CALL TO DUTY THE DAILY COURIER, TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2012
Al DeFoy I joined in May 1951 and was assigned to the 27th Infantry Brigade and was sent to Germany as a radio operator.Th
is was at the height of the Cold War, and we did a lot of maneuvers, just showing our presence to the Soviet Union, discouraging them from taking over other countries, other than the ones they’d ‘lib- erated’ at the end of the Second World War before deciding to keep them. I was in Korea for 18 months after the shooting stopped in that war.We were re- sponsible for maintaining the roads and providing security in the Canadian zone. The poverty of the Koreans, the way a lot of them were just living in shacks, was in- credible. Then I was with 1 Airborne Troop Engineers based in Calgary for 18 months. For me, life in the service was getting sort of boring. I had joined up sort of to see places, but there weren’t many overseas postings going by then. So I left the service in 1957.
when he served in Korea in the ’50s.
Bob Hadgraft Celebrations to mark the end of the Second
World War turned violent and destructive in Halifax the nights of May 7 and 8, 1945. More than 9,000 servicemen, many of whom believed they had been ill-treated by Haligonians during the war, rioted in the downtown core. They smashed and looted shops, raided liquor stores, and set fire to tramcars and police vehicles. Kelowna resident Bob Hadgraft, who served aboard navy ships protecting Atlantic supply convoys during the war, recalls being caught up in the infamous Halifax riots. “All the sailors assembled and marched, but the parade soon dissolved, as no one really wanted to march.We were told there was noth- ing open, as this had been declared a city hol- iday. Someone said we were getting free beer at Keith’s Brewery, so we all proceeded to that destination.Ye
s, the sailors had broken in, and beer cases were flowing out. “Later in the afternoon we heard the down-
town was being destroyed. It was a disaster ñ all the main shops were looted, the streets were covered with glass. “Deciding it was not a safe place to be caught
Carol Dillon holds pictures of her uncle, Harry Ashley who was killed in the Second World War.
Ross Hamilton and Blackie
The official mascot of 407 ‘Demon’ Squadron (RCAF) was Blackie, a pure-bred English cocker spaniel.Th
is is an account of his aerial adventures, written by Ross Hamilton, a member of the squadron who lives in Kelowna. “Blackie was born to fly. He missed no op-
portunity to be airborne.Whether it was a 10- hour long operational patrol, a night flying test, or a bombing exercise, it mattered little to Blackie, just as long as he was flying. “He learned early on how to scoot up the ladder into the nose compartment of the air- craft, unassisted. Blackie had his own log book, faithfully maintained by every crew that he flew with. He probably ended up with the equivalent of six to eight tours of operations (There were 30 missions in each tour) “There were times when he flew almost around the clock, and he was always provid- ed with a comfortable spot on board for nap- ping.
“Blackie’s official owner, Flying Officer Ken
McGrath, was killed in an accident near war’s end. Blackie was off flying with another crew that fateful day. “I started taking care of Blackie, along with the help of my roommate, Flying Officer George Carruthers. “At the end of the war, Blackie, not wishing
to leave his homeland of Britain, and being tour-expired many times over, retired to an estate near Barnstaple in the loving care of a military couple.Th
ere, he lived out his retire- ment from the RCAF in total comfort and ease and, we were assured, for many years. Probably on a full pension, knowing Blackie.”
Neighbours tied to D-Day
By RON SEYMOUR The Daily Courier
wo men who lived one house apart on a Kelowna street waded ashore together on D-Day.
Harry Ashley and William Allen were near-neighbours on Richter Street when the Second World War began. Like hundreds of others young Kelowna men, they regarded it as their patriotic duty to enlist for service.
“Harry was quite a jokester, always hav- ing fun and playing little pranks on peo- ple,” recalls his niece Carol Dillon, 81. As a young girl in Kelowna during the war years, Dillon’s most vivid memories include community drives when materials that could be used for the war effort were donated by citizens.
She recalls that her mother, Alice, was often worried for brother’s safety. “They were only about 18 months apart, and they were quite close,” Dillon says. Her mother’s fears were realized on D- Day, 1944, as 160,000 Allied troops stormed
ashore in France to establish a beachhead on the Normandy coast. Ashley was wounded. Allen was killed.
Both Ashley and Allen were married, with young children. While Ashley recov- ered from his wounds, he was sent back into combat, and was killed in the fall of 1944.
Decades later, Dillon and her mother made a trip to France to visit the grave where Harry Ashley is buried. They might not have found the cemetery, were it not for a chance encounter on a train with a Canadian who was working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. “We got to talking with him and he ended up going out of his way to help us find Uncle Harry’s grave,” Dillon says. “It was an act of kindness on his part that really meant a lot to my mother.
“When we found the grave, it was a very emotional moment for her,” Dillon says. “Harry had been dead a long time, but I’m sure that, when we were there, everything she remembered about her brother would have come flooding back to her.”
by the shore patrol, if there ever was one that day, we proceeded back towards a park. “By the time we hit Barrington Street we were arrested by army troops and taken back to our ship. The officers searched us for stolen loot, but being completely clean, we were allowed aboard.”
Ross Hamlilton, left, and Sandy Sanderson.
A SALUTE TO THE OKANAGAN’S WAR VETERANS
Daily Courier Photos by GARY NYLANDER
Ross Hamilton Ross Hamilton was an airborne witness to
the greatest military invasion force ever as- sembled.
A wireless air gunner during the Second
World War, Hamilton was flying in a Wellington aircraft on June 5, 1944. His crew was on the hunt for any German U-boats that might try to slip into the Allied convoy that was sailing for the Normandy coast. The 156,000 men in the invasion force — 15 per cent of them Canadian — were supported on D-Day by 11,590 aircraft, only 127 of which were shot down by the besieged Germans. His crew had a 10-hour flight, protecting the southern flank of the massive invasion fleet. Ironically, it wasn't just the U-boats that Allied flyers had to watch out for on D-Day. Many gunners on U.S. warships hadn't yet
learned to identify British or Canadian planes at a distance, and they weren't likely to take any chances if there was the slightest doubt. “The navy escort ships had no qualms about opening fire on any aircraft that even came near them,” Hamilton says. “We'd been warned to stay well clear.”
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