Sunday, 31 October 2010

What I remember

Dad with N0.19 Radio Set
With Remembrance Day just around the corner I thought it important to mark this occasion with a non-ham radio blog entry.

My Dad was a very special guy to me, and I can’t, even now, begin to describe how I felt on the 23rd May, 1993, when he passed away. Not a day has gone by since then when I have not taken a moment each day to think about him.

He enlisted in 1942, at the age of 16, in the Royal Air Force Regiment, and after his basic training and then trade training as a signaller, he was posted to 2816 Squadron, RAF Regiment where he spent the entire war training and then fighting through North West Europe with them. Dad saw action at the D-Day Landings, Rouen, St Pol, Moerkerke, the Leopold Canal (December 1944), Damme, Grimbergenand and Woerndrecht/Deurne, where the Squadron was based during Operation 'Bodenplatte' (the Luftwaffe attack on Allied airfields on 1 January 1945). Further moves east took it to Antwerp, Ahlhorn, Hustedt and Celle, where it disbanded in June 1946. After the Squadron was disbanded he was posted to 2742 Squadron at RAF Station Ramat David in Palestine, from where he was eventually discharged in 1948. 

As far back as I can remember he regaled us all with stories about his war experiences. I suppose looking back on it now it was his way of getting therapy from some of the stuff he witnessed while overseas.

Every two years my Dad faithfully returned to the UK to attend 2816 Squadron's reunion, always held in a large pub in Glasshouse Street in London, and always well attended by its Veterans. Those of you with a military background will appreciate the humour of holding a military reunion in "Glasshouse" street! He always came home with new stories, as somebody always jogged his memory about a long forgotten event.

My Dad was not a special person, just one of a couple of million who felt it was their duty to step forward, and do something for their country at a time of great need.  Duty, was a powerful word in those days, and todays generation would do well to remember that citizenship, is not a free ride.

Of course there has to be a ham radio connection to this story....after my family immigrated to Canada in 1966 my dad became a ham, a natural thing for him to do considering his war time service as a signaller. He loved operating CW, and many an evening I remember sitting with him at the kitchen table, his SB-101 blaring 50 wpm CW at us, and him sitting there reading his library book, drinking tea, and copying the CW…all at the same time.

He was licensed in 1970 as VE7CVQ, a callsign that I now very proudly hold in his memory. That callsign only gets used three times a year these days, his birthday, the day we lost him, and Remembrance Day.

Lest we forget.


In Memory of the Officers and Men
of 2816 Squadron, RAF Regiment, 1942 - 1946
Lest We Forget

2 comments:

  1. Very nice post Bill. My father was with the 425 Allouette RCAF Squadron based in Tholthorpe near York. He was ATC using morse for guiding the bombers in and out of the airfield. He was never a ham but I became one. I visited the old aerodrome in Britain in 1985; the old control tower stood in the middle of a potato field and the runways long gone. Recently the old tower was converted to a private home. Thanks again for posting your Dad's story.

    73 de Bob VE3MPG

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  2. Great post, Bill. My grandfather, Charles Carmichael, was in the RAF Regt from 1942 to June 1946, first with 2777 and then (from August 1944) with 2742 squadron (which, as you'll know, was an armoured car squadron). After service in the UK and NW Europe, 2742 squadron transferred to Egypt in late 1945 and then Palestine in early 1946, where they were kept busy! The squadron leader was Beavis Benson-Brown (brilliant name!), who'd been CO of 2757 squadron until September-ish 1945. My grandfather was demobbed in June 1946, so he probably didn't serve with your Dad. I did locate a chap a few years ago now - David Luff - who was in 2742 squadron in 1946-47. I'll see if I still have an email address.

    2816 squadron are mentioned in "Through Adversity" by Kingsley Oliver, pp. 136-7:
    "During one such operation, when 1313 Wing (2757 Armoured Car and 2816 Rifle Squadrons) was holding part of the line of the Leopold Canal with the Canadians, the 3" mortar flight of the rifle squadron fired over 2,000 high explosive bombs, and 200 smoke rounds, against German positions. This was done so effectively that one of the support flight NCOs – Flight Sergeant Greening – was awarded the Military Medal
    for maintaining mortar observation posts in areas exposed to enemy fire.

    In another incident, a flight of the same squadron went to the rescue of men of 40 LAA Regiment Royal Artillery whose escape route had been cut by the enemy. The flight commander, Flying Officer NJ Page, was awarded the Military Cross for his conduct in this action."

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