van by the policeman. On his way to the police station he became very violent. Twice he attempted to strike the constable, and on both occasions he had to be thrown to the ground.* A very large crowd gathered, and elements in it, holidaymakers from Glasgow, became distinctly hostile to the constable, who was struggling with his prisoner. Had it not been for the intervention of a number of local men, including A.R.P. workers, who intervened to support the constable, a very ugly situation might have developed, in view of the attitude of the Glasgow visitors.

 Accused, said Mr. Kirkland, was a Stevenston man who had been serving in the Navy for about six months, and for the greater part of that period had been stationed in the district, returning to Stevenston almost every evening. The police described him as an "absolute pest," who was seldom sober when he was on leave, and who, because of his conduct, had been refused admission to local dance-halls.

Accused said he had been so drunk that he remembered nothing of what had happened.

Ex-Provost Hopperton said the decision of the Court was that accused should go to jail for ten days on the breach of the peace charge; that he should be fined 2 Pounds, or ten day's imprisonment, for having driven the horse and cart; and that he should go to jail for ten days for having resisted arrest.

A naval officer said accused was doing a good job of work on a minesweeper, and it was a dangerous job. In addition, he would be dealt with by the naval authorities when he had completed his jail sentence. In the circumstances, he suggested that the Court might review its decision.

Ex-Provost Hopperton, after consultation with a colleague, announced that the decision of the Court could not be altered.

*[Editor - My father, a member of Combined Ops and stationed in Irvine for training in 1942, must have missed this story and its inherent lessons, i.e., don't drink and drive; don't swing at the constables, etc.

He writes the following about an incident that took place outside the Combined Ops training centre in Comox, Canada (1944 - 45):

"I had a fight with a Police Constable named Carson. I was drunk and he asked me for my I.D. card. I took a punch at him, missed him by a pole length and he assisted me to the cruiser, he was very kind. He had a hammer lock on me so didn’t open the door, he just put me through the open back window. You know, that shoulder is still sore."

"He took me to jail, but the cell was already packed with sailors and cleaning equipment, i.e., mops, brooms, etc. They lit the equipment on fire and smoke forced us all out. He didn’t like me because our team used to beat his team at ball. Big sissy. Poor loser."]

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The Irvine and Fullarton Times, September 4, 1942

Two weeks after the disastrous raid at Dieppe we read:

After Three Years

On September 3, 1939, we entered into a War that the overwhelming majority of the people of this country and many of the experts believed would not last more than a year. The opinion was prevalent that Germany's economic condition was such that if she did not achieve a quick victory, she would collapse, internally if not militarily. That that was a delusion we now all know.

Three long years have passed since that fateful day we kept our pledged faith with Poland; the fourth year has been entered upon and the war continues its devastating course.

Looking back over that period of the war, we see a chequered picture. There have been severe blows to our national pride, there have been blunders, miscalculations, mismanagements, inefficiencies and complacency. But over and above all these there have been, both on the home front and in the field of battle, stirring examples of the courage and heroism of our race; our undaunted spirit in the face of odds has never wavered; we have accomplished many great things and we have abated by not one jot the unshakable belief in the justice of our case and the inflexible resolve to win with which we took up the tyrant's challenge.

But can we say sincerely that now, after three years, we think we see the end nearer or as near as we thought we saw it at the beginning? It would be counter to all portents if we took that view.

We are immeasurably stronger but our enemies are yet very strong and we have a long way ahead and a way on which we shall meet with not a few bitter experiences before we begin the real high road to victory.

The defeat of Hitler and his associates will be a tremendous task, demanding the exercise of our highest qualities and the expenditure of our utmost energy. Some believe that a miracle will happen to bring us victory sooner than expected, but the only miracle we should rely upon is a miracle of achievement on our part.

Our Own Right Hand

We underestimated at the beginning Hitler's cleverness, and power and foresight. He, too, has certainly had his failures and his disappointments as well as his victories. He, too, has made grave mistakes - mistakes that we feel sure will ultimately prove fatal to him. But he still has cleverness and power and foresight and we must not fall into our original error of underestimating these and living in a false Paradise.

It is easy to buoy up our hopes by dwelling upon the undoubted difficulties that face germany. Instead, however, of indulging in any rosy anticipations, let us concentrate our thought on what we can do with our own right hand towards the bringing nearer of victory - and do it. 

The coming year is not likely to be the victory year but it will provide the crucial test and, if we, with our Allies, pass that test, the final accomplishment of our end, the defeat of these monsters who are seeking to enslave the world should be well in sight.

* * * * *

ALC 269 returning to Southampton from Newhaven, August 21, 1942.
Onboard - Canadians in Combined Operations: Charlie Sheeler (left), Joe Spencer
Photo Credit - From the collection of Joe Spencer (and his son, Gary Spencer) 

We read the following in the September 11, 1942 issue of The Irvine and Fullarton Times:

On Wednesday of last week Mr. and Mrs. John McMaster, 151 Winton Road, Irvine, received a postcard from their son, Able Seaman Samuel McMaster, who had been reported missing in July.

The postcard is a formal printed announcement card issued in German prisoners of war camps, and on it Able Seaman McMaster states:

Photo of newspaper stored on microfiche at Saltcoats Heritage Centre

The news article continues:

Able Seaman McMaster is a well-known Irvine young man. He was born in our burgh and was educated at Bank Street School and Irvine Royal Academy. When about fourteen or fifteen years of age he was for some time in the employment of Mr. Benzie, fishmonger.

Later he entered on his apprenticeship as a painter in the employment of Mr. Milroy, Troon, and, two years ago, when nineteen years of age, he volunteered for service as a seaman in the Merchant Navy and was accepted. After gaining experience in his new profession he passed the examination conferring on him the rank of Able Seaman.

It is calculated that his first day as a prisoner of war was his twenty-first birthday.

* * * * *
Two timely ads, above and below.
From The Irvine and Fullarton Times, Sept. 18, 1942

While Commandos train, Canadians in Combined Operations
man the barges at Irvine and Inveraray, and other training sites

* * * * *

Three weeks before the invasion of North Africa (Operation TORCH, Nov. 8, 1942), the town of Ardrossan (a few miles north of Irvine) experienced an invasion of its own.

From The Irvine and Fullarton Times, October 16, 1942

We read:

A combined Military and Civil Defence exercise, in which Ardrossan Invasion Committee will take part, will be held in Ardrossan on Sunday, 25th October. The exercise will commence at 2:30 p.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. Military and civil defence umpires will be provided.

Wardens, Casualty Service, Civil Defence Messenger Service, local Police, and National Fire Service will take part. 

Ardrossan Invasion Committee's parties for wiring, trench digging, casualties, road repair, road blocks, ration, water and ammunition, patrols and observation and fire will be called upon to supply civilian assistance to the military and civil defence.

A substantial muster of personnel of the various invasion parties is essential to carry out the activities of the exercise. The Invasion Committee hope that personnel will turn out in good numbers to their assembly point at the allotted time - 2:30 p.m. - thereby ensuring that the utmost support is given to their Area and Section Leaders in carrying out the activities of the exercise. Personnel should take such tools as they may be expected to use with them to their assembly points.

* * * * *

Art Warrick (left) and Vern Smart on Ennerdale in Algiers, Nov. 1942
Two of the many Canadians in Combined Operations, during Operation TORCH
Photo Credit - From the collection of Joe Spencer (and son, Gary Spencer) 

Unattributed Photos GH

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